Dead Ladies Show New York Edition #1

The very first NYC edition brings you not just your usual three ladies, but an extra bonus lady as well! These incredible women include a radical Catholic, a history-making dressmaker, a forward-thinking chemist, and a codebreaker extraordinaire. Presented by marketing maven MARY KATE SKEHAN, fashion guru CANDACE MUNROE, doctor and performer CHIOMA MADUBATA, and your host, MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN. Join us as we toast these groundbreaking women at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, 5 September, at 7pm.

Free admission; please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB.

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Dorothy Day

DOROTHY DAY was a journalist, social activist, and political radical in New York in the 20th century. During the Great Depression, she founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist and social justice movement comprised of direct aid for the poor and nonviolent political action on their behalf. The Catholic Worker Movement continues to be active throughout the world. Day is a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Ann Lowe

ANN LOWE dressed pirate queens, American royalty, and silver screen starlets during her career that spanned over 50 years. Born in the South, to a long line of dressmakers, she took over the family business at the age of 16 by designing a gown for the Governor of Alabama’s wife. She worked her way from Alabama to a studio on Madison Avenue. Her work is featured in museums around the country, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and CUlture adn the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Rosalind Franklin

ROSALIND FRANKLIN’s research helped elucidate the structure of DNA, the molecule that determines the growth, development, and reproduction of all living things. She was a chemist and an expert in X-ray crystallography whose results were essential in Watson & Crick’s final model of DNA—but her data were shared with them without her knowledge, much less consent. Franklin also studied viruses, visualizing the first viral atomic structures and studying the structure of polio. At age 38, she died of ovarian cancer, possibly due to her long work with X-rays. During her lifetime, fellow scientists recognized her valuable work on coal structures and viruses. However, her essential work on DNA has only recently been recognized.

Elizebeth Smith Friedman

Through the course of ELIZEBETH SMITH FRIEDMAN’s lifetime, she went from being a Quaker schoolteacher in Indiana to being a master cryptanalyst whose work laid the foundations for the NSA. She went up against Shakespeare conspiracy theorists, rumrunners, and even J. Edgar Hoover. Her work in World War II helped prevent the Nazis from taking over South America, but nearly all of it was a national secret until after her death.

Dead Ladies Show #18

Show number 18 brings you another three pioneering movers and shakers, women who forged paths, saved lives, and changed history: a ground-breaking scientist, a feminist activist, and a film icon. Brought to you by professor and migrant mothering expert Agata Lisiak, award-winning language-juggling poet Uljana Wolf, and regular Florian Duijsens. All held together, of course, by your beloved co-host Katy Derbyshire. Raise a glass of something cool with us – as we celebrate three women who altered the way we see the world in the ACUD Studio on Tuesday, 11 September at 8 pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Still generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

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Marie Curie in her laboratory
MARIE SKŁODOWSKA CURIE is the only woman to win Nobel Prizes in two different sciences: physics and chemistry. She started her training at a clandestine university in her native Poland before moving to Paris. For her marriage to Pierre Curie, she wore a dark blue outfit that she later used in their laboratory, a converted shed. Exposed to the elements – both cold weather and uranium – she carried out pioneering research on radioactivity. In fact, she literally invented the word, and also discovered polonium and radium. Her mobile X-ray units were used to treat over a million soldiers in WWI. Her death was probably caused by long-term exposure to radiation. Despite her achievements, Marie Curie was unpopular in France, and she turned down a Legion of Honour award. Still, Paris more recently named a Metro station and a research centre after her, put her on a banknote, and turned her former lab into a museum.

bertha-Pappenheim

BERTHA PAPPENHEIM was an Austrian-Jewish feminist who founded the Jüdischer Frauenbund in Germany and set up many charitable institutions for Jewish women and children, providing “protection for those needing protection and education for those needing education.” While being treated for “hysteria” as a young woman, she invented free association (and was immortalized as Freud’s “Anna O.”); her doctor made her worse rather than better and she later refused psychoanalytic treatment for anyone in her care. She worked against trafficking of women, speaking out about Jewish women’s position: “Under Jewish law a woman is not an individual, not a personality; she is only judged and assessed as a sexual being.” In 1934 she brought a group of orphanage children safely from Germany to the UK. Bertha Pappenheim wrote poetry, plays, novellas, and translations, including of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Annamaywongnew
ANNA MAY WONG is considered the first Chinese-American Hollywood star. Born and raised in California, she began acting at 14, then left high school to go into silent movies. Soon tiring of all the interesting Asian parts going to white actors, while she played stereotyped roles – “Lotus Flower”, “Honky-Tonk Girl”, “Tiger Lily”, “Mongolian Slave”, “A Flower of the Orient”, etc. – Anna May left for Europe in 1928. Greeted as a star in Berlin, she at least got to play women who didn’t die as part of the plot. She made friends with Marlene Dietrich (and Leni Riefenstahl) and gave a revealing interview to Walter Benjamin. After her triumphant return to the States, Anna May Wong finally got leading Hollywood roles – but by far not all the ones she wanted, with racism continuing to affect her career and her private life. Kino Arsenal recently screened a retrospective, and prizes in her name are awarded for excellence in film and in fashion design.

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Pics from Show #17

A few highlights from our June show, including Isabel Cole and Binnur Çavuşlu, Bettina von Arnim, Halide Edip Adıvar, Anne Lister, and some of our gorgeous guests from the audience. Thanks to Rosalie Delaney for the photos.

Dead Ladies Show #17

For our 17th show, we have three impressive women writers to tell you about, all of whom did something else on the side: a Berlin salonnière, a political activist, and a fanatical journal-keeper and traveller. Brought to you by award-winning writer and translator Isabel Cole, globetrotting journalist Binnur Cavuslu, and regular Katy Derbyshire. All held together, of course, by your beloved co-host Florian. Expect surprises, shocks, inspiration, dedication, and perspiration – as we celebrate three women who lived totally different but equally impressive lives at the ACUD Studio on Monday, 11 June at 8 pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5, or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

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447px-Bettina-von-arnim-grimm
BETTINA VON ARNIM was a countess with a famous brother and a famous husband, but let’s not hold that against her. She fought the tyranny of conventions from an early age, falling out with Goethe and later writing a book of their fake “correspondence.” She composed songs, published dissident writing and also genuine correspondence, and hosted all the Romantic dudes at her salon. Presumably after her seven children went to bed. Bettina used to have her face on a banknote and once had a short-lived settlement in Texas named after her. Now there’s an ambition.

halide-edip-adivar

HALIDE EDIP ADIVAR was a novelist, women’s rights campaigner, and activist alongside Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Her novels broke boundaries in Turkish literature, presenting a new type of woman with a mind of her own. She helped set up Turkey’s first feminist organization and gain women the right to divorce – and then she went ahead and left her first husband while she was at it. After a falling-out with the nationalists, she taught at universities in New York, Delhi, and Istanbul. Halide rather outdoes Bettina in death, what with having a crater on Venus in her name.

Portrait-of-Anne-Lister

ANNE LISTER was a philandering lesbian and writer of 24 volumes of diaries in pre-Victorian Yorkshire. She wooed and bedded various upper-class ladies in search of true love, or at least a wife who could keep her in comfort. She went against sartorial convention, too, wearing only black except when in the presence of royalty. Anne was a very adventurous traveller, fond of climbing mountains and attending balls in out-of-the-way places. Her travels took her all the way across Europe and along the frozen Volga to Tbilisi – in a carriage with a broken window. She has a mountain pass in the Pyrenees named after her, which is better than nothing.

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Dead Ladies Show #16

Spring is upon us, so we’re celebrating renewal with a killer combination of dead dames. And this time, we reckon you’ve probably heard of at least one of them! We bring you a Berlin-born film director and animator, a translator of Dante who wrote a spot of classy crime fiction on the side, and a fairly famous Mexican artist, presented by journalist and podcast producer Susan Stone, your regular co-host Florian Duijsens, and storytelling shero Dorothea Martin. All kept on the rails by your other beloved co-host, Katy Derbyshire. Think fairytale outfits and a whole lot of skulls and flowers, as we raise a glass of something to three thrilling women at the ACUD STUDIO on 24 April, 8pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!

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Lotte-Reiniger

LOTTE REINIGER was born in Charlottenburg in 1899 and went on to combine her two youthful passions, silhouette puppetry and cinema, making the world’s oldest surviving animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). A whizz with the scissors, she made more than 45 films using her animated cutouts and special camera technique, most on fairytale themes. In 1933, she and her husband left the Germany of Bertolt Brecht, Max Reinhardt, and Fritz Lang and spent eleven years trying to get permanent residency in London, Paris, and Rome, before reluctantly returning to Berlin to care for Reiniger’s elderly mother. She won major awards for her life’s work, and also has her own star on the pavement at Potsdamer Platz.

Skull

DOROTHY L. SAYERS is probably best known for her crime novels featuring posh amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey. But she also gave us an impressive English translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, much loved to this day. Something of a child prodigy, she learned Latin at six and studied at Oxford before women were actually awarded degrees. She made an early living in advertising and later wrote essays on both Christian and feminist subjects, including the fabulously titled “Are Women Human?” All this while publishing sixteen detective novels, plus numerous plays and short stories, and leading what might best be called a turbulent private life.

Frida_Kahlo,_by_Guillermo_Kahlo

Does FRIDA KAHLO need an introduction? Probably every feminist’s favourite 20th-century folk-art-inspired Mexican Communist painter, she found a visual language for the pain of her physical and mental existence, using her art to raise questions about identity that don’t feel dated today. Her very face has become iconic – Fridamaniacs can buy Frida Kahlo socks, shoes, nail varnish, cookbooks, tarot cards, aprons, tequila, and anything and everything in between. In June, London’s V&A Museum will be showing her personal artifacts and clothing for the first time outside of Mexico. But who was she?

 

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Dead Ladies Show #15

New year, new Dead Ladies! February sees a fabulous array of foregone females dished up for your delight: an award-winning author who taught herself to read and write, a swashbuckling lady sea captain, and an early stuntwoman and inventor. Presented by top Berlin writer Deniz Utlu, amazing translator Laura Radosh, and your regular co-host Katy Derbyshire. All kept on the rails by your other beloved co-host, Florian Duijsens. So get ready to laugh, gasp, and cry as you raise a glass to a trio of inspiring women with us in the ACUD Studio on 13 February, 8pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5, or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!

Also, since we last wrote you three (!) more podcast episodes have gone up. Courtesy of our magnificent producer Susan Stone, these present highlights from past events, plus one or two extra bits to delight your ears. Do click through for a listen to Katy on the great poet May Ayim (recorded live in the studio), Florian on the deathless Dorothy Parker(recorded live in Wannsee), and the fab Jessica Miller on surrealist artist/author Leonora Carrington (recorded live in front of you, our beloved audience)! Get them wherever you get your podcasts (and don’t forget to rate and subscribe).

Romanian-born Aglaja Veteranyi came from a family of circus artistes. After a decade of being forced to perform as a dancer around Europe, she settled in Switzerland and taught herself German while training as an actor. She went on to run the acting school where she had trained. Alongside her work on the stage, she wrote novels, short stories, poetry, and plays, winning prizes and acclaim. Facing a crisis in 2002, she drowned herself in Lake Zurich. Her work is available in Spanish, Romanian, Hungarian, Slovenian, French, Polish, and English translations.

Grace O’Malley, or rather Gráinne Mhaol, is lauded as a “pirate queen,” “a most famous femynyne sea captain,” and “the dark lady of Doona.” She was lord of the O’Malley dynasty in 16th-century Ireland, owning up to 1000 cattle and horses, leading men on land and sea, and allegedly wreaking cruel vengeance for the murder of a lover. When her sons and half-brother were captured by the English, she met with Queen Elizabeth I and negotiated their release in Latin, while also teaching the court about disposable handkerchiefs. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Our dead Berliner is Käthe Paulus, Germany’s first female airship pilot, a professional aerial acrobat, and the inventor of the folding parachute. On meeting a balloonist, she decided to learn how to pilot a hot-air balloon and perform parachute jumps. Having had his baby out of wedlock, she lost him in a ballooning accident and made a living for herself – and her mother, who she lived with throughout her life – flying balloons, airships, and planes, and jumping out of them, starting her own parachute production line during WWI. And yes, they have named a street at BER after her.

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Dead Ladies Show #14

Dead Ladies Show number 14 brings you three out-and-out rebellious ladies who took their lives in their own hands and gave us great art: an East German writer who found recognition and then disapproval in the West, a painter who shaped both Surrealism and feminism, and one of the most influential blues musicians of all time. Presented by top Berlin writer ANNETT GRÖSCHNER, Australian author JESSICA MILLER, and your favourite regular, FLORIAN DUIJSENS. Co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE will be holding the reins and welcoming you all. So throw caution to the wind, embrace your inner rebel, and raise a glass to a trio of fabulous females with us in the ACUD STUDIO on 21 November, 8pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!

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Our dead Berliner this time round is CHRISTA REINIG, born right here in 1926. A working-class lesbian writer, her remarkable life took her from Trümmerfrau to floristry to museum curating, all the while refusing to conform to authority. Having been banned from publishing her work in the GDR, she got her poems and stories into print in the West. In 1964, she went to West Germany to accept a literary award – and never went back. The 1970s saw her discovering feminism, finding a sometimes satirical voice to articulate women’s experiences and ways to write poetry about lesbian love. But – surprise! – the literary establishment wasn’t much into that. Christa Reinig is remembered for her “life-affirming sarcasm” and brash, Berlin-style charm.

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The painter and novelist LEONORA CARRINGTON was born in England but spent most of her adult life in Mexico. Even as a child, art offered her a way out of the constraints of her family’s expectations, and she was soon drawn to Surrealism – and the artist Max Ernst. Not one to settle for muse status, Carrington began painting and sculpting in the Surrealist style. She also wrote to deal with the blows life threw at her, from incarceration in an asylum to aging while female. In Mexico, she became a fêted political artist and helped begin the country’s Women’s Liberation movement. She received the ultimate posthumous honour in 2015, with a painting of hers made into a Google Doodle.

Tobacco-chewing blues singer MEMPHIS MINNIE ran away from home at the age of 13 and made a living off music from then on, from street performances supplemented by prostitution to hundreds of now classic recordings. It was said she never put her guitar down until she could no longer hold it in her hands, and she was known to use it as a weapon when required. Her songs were about the joys and hardships of everyday black life; according to the poet Langston Hughes, she played “music with so much in it folks remember, that sometimes it makes them holler out loud.” Largely forgotten for many years while white men covered her songs, she is now celebrated for her huge contribution to blues music and what came after.

 

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