A Rose By Any Other Name

For those interested in “naughty” books, what could be better than a book about a striptease artist? Now that we have gone past the “prurient interest” stuff, let’s look at what else this book is about.

There are gangsters. Rothstein, Capone, Lucky Luciano, all seem to have had some connection to Gypsy Rose Lee. Or maybe they were just in the audience.

There is the history of the Minsky brothers. They are not gangsters, but they are thorns in the side of government as they explore the limits of what they can explore and get past the government censors. Folks who love to irritate the government will like these parts.

There are segments of fascinating history like that of the World’s Fair during WWII. The exhibits of many nations, like the nations themselves, were downsized. The invention of nylon stockings, displayed at the Fair, would have later importance at the end of the war.

For psychology students, the Havoc family was a definition of dysfunctional, from “Big Lady”, through momma Rose, the relationship between Louise and June, the complete irrelevance of all men through several generations, and possible cannibalism on the part of earlier female ancestors.

The pandemic of influenza circa 1918 is described. Just when we thought we were the most afflicted generation with AIDS, Ebola, and Zika, it is informative to know what our grandparents (literally) faced, without the filter of the internet and CNN.

Here we have the life and death of Gypsy Rose Lee. Also the life and death of Vaudeville, Burlesque, and the celebrities who inhabited the entertainment world. Tricks are revealed. How did the man turn molten lava into coins? Some reputations may be tarnished. Did Joan Blondell really say that about her husband just after his death? She probably did, as this is a well- researched book with an extensive bibliography.

This can be a disturbing read in some parts, but for me it was mostly fun.

 

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