America was flying high in the Roaring Twenties. Then, almost overnight, the Great Depression brought it crashing down. When the dust settled, people were primed for a star who could distract them from reality. Enter Gypsy Rose Lee, a strutting, bawdy, erudite stripper who possessed a gift for delivering exactly what America needed. With her superb narrative skills and eye for detail, Karen Abbott brings to life an era of ambition, glamour, struggle, and survival. Using exclusive interviews and never-before-published material, she vividly delves into Gypsy’s world, including her intense triangle relationship with her sister, actress June Havoc, and their formidable mother, Rose, a petite but ferocious woman who literally killed to get her daughters on the stage. Weaving in the compelling saga of the Minskys—four scrappy brothers from New York City who would pave the way for Gypsy Rose Lee’s brand of burlesque and transform the entertainment landscape—Karen Abbott creates a rich account of a legend whose sensational tale of tragedy and triumph embodies the American Dream.
If you've seen the musical G*psy, forget that, it was the sanitized version. One the only things they got right was Rose's mother was the ultimate stage mother, but 1000 times worse in real life. And she might have killed at least one person.
A very interesting look not only at the life of GRL, but the world of Burlesque as it was in the first part of the 20th century. and has a few chapters interspersed about the biggest promoters of burlesque in NYC, the Minsky brothers. (an infamous raid on one of their theaters inspired a movie called The Night They Raided Minsky's.)
They only thing I didn't like is the book wasn't linear, each chapter jumping from the "modern" era of the '40s to the early years of GRL's life or the Minsky's rise in the business.
But over all, I really enjoyed this book. as I did the others I've read by the author; Sin in the Second city; Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul & Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War.