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Joan Rhodes would leave audiences speechless as she bent steel bars with her teeth, ripped large phone books into quarters, and lifted two men at a time. But what she did was real. Joan had a superstrength, forged out of desperation to survive. Born into poverty in 1920s London and abandoned by her parents, Joan endured a spell in the workhouse. Despite the worst possible start, she made it to the top of her profession to rub shoulders with the likes of Fred Astaire, Bob Hope and Sammy Davis Jnr. Joan's crowning glory was to perform for the Queen at Windsor Castle, and along the way she made lifelong friendships with Marlene Dietrich, Quentin Crisp and Dame Laura Knight. Biographer Triona Holden met Joan in her later years. When Joan passed away, Triona set out to secure her friend's place in history. She appeared on the show The Repair Shop to tell the strongwoman's story, and sifted through archives to retrace her journey to stardom. Joan saw herself as a freak, but in truth she was a champion for the so-called fairer sex. At a time when women were still groomed for marriage, An Iron Girl in a Velvet Glove tells the fascinating and tumultuous story of a woman who followed her own unique path.
Will Rogers was a true American icon. His newspaper column was read daily by 40 million people, and as radio entertainer, lecturer, movies star, and homespun sage, he was one of our most popular entertainers.
Gary Morecambe writes: `David J. Hindle is an author and social historian with a particular interest in the genre of music hall and the history of the railways. In this, his latest book, he flags up parallels to be drawn between the origins of railways and music hall. This is an original concept, notwithstanding that long before the age of the automobile, it was the railways that conveyed audiences and performers to the music halls that evolved to become variety theatres. I look no further than my father's experiences to illustrate the point: `A second class train ride between Birmingham and Coventry in 1940 is not the most obvious starting point for the best loved double act in British comedy history. World War Two was well underway in 1940, but not for Morecambe and Wise. Fourteen year old Eric Bartholomew and his best friend Ernie Wiseman were travelling that day with my paternal grandmother, Eric's mum and mentor, Sadie Bartholomew. The star-struck teenagers had been performing in a touring youth theatre as solo acts. As usual the boys were over-excited after the show, and going through their Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy impressions. Sadie, who was trying to sleep, made a suggestion that would change showbiz history for ever. `Why don't you two stop fooling around and put your minds to something else. Why not form a double act of your own?.' For over twenty years Morecambe and Wise learned their craft in Britain's variety theatres whilst travelling extensively throughout the country. When variety effectively died and many theatres went permanently dark in the 1950/60s, they switched to television spectaculars, which were enjoyed by millions throughout the world. The profusely illustrated narrative will offer something more than mere reading enjoyment. David's enthusiasm and expertise on music hall history is unbounded, and, in railway nomenclature, I give this publication the green light.'
'Greenwich Exchange' books are written by men and women who bring to their topic not only a passionate interest but also a critical intelligence. These books provide an analytical and historical overview to students and stand as lively and engaging works of art in their own right.
Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Rouge opens with a bored twenty-seven-year old Cliff Simon staring out at the ocean from his beachfront house, wishing he was somewhere else. Gavin Mills telephones him from Paris inviting him to join him at the iconic Moulin Rouge. Cliff sells everything he owns, leaving Johannesburg, South Africa for the City of Lights. He learns that his spot at the Moulin is not guaranteed and is forced to audition. Making the grade, he is put into can can school before he is allowed into the company. His adrenaline is pumping from excitement and fear, both of which he has faced before. Taking a look back, we see twelve-year-old Cliff helming a racing dinghy in the midst of a thunderstorm on the Vaal River. His father yells at him not to be a sissy, and he brings the boat back to shore alone. We then travel to London with his family escaping the tumult of Apartheid. He trains for the Olympics, but drops out, enrolling in the South African military where he subjected to harsh treatment and name calling Fokken Jood. After a honorable discharge, he works in cabaret at seaside resorts and is recruited as a gymnast in a cabaret, where he realizes that the stage is his destiny. The memoir fast forwards to Cliffs meteoric rise at the Moulin from swing dancer to principal in Formidable. Off stage he gets into fights with street thugs, hangs out with diamond smugglers, and has his pick of gorgeous women. With a year at the Moulin to his credit, doors open for him internationally and back in South Africa. He earns a starring role in Egoli: Place of Gold, and marries his long-time girlfriend, Colette. On their honeymoon to Paris, Cliff says, Merci Paris for the best year of my life.
In this, the first ever--and still the only--published collection of pantomime sketches and gags, actor Paul Harris has gathered together a hilarious selection of theatrical material, much of which originated in Victorian times and which has been updated and refined over the past century. He introduces us to the stalwarts of just about every panto--the Dame, Comic, and Feed--and the characters familiar to many generations of theatre goers: Dick Wittington, Cinderella, Buttons, Little Red Riding Hood, Sinbad the Sailor, Aladdin, Widow Twankey, Wishee Washee, Snow White, and Mother Goose. To place each sketch in context, Paul Harris provides lively and amusing introductions, full of theatrical anecdotes and helpful tips about props, special effects and stage "bits," the art of compromising on a comedy theme. All the standard sketches and gags are here: The Y Dance, The Tiddley Tree, A Little Bit of Heaven, The Magic Hat, The Busy Bee, and, perhaps the two most famous, The Schoolroom and The Kitchen Scene. For thousands of professional and amateur performers, directors, and producers, and for many pantomime enthusiasts in Britain and other parts of the world, this new and expanded edition of "The Pantomime Book" is an essential source book and guide.
Drag is transformation, communication, and, above all, exaggeration, where gender non-conformity is the plat du jour. This fearless book observes this increasingly complex world by exploring drag's journey – from the surprising, to the sophisticated, to the utterly bizarre – through the twentieth century and up to the present day.
With witty text, dazzling photography, and corralled into thematic chapters, this is the first flamboyant and poignant survey of drag culture. Drag is not just for fabulous queens and drag enthusiasts, but for anyone interested in gender fluidity and the culture surrounding it.
Simon Doonan is a former drag queen who impersonated Queen Elizabeth. A veteran in the fashion industry, he has won every fashion award on Earth including the CFDA Award. Today, Simon is the Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York and a judge on the NBC television show Making It, co-hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.
In the mid-1970s, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Andy Kaufman, Richard Lewis, Robin Williams, Elayne Boosler, Tom Dreesen, and several hundred other shameless showoffs and incorrigible cutups from all across the country migrated en masse to Los Angeles, the new home of Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show." There, in a late-night world of sex, drugs, dreams and laughter, they created an artistic community unlike any before or since. It was Comedy Camelot--but it couldn't last.
William Knoedelseder, then a cub reporter covering the scene for the "Los Angeles Times," was there when the comedians--who were not paid for performing--tried to change the system and incidentally tore apart their own close-knit community. In "I'm Dying Up Here" he tells the whole story of that golden age, of the strike that ended it, and of how those days still resonate in the lives of those who were there.
Adoption allows families to modify, either overtly or covertly, what is considered to be the natural order. Cures for Chance explores how early modern English theatre questioned the inevitability of the biological family and proposed new models of familial structure, financial inheritance, and gendered familial authority. Because the practice of adoption circumvents sexual reproduction, its portrayal obliges audiences to reconsider ideas of nature and kinship. This study elucidates the ways in which adoptive familial relations were defined, described, and envisioned on stage, particularly in the works of Shakespeare and Middleton. In the plays in question, families and individual characters create, alter, and manage familial relations. Throughout Cures for Chance, adoption is considered in the broader socioeconomic and political climate of the period. Literary works and a wide range of other early modern texts - including treatises on horticulture and natural history and household and conduct manuals - are analysed in their historical and cultural contexts. Erin Ellerbeck argues that dramatic representations of adoption test conventional notions of family by rendering the family unit a social construction rather than a biological certainty, and that in doing so, they evoke the alteration of nature by human hands that was already pervasive at the time.
The late-Victorian discovery of the music hall by English intellectuals marks a crucial moment in the history of popular culture. Music Hall and Modernity demonstrates how such pioneering cultural critics as Arthur Symons and Elizabeth Robins Pennell used the music hall to secure and promote their professional identity as guardians of taste and national welfare. These social arbiters were, at the same time, devotees of the spontaneous culture of \u201cthe people.\u201d In examining fiction from Walter Besant, Hall Caine, and Henry Nevinson, performance criticism from William Archer and Max Beerbohm, and late-Victorian controversies over philanthropy and moral reform, scholar Barry Faulk argues that discourse on music-hall entertainment helped consolidate the identity and tastes of an emergent professional class. Critics and writers legitimized and cleaned up the music hall, at the same time allowing issues of class, respect, and empowerment to be negotiated. Music Hall and Modernity offers a complex view of the new middle-class, middle-brow, mass culture of late-Victorian London and contributes to a body of scholarship on nineteenth-century urbanism. The book will also interest scholars concerned with the emergence of a professional managerial class and the genealogy of cultural studies.
Let the world's most celebrated drag queens transform and empower you with their sick'ning style, wit and wisdom. However you want to werk it - out-there eleganza, easy-breezy realness, and everything in between - Serving Face is like the gentle hand of your Drag Mother guiding you towards a life more fabulous. Featuring interviews with 20 artists, it has all the inspiring motivational and practical tips, tricks and tutorials you need to jack up your confidence and tease out your own special blend of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. So dive in, discover your inner diva, and bring joy, love and laughter to life's runway!
From New York Times bestselling author of The French Photographer 'A glamorous, transporting read' Woman's Weekly . . . IN 1920s NEW YORK, EVERYONE IS CHASING A DREAM . . . The Roaring 20s - a time for glamour, frivolity and freedom for women. But for Evie Lockhart, a small-town girl who is determined to become one of the first female doctors, it means turning her back on her family and the only life she's ever known. In a desperate attempt to support herself through Columbia University's medical school, Evie auditions for the infamous late-night Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. But if she gets the part, what will it mean for her new relationship with Upper East Side banker Thomas Whitman - a man Evie thinks she could fall for, if only she lived a less scandalous life . . . Captivating and inspirational, A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald is a love story starring a woman ahead of her time, set against the backdrop of Jazz Age New York. Perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Kate Furnivall. 'If you're mad about the roaring twenties and all things Gatsby, this romance will have you enchanted' WOMAN'S DAY PRAISE FOR NATASHA LESTER: 'A fantastically engrossing story. I love it' KELLY RIMMER 'Intrigue, heartbreak... I cannot tell you how much I loved this book' RACHEL BURTON 'A gorgeously rich and romantic novel' KATE FORSYTH 'If you enjoy historical fiction (and even if you don't) you will love this book' SALLY HEPWORTH 'Utterly compelling' GOOD READING
The Whitman Sisters were the highest paid act on the Negro Vaudeville Circuit, Theater Owner Booking Association (Toby), and one of the longest surviving touring companies (1899-1942). Nadine George-Graves shows that these four black women manipulated their race, gender, and class to resist hegemonic forces while achieving success. By maintaining a high-class image, they were able to challenge fictions of racial and gender identity.
The period between the Second World War and the mid-1960s saw the
American music industry engaged in a fundamental transformation in
how music was produced and experienced. Tim Anderson analyzes three
sites of this music revolution: the change from a business centered
around live performances to one based on selling records, the
custom of simultaneously bringing out multiple versions of the same
song, and the arrival of in-home high-fidelity stereo systems.
A celebration of contemporary comedy which focuses on the trend for discomfort and the extreme, this title covers major hits of recent years from Borat, Little Britain and The Office.
Shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize; former prime minister John Major takes a remarkable journey into his own unconventional family past to tell the story of the British music hall. John Major shares memories of his performer father Tom and then shines the spotlight on the story of the music hall itself, from its Victorian heyday to its demise. In this fond look back at characters such as Marie Lloyd, Little Tich and Vesta Tilley, these faded stars take their place in the limelight once more. Packed with colourful anecdotes, 'My Old Man' is a warm-hearted account of a golden and bygone age.
From the vaudeville era, through the Astaire-Rogers movies, to the intricate artistry of bebop, tap has dominated American dance with its rhythm, originality, and humor. This book collects the voices and memories of thirty of America's best-loved tap-dance stars and two hundred rare theater, film, and publicity photographs. Here Shirley Temple recalls her magical duo with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson; Fayard Nicholas describes his days at Harlem's Cotton Club performing with Cab Calloway; Fred Kelly visits his and his brother Gene's Pittsburgh dance studio; Hermes Pan reminisces about his work with George Gershwin, Ginger Rogers, and Fred Astaire; and, in a chapter new to this edition, Toy and Wing tell about their days as the world's leading Asian tap duo. Appended with the most comprehensive listing of tap acts, recordings, and films ever compiled--newly updated for this paperback edition--"Tap!" brings to life the legends of one of America's most cherished and enduring art forms.
As one of the richest sources of diversion for the people of Britain between the end of the First World War and the 1960s, the variety theatre emerged from the embers of music hall, a vulgar and rumbustious entertainment that had held the working classes in thrall since the 1840s. Music hall bosses decided they would do better business if a man going to theatres on his own could take his wife and children with him, knowing they would see or hear nothing that would scandalise them. So, variety, a gentler, less red-blooded entertainment was gradually established. At the top of the profession were Gracie Fields, a peerless singer and comedienne, and Max Miller, a comic who was renowned for being risque, but who, in fact, never cracked a dirty joke. They were supported by acts that matched the word 'variety': ventriloquists, drag artists, animal acts, acrobats, jugglers, magicians and many more. But the variety theatre was constantly under threat, first from revue, then radio, the cinema, girlie shows, the birth of rock 'n' roll and finally television. By the end of the 1950s, the variety business seemed to have given up, but the recent and extraordinary popularity of talent shows on television has proved the public appetite is still there. Variety could be about to start all over again.
Former prime minister John Major takes a remarkable journey into his own unconventional family past to tell the richly colourful story of the British music hall Music hall was one of the glories of Victorian England. Sentimental, vulgar, class-conscious, but always patriotic and on the side of the underdog, it held a mirror to the audiences' hopes and fears, and sometimes the general absurdity of life. Vast, smoke-filled auditoriums were packed night after night in nearly every town and city in Britain. The most popular performers, such as Marie Lloyd, Vesta Tilley and George Robey, were among the highest paid and most celebrated figures in the land. This was the world that John Major's father Tom entered at the age of 21 as a comedian and singer. In My Old Man, the former prime minister uses his father's story as a springboard for telling the entertaining history of the music hall, from its origins in Elizabethan times through to its heyday in the nineteenth century and eventual decline with the rise of radio and cinema in the twentieth century. Packed with colourful anecdotes about the great performers of the day, this warm-hearted history conjures up a lost age.
It's Saturday night in Key West and the Girlie Show is about to begin at the 801 Cabaret. The girls have been outside on the sidewalk all evening, seducing passersby into coming in for the show. The club itself is packed tonight and smoke has filled the room. When the lights finally go down, statuesque blonds and stunning brunettes sporting black leather miniskirts, stiletto heels, and see-through lingerie take the stage. En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" blares on the house stereo. The crowd roars in approval. In this lively book, Leila J. Rupp and Verta Taylor take us on an entertaining tour through one of America's most overlooked subcultures: the world of the drag queen. They offer a penetrating glimpse into the lives of the 801 Girls, the troupe of queens who perform nightly at the 801 Cabaret for tourists and locals. Weaving together their fascinating life stories, their lavish costumes and eclectic music, their flamboyance and bitchiness, and their bawdy exchanges with one another and their audiences, the authors explore how drag queens smash the boundaries between gay and straight, man and woman, to make people think more deeply and realistically about sex and gender in America today. They also consider how the queens create a space that encourages camaraderie and acceptance among everyday people, no matter what their sexual preferences might be. Based on countless interviews with more than a dozen drag queens, more than three years of attendance at their outrageous performances, and even the authors' participation in the shows themselves, Drag Queens at the 801 Cabaret is a witty and poignant portrait of gay life and culture. When they said life is a cabaret, they clearly meant the 801.
The evolution of New York nightlife from the Gay Nineties through
the Jazz Age was, as Lewis A. Erenberg shows, both symbol and
catalyst of America's transition out of the Victorian period.
Cabaret culture led the way to new styles of behavior and
consumption, dissolving conventional barriers between classes,
races, the sexes--even between life and art. A fabulous era of
chorus girls, jazz players, lobster palaces, and hip flasks--the
age of Sophie Tucker, Irene and Vernon Castle, and Gilda
Gray--tangos through the pages of this ground-breaking, as well as
entertaining, cultural history.
The performance art of burlesque, once a faded form, has made a comeback in the twenty-first century, and it has shimmied back to life with a vengeance in Cleveland. Thanks to fans and entrepreneurs, neo-burlesque has taken the stage--and it's more inclusive, less seedy, and emphatically fun. Rust Belt Burlesque traces the history of burlesque in Cleveland from the mid-1800s to the present day, while also telling the story of Bella Sin, a Mexican immigrant who largely drove Northeast Ohio's neo-burlesque comeback. The historical center of Cleveland burlesque was the iconic Roxy Theater on East Ninth Street. Here, in its twentieth-century heyday, famed dancers like Blaze Starr and comics like Red Skelton and Abbott and Costello entertained both regulars and celebrity guests. Erin O'Brien's lively storytelling and Bob Perkoski's color photos give readers a peek into the raucous Ohio Burlesque Festival that packs the house at the Beachland Ballroom every year. Today's burlies come in all shapes, ethnicities, and orientations, drawing a legion of adoring fans. This is a show you won't want to miss.
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