Dear Constant Reader,
Showgirl Confidential: My Life Onstage, Backstage, And On The Road by Pleasant Gehman (2013).
Some of you might not recognize the author’s name, but if I called her Princess Farhana of Hollywood…
In this memoir, The Princess, that is, Pleasant aka Plez, shares many of her adventures as a member of an all-girl punk band, a jet-setting bellydancer, one of the original performers of the ground-breaking Velvet Hammer Burlesque, and all-around rebel and troublemaker.
Except for the first chapter, where she describes her formative years (and sets the scene for things to come), there is no order, chronological or otherwise to the tales that follow. And it doesn’t really matter. They skip around — a post-9/11 road trip that turns into a nightmare is followed by touring with her band in the mid-eighties. But it doesn’t matter. It’s one joyful chaos of storytelling.
And she’s a fine storyteller. She plunges into her crazy life with exuberance, frequently jetlagged or hungover (or both), and spares none of the details, no matter how embarrassing or outrageous. She’s like your wacky best friend recounting her adventures which you can relive from the safety of your couch (and be sorry or glad you weren’t along for the ride).
There’s plenty of sex (Them), drugs (The Austin Diet Plan), and rock ‘n roll (The Screaming Sirens), but also international incidents, psychic phenomena, romantic disasters (and I do mean *disasters*), and more. But what about the burlesque?
There are only two chapters about her time with The Velvet Hammer, one on the whip acts (yes, plural) in which she performed (with a guest appearance by the great Tura Satana) and one which is a humorous (but oh so accurate) schedule for a show day.
Like many small press books, it has some formatting issues, mostly extraneous hard returns that break up the flow of a paragraph. Occasionally a word (or even part of a sentence) is missing, but think of it as quirky charm.
And if you buy it directly from the Princess, she’ll sign it !