Another unfortunate tale of true burlesque gone bad. Tami Roche, once crowned "Miss Burlesque" as shown above, in a photograph taken by the talent agency of "Johnny O'Leary" in Atlanta. Fresh-faced Tami poses with her trophy . She earned the cup as "The Tassel Twirling Tami" which was her skill. In fact, it was once reported she could "twirl four tassels simultaneously as well as sequentially" by a newspaper. What year did Tami earn her title? That is unclear, but quite likely in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Much later, she was scheduled to appear as "The Bolivian Bombshell" in Russ Meyer's film "Blitzen, Vixen and Harry" but I don't know if it happened. There you go…end of story.
Get ready…things are going to get a bit dicey here.
Tami was well-known in the Atlanta area during the 1960s. As legendary as a peeler can be, the web has remembrances from now aging fans. Most often queries like " What ever happened to Tami?" or "Is Tami still alive?" One writes "Keep twirling those tassels Tami." Her name could have been Rabia Roche, or Raisa Roche it seems, but then those who write comments on porno websites aren't often journalists.
One of Tami's best sketches involved her impersonating the Statue of Liberty, a performance she apparently created for live performance and eventually the film This Was Burlesque…one of those nostalgic docujunk things shown on HBO.
At some point in her career Tami married Johnny Kirk. Johnny eventually owned the Domino Lounge. Or should I say "The glamorous Domino Lounge? No. It was a dump which stunk like smoke, old beer and had pink dominos painted on the walls. At one time the club was owned by "Chick" Hedrick. The Domino was located on one of the many Peachtree streets in Atlanta, this one at 355 Peachtree in the Imperial Hotel. Over the years the Imperial held the Copa Caprice Lounge, The Domino (from late 1953 until 1968) The "Whisk A Go-Go" in an attempt to rebrand for "hip" kids, and then back to the Domino. Somehow the Wikipedia article on the Imperial Hotel omits the string of strip clubs there…but does mention it is now low income housing in financial distress. Who the hell would write a Wiki article without mentioning a strip club in the joint for 15 years?
Chick held three shows nightly, each with a stripper, a B-grade performer like Jerry Van Dyke as comic and MC and a bad band like "The Brutones." They even once presented Frank Sinatra Jr. As late as 1964 they still hired blackface performers. Chick also seems to have owned "The Rose Room" which featured "a cowboy lingerie show" in 1968…along with a certain disc jockey named "Johnny K" which could have been Tami's future husband Johnny Kirk, but that is a guess. A cowboy lingerie show?
Tami had a love/hate affair with nightclub owners. One of them apparently beat her in the late 1970s…Russell S. Weiss, who must have been a real peach. He was also, at various times, charged with bribery, which he claimed were "payments, not bribes" according the the Atlanta Constitution. Guilty? Who knows…I don't care about sleazeball Weiss, this post is about Tami. I'm just adding some color to the story. Like the Domino Lounge added color to their entertainers.
So why is my profile of Tami Roche so concerned with the Domino Lounge, even if her husband owned it? This is why:
Tami Roche Kirk, individually and as administratrix of the estate of her deceased husband, John Acel Kirk, brought a complaint against James R. Hasty, doing business as the Imperial Hotel. She alleged: Her husband and the defendant entered into an oral partnership agreement whereby her husband furnished capital and the defendant transferred one-half of his interest in the hotel and realty on which it is located. At the time of his death her husband operated a business in the hotel, independently of the partnership, under the name of the Domino Lounge, as a tenant pursuant to an oral lease with the defendant. She is presently conducting this business as administratrix and sole heir of husband's estate. The defendant is attempting to oust her business operation from the hotel.
Because in 1977 the owners of the Imperial tried to kick her ass out of their place, that's why. After Johnny Kirk passed away, and Tami was trying to hold onto the Domino. You can read the outcome HERE.
Regardless, Tami continued to fester in the seedy underbelly of burlesque. To the extent she pumped up her breasts to balloon size, began posing for big boob fetish magazines like Juggs, grew spiky "new wave" hair and made some of the worst smut films in history. Like bleached color trash in which she pretended to "work out" on a slant board topless, her implants towering over tiny hand weights she pretended to wield. At the age of around 50 years. A case of mistaken identity? I don't think so...the same mole.
And worse…it appears she put her own daughter, Lisa, in the business, who ALSO appeared on the cover of Juggs. I'm not too sure of that, but you can look it up yourself.
Where is Tami today? I'm afraid to find out.
Domino Lounge images from ATLANTA TIME MACHINE
"Miss Burlesque" Publicity Photo collection Victor Minx and True Burlesque