Friday, May 8, 2009

Gypsy Rose Lee Biographies--At Last!

Finally, biographies about Gypsy Rose Lee!

'When Gypsy's activities on behalf of Spain's anti-fascists and other causes first drew the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee, she used humor to deflect a request that she appear, offering her dressing room as an alternate venue for hearings. She was less successful during a later red scare when she was among 151 artists identified as subversives in Red Channels. But she had supporters. "Chances are that any investigations will show that if Gypsy approached any Red groups it was like her performance," the Milwaukee Journal wrote in 1950. "She stopped and always just in time."
'Gypsy "brings the con in striptease to the surface," writes Rachel Shteir. "She was promising sex, but she was delivering its illusion, playing three-card monte with her audience's desire." If Frankel's book is a thick biographical brocade, Shteir's Gypsy: The Art of the Tease (Yale University Press) is more of a winding feather boa that encircles many of the same events while extending to American motifs of self-fashioning and self-revelation. Gypsy "transformed stripping into something more than the banal physical act of taking off her clothes by making it into a fable about her life," writes the scholar, an associate professor at DePaul University's theater school. "She "never took it all off, yet she invented modern striptease. She exposed Americans' longing for fun and sensuality, but also predicted our pathological urge to reveal everything."'

Read more at The Chronicle Review

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