Burlesque Emojis From Robert Zemeckis' Wife Were Too Racy for Apple

After giving her app's creations more clothes, Leslie Zemeckis finally launched BurlyQji this summer.
Courtesy of Leslie Zemeckis

Leslie Zemeckis, wife of filmmaker Robert Zemeckis and a longtime burlesque fan, recently decided to launch an emojis app devoted to the striptease art form.

Available in Apple's App Store, Zemeckis' new side project, BurlyQji, offers a range of emojis that features mostly female dancers (and one scantily clad male) and other burlesque-inspired icons. "I'm all about bringing burlesque to the 'mainstream,' so it seemed to be the next, natural way to continue to promote this history, and no one was doing it," says Zemeckis, who previously translated her passion for the art form into the 2010 documentary Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America. 

Zemeckis described the process from idea to marketplace as a "difficult" one. "We oftentimes got rejected for being too revealing — though we aren't at all — and had to redo an emoji or two," she says, noting her favorite is the flamingo. "Burlesque is fun. There is a lot of humor to the art, and that's what the emojis are. They put a smile on your face, and hopefully it will continue to have people ask, 'What is burlesque?' and, 'Who were these women from the '20s, 30s, 40s?'"

Her next emoji sets, vintage circus emojis and personalized emojis, should have an easier time with censors. But there's more: "My next project includes writing my third book, about showgirls. I also start shooting Women of Marwen, in September, with Steve Carell and directed by my husband. And my third and current film, the award-winning Mabel Mabel Tiger Trainer, about the world's first female tiger trainer Mabel Stark, is being shopped around."

A version of this story first appeared in the July 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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