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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique

Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease MystiqueLili St. Cyr shimmied her way to fame and fortune.

But once her star faded, she fell into obscurity. Now, the author of "Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique" dishes on the burlesque dancer's surprisingly wide influence on pop culture over the last 50 years.

In the Broadway musical Pal Joey, reporter Melba Snyder sings about meeting a Gypsy Rose Lee-esque character who skewers her competition in song. "Zip! My artistic taste is classic and dear," she sings. "Zip! Who the hell is Lili St. Cyr?"

Who is she? Try the most influential burlesque dancer in the second half of the 20th century. And, as I reveal in my just-out biography, "Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique," her hip-swiveling ways swayed pop-culture sirens for decades to come.

St. Cyr shimmied across the country with inventive routines well-suited for the posh nightclubs in which she performed. She amassed legions of famous fans, including Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan. Her notoriety and fame brought financial and commercial successes, with roles in movies like Howard Hughes' "Son of Sinbad" and Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead."

"I had never seen a more beautiful woman," says journalist Mike Wallace, who interviewed her in 1957 after watching her perform. "She was absolutely glorious to look at." Fifty years later, he says the interview remains one of the more interesting ones he has conducted.

St. Cyr died in 1999. A recluse during the two decades before her death, she has become largely unknown. Yet, her elegant dance moves and va-va-voom appeal influenced pop culture and its icons for half a century.
By Kelly DiNardo | Source: USA Weekend

For a taste of Lili St. Cyr, here's a youtube teaser:

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