Patience and Fortitude, cover your eyes!
Above: Gypsy Rose Lee. Image Source.
GYPSY ROSE LEE: AN AMERICAN ICON LAID BARE
Saturday, January 8, 2011 - 7:00 PM EST
Tickets and information
January 8, 2011 is Gypsy Rose Lee’s 100th birthday!
The New York Public Library “Live” series—the same program that brought you Keith Richards and Jay-Z—now brings Gypsy Rose Lee to life. On Saturday, January 8, “Live” will launch its spring season with a centennial bash honoring Gypsy Rose Lee, subject of the greatest musical in American history, novelist, playwright, New Yorker essayist, fashion icon, actress, activist, legend, member of New York’s literati, and in the words of H.L. Mencken, world-famous “ecdysiast.” Expect an evening that will be tremendous, fun, rowdy, risqué, serious, high, low, and everything in between—just like Gypsy herself—featuring striptease performances from America’s top burlesque stars, dramatic readings from never-before-published letters in Gypsy’s archives (which reside at the New York Public Library), live music from Gypsy’s heyday in the 1930s, and plenty of backstage gossip and deep secrets about the woman Life magazine called “the most private public figure of her time,” as revealed in author Karen Abbott’s new book, American Rose.
Some teasers:Hear about Gypsy’s early years on the vaudeville circuit, where she encountered such performers as Harry Houdini, Lady Alice (a woman who enticed trained rats to parade across her shoulders by slathering Cream of Wheat on her skin), The Amazing Regurgitator (who had a very odd method of building and extinguishing fires), and the legendary Fanny Brice, who would years later become Gypsy’s best friend.
Experience New York’s rich history during The Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, and meet some of the time’s most colorful characters: Mayor Jimmy Walker, gangster Lucky Luciano, gambler Arnold Rothstein, the Minsky Brothers (who first introduced sex shows to Times Square), Abbott and Costello, bootlegger Waxey Gordon (who served as Gypsy’s underworld benefactor), and Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who launched a controversial battle against burlesque.
Visit Gypsy in her writers’ colony on Middagh Street in Brooklyn, where she partied with Salvador Dali, W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, George Davis, Fanny Brice, and Carson McCullers, with whom Gypsy is rumored to have had a fling.
Learn how the girl named Louise Hovick was born into nothing, received very little formal education, and became the highest-paid entertainer of her time (earning, in the 1940s, $10,000 per week)—all the while grappling with her erratic, volatile, infamous “Mama Rose,” who constantly threatened to blackmail Gypsy and ruin her success.
Join Paul Holdengraber, Jo “Boobs” Weldon (Headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque, Ms. Tickle (named “Best Debut,” “Most Innovative,” and “Most Dazzling” at the 2010 Miss Exotic World Pageant), Gal Friday (who will be auctioning off pieces of her costume, Gypsy-style), The Rhinestone Follies (burlesque stars and old-time cigarette girls), burlesque musician and historian Albert Garzon, Tigger, the “King of Boylesque,” Jonny Porkpie, the “Burlesque Mayor of NYC,” New York Times bestselling author Karen Abbott, and several exciting guests in honoring American icon Gypsy Rose Lee on her 100th birthday.
The New York Public Library
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018
Time: 7 p.m.
Tickets: $15 if you’re a “friend” of the library, and $25 if you’re not (all proceeds benefit the NYPL). 212-930-0718
On January 8, 2011, the world's most famous burlesque performer turns 100 years old. Join LIVE from the NYPL for a centennial celebration of the birth of Gypsy Rose Lee: novelist, playwright, New Yorker essayist, fashion icon, actress, activist, member of New York’s literati, world-famous “ecdysiast" and subject of one of the best-loved musicals in American history. Be amused and appalled by dramatic readings from never-before-published letters in Gypsy’s archives, housed in the New York Public Library.