Satan's Angel, Part II
Outside of Vegas I worked a lot in Florida, where it paid well. I also worked Canada, Mexico City (at the El Presidente, no less), Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Guam--that's why my life story is called "Have Tassels, Will Travel!" At one point I did 25 towns in 32 weeks, working six days each week with one day for travel. I did over 25000 performances. I worked in in Europe--Barcelona, Paris, Italy, Switzerland, Germany. I used to sit on the plane and the airline magazine would list all the stops, all the little red lines going to each city, and I worked almost every city United Airlines served. You could really make a living in burlesque then. I would make 1200-2500 a week in the mid 80s, and they paid our transportation and hotels, usually.
What is your fondest memory of all that traveling?
Japan. I loved it. I worked at Nichigeki Theater in Tokyo in 1969, a theater in the round with the stage at the bottom. The stage came up from the basement and behind me was a waterfall with silver streamer lights. There was a 28 piece orchestra. The stage came up and I was in a solid rhinestone gown, so heavy. The gown was from Bebe Hughes, white lace with a rhinestone in each flower, and over about three years we had covered the whole dress with all these rhinestones imported from Paris. On my opening night 5000 people were there and when they all applauded at same time it was thunderous. I would go to make a move but they wouldn't stop applauding, screaming, whistling, stomping! I couldn't even hear that huge orchestra, they were so excited. I was thinking, "This is what it's all about." I had a beautiful dressing room, and woman that helped me dress, bowls of candy, bottles of champagne. They gave me a pearl ring. I felt like Gypsy Rose Lee.
Your mother was with you this year at the Exotic World event. What did she think of it?
Let me tell you about my mother. I was working at the Galaxy Club in San Francisco in the 60s, this great space-themed place with girls in silver skirts . An artist came in and sort of strategically covered over our parts, painted us all up, and we were to stand on these pillars all through the club. The pillars rotated and we'd each strike a pose like a psychedelic statue. So I was doing this, and I felt this negative energy like I smelled something burning and then felt really self-conscious. I looked down and there was my mother looking at me with her arms folded. I screamed, "My mother, oh my god it's my mother!" I leaped down and ran to the dressing room and grabbed my coat. She caught up with me and she wasn't too thrilled, obviously. I said, "Mom, I make 350-450 a week, 700 a week in Vegas," and she got cool with it--what was she gonna do? She's corporate, I'm not. She's worked for the May Company her whole life, my dad died in the 40s, and she's 82 and still works five days a week, and she does her own gardening. This year she came to Exotic World and she hadn't seen me dance since 1979, and the audience was so loving. They gave me their soul and hearts. She felt it and she said, "By God, you can still dance." That's all she said. Then she goes home next day and I later heard there are pix of her with boas everywhere in the house! She ranted and raved about how beautiful my performance was. She always supported me but isn't much the kind of person to tell me. The Sissy Butch Brothers did a documentary and stopped by my mom's house and asked her, "Have you supported Angel all this years?" and my mom said, "I've always loved her and she's always made me proud." She tells me she loves me every day but to tell me that I made her proud, my heart! At 60 something years old, you could say a little late, but still not too late!
Angel's Mom, far right, in the process of winning the entire pot at the Exotic World Poker game in Las Vegas, 2007. Photo by Dale Harris
You've said you didn't have an easy time leaving the business.
It's hard to quit when you've been going from 17 till you're in your 40s, but it got too raw for me in the mid 80s with the porn features and so on. After I quit I did coke all day and all night. I had 4 heart attacks, a couple of grand mal seizures, and then as soon as I'd get well I'd start doing coke again.
I've always owned a Harley, and I had a terrible accident and broke 32 bones and got all crippled up. I loved to ride, like a cowgirl with her horse. Me and all my best friends used to ride together and called ourselves. the four roses. There was one girl we called Big Chris, 6'3', weighed 350, and rode one huge Harley. She worked as a dispatcher for police department and also worked a couple of nights volunteering for suicide center. As a drug addict I was shrinking away from everything and she said you need to quit. After two years of her hiding my drugs and taking them away, one day she came in and said, "I brought someone to see you." I wasn't irate and she said, "Just come down the hallway and see 'em." I went into my living room and walked around the corner and had brought in this huge mirror and leaned it up against the wall. I turned that corner and because I hadn't one mirror in the house had no idea what I looked like. When I looked at that person in the mirror I was devastated. I fell on my knees cried because I saw I was dying. Big Chris had got me this Doberman puppy and I laid on the couch petting the dog, with Chris helping me get by, and detoxed for two weeks. Yes, it was awful. Now I haven't smoked any or done a line of coke in 18 years.
After all that, how did you come to perform at Exotic World and at Teaseorama?
I owned a dinner theater in Gold Canyon, Arizona, where they used to make westerns. My place was a replica of a 1890s bordello and I called it Whiskey Lil's. It was decorated with pictures of famous madams. In front of the place was an authentic 1887 bed from a real bordello. A woman named Terry Earp, relative to Wyatt, saw my costume in the glass case where I had it set up, and she said it was beautiful and asked whose it was.
When I said it was mine, she told me she was writing a play called Timbuktu or Bust about two strippers who inherit a motel in desert and interviewed me about burlesque. She ended up writing a play about me called Have Tassels Will Travel. She heard of Exotic World, went there, and called me from Helendale and told me she was staring at my picture on the museum wall. I wrote to Dixie and asked about being in the Hall of Fame, and she invited me to the pageant. I met people from Teaseorama and they invited me to perform and I've been dancing ever since. I reconnected with ladies I knew from the day, like Kiva, Marinka, Big Fanny Anny, and Dusty Summers. And Holiday O'Hara, the last time I saw her she was sitting at the kitchen table naked as a jay bird, doing her nails and trying to get a guy to bring us a brick of thai weed. There's nothing like seeing these people after all that time.
How do you like performing with these new folks?
It's great, but at some point I'm going to have to retire, because sometimes I can't walk because of osteoporosis. I got about 80% of my book done should be ready by next year. I'm trying to teach classes before I stop dancing. You twirlers, listen, save your ta tas! you don't have to jump up and down like that! I love the girls in new burlesque, so many of the ones I really like do both the old and the new. I'd like to teach them that old simple glide with the hand...just a glide.
Satan's Angel with one of burlesque's newest performers, Lola Pearl. Photo property of Lola Pearl
You teach the fire tassels too, right?
Yes, I'm going to teach a fire tassel class at Teaseorama. I'm doing it one time and having it videotaped. I say you've got to have tits you can't do it flat chested with fire tassels. You have to be a little knowledgable about fire, have to carry fire insurance, get permits, i have all that. You know, I have not lost my fire tassels in 30 years, never had them fly off, then last month I bought a new roll of tape that was no good and they both flew off immediately. I plopped on my ass and start laughing. Yhey were still burning so I picked 'em up and held 'em on and twirled 'em like that. In my day nobody taught you anything, you learned by yourself. Our art is different than your art, and burlesque from then is not the same as now. There were no body piercings, no overwight, no tattoos, no blacks, no short hair, if you had a butch hairdo you had to wear a wig. Them girls were mean, especially if you looked good. The pioneers that got the first boob jobs were shunned.
Anything you want to say to the newest performers?
Keep your day job. Go to school and be somebody...I don't know. Do I mean that? Nah, go for it, follow your heart. That's what I did. You know, I used to play musical instruments and sing, I even laid in bed with Janis Joplin while we sang together and screwed. It was a great life but all that glitz and glamour is not there as much. I'd just say follow your heart if you think you can do this for fun and maybe make a few dollars and have a good time and still be with your family and friends.
If you're in love with Satan's Angel now (who isn't???), you can learn more about her at her website: Satan's Angel
You can see her perform at currently running monthly show at
And, you can take her fire-tassel twirling class at Tease-O-Rama!