Podcast #43: Bebe Barron

This episode presents a first: our presenter (our very own Susan Stone!) actually met the lady in question. Bebe Barron was a bohemian, composer, and electronic music pioneer. She and her husband Louis worked avant-garde art-makers like John Cage and Maya Deren, and hung out with Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, and more. The pair is credited with inventing the tape loop, and possibly the audio book. It’s certainly the case that they composed and created the first electronic music — or electro-acoustic — feature film soundtrack. Electronic music as we know it would not exist without Bebe, nor would the sounds we associate with outer space.

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

Notes:

A real reel-to-reel recorder
Anaïs Nin, and you can find out more about their friendship in this interview.
An excerpt from Anaïs Nin’s House of Incest audiobook as produced and recorded by the Barrons. You can order a CD copy here.
Tubular!
Louis & Bebe, bohemians
Louis & Bebe, professionals
The sole surviving copy of Bells of Atlantis
Kirk Douglas, Vincente Minnelli, Lana Turner, and Dore Schary, on the set of The Bad and the Beautiful
An excerpt from Forbidden Planet, with gloriously bleepy sound effects from the Barrons
If you try this out, let us know if it works!
Bebe in later years
Bebe and her husband Leonard Neubauer in 2005, picture by Susan Stone
And you can watch the new doc on Bebe and the other electronic pioneers, Sisters With Transistors, here.

You can still hear Susan’s NPR story on Bebe from 2005 here. Our theme music is not by Bebe, but “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for listening!

Podcast #42: Emily Hahn

Episode 42 is all about the American writer and journalist Emily Hahn, also known as Mickey.

She qualified as a mining engineer, wrote greeting-card copy, travelled the world and authored 54 books and more than 200 articles and short stories. Aside from that, she led an unconventional private life and kept a number of different monkeys. Hear all about her from our co-founder Florian Duijsens, recorded at Berlin’s ACUD Studio in April 2019.

Show notes:

A young Emily (back row, second right) with her family
Emily’s first book
Emily’s second book was a little different, a rather censored memoir of her year in Africa.
Followed by a novelized story of local women suffering at the hands of white men.
One of Victor Sassoon’s tamer photos
Poet Shao Xunmei
On returning to the USA
Carola’s father Charles Boxer joins the family.

If you’d like to find out more, Florian recommends two biographies:

Ken Cuthbertson’s Nobody Said Not to Go and Taras Grescoe’s Shanghai Grand.

Taras Grescoe also authored this fascinating New Yorker story about the time Emily was taken for a spy.

And here’s daughter Carola Boxer Vecchio on Advanced Style…

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

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month!

Podcast #41: Annette von Droste-Hülshoff

In this episode, Anneke Lubkowitz introduces us to the brilliant and strange 19th-century writer and poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. This Dead Lady was a Lady in the literal sense – she was born into nobility, and the life her family expected for her was far different from the one she led. Choosing the male occupation of poet, and the unladylike hobby of fossil collecting, nature devotee Annette could often be found wandering the muddy moors or writing away in a turret. Her ahead-of-her-time way with verse included timeless poems and a work of gothic fiction considered by some to be one of the first murder mysteries.

Via Zoom from the bright green rooms of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s former home Haus Ruschhaus, Anneke also reads some newly translated poems from Droste’s collections (thanks to the translators: Shane Anderson, Daniel Falb, Monika Rinck, and Annie Rutherford!).

Anneke live from Annette’s study, Katy and Florian smiling from their homes in Berlin

This show was created in collaboration with StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, with help from the Burg Hülshoff Center for Literature. Thanks to both!

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can read the transcript here.

Notes:

Gazing at us from one side of the 20 DM note
Burg Hülshoff on a sunny day
Young Annette
Some of her favorite fossils
The Bökerhof, drawn by Annette herself. Read Karen Duve’s well-researched novel Fräulein Nette’s kurzer Sommer or Barbara Beuys’ excellent biography to learn what happened here.
The Rüschhaus
Her “snail’s shell”
Casper David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818)
Annette at 41, portrait by Johann Joseph Sprick, 1838
Annette in her garret overlooking Lake Constance
Daguerrotype from 1845

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

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month!

Podcast #40: Beryl Gilroy

The star of our 40th (!) episode is author, educator, and therapist Beryl Gilroy. Born in what was then British Guiana, she trained as a teacher before migrating to London in 1952 as part of the Windrush generation and worked all manner of jobs until becoming one of the very first Black head teachers in the UK. Her groundbreaking debut, Black Teacher (1976), documented her journey up to that point, and she’d keep publishing until her death in 2001. Telling her story is Berlin-based author Divya Ghelani.

And if you want to attend a very special live Dead Ladies Show via Zoom next month, join us at StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, on 11 March (free tickets available here).

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

Show notes:

Beryl amidst some lucky pupils
That tagline in the flesh
Lulu: very notably not a dead lady
Her debut book is due to be reissued this summer by Faber & Faber
A short interview with Beryl’s colleague (and supporter!) Yvonne Connolly, who was the UK’s first head teacher
The original illustration of Prince Bumpo in Doctor Dolittle
Divya in ACUD’s balmy courtyard last September, when this episode was recorded
Sadly, the campaign Divya mentions to rename Beryl’s school in her honor did not succeed. Read more about that here.

The podcast is created, produced, edited, and presented by Susan Stone. Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month. 

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast
If you prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #39: Gráinne Mhaol (Grace O’Malley)

Episode 39 introduces Gráinne Mhaol, also known as Grace O’Malley, the legendary Irish pirate queen. 

Translator Laura Radosh presents the rollicking tale of this tremendous woman, who has been lauded as “a most famous femynyne sea captain,” and “the dark lady of Doona.” Gráinne Mhaol was head 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 is said to have met with Queen Elizabeth I and negotiated their release in Latin.

Enjoy!

Show notes:

Clare Island Castle, the cosy home of Eoghan Dubdhara and Margaret O’Malley where Gráinne Mhaol was born.
Driving cattle to the open lands for summer grazing (booleying) in 19th-century Ireland
The former Cock’s Castle, now Hen’s Castle
Gráinne’s galleys may have looked something like this.
Map of Ireland around Gráinne’s time
Pirate punishment (no pirates were harmed in the making of this picture)
London Bridge before major fire damage in 1633
Scene from the Broadway musical Pirate Queen
“Contemporary” depiction of Gráinne and Elizabeth, made only 200 years later

If you fancy being told the story by a dude with an excellent mid-70s beard, this 4-minute RTÉ clip is television gold.

For those with more time on their hands, Anne Chambers’ Gráinne biography comes highly recommended. The historian also runs the “official website of the pirate queen”.

How about this combo for long dark evenings?

Speaking of books, we’ve made some lists for you! Order from bookshop.org in the US or the UK to contribute to independent bookstores, and a little bit to us too. Or if you spot something you like the look of, why not visit or contact your favourite local bricks-and-mortar bookshop to show them some love?

It wouldn’t be January 2021 if we didn’t recommend a couple of related sea shanties (sort of). There’s “Five Pint Mary” or a whole suite, Granuaile. “Grace O’Malley” hits the spot – or try some Irish pirate metal. Warning: three out of four of these videos feature cartoon depictions of a red-headed piratess.

The podcast is created, produced, edited, and presented by Susan Stone. Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month. 

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast
If you prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #38: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

In Episode 38, we hear the sweet, sweet music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, known as the godmother of rock’n’roll. 

DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens brings us the tale of this legendary guitarist and gospel singer who had a profound influence on musicians like Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Aretha Franklin. She took to the stage at the age of four, and never really left it. 
Sister Rosetta Tharpe made the first gospel record to hit the charts, played with Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club, attracted 25,000 paying customers to her third wedding, got in trouble with gospel purists and recorded a live album in Paris in 1964.

To start off the episode, Susan and Katy toast to the end of a strange year with the Dead Ladies Show signature tipple, affordable German bubbly Rotkäppchen (Red Riding Hood) and give thanks for the support we’ve had, and that yet to come. 

The presentation in this episode was recorded live with help from Brigitte Hamar at the Studiobühne der Universität Münster where we were invited by the Burg Hülshoff Center for Literature. Other talks from this event in German can be found in the Center’s Mediathek: https://www.burg-huelshoff.de/en/medien/mediathek/dead-ladies-show
Thanks also to Fiona, Kati, Tobias, Feline and Jörg for inviting and assisting us.
Here we are with our co-presenters Tarosh Kaha and Bernadette Hengst.

Show notes:

Here’s a headline on the big wedding
And the record made of it!
With her mother, Katie Bell Nubin
Playing at a secular venue…
…and in church.
Performing with Marie Knight…
…and signing in furs.
Having fun with some kids
Katie’s record
In later years
A late gravestone…
…and a late tribute
Sequinned and Gibsoned

Florian recommends two top resources: Gayle Wald’s biography Shout, Sister, Shout! and Mick Czasky’s film The Godmother or Rock’n’Roll.

AND! Check out Florian’s fabulous PLAYLIST for more sounds from Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the gang.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month. 

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #37: Chevalière d’Eon

Our 37th podcast episode celebrates a legendary spy, writer, and fencer whose very existence caused such a public uproar that it caused a grumpy British judge to outlaw all betting on a person’s gender. Although her story has been told many, many times before, most versions either invent her life story entirely or do not honor her own identity. Though she wanted to be recognized as the woman she was, that didn’t mean she was happy with society’s expectations of what a woman could or should wear, look like, or be around the time of the French Revolution. Mary Wollstonecraft was a fan, ranking her among the likes of Sappho and the Empress of Russia, and we think you’ll enjoy her story too.

Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens joins podcast host/producer Susan Stone to discuss our first episode about a woman we would now probably call a trans woman. Note that she is best known in the literature and all around the internet as the Chevalier d’Eon, Chevalière d’Eon is probably the more grammatically correct title 🙂 We also discuss the Dead Ladies Show’s famous three rules, and talk about about another unruly rulebreaker, Anne Lister.

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

Show notes:

Here she is in a portrait by Thomas Stewart.
This is the entirely fabricated anime adaptation
And this is the only slightly more French film adaptation.
Embed from Getty Images
Note her lovely medal
And here she is earlier in life.
Note the funny helmet
The caricature from which Michael Urie got his Met Gala inspiration
Freemason caricature with mysterious accoutrements
Marie Antoinette’s enormous dress
That classy portrait from 1778
Her big fencing battle with the Black composer and champion fencer Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Born in Guadeloupe, he’d fought in the first all-Black regiment in Europe!
And here she is as Athena
Here she is late in life, more religious but still wearing that medal.

And if you want to know more about the Public Universal Friend, check out these two podcast episodes by NPR’s Throughline and What’s Her Name!

******

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month.

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #36: Shirley Jackson

Our 36th podcast episode brings you a glimpse of the acclaimed author of some of the most chilling tales in contemporary American literature, Shirley Jackson. Her short story “The Lottery” has been a true classic since its publication in 1948. Jackson blended gothic and horror elements with explorations of women’s alienation and search for identity. In her real life, she was forced to balance her tremendous talent with the everyday duties of a wife and mother and societal expectations of femininity which she defied at almost every step.  Our presentation from Krista Ahlberg comes courtesy of Dead Ladies Show NYC, and was recorded live by Christopher Neil in the Red Room at New York’s KGB Bar in 2019.

Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens joins podcast host/producer Susan Stone to discuss some of Shirley’s stories and the films and series in the extended Shirley Jackson universe.

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can read the transcript here.

Show notes:

Shirley and her college best friend
Here’s Shirley in 1938.
Shirley reading her classic short story “The Lottery”
One of those cartoons Shirley drew of her family
Shirley and her kids
Some of the medication Shirley might have been prescribed
The trailer for the original film version of The Haunting of Hill House
And Lili Taylor in the 1999 remake
And the Netflix version
And We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which cannot be a match for the book
To cleanse your palate, here’s the trailer for Josephine Decker’s Shirley, starring Elizabeth Moss

******

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month.

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #35: Ida B. Wells

We’re back with Episode 35! In this program, we’re coming to you live, limited, and socially distant from the courtyard of our beloved Berlin venue ACUD! 

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

On this sultry September evening, DLS Podcast producer and host Susan Stone took the stage to present the life and times of the unstoppable Ida B. Wells! This pioneering African-American investigative journalist, suffragist and activist was a pint-sized powerhouse. Born into slavery in Mississippi in 1862, Ida’s world opened up with the Emancipation Proclamation, and she became a teacher, newspaper editor, and international lecturer, fighting injustice and racism all the way. Her hold-nothing-back editorials and books exposed and documented the horrific practice of lynching in the American South. On her steely path to justice, she accepted no compromises, making friends and enemies along the way. 

DLS co-founders Katy Derbyshire and Florian Duijsens take up the introductions as we get back into the podcast swing of things after a summer break.   

Show notes:

Ida B. Wells
The People’s Grocery in Memphis
And its historic marker, from https://lynchingsitesmem.org/
Handsome lawyer Ferdinand Lee Barnett
With her children: Charles , Herman , Ida and Alfreda. Archivio GBB
Wearing that button… Ida B. Wells Papers, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library (061.03.00)

To find out more, you can read Ida B. Well’s autobiography, Crusade for Justice, published by her daughter in 1970. Susan also recommends Paula J. Giddings’ Ida: A Sword among Lions. And watch out from January 2021 for Ida B. the Queen by her granddaughter Michelle Duster.

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

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month. 

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Dead Ladies Show #26

It’s been, as they say, a minute since you’ve last heard from us. And it’s been very strange not to be up there on stage at ACUD every two months. We miss you! I know we’ve been in contact through the podcast, and through our Patreon book club, but however much we cherish our listeners from afar, and we do, there’s really something special about sharing these lives (and awesome guest presenters!) with a real-life Berlin audience.

So with the current restrictions in place, and a slight change of scenery, we’re doing our 26th show at ACUD on September 14. It’ll be a very intimate one, just 20 people in ACUD’s open-air courtyard, and all those tickets have been sold to lovely folks on our mailing list.

For our final show of this season, we’re excited to present two more outstanding Berlin writers who share stories of awe-inspiring women who’ve fascinated them and influenced their work. Show numéro 26 brings you three women who went against the grain: a journalist, an artist, and a teacher/writer. Presented by writer DIVYA GHELANIDILEK GÜNGÖR, and your beloved podcast producer SUSAN STONE. All held together by your perennial perma-hosts KATY DERBYSHIRE and FLORIAN DUIJSENS.

Investigative journalist, newspaper editor, educator, suffragist and early civil-rights leader IDA B. WELLS was the most famous Black woman in the United States during her lifetime. Her intrepid reporting on lynching in the Deep South and her powerful editorials taking on discrimination and violent treatment were read widely at home and abroad, and she was dubbed “The Princess of the Press.” Ida journeyed twice to Britain on speaking tours and ran (unsuccessfully) for the Illinois State Senate in 1930, all the while utilizing boycotts and lawsuits to further her cause, which made her for a time unpopular with some more conservative activists. However, she did find love with one of her fellow rights fighters, and after their marriage, he put his career on the back burner to cook dinner most nights and also care for the kids while she traveled.

DORA MAAR’s work as an artist spans from collage to street photography, from abstract landscape paintings to eerie photograms. It also spans almost the entire 20th century, and it certainly surpasses her relationship with a certain dickish cubist (ok, Picasso). Though her work with him was fundamental to masterpieces like Guernica, for which Maar provided key photographic documentation, she was more than just his “muse.” One of the few publicly acknowledged women surrealists, she entered into the relationship with skills to teach him. Having traveled all over the world in the first part of her life, she would spend the second half largely secluded in the countryside, and only after her death was the full spectrum and force of her work from all those many decades revealed.

Having grown up and trained to be a teacher in Guyana, BERYL GILROY arrived in the UK in the early 1950s as part of the so-called “Windrush generation.” Homeschooling her two kids (one of whom would grow up to be great historian Paul Gilroy, coiner of the “Black Atlantic”) and working as a maid, factory worker, and slush-pile reader before she’d be able to work as a teacher, she ultimately become the first Black headteacher in London! She crystallized that experience in Black Teacher, a radical memoir that has shamefully fallen out of print. She would publish nine more novels, plus poems, essays, and a series of children’s books reflecting the Black British experience. If that weren’t enough, she also trained as a ethno-psychotherapist, and her literary work certainly reflects that sharply trained eye.