Sadness, loneliness, despair, strong words that hardly seem synonymous with the world of burlesque but it pretty much sums up the prevailing atmosphere found backstage during a rehearsal. Most photographers would have shot the TAKE IT OFF side of the footlights—not Mary Ellen. She always seems compelled to tell the “other side” of the story. Her photographic forays into gyms, beauty contests(male and female) burlesque, etc. never poke fun, are never cruel, on the contrary, those pictures come easy. Warm and sympathetic, she gets totally involved in her work. People are human beings—her photographs reveal them as just that.