Books by Jim Linderman

Books by Jim Linderman
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The Lost Life of a Burlesque Star True Burlesque

There were thousands of anonymous women working in the smut business. Here is just one of many, and her tale represents all. An unfinished portrait of Lilly La Mont, slightly gap-toothed Half-Native American stripper, prostitute, model and B-girl from the 1950s. A heavy drinker with mystery nicknames who "packed them into a Greenwich Village nightclub for not for long..." A woman I hope to put a real name to, and representing a thousand hard-working young women in a far from glamorous industry. Despite the retro resurgence of "pin-up culture" and so-called "glamour" photography, these sexual pioneers and independent woman would have a few things to say about glamour. Living out of trunks, at the mercy of crooked theater owners, working for pennies in smoke and alcohol-drenched spaces in front of drunken, hormonal, often desperate men? Show business.

 Lilly is today a cypher and ghost pinup, but one who was likely the first muse for "Faster, Pussycat! Kill Kill" film maker Russ Meyer, who found, lost and never quite got over her. All the model left behind is a few stag films, some portrait fragments, a publicity still or two, a magazine cover which inspired a tattoo artist 50 years later and the scarce mail-order brochures shown here.
Lilly La Mont, real name unknown, was referred to as "The Alaskan Heat Wave" in Time Magazine, yet whether she ever stepped foot in the 49th state is unknown. She did perform with a dead polar bear on stage. At one time, as she was stripping in a Portland, Oregon club called Star Burlesque (where she turned tricks on the side) Lilly would put on a regular private show for a wealthy patron who had her dance nude as he lay in a coffin watching, a story she shared with Russ Meyer who used it as the opening for his film "Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens" 25 years after she told him the story.

Lilly appeared in the legendary "lost" film Meyer made for the owner of the El Ray Burlesque Theater in 1950, a pseudo-documentary known variously as "French Peep Show" or "French Postcards" which preceded what is generally understood as Meyer's first proper (improper) film "The Immoral Mr. Teas." In a Time magazine article about the trend in "nudie" pictures, La Mont is described by Meyer as having "a socko twin pair of casabas with corralling-cleavage capable of hiding Johnny Bench's catcher's mitt." The phrase also appears in Meyer's massive three volume autobiography "A Clean Breast" still in print ten years after the master's death and still giving the Fedex man a hernia.

"French Peep Show" was a vehicle for bombshell burlesque queen Tempest Storm, but Lilly played bit part showing her parts. Her name follows Tempest's on the poster. Interestingly, French Peep Show may have also spotlighted another disappearing beauty, Dawn Danielle, profiled here later. (Whose actual fake name was Dawn Denielle.)

A year after Meyer filmed Lilly the "pneumatic terper" he found her again and convinced her to pose for some nude shots. One suspects it wasn't too difficult, as she immediately asked for lotion to shine up her breasts and later posed for a splendid self-portrait (with timer) of the two. Meyer rests his head on her breasts. It is one of the few self-portraits Meyer put in his book. He also commissioned cartoonist Bill Ward to illustrate her coffin story.

A few years earlier...(or later?) Lilly somehow landed a continuing role on a CBS radio show called "Hollywood Madness" where she met met George Tirebiter, B movie film director. She married him for a short time, but the divorce came after he supposedly dated Marilyn Monroe. In 1950 it is reported she turned him in during the communist witch hunt to save her own lovely skin, and appeared in the film "Yesterday's Sunset" as Baby Heather, a former dancer. No stretch. The film was a moderate success, earning a nomination or two for Academy awards but certainly none for Lilly.

Dancer Dixie Evans remembers finding Lilly years later in Providence, Rhode Island. In Jimmy McDonough's "Big Bosoms and Square Jaws" she laments La Mont's disappearance. "She was staying at this cheap broken-down hotel..." and recalls both on their way to "entertain" the governor of New York and his friends. They had requested Lilly after seeing her on a burlesque poster. Evans says Lilly could hardly drive ten miles without stopping for a drink.

Later Lilly was reported living in a bungalow at the El Encanto Hotel, where she may have spent her remaining days in a drunken haze.
Some sources have Lilly dancing as early as the 1930s, and yet she appeared on the cover of the French "Follies De Paris Hollywood" pictorial pinup magazine in 1952, and our phantom beauty is referred to as "the most explosive girl in Canada" at the time. This image of Lilly was turned into a piece of contemporary art 40 years later by Mexican tattoo artist Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez, who works under the name of Dr. Lakra. In a striking piece (and inadvertent tribute to a woman who was surely anonymous to the artist) Dr. Lakra covered a pinup of La Mont with intricate ink designs, a piece which was exhibited at the Musem of Modern Art.

Here the story ends. One internet site desperately asks for more information.

We can only hope Miss Lilly La Mont did not end up like another of Meyer's prominent models, the lovely Yvette Vickers, whose mummified body was found a year after her death in 2011 by a woman who found cobwebs across her front door. Vickers was one of Meyer's three Playboy centerfolds in 1959.

Lilly La Mont Mystery of the Alaskan Heat Wave is by Jim Linderman
Do not reproduce without permission.
Linderman's books and ebooks are available HERE at Blurb and Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books
Folies de Paris et de Hollywood  Magazine Collection Victor Minx
"Lady Bountiful" brochure Collection Jim Linderman