Dead Ladies Show #25

Our new season is built around outstanding Berlin writers who share stories of awe-inspiring women who’ve fascinated them and influenced their work. On February 11, show number 25 – our silver anniversary! – brings you three women who wrote radical things in difficult times: an eroticist, an anti-authoritarian, and an anarchist. Presented by the multi-talented writer and translator SASKIA VOGEL, Vogue model, journalist, teacher, activist, and writer ANNETT GRÖSCHNER, and your beloved co-host FLORIAN DUIJSENS. All held together by your other firm favorite KATY DERBYSHIRE. Come on up to the ACUD Studio for an evening of entertainment, inspiration, and intimate information.

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

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RUT HILLARP was a Swedish Modernist poet and erotic genius (as her biographer put it). She was also an experimental filmmaker, photographer, teacher, diarist, and novelist. Born in 1914 to a hardware dealer and an evangelist mother, and committing suicide in 2003, she’s been called a grande dame of the Swedish women’s movement. After a rich life of writing, traveling, dancing, and taking love and sex seriously while teaching languages to high schoolers, she was discovered by a new generation in 1991: her work exhibited at the Stockholm national gallery, asked to design album covers, she even had her poems set to pop music. One of her key themes was the difficulties of sexual relationships in a male-dominated society. Saskia Vogel is her translator into English.

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The writer HELGA M. NOVAK was born in Berlin and grew up in the GDR. In 1961 she moved to Iceland, where she married, had two children, and got divorced. She made cathode-ray tubes, salted herring, and carpets, but also travelled to France, Spain, and the USA. After returning to East Germany to study creative writing, she was stripped of her citizenship for distributing copies of her critical texts and exiled. Always an outsider, she wrote poetry criticizing the East German state from the left, then autobiographical novels and nature poems. Wanting to move back in 2004, Novak was considered an unemployed foreigner and was initially refused a German residence permit. She managed it in the end.

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EMMA GOLDMAN was an anarchist philosopher, activist, and writer. After emigrating from Russia to America at a young age in 1885, she helped plan a (failed) assassination, distributed information on birth control, and campaigned against conscription – until the Americans deported her to revolution-era Russia. Quickly disillusioned by its repression of independent thought, she left the Soviet Union in 1923 and wrote about the experience, as well as a two-volume autobiography. Her writing and lectures covered topics as undying as atheism, free speech, marriage, free love, and homosexuality. And yes, it’s “Red Emma” on that poster/mug/T-shirt saying: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” It’s not a direct quote, but it’s not wrong either.

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Podcast #29: Zora Neale Hurston

Episode 29 presents a giant of the Harlem Renaissance: writer, anthropologist and zombie finder Zora Neale Hurston!

Zora may be best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, but her love of adventure and willingness to re-write her own biography are sure to delight fans old and new.

Writer and scholar Fatin Abbas tells Zora’s tale from the stage in ACUD, and Dead Ladies Show co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins podcast producer and presenter Susan Stone to put things in motion.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. And you can find the transcript here.

Show notes:

You can read more about Zora’s remarkable hometown Eatonville here.

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Photograph of Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, & Jessie Fauset, 1927

Enjoy this rare fieldwork footage Zora shot, which a kind Youtuber has paired with recordings of her voice!

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Abache and Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis were among the last group of Africans forcibly transported to the United States aboard the slave ship Clotilde. Zora told Cudjoe’s life story in Barracoon, published only very recently.
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Zora’s photograph of “zombie” Felicia Felix-Mentor

The books Fatin recommends are these: Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Valerie Boyd, and Zora’s own Dust Tracks on a Road. You can listen to more of her ethnographic recordings (and her singing!) here, and here’s that Lithub story about her role in the first Black baby doll.

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Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in February. And here’s a link to our Patreon, in case you’d like to help fund transcripts.

Support for the Dead Ladies Show podcast comes from the Berliner Senat.

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Dead Ladies Show NYC #14

Happy New Year, Dead Lady fans! We at the Show are taking January to rest, refresh, and get ready for a HUMDINGER of a show in February: it’ll be second to NUN. That’s right—TWO NUNS (sort of…) and an “irascible” artist. Presented by an editor, a writer/translator, and a program officer at the IRC who is anything but irascible.

Plus a very special announcement…stay tuned! 🙂 🙂 🙂

You know the drill: Monday, February 3rd, 7–9pmin the Red Room at KGB Bar (85 E 4th Street, at Second Avenue). Doors will open a little after 6:30pm. Come all the way upstairs (two flights) and BYO food if you’re peckish.

Our NYC show is free to attend, ~ * but * ~ we do have a bar minimum to meet: please plan to buy a couple drinks to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB’s RED ROOM.

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MARGERY KEMPE (c. 1373–1438) was an itinerant Christian mystic and author of the first autobiography written in English. Crippled with symptoms of psychosis and insatiable sexual desires, but determined to become religiously devout, Kempe convinced her husband to agree to a celibate marriage. With her newfound freedom she took pilgrimages across Europe and the Middle East, making a (generally pretty bad) name for herself in the process. Prone to preaching (forbidden to women) and to impersonating nuns, she was eventually tried for heresy.

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JUANA INÉS DE LA CRUZ (1648–1695) was a Mexican writer, philosopher, composer, and nun who earned such sobriquets as “The Tenth Muse” and “The Mexican Phoenix.” Though theoretically cloistered, she hosted a popular salon in the nunnery that attracted many of Mexico’s contemporary intellectual luminaries. She wrote poetry, drama, comedy, and other works on topics ranging from religion to love to men’s hypocrisy. Because of her controversial views, which lead today’s scholars to consider her a proto-feminist, she faced censure right up until her death due to plague.

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HEDDA STERNE (1910–2011) was a Romanian-born American artist who is most often associated with the Surrealist and Abstract expressionist movements, though her extensive career crossed many boundaries and she herself disliked the confinement of such labels. Always endeavoring to discover new worlds and modes of expression through her art, she experimented with a variety of different styles and materials over the years, describing her works as “in flux.” While this absence of a singular style contributed to a lack of notoriety and commercial success in her lifetime, in comparison to her (mostly) male peers, in recent years many have begun to re-examine this extraordinary woman whose life and art spanned and interacted with one of the most creative and tumultuous centuries of human existence.

About your presenters:

MORIAH SPECIALE is an editor in New York City.

MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN KEMPER is a writer and translator based in New York City, where she also hosts a little thing called THE DEAD LADIES SHOW.

KIRI VAN LENGEN-WELTY works for the International Rescue Committee and is based in New York City. In her spare time she can be found doing freelance graphic design, singing in a choir, and scouting the streets for miniature dachshunds.

Podcast #28: Fanny Cradock

Episode 28 is a special one, available in English and also in German!

Our talented bilingual presenter is Mary Scherpe, the woman behind Stil in Berlin and co-founder of the Feminist Food Club. Working in that intersection of food and style, Mary’s almost predestined to tell us all about Britain’s extravagant television chef Fanny Cradock, whose life was not quite what you might expect… Recorded live as part of ACUD‘s Backyard Summer.

Plus, producer Susan Stone invites Florian Duijsens and Katy Derbyshire into her very own kitchen to pop some corks and talk turkey, game, raisins, and other festive foodie fun.

Here’s the English version:

Und hier gibt es die Folge auf deutsch:

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast.

Show notes

Here’s Fanny with her (most) beloved husband Johnny.

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And here she is putting on the style earlier in life.

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In the BBC studio.

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A medley of dishes, original and recreated…

The BBC’s archive offers a wealth of Fanny Cradock Cooks for Christmas episodes for viewers in the UK. Or you could check out the 2006 movie Fear of Fanny, which exposed a new side to the celebrity chef.

But whatever you do, you probably have to watch the eye-rolling incident…

If you have more time on your hands, there’s the bizarre British Gas ad.

Mary recommends Fanny’s autobiography, Something’s Burning, and also Clive Ellis’s Fabulous Fanny. And we’re rather taken with the blog Keep Calm and Fanny On, recreating Fanny’s non-meaty recipes like the blue chestnut cream one above. 

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in January. And here’s a link to our Patreon page, in case you’d like to help fund transcripts.

Podcast #27: Margaret Fountaine

On Episode 27, we meet a Dead Lady Lepidopterist! Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens introduces us to Margaret Fountaine, an English explorer and naturalist who collected butterflies and loved love. Her exciting scientific life and world travels were well-known, but her romantic adventures were only revealed when Margaret’s copious diaries were read in 1978, 100 years after she first started them at age 15.

Florian’s talk was recorded live at ACUD (shoutout to sound engineer Hyui Ines Rmi) just two months ago in Berlin. For the podcast, our other Dead Ladies Show co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins podcast producer & presenter Susan Stone to revel in Margaret’s lovely and at times heart-breaking tale.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can download a transcript here.

Show notes:

diaries

These are the diaries that emerged in 1978.

And here’s some portraits of Margaret herself from the diaries.

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Septimus Hewson, the cowlicked singer from Limerick

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The kind of bike the Fountaine sisters rode 600km through Europe

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Khalil as he appears in the diary

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Some of Margaret’s beautiful art

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The euploea phaenareta margaretae, named after Margaret

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The ceratinia ninonia neimyi, which she named after Khalil

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Margaret late in life

Margaret’s guerillaed blue plaque

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in January. And here’s a link to our Patreon page, in case you’d like to help fund transcripts.

Dead Ladies Show #24

There’s just one week to go until our next show here in Berlin, our last in 2019! So roll up, roll up for show number 24, in which we present three accomplished ladies who battled prejudice to lead self-determined lives: a hugely influential writer and anthropologist, an incredible dancer and comedian, and a spy who came out as a woman — more on them below. Introduced to you by the amazing author and filmmaker FATIN ABBAS, prestigious journalist and writer KATJA KULLMANN, and your beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE. All held together at the seams by your other beloved co-host, FLORIAN DUIJSENS. Come on up to the ACUD Studio for an evening of entertainment, inspiration, and fabulous females.

As always, the show is presented in a messy mixture of English and German, and once again generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Join us Tuesday 19 November at the ACUD Studio, doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink! €5 or €3 reduced entry.

ZORA NEALE HURSTON was a writer and anthropologist. Although her grandparents were born into slavery, she grew up in the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida, where her father was mayor. She moved to New York to study anthropology and became part of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance movement of African-American arts. Alongside researching cultural practices in the Caribbean and the American South, she wrote folklore collections and novels, plays and musical revues, essays, satirical articles, and non-fiction. Not all of it was published during her lifetime; her work was rediscovered in the 1970s, prompted by Alice Walker, who also found an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Florida, and reclaimed it as hers. Hurston’s writing about the African-American experience has been an inspiration to several generations of authors.

NORMA MILLER, nicknamed the Queen of Swing, was an African-American dancer, choreographer, and comedian. Born in Harlem, she began dancing at five and went on to make a career of it before she turned eighteen. “Black girls didn’t have many outlets,” she explained, and she was still teaching dance at the age of 98. In between, she danced in Hollywood movies – most notably the bizarre 1941 comedy Hellzapoppin’ with Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers – toured with her own troupe, and went into comedy when her knees started knocking. She produced and starred in shows, performing in Miami and Las Vegas with the likes of Cab Calloway and Sammy Davis Jr. In her later years, Norma Miller played a major role in the swing revival from the 1980s until her death early in 2019.

Charles Geneviève Louise Auguste André Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont, known as the CHEVALIÈRE D’ÉON, lived for 49 years as a man and spent the last 33 years of her life as a woman. She claimed to have been assigned female at birth in 1728 Burgundy and raised as a boy, but her elderly roommate got quite a shock when she found her dead body had male genitalia. Having served as a spy to the French king, the chevalière went into the military and then diplomacy, continuing her espionage for Louis XV from London. When the king died, d’Éon negotiated a return to France and legal recognition as a woman, then reluctantly assumed women’s clothing, made for her by Marie Antoinette’s personal dressmaker. She earned a meagre living after the French Revolution by performing in English fencing tournaments, wrote an unreliable autobiography and developed her own theology of virtuous womanhood, and died at the impressive age of 82.

Dead Ladies Show NYC #13

That’s right, folks, we’re already up to lucky 13!

Our December show will occur on TUESDAY!, December 10, from 7–9pm at the KGB Bar (85 E 4th Street, at Second Avenue). Doors will open a little after 6:30pm. Come all the way upstairs (two flights) and BYO food if you’re peckish!

This December, we’ll learn about a radical, Trinidadian-American activist and journalist, a landscape architect to the stars, and an iconic writer and filmmaker. These inspiring ladies will be presented, respectively, by a rad historian, an editorial whiz, and a book-to-film guru. Emceed by Molly O’Laughlin Kemper!

Free admission, ~ * but * ~ we do have a bar minimum to meet: please plan to buy a couple drinks to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB’s RED ROOM.

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CLAUDIA JONES (1915–1964) was a communist, activist and journalist and born in Trinidad, raised in Harlem, and who lived the last decade of her life in the UK. She rose through the ranks of the Communist Party USA in the 1930s and 40s, before she was subject to state repression and was eventually imprisoned and deported from the US. In London she started the West Indian Gazette and organized what became Notting Hill carnival. A brilliant and radical thinker, black feminist, anti-imperialist and community organizer, Jones is an inspiring dead lady with a searing clarity about fighting racial and imperial violence that remains crucial to us today.

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RUTH SHELLHORN (1909–2006), created close to 400 landscape designs throughout a sixty-year career that helped define the distinctive mid-century regional aesthetic of Southern California. She was landscape architect to the stars, including Spencer Tracy, Gene Autry, and Barbara Stanwyck, but is most well-known for her award-winning landscape designs for the Bullock’s department stores and Fashion Square shopping centers, projects that redefined the potential of commercial spaces, and for her work with Walt Disney on the design of Disneyland, where she used plants as a means of creating imaginary worlds both fantastic and familiar.

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NORA EPHRON (1941–2012) was a journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker responsible for some of the funniest, most heart-wrenching, and iconic moments in pop culture. As the daughter of screenwriters, she grew up developing her quick wit and penchant for storytelling. She attended Wellesley College and graduated into the feminist revolution where she contributed her voice to the movement with her clever-yet-honest articles about womanhood. From there, she became an essayist and novelist, only to find her way into Hollywood, ultimately writing and directing such classics as When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail.

About your presenters:

KATE BIRKBECK is in her third year of living in the US, her second year of a PhD program in American history, and her first year of going to the gym, which she has recently found she enjoys.

SARAH GOLDBERG is an Associate Editor at Scribner where she works on both fiction and nonfiction books. Unless raking leaves counts, she doesn’t particularly like gardening but does enjoy visiting gardens.

JACK GREENBAUM heads up the New York office of The Arlook Group, overseeing literary management and film/TV development. In addition to managing traditional screenwriters and filmmakers, he represents playwrights, authors, journalists, comedians, and a maximum-security prisoner. He also develops for film and television, including projects with TriStar, HBO Max, Berlanti Productions, and Star Thrower Entertainment.

Podcast #26: Doreen Valiente & Martha Maxwell

Episode 26 brings you spooky Dead Lady tales all the way from NYC! First, Claire Carroll introduces us to England’s Doreen Valiente, known as the mother of modern witchcraft. In the UK and beyond, she was key in the spread of modern day Wicca, now a world-wide religion. Doreen also had more than a few secrets under her cape.
Then, it’s time for a live lady taxidermist talking about a Dead Lady taxidermist! Divya Anantharaman of Gotham Taxidermy brings us the story of American naturalist and taxidermy pioneer Martha Maxwell.

The talks were recorded live at two separate editions of NYC DLS, which is hosted and curated by Molly O’Laughlin Kemper, with support from Nicolas Kemper and Christopher Neil and Lori Schwarz, general manager of the KGB Bar’s Red Room, where the event is held. Join the NYC newsletter to stay updated on the next ones!

Dead Ladies Show co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins podcast producer & presenter Susan Stone to chat about these spooky wonderful dames and more.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast.

Show notes:

Now for some pictures!

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Image: © Doreen Valiente Foundation

Here’s Doreen with some of the tools of her trade.

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Image: © Doreen Valiente Foundation

And here are some of her ceremonial artifacts shown as they would be on an altar.

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Image: © Doreen Valiente Foundation

Ritual books owned by Doreen Valiente, including Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadows at the back

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The Blue Plaque marking the last home Doreen lived in. It’s the only historic plaque on a public housing building in the UK.

…onto the taxidermy portion of our show…

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Image: © Molly O’Laughlin

Presenter Divya Anantharaman artfully combines Rihanna lyrics with taxidermy to illustrate Martha Maxwell’s burning desire for knowledge.

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Lion of Gripsholm. Copyright: Kungl. Hovstaterna/The Royal Court, Sweden

Taxidermy hasn’t always been done skillfully. The Lion of Gripsholm is an infamous example of what happens when someone who has never seen the animal alive is tasked with recreating it from its skin alone.

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Image: © Museum of Natural History, Berlin

And, get a load of these ocelots! Can you *spot* the difference? Again, one was prepared by someone with little to no knowledge of the actual animal. 

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Martha Maxwell sensibly attired in her hunting outfit.

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Maxwell’s display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition was the first of its kind.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in November. And here’s a link to our Patreon page, in case you’d like to help fund transcripts.

Dead Ladies Show NYC #12

I may have spoken too soon about the weather in last month’s invitation, but I think now it’s safe to say we’re squarely into autumn. What better time for my favorite fall activity? apple picking Learning about influential women of the past while enjoying a beverage with friends in a venue that’s both cozy and chic!

Our twelfth show will take place on Wednesday, November 6, from 7–9pm in the Red Room at the KGB Bar (85 E 4th Street, at Second Ave). Doors will open a little after 6:30pm. Come all the way upstairs (two flights up the inside staircase). You’re welcome to bring outside food if you wish.

The November edition will feature a trio of women whose lives changed the political landscape of nations and continue to inspire people all over the world: a Spanish woman whose domestic violence testimony and subsequent murder led to stronger protections for women in her country, and two New York-born writers and political activists, contemporaries whose works—though very different—both aimed to improve the world. Hosted by (surprise!) Molly O’Laughlin Kemper.

Free admission, ~ * but * ~ we do have a bar minimum to meet: please plan to buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB’s RED ROOM.

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ANA ORANTES (1937–1997) was thrust into the Spanish public consciousness on December 4, 1997, when her electrifying testimony of the domestic violence she had suffered for 40 years made visible the previously overlooked phenomenon of gender violence. Thirteen days later, she was murdered by her ex-husband. Her story provoked public outcry and led to a sea change in public attitudes towards gender violence. Shortly after her death, the Spanish penal code was remodeled, and today, Spain has some of the most progressive gender violence laws in the world.

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SUSAN SONTAG (1933–2004) was an American intellectual, a political activist, a filmmaker, a popular icon, and a writer best known for her modern essays. Known for her sharp wit and scathing voice, Susan would combine her rebellious attitude and academic rigor to create brilliant essays including her best works “Notes on ‘Camp'” (this year’s Met Gala theme), On Photography, and The Volcano Lover. Although her essays and speeches would draw controversy, she was always searching for the truth, even if others found it cruel. She has been described as one of the most influential critics of her generation and her power lies in examining people’s work and forming critical analysis with style and conviction.

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The Bronx-born child of Russian-Jewish Socialists, GRACE PALEY (1922–2007) was a feisty political activist, beloved teacher, and mostly single mother who also found the time to write groundbreaking stories, poems, essays, speeches, reportage, and leaflets that she’d hand out on street corners. Both a postmodern innovator and a portrayer of traditionally underrepresented lives, such as those of working class women and children, she possessed a unique, vivid voice filled with humor and humanity. George Saunders wrote of her ability to “let language sing, sing precisely, and let it off the tether of the mundane, and watch the wonderful truth it knows how to make.”

About your presenters:

KAREN KLATZKIN teaches English literature at Borough of Manhattan Community College and has a Doctorate in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

SIAN CREELY is an occasional translator and sometime woman. She has an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge and is from Manchester UK. She works in women’s rights.

ELIZA HOYLAND is an Australian commercial photographer and producer currently residing in New York City.

Podcast #25: LaVern Baker

Episode 24 was recorded especially in Berlin, with our co-founder Katy Derbyshire telling us about the blues and R&B singer LaVern Baker.  Recorded live at Restaurant März, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in September 2019.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can download a transcript here.

Show notes & pics:

Club de Lisa

Chicago’s Club DeLisa, 1942

Soul on Fire

That first hit

Tweedlee

The Tweedlee Dee Girl herself

Height of fame

Height of fame

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Red lipstick

Furs

Pretty in mink

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Marines on shore leave, Philippines

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Later in life

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Katy’s favourite pic.

 

You can read more about LaVern Baker in Chip Deffaa’s book Blue Rhythms. Six Lives in Rhythm and Blues.

Head over to Spotify for our special playlist…

Or look up all those different “Saved” covers on YouTube… Skip Phil Collins to 1:32 to watch LaVern do it in colour just after being rediscovered in 1986, plus a great little interview at the end. And a longer interview is hereBut whatever you do, don’t listen to “Think Twice, Version X” at work.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in October. And here’s a link to our Patreon page, in case you’d like to help fund transcripts.