Monday, 9 January 2012
Today - though she is, alas, no longer with us - is the 101st birthday of Gypsy Rose Lee, actress, entertainer, authoress, playwright, extremely popular lady, and ecdysiast extraordinaire. 'Ecdysiast', I should explain, is a fancy word coined by H.L. Mencken for a striptease artist with class. Gypsy's routines were famous for their relaxed, casual style and wit, both visual and verbal. She slowed down the pace (concentrating on the 'tease' rather than the 'strip'), performed with real artistry, and enjoyed a cheerful, joshing rapport with her audience. Or so I have read - and so I can infer from this footage of Gypsy in action. It's an abbreviated routine, and drastically cleaned up - don't get too excited, gentlemen - but her quality as an entertainer shines through. What charm, what finesse, what espieglerie - what a dame!