Books by Jim Linderman

Books by Jim Linderman
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300 Pound Burlesque Talent Hound Dave Cohn You want Girls? I Got Girls True Burlesque (Excerpt from Times Square Smut the Book)

Three-hundred pound Dave Cohn knew flesh, and not only because he had so much of his own.  The first "Heavy D" took ten percent of the biggest names in burlesque.  He had the best stable in the business, and it all operated out of a dingy room on the 5th floor of a 17-floor elevator building on West 46th Street.  This was in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but the building has continued to market flesh of a sort…today it is gussied up and houses the headquarters of Actor's Equity.  Several steps from the now squeaky clean Times Square and in the middle of the "Theatre District" but still in my mind the Minnesota meat market…three short walks from Hell's Kitchen, now known as "Clinton"  and two blocks from Bettie Page's apartment.  The old neighborhood.

Show Biz.

At one time big Dave booked 75 strippers a week.  If things got hot in New York (as they tended to for his clients) he booked them over the river in Jersey.  Need a broad to grind in an Oklahoma carnival tent,  a late hours club in Florida for gangsters,  a businessman's stag party in Scranton?  Dial Dave at LO-ng Acre 3-4035, he'll pick up the phone himself.  Dave's dames were in demand all over the country.   

His clients were not only some of the biggest names in the burly business, they were also the most buxom…some extreme buxom,  and they set them loose to get some air for a price.

Jennie Lee the Bazoom girl.  Tempest Storm, actually a Georgia girl named Anne Banks with moneymakers bigger than any southern fruit.  If they didn't have knockers, they had a gimmick.  Jessica Rogers stripped with birds in cages over her tits.  Zorita danced with a snake.  Edy Selwin danced with monkeys.  Winnie Garrett and her thousand dollar rhinestone strip dress.  Irene the Body.  Denise Renault.  Tina Christine.  Gloria Marlowe.  Scarlet Kelly.  Lyn Paige.  They all gave big Dave his cut.  If "Dolly Dawson" wasn't drawing big, he changed her name to a better one.  He represented "Scarlet O'Hara: The Irish Lassie with the Classy Chassis" and "The Wow Girl."  He had "Sally Sweet" of New Orleans, who started as an acrobat at age 14 but was soon stripping like an adult.   

His tools were fountain pens, exclusive contracts, an ashtray to stub out his butts and the telephone.  He had no trouble making the rent. 

Dave didn't have a romantic interest in the talent.  He never married and it was strictly business.  He started peddling girls during the 1930s and  supplied the Minskys with hoofers.   Dames came to Dave in droves and he eyed the talent like a horse trader.  If they needed advice, he had it.  Change your hair color.  Walk this way.  Let them hang and shake, Peacock.  He expected his talent to "be able to walk to music" and not with "two left feet."  He sent his women where "the public want's strippers…and I mean the nice public, not the morons."  Dave thought wives should see the show too "if they want to hold their husbands" and paid the cover.

He opened an Los Angeles office on Third Street  during the war to scope out talent in the sunny state.  West coast talent. 

They weren't all strippers.  Dave handled Dolly Joyce and her vent dummies Cutie and Jerry.  He had one Johnny Dove. He'd take straight men, "clean" dancers and comics, but he preferred the broads.  He would book them into "The Hi-Way Casino"  in Fall River or "Frank's Casanova Club" in Buffalo.  Any act capable of filling a seat and paying his cut was welcome, or he farmed them out to Milt Shuster, his partner, who had additional contacts from Maine to the West Coast.

He placed "Tirza" into Club Fernando and Trudine into the Club Ha Ha.  The 2 O'clock Club in Baltimore.  It was endless. 

At night, the few Dave found to sleep, Dave slept and dreamed of the perfect body. 

By Jim Linderman An Excerpt from the Forthcoming Publication TIMES SQUARE SMUT

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Les Baby Twins the Shapely Singers of Double Entendre True Burlesque

Les Baby Twins squawk out the lyrics to "Double Entendre" at their 1962 appearance at Minsky's Burlesque.   Seeing and HEARING double!   Double Entendre lyrics are always filthy, but only in the mind of the listener.  These dames are innocents.

Joey Bishop and the Brown Skin Exotics True Burlesque


Joseph Abraham Gotlieb, AKA "Last of the Rat Pack" Joey Bishop introduces the brown-skin exotics of the Savannah Club!  Thanks Joey, and thanks for hotsy totsy Mary Mack too!   In his intro, Joey recalls his own days in burlesque.  Joey did indeed hit the boards, performing in a vaudeville trio which ended when he was drafted into World War Two. 

He may have had a reputation as a swinger, but Joey was married to the same woman for 58 years.

To see Joey revert to his burlesque days for a second, AND see Regis Philbin as a pimple-faced hipster and Sammy Davis with a new bag, watch below.

Joseph Abraham Gotlieb, AKA "Last of the Rat Pack" Joey Bishop introduces the brown-skin exotics of the Savannah Club! Thanks Joey! In his intro, Joey recalls his own days in burlesque. Joey did indeed hit the boards, performing in a vaudeville trio which ended when he was drafted into World War Two. He may have had a reputation as a swinger, but Joey was married to the same woman for 58 years. To see Joey revert to his burlesque days for a second, AND see Regis Philbin as a pimple-faced hipster and Sammy Davis with a new bag, watch below. 

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The True Story of Virginia Ding Dong Bell True Burlesque

Virgina Bell.  I've seen a stag film and survived.

It is finally time to discuss Virginia Bell.  I usually don't go for the easy ones, (not that Ms. Bell was easy) but the obscurities attract me more. It's the hard stories which grab me, but how long can I ignore a woman whose middle name was "Ding-Dong" with a 48 inch bust?  So the challenge here will be to find something new about the lovely gorilla in the room.

Virginia Bell the Amazonic!

Star of "Gertie the Grapefruit Girls and Friends" in 1969 and "Lullaby of Bareland" in 1964.  I hesitate to call Ms. Bell an actress, as her real talent was swaying them slowly in unison, but she did find work in the business.  I pride myself on a family-friendly website here, and I can assure you it took a considerable amount of work to find a picture of Miss Bell, AKA "Ding Dong" without her full talents on display.

However, once you scroll to the cover of Fling Magazine here (shot by Russ Meyer)you will go find your own anyway.  Have fun!  Virginia, with the help of Russ, pretty much owned Fling Magazine, but her most famous cover is probably the 1959 issue of Sir Knight in which she flaunts in front of what must be the first graffiti covered wall in history. 
Standing a mere 5 foot 2 inches, Virginia was a 44 at one time, a 48 the next, but who is counting. Virginia Bell, which is where the "Ding-Dong" moniker came from,  was born in 1932.  Unlike most big-busted talents with aspiration, she was born in California and didn't have to hitch hike out to get discovered.  She was apparently pushed into stags by her husband, and was soon playing volleyball in nudies.

Her big dough came in dancing.  She is reported playing in Pittsburg as early as 1957 dancing on a bill along with "Domay, The Gorgeous Cherokee Half Breed" who was apparently "the only indian exotic dancer in burlesque."  Okay...  In 1957, Virginia was using the fairly common "Treasure Chest Girl" label.  She was also doing a 15-minute dance between movies such as "Geisha Girls" and "Some Like it Cool"  at the time, and reportedly also danced "wherever girlie-girlie carnivals are still in ascendancy..." 

After a 20 week tour of Europe in 1961, which included bouncing the stages In London, Paris and Rome, she returned directly to Youngstown, Ohio to dance for the commoners!  She was then known as "The Little Girl with the Big Dimensions" though the reporter in the Youngstown Vindicator was kind enough to report "Despite the impressive statistics, she is not at all unwieldy."  How would HE know? By the way, on that gig, there was also a woman named "Tina Turner"  What?

The Miami News reported her stripper salary at $1500 a week in 1963.

Her passing is reported in July 2010 in Westlake Village, California.
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Sally and her Monkey True Burlesque

Sally Lane, or Sally Majestic, with her monkey Fifi.  I don't know if Fifi had more than one name.  For some reason burlesque fans seem to love pictures of Sally, but so did famed pervert Irving Klaw, who photographed her many times.  I sure hope she didn't use that whip on Fifi,  but that's not big news…Irving would shoot any stripper coming through town who would pose in undies or wield a whip, but I can break some BIG news here.

There were TWO Fifis.  Yep, just like on Full House when two little monkey-like actresses named the Olsen Twins played one role.  Sally had two monkeys, one named Fifi Junior.  She also performed with an Angora cat.  Sally was most active in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  She worked for strip pimp Lou Miller and called her touring troupe the Paradise Revue, which played state fairs in the East, where horny, curious farmers would pony-up a quarter and see the show while their wife competed in the best pie contest.  She also posed for Bruno of Hollywood, who would shoot any dame not in a skirt.  Fifi  the monkey wears special matching leopard skin print for the publicity shoot.

Sally was arrested in 1949 for stripping off too much.

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Honeylulu: Best of Neo Burlesque True Burlesque

Honeylulu is the epitome of neo-burlesque, but one obviously kicked up on performance enhancers.  From the costumes to the physical props (including a giant-sized teacup in which she emerges) she is a living and breathing performer from the past.  With historical accuracy and modern-day embellishment, her act brings crowds to her shows. You may see a gigantic handbag and lipstick, but Honeylulu's most perfect prop is her figure.  Lush, full and perfectly constructed!  Honey Lulu is truly a modern-day milk bath of burlesque.  Yes, she can twirl them AND she eats fire!

HoneyLulu wrote me after reading a few of my snide comments on True Burlesque.  She was puzzled and asked (from the perspective of a working performer in the business) if I LIKED burlesque.  Of course I do! 

I promptly asked HoneyLulu if she would agree to be profiled in the Contemporary wing of the Vintage Sleaze cyber Museum.  After all, how often does one receive mail from an artist voted one of the top 50 burlesque performers in the world? 

As neo-burlesque clubs spring up all across the world, surely one day HoneyLuLu will be a much admired role model for the next few generations, and she is already sharing her skills with others through performance and workshops.  Honeylulu is a modern performer who has completely mastered an earlier skill. 

HoneyLulu has more press than Murdoch…but much of it is in German or Italian.  Let's translate!  THIS is burlesque.  Let's see what makes "The Queen of Strip Tea!" so steaming hot.

Q. As a performer of international scope, have you ever performed in the United States?

In 2007 I performed at Tease-O-Rama at the legendary Bimbo's 365 club in San Francisco. It was a wonderful experience. I had been performing just a couple of years and it was a great honor to be included in the line-up. I loved the great scale of the event and watching some of my favorite artists on stage, as well as discovering new ones. I loved talking to some of the legends such as Satan's Angel.   The atmosphere was thrilling and you could really feel a sense of community and a shared passion for burlesque; it's an event made with love. I would love to go again.

Q. Where are you from originally, and how did you first learn about burlesque?  Is it even CALLED burlesque in Germany?

I was born in Italy and lived there until I was 19. I then moved to London where I spent most of my adult life and which is what I call home these days. It was there that I discovered burlesque. I then started working the German variety circuit and that brought me where I am now.   I met my husband in a theatre we were both working at and later I decided to move semi-permanently to Germany. We shall see where the future takes me!

I can't say exactly where I first heard of burlesque; becoming a burlesque performer was an organic process for me. I guess it all started with my love of all things vintage and a keen interest in subcultures. I think the first burlesque performance I saw live was Immodesty Blaize in 2003, in London.

It IS called burlesque in Germany; we have many talented performers living in and around Berlin. The scene is not as huge as in the US but it is very thriving!

Q. How long have you been dancing and performing?

I have been performing for about 7 years. I come from an art background and apart from dance classes I took as an adult, I am not classically trained. It has been a very interesting journey, never a dull moment!  Since I started, the burlesque world has grown and evolved a lot, and it is really interesting to see changes in trends and attitudes.

Q. Who are your role models?  In the States, we have our burlesque idols, are they the same in Europe?

I am inspired by strong women and the women who made it possible for us to be where we are now.  I love performers like Blaze Starr and Billie Madley.  I think today with the Web and Youtube, information is global and accessible to everyone, so that there is not much difference between burlesque fans and connoisseurs of different countries. I really like that.

Q. Do you come from a family of entertainers?  I generally think of "fire eaters" as coming from a vaudeville or stage past…were other members of your family "in the business?"

Not really anyone in my family has ever been an entertainer though my family has always encouraged me to be myself and pursue my dreams. Many people in my family have been working at sea so I guess that’s where I got my love of travel and seeing the world, though from a stage rather than a boat.

Q. Have you ever had mistakes on stage?  Wardrobe malfunctions?  Accidental fire?

God no, I’ve never caused an accidental fire and hope I never will! Though once I did set the fire alarm off in a small venue and the audience loved it, they went absolutely mad!   I’ve never had any major wardrobe malfunctions to date and I have never lost a pastie, which is quite a common one. But once I had a bottle of champagne pop open before planned and the bubbly liquid hit me right in the eye, which I couldn’t keep open anymore; thankfully my number was nearly finished but I did have to finish it with a prolonged wink. I had to laugh so much!

Q. Are the venues you play professional, reputable and such? Burlesque here has a tawdry history, one I take delight in pointing out as the stories are so interesting.  Can you recall the worst places you played and share some stories?

I must say I’ve been quite lucky with the venues I performed at. I’ve always been paid and never had much trouble. In general though, I find that the more chic (and pretentious) the venues are, the worst are the facilities for the performers. I’ve had beautiful dressing rooms but also had to change in stairwells and fire exits where balancing a suitcase full of costumes has been a huge challenge.  Once I was performing at a company function. The CEO of said company had demanded I tone down my act and keep my bra on (which I obliged) as he thought my number was too sexual. But when he was backstage before I went onstage - never met the guy before - he slapped my ass. That kind of sexism and hypocrisy drives me mad!  Another time, the performers for a private function were left a generous tip by the client, but our agent utterly refused to share it with us.

Q. Do you make your own costumes?

I mix it up really. Mostly I have made to measure pieces, as well as a few gems of vintage costumes. I love the idea of bringing back to the stage another showgirl’s costume from the 40s or the 50s, I always wonder what interesting stories come with that costume! To date I haven’t been able to trace any of the personal histories but I’m working on it.  I also customize and embellish most of my g-strings and bras, and make some bits and bobs. I can spend long nights sticking rhinestones to shoes or panties. I find this very rewarding and rather cathartic.



Peep Show Striptease The Story of Peep Show Magazine True Burlesque

Peep Show.  Big Pulp with Busty Big Burlesque!  Browsing around the internet digging up useless facts about Peep Show, I was quite surprised to see how few copies have made to a Google image search.  A half dozen!  Which is unfortunate,  as it is such a lovely example of 1950s cheesecake, even if it was a cheap rip-off of Whisper and Stocking Parade. Then I realized the problem.  It's too big to fit on a SCANNER! 

I have owned my share over the years, and have a few around now, but you'll only find fuzzy images of full size covers online as it was 13" tall.  I cribbed a few of those online to supplement my chopped up versions.  Most crappy scanners, like mine, are built for 12" so there you go.  Who wants to cut off any cleavage?

I am sure it did stand out at the magazine store.  Such COLORS, yet the guts were all black and white.

There have been rumors since forever that the publisher was tied in with the mob.  Whether this is due to the Italian surname of the founder (Santangelo) or that the idea for publishing was cooked up in prison (true)...but I don't have proof.  Where there is pulp smoke burning, there is often mafia fire, and the more I dig into the sordid history of sleazy publishing, the more it is obvious how much was "influenced" by some most unsavory characters, and I do not mean the characters in the cheap comics Charlton was best known for. 

Santangelo's first publishing efforts were stealing the lyrics of popular songs and moving in on the highly profitable music publishing business, but he got caught and sent to the big house for a year, and from there he went into legitimate publishing.   Or maybe I should say he "went legit?"  Either way, his first legit publishing was doing the same thing he did before, but on the level, with Hit Parader magazine.  It lasted decades.  The music publishing business in the 1950s?  Okay, now THAT was a squeaky clean line of work.  Pffft.  On that basis alone, we should figure the operation as crooked as a straight line in a Charlton comic.

So okay...I'll say it.  Yes.  There were probably some greasy fingers on the newsprint.

Peep Show was actually published as by N.E.W.S Publishing Corporation, but they were done at the Charlton plant in Derby, just like Hit Parader and all the comics.  At one time they had well over 50 titles, but the company ran out of luck around 1990.   

The average issue of Peep Show is 50 pages of fragile, bottom of the trunk pulp, with nearly all of them filled with babes in bikinis or a bubble bath. Well...I hate to use "average" in the same paragraph as Eve Meyer, the stunning and only true love of Russ Meyer, who sold them 4 pages worth for one issue alone, and the cover here.  Some of his earliest work.

Peep Show was a who's who of famous shutterbugs.  Earl Leaf, who I profiled just yesterday, Charles Kell, Bruno, Bernard...and these all in the one issue I am browsing. 

If my post can do anything, it may encourage someone to collect and publish the covers.  They had a great logo, totally indicative of the contents, and they are so fragile today if someone doesn't do it soon, they'll all be lost.

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Black and Tan Burlesque Photographer True Burlesque Forgotten Negro Shutterbug

Time to bring another great photographer out of the dust of obscurity and racism.  Once known as "The Man Who Never Sleeps" Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons was an African-American jazzman (more than anything else) in his younger days playing with no less than American treasure Fats Waller, Hot Lips Page, Chick Webb and more.  Many more.  He recorded under his own name as well, including "I Can't Get Started" on the Parrot label (in which he played both organ and saxophone, probably at the same time.)  If you are not yet impressed with Lonnie's musical chops, his Jet Magazine obit reports he also played with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.  Parrot was a label which lasted only three years in the early 1950s, but some of the recordings were reissued later on Chess Records. 

However, though Simmons performed up until the last, suffering a fatal stroke while performing AT AGE 80 according to Euguene Chadbourne, it is his work as a photographer of interest here.

Photographer too?  I'm getting a little tired of learning about astounding talented people no one taught me about in school.  

So Lonnie, or Samuel, is called "a free-lance photographer" in passing in the few places you might find information about him. 

Born in Charleston, South Carolina Actually, in Mt. Pleasant, an isolated pocket in the low-country coast, yet another of those plantation- era places near where slaves landed.  A bridge to Mount Pleasant was built in 1928.  Wiki lists one Darius Rucker as coming from the city, he being "Hootie" of the Blowfish… but they omit Mr. Simmons.   

Lonnie's father was a blacksmith who went back nearly to slave days, passing at the age of 82 in 1955.  Lonnie's father was just one notable blacksmith named Simmons from the Charleston area.  On his father's passing, Lonnie went back to Mt. Pleasant to bring his mother back to Chicago with him, and it was her first plane airplane ride.  His appearance at the funeral was notable enough for the local paper to interview him, where Simmons is reported to have "gradually drifted into take pictures for newspapers and magazines" and that he maintains his own darkroom in his Chicago home.  The headline reads "Mt. Pleasant Negro Musician Becomes Press Photographer" and adds a few more musical giants among his playing partners.

It was not unusual for Mr. Simmons to leap from the bandstand with his camera to capture events, including crimes.  A one-man forerunner of the surveillance camera, his pictures were used by the Chicago Police for evidence and he earned honorary membership in the Chicago Patrolman's Association.  Much of his photography was taken at the legendary Chicago Club De Lisa (which I wrote about earlier) and I now believe the photograph below was taken by Mr. Simmons in his "spare time" as picture maker who roamed the club supporting his income with snapshots.
The extraordinary dance photos shown here were Lonnie's.  Scarce not only because they show the "Black and Tan" nightclub era (an era not generally regarded as worthy of documentation at the time by most photographers) but also because, I assume, most of Mr. Simmons photographs have not been exhibited.  It would be pretty safe to guess the originals are lost.  We can hope a relative finds this post, digs them out and produces the coffee-table book he earned but no one made.

Somebody has some, as Mr. Simmon's photographs were apparently used in the 1995 documentary PROMISED LAND narrated by Morgan Freeman for the History Channel  which while acclaimed was forgotten.  You can read about it HERE where people keep asking why it isn't available on DVD…one of whom writes "It is a shame that this great work of truth has been overlooked."  Par for the course.  The documentary is about the migration of southern African-Americans to Chicago.  Lonnie Simmons was one of them, and fortunately he was around with his camera.

Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons photographs appear in Ebony, Jet, The Chicago Defender, The Pittsburgh Courier, The Crusader and Cabaret (a magazine which documented burlesque in the 1950s and from where the photographs above were taken) and I suspect others once considered unsavory race and pinup magazines from the 1950s on.  The portrait of the young musician is from the Charleston Jazz Initiative at the School of the Arts, College of Charleston, South Carolina.  Jet Magazine recognized Lonnie's talents and skills…as well as using his photographs (including the astounding picture of a dancer flying above a drummer, which I have cribbed but credited) they also reported on his adventures, including being bitten by an eel and having his instruments stolen HERE.

Charleston Jazz Initiative Archives


Original Club DeLisa Photograph and Sleeve collection Jim Linderman 


UNSUNG HEROES OF PHOTOGRAPHY is a series on Vintage Sleaze the Blog by Jim Linderman.  Previous profiles include Art Messick George Boardman Danny Rouzer  Russ Meyer  Wil Blanche  Benno Friedman  and Bunny Yeager  


Striptease Murder Case and the Giant True Burlesque

"Scout knife eh?  A boy scout didn't stab her"  Not bad!  It's all fast one-liners and slow tease in the 1950 crapper "The Strip Tease Murder Case" directed by Hugh Prince, the same guy who wrote the song "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Beat me Daddy Eight to the Bar!"  He shoulda stuck to songs.  Actually, everyone and his uncle claims to have written Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy…I think the lawyers are still fighting over it in-between taking hits on oxygen machines.  But Hugh did the film.

Hugh's epic venture into film making premiered in 1950, in San Francisco, of course, a town primed for racy material as all the guys drummed out of the army for being "un-fit" stayed to live in the port town!  D grade strippers pretend to strip while a love triangle murder plot involving the hero "Johnny" unfolds.

Of course the posters scream "Burlesque's Biggest Beauties" but that is only true when one takes physical size into account, as here you see giantess Denise Darnell tower over a smitten rube.  She smacks him away as he grabs her (four feet off the ground) buns.

Denise Darnell was from Texas, where all women are giant.  Did the film make Denise a star?  Well…a year later she was working for the Gooding Amusement Company at a sideshow in Tupelo, Mississippi alongside a two-headed bull and "Tracy's Midgets" so you decide.  Big Time!   Denise was 6 foot 7 inches, and even taller using the old sideshow trick of wearing a foot tall hat.  For some reason, her publicity still shows her sneering.  Fifteen years later Denise was cast in another film playing (wait for it…) a stripper.

Other strippers in the film were Naomi (a brunette with an educated body) Lynn Sherwood, Alverta (exotic) and Eunice Jason (the sweet stripper with the charming chassis!)  Hot.

The flick was 40 minutes long…but it flashes by in a few hours!


Tempest Storm at the El Rey ADMIT ONE (1955) True Burlesque

For all loyal fans of Vintage Sleaze the Blog, a FREE PASS to see Tempest Storm at her best LIVE at the El Rey Theatre!

(Ticket good only until 1955)

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