Review: Gypsy

Dear Constant Reader,

Our readings at Naked Girls Reading at the Expo made me realize that I have several books on Gypsy Rose Lee that I still need to review.

Gypsy: Memoirs of America’s Most Celebrated Stripper by Gypsy Rose Lee (1957).

Most people are at least a little familiar with Gypsy’s story: her childhood in vaudeville where she was ignored in favor of her more talented younger sister, her ambitious mother, and her success in burlesque. Her own account is a must read for any burlesque performer or fan. There have been several biographies of her written since (some of which I’ll review) and to truly appreciate them, her words should be read first.

Gypsy is a very funny lady. She often writes about things in a humorous way so that it’s not immediately apparent how awful they are. She doesn’t judge, just lays the facts out in a way that you can’t help but see how crazy her mother was. She only recounts her story until she went off to Hollywood, but her son picks up her story in his book Gypsy and Me: At Home and on the Road With Gypsy Rose Lee.

The play based on this book was subtitled “A Musical Fable” and in many ways the book is a fable too. This was Gypsy’s chance to rewrite history a little and make sure she was the star. Research shows she downplayed some incidents and omitted others entirely. It may not be entirely how it happened, but she felt it made for a better story and is therefore more true.

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Published in: on 17 April 2012 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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