Burlesque Dancer Sues Learning Annex for Being Labeled as Porn Star

May 29, 2009 2:00 PM PST
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Is calling a burlesque dancer a porn star an actionable offense? According to one Brooklyn dancer it is. She’s suing the Learning Annex after videos she performed in for the company were posted online that labeled her as a "Young Sexy Porn Star Stripper Dancer" and a "Big Tit Sexy Teen Girl."

Tara Lee Heffner, aka burlesque performer Veronica Varlow, was hired last year by the Learning Annex to lead a seminar on burlesque dancing. Her lawyer claims the videos, which surfaced on YouTube, were derogatorily labeled and discredits her artistic performances as tawdry and connects her to the X-rated industry — an association she wants no part of.

A YouTube.com search for the allegedly offensive labels or the name Veronica Varlow

"She's a burlesque performer and she takes it very seriously as an art form," her lawyer, Ivan Saperstein, told the New York Daily News. "She's purposely avoided nudity her entire career to avoid being harmed in this way."

The suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, accuses the Learning Annex and contractor PHI Media of tarnishing Heffner’s name and causing her “great mental pain and anguish.”

Heffner also operates an online clothing boutique that sells burlesque fashions and has appeared as a burlesque dance instructor on the MTV docu-reality series “Made.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

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