Podcast 54: Memphis Minnie

In this Episode, we drop in on our New York-based sister spinoff show, DLS NYC, which returned to the KGB Bar’s Red Room after a long hiatus. DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens happened to be visiting from Berlin, and took to the stage to introduce the fabulous Memphis Minnie. 

Tobacco-chewing blues singer MEMPHIS MINNIE (1897–1973) 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. 

Embed from Getty Images

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

You can download the transcript, created by Annie Musgrove, here.

Show notes:

Continue reading “Podcast 54: Memphis Minnie”

Dead Ladies Show #31: Angela Carter, Ruth Asawa, and Margaret & Frances Macdonald!

It’s almost time for our next show, and the last before our summer break! Next Thursday, 9 June, join our guest presenters, writer LEON CRAIG and drag artiste AUDREY NALINE, along with our beloved podcast presenter SUSAN STONE, to learn about four women who created things of beauty. All held together by your favourite co-hosts, FLORIAN DUIJSENS and KATY DERBYSHIRE. Join us outside in the ACUD yard as the night sets in, celebrating lives dedicated to the arts.

As always, presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €7 or €4 reduced entry. We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 2G entry only – geimpft or genesen.

Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7.30 pm, so come on time to get a good seat in the courtyard!

Angela Carter From the Fay Godwin Archive at the British Library

ANGELA CARTER went from journalism for the Croydon Advertiser to award-winning feminist fiction and groundbreaking essays. In her 51 years she wrote nine novels, five short story collections, several children’s books and countless essays and articles. She spent two years living in Japan and translated two books of fairy stories, but arguably her greatest contribution to British literature was the dark 1979 collection that turned folk and fairy tales a scarlet shade of gothic: The Bloody Chamber.

MARGARET & FRANCES MACDONALD were sisters who studied at the Glasgow School of Art in the early 1890s, becoming two of the most influential figures in the conception of Art Nouveau. They co-signed much of their early work, sometimes forgetting which of them had done what. Their art spanned from nude paintings to metalwork to furniture design, all of it for sale rather than a mere hobby. Sadly, they have been largely overlooked, but there’s no time like the present to rediscover them.

RUTH ASAWA was born to Japanese parents in California, and interned as a teenager during WWII. Prevented from becoming a teacher by anti-Japanese prejudice and laws, she studied art and became a sculptor, often weaving cheap found material and wire. From the 1960s she was commissioned to make public art and became known as the “fountain lady” in San Francisco, where she lived. She was a passionate and successful advocate for arts education and had six children. “Sculpture is like farming,” she said. “If you just keep at it, you can get quite a lot done.”

Podcast #53: Eva Crane

In this buzz-worthy episode, DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire (and translator) brings us the story of leading bee scientist Eva Crane. Born to humble beginnings, Eva obtained a PhD in nuclear physics but quickly shifted her attention from atoms to apiculture. She travelled the world to document all things bees, and was particularly interested in the relationship between bees and humans, including the long history of human honey cultivation.

Amateur bee enthusiast (and producer/host) Susan Stone is joined by other DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens for the introducing honors.

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

You can download the transcript, created by Annie Musgrove, here.

Show notes:

Read more
The Crane family vehicle, with Eva chilling in the back
Eva smiling mischievously at the front right
A shiny Morris 8
Apicultural delights from the 1940s (for Susan and all other bee enthusiasts)
Eva’s HQ in Hull, note the blue plaque!
Bee World! Find more on this publication’s history at IBRA’s website
Eva in a special Georgian beekeeping hat! Check out many more pictures of here travels at the Eva Crane Trust.
The Crane sisters (in the middle) dressed to the nines
Eva, aged 74, casually abseiling for science

Katy recommends these two books if you want to learn more about Eva Crane: Eva Crane: Bee Scientist, edited by her colleagues, Penelope Walker and Richard Jones, and of course, Crane’s own Making a Bee-line. The Eva Crane Trust’s site is also indispensable for information about Crane and bees.

As promised, here’s one of Susan’s videos of some Bee-rliner bees.

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

Dead Ladies NYC #18

The moment you’ve been waiting for since July of 2020 has arrived! The Dead Ladies Show NYC is BACK, BABY!

Deets: Wednesday, June 1, 7–9pm at the Red Room at KGB Bar! (85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003, Third Floor.)

Join your host MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN KEMPER as we learn about a Chinese pirate queen, a scandalous siren of the silver screen, and the author of the first lesbian novel with a happy ending. Presented, respectively, by a standup comedian, a “professional eccentric,” and a writer who haunts ghost towns in her spare time.

But THAT’S NOT ALL!

We also have a *** VERY SPECIAL GUEST *** (wee-oo wee-oo)!

For the first time in NYC, we will be joined by one of the two illustrious co-hosts who created the Dead Ladies Show in Berlin, the one and only FLORIAN DUIJSENS! Florian will tell us all about a Black blues singer whose legacy has been recently reclaimed.

In lieu of admission, please plan to buy a drink or two (maybe even a thank-you drink for Florian??) and tip the staff generously! We love them!

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CHING I SAO (1775–1844) was a 19th-century sex worker in China who eventually married a pirate. When he died, she took over and was one of the most successful pirates of her time. (To add to her badassery, after her husband died she married her adopted stepson!) The British tried to get rid of her but she proved elusive and ended up living a very long and prosperous life.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, MAE WEST (1893–1980) was brazen, buxom, bawdy, sensational and sexy. West was known for her husky voice, risque performances, and double entendres that slipped past the film censors. With over 70 years in show business on both the stage and screen, she scandalized the world of entertainment in a time when women were expected to sit on the sidelines. But, as Mae West would tell you, “goodness had nothing to do with it.”

PATRICIA HIGHSMITH (1921–1995) was an American novelist and short-story writer known for her psychological thrillers. She wrote morally complicated characters who “longed to escape the drudgery of selfhood and convention.” Highsmith married a man but attempted to seduce women at her therapy group for married women who are latent homosexuals. After a chance encounter with a woman at a toy store, Highsmith anonymously published The Price of Salt, which was later adapted for the 2015 film, Carol. The book is the first lesbian novel with a happy ending. Throughout her lifetime, Highsmith collected snails, pursued unavailable women, and left behind over 8,000 pages of diary entries.

Tobacco-chewing blues singer MEMPHIS MINNIE (1897–1973) 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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About your presenters:
NATALIE KIM is a standup comedian who lives in New York City. She can be seen in clubs around town & occasionally screaming on network television (The Blacklist, Law & Order and Madam Secretary).

JR PEPPER is a New York native and self described ‘professional eccentric.” She is a photographer, performer, artist, imaging specialist and cemetery tour guide with an extensive bizarre resume that includes the Odd Salon, The Burns Archive, Morbid Anatomy Library, Brooklyn Brainery, and Green-Wood Cemetery.

HANNAH MEYER is a writer and educator based in New York City. In her spare time, she enjoys running, exploring ghost towns, and listening to Patti Smith.  

Dead Ladies Show #30

After a long hibernation, we are slowly coming out of our shells again, thrilled to announce that we’ll be returning to our beloved ACUD for a live show on Monday, May 2!

Join our guest presenters, writer STEFANIE DE VELASCO and translator LAURA RADOSH, along with your beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE, to learn about three women who did big things in their lifetimes. All held together by your other beloved co-host, FLORIAN DUIJSENS.

All three of the ladies presented were writers in their own ways: a Black science-fiction originator, an influential modernist who created a classic of lesbian fiction, and an actor and singer who put her own version of her life into bestselling books. We’ll be rocking the ACUD Studio as the night sets in, celebrating lives lived to great effect.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €7 or €4 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7.30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!

We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 2G entry only – geimpft or genesen. Please bring a mask to use when you’re not at your seat.

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OCTAVIA E. BUTLER grew up in a racially integrated community, surrounded by segregation in 1940s and 50s America. She begged for her first typewriter at ten, and never looked back, submitting stories to science fiction magazines and eventually becoming a beloved creator of multiple fictional worlds. She was proud to have three loyal audiences: Black readers, science-fiction fans, and feminists.

DJUNA BARNES had an unconventional childhood in New York before becoming a journalist. She is best known for her time in 1920s Paris, where she chronicled lesbian life. Friends with all the cool modernist writers, she eventually managed to publish her influential avant-garde novel Nightwood in 1936. She also gave us poems, stage plays, other novels, and her Book of Repulsive Women.

HILDEGARD KNEF was a postwar German actress who learned all the wrong things from Marlene Dietrich. She acted in over 50 films and had a leading role on Broadway. After her screen and stage career stalled in the 1960s, she started writing songs and became a hugely popular entertainer. Her next move was into books, chronicling her life as she wanted people to see it rather than accurately.


Podcast #52: Katherine Mansfield

In this episode we’ll be hearing from the multi-talented Hinemoana Baker. Hinemoana hails from New Zealand, she is a writer and musician of Māori and Pākehā heritage; here, she presents her reflections on the life of another New Zealand writer — Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield was a very influential modernist writer, who left New Zealand for Europe at the age of 19, and hung out with Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and the Bloomsbury Group gang, including her “wife,” writer Ida Baker. Mansfield is called by some the Godmother of the Short Story in the English language, and she wrote a great many in her tragically short life. 

DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer/host Susan Stone to introduce an episode full of personal reflections, music, and poetry.  

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

You can download the transcript, created by Annie Musgrove, here.

Continue reading “Podcast #52: Katherine Mansfield”

Podcast #48: Zaha Hadid

In our last episode of 2021, The DLS team of Susan Stone, Katy Derbyshire, and Florian Duijsens all come together to clink glasses of bubbly, and discuss our favorite Dead Lady news of the year.

Plus, DLS Producer and journalist Susan Stone presents our featured Dead Lady, architect Zaha Hadid.  Born in Baghdad, Zaha started her creative life early, designing her own clothes and furniture at the age of 7 or 8.  She studied at, then taught at, the Architectural Association School in London, where she honed her boundary-breaking skills and unmatchable style.

Both life and her designs threw a series of curves her way, but she excelled and inspired, becoming the first woman to with the Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for architecture, as well as many more accolades and contracts, eventually designing everything from schools to shoes. Along the way she faced notable sexism and racism as one of few women and Arabs in the field. But she wowed critics, and created some of the most incredible buildings the world has ever seen before her death at the age of 65 in 2016.

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

Show notes:

Continue reading “Podcast #48: Zaha Hadid”

Dead Ladies Show #29

Here we are again! Bringing three new ladies to regale you with! Not outdoors, because it’s November, but with excellent ventilation and a strict 2G+ formula.
 
Next Tuesday, join our guest presenters, the impressive writers Asal Dardan and Hinemoana Baker, along with your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens, to learn about three women who changed the world. All held together by your other beloved co-host, Katy Derbyshire. There’ll be an anti-fascist adventurer, a convention-breaking writer, and a real lady of a lady who brought the idea of vaccination to Western Europe. We’ll be rocking the ACUD Studio as the night sets in, celebrating lives lived to great effect.
 
Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €7 or €4 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7.30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!
 
We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 2G+ entry only – so scannable proof of being either geimpft or genesen, plus a recent Burgertest. To ensure everybody’s safety and peace of mind, we will also ask you to wear a mask even while seated. Thank you for your understanding and support!

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OLGA BENÁRIO PRESTES was a Jewish communist from Munich, who joined the party at the age of 15. A youth instructor with military training and experience with jailbreaks, she was assigned as a bodyguard to her later husband and tasked with helping him return from the Soviet Union to Brazil. There, they were eventually arrested and the pregnant Olga was extradited to Nazi Germany, giving birth to her daughter in Barnimstrasse women’s prison. She was gassed with hundreds of other women political prisoners in 1942; her daughter is a professor of Brazilian history, still teaching occasionally in retirement.

by Lady Ottoline Morrell, vintage snapshot print, 1916-1917

KATHERINE MANSFIELD was an influential modernist writer from New Zealand. She wrote from a young age, leaving for England at 19. Dispatched to Bavaria after leading a fast-paced life in London, including various male and female lovers, she discovered Chekov and started writing in earnest, culminating in her first collection, “In a German Pension”. Back in England, World War I sparked her most prolific period, producing many short stories and poems. Her lasting legacy was partly published posthumously, following her early death of tuberculosis in the company of her “wife,” her fellow Bloomsbury Group writer Ida Baker, in Fontainebleau, France.

LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU was an English aristocrat famed for her wit and beauty. When her husband became ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1716, she accompanied him to Constantinople. Gaining access to female spaces in Turkey, she witnessed smallpox inoculations there and had her son immunized in the same way, using a small sample of the live virus that had killed her brother and caused severe scarring to her own face. The principle was adapted into what we now know as vaccination. Lady Mary later left her husband behind in England after falling for an Italian count, only returning after she was widowed. She wrote poetry, essays, and copious letters, many of which were published after her death, encouraging other ladies to travel as she had done.

Podcast #46: Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

In this edition of the Dead Ladies Show Podcast, DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens introduces us to the eccentric Dada artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. An eternally eclectic, German-born New Yorker, the Baroness was known for living life as a work of art, wearing a collage of found items, from tin cans to postage stamps to live birds, seducing almost everyone she met, and creating mind-blowing poetry and sculptures, yet never making any money off them. These days, she deserves some reclaimed recognition for creating the found art genre known as readymades, including a particular infamous sculpture credited to French artist Marcel Duchamp (or Marcel Dushit, as the Baroness called him.)

DLS other co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer/host Susan Stone to introduce the show, which was recorded in front of a live audience of enthusiastic college students as part of Bard College Berlin‘s student-organized Pankumenta festival back in 2019.

**This episode contains brief mentions of suicide and suicide attempts as well as some humorous profanity**

Also available on SpotifyApple PodcastsRadioPublicPocket CastsStitcherGoogle Podcasts, and Acast.

Notes:

Continue reading “Podcast #46: Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven”

Dead Ladies Show #28

We’re going live again! Dead ladies, live on stage, next Tuesday, October 5, 8pm at ACUD.

We’re going to try and do it outdoors but if the weather doesn’t play along we’ll move inside! We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 3G entry only – geimpft, genesen, getestet. In the event of rain, sleet, snow or cold weather, we’ll move indoors to the ACUD Studio, so please bring a mask to use when you’re not at your seat.

Join our guest presenters, awesome academic AGATA LISIAK and jubilant journalist THEMBI WOLF, along with our podcast producer SUSAN STONE, to learn about three fascinating females who shaped our world. All held together by your familiar hosts, FLORIAN DUIJSENS and KATY DERBYSHIRE. You’ll learn about three revolutionary women – in fields as diverse as politics, sex, and architecture. We’ll be rocking the ACUD courtyard as the sun goes down, celebrating ladies who changed other people’s lives.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €8 or €5 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!

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ROSA LUXEMBURG was a Polish Marxist and co-founder of the anti-war Spartacus League in 1915 Germany, which became the KPD. Having started out as a political activist at the age of 15, she had organized a general strike before she left school. She wrote prolifically and travelled widely in the service of the revolution, all while on the run from the tsarist police. Luxemburg moved to Berlin in 1898, where she “hated the stifling conservatism, despised Prussian men and resented what she saw as the grip of urban capitalism on social democracy.” After Germany’s 1918 revolution she was tortured, murdered and thrown in the Landwehr Canal by Freikorps soldiers. Today she has her own square, though, so there’s that.

DR. JUNE DOBBS BUTTS was an African-American sex researcher and therapist who argued for greater openness about sex in the Black community. The youngest of six daughters of a civil rights activist, she grew up playing with Martin Luther King Jr. After years of study and breakthrough research, she eventually had her own practice in Maryland, hosted a radio show, and wrote articles and columns for Black magazines like Jet, Ebony and Essence. “I realize that there are a lot of critics,” she said, “but I’ve found out that nine times out of 10 they have a sex hang-up themselves.”

ZAHA HADID was a British-Iraqi architect. Dubbed “the queen of the curve” and “a planet in her own orbit”, she received awards by the truckload for the buildings she left us. Hadid studied in Baghdad and London and opened her own firm in 1980, only three years after graduating. Many of her ambitious plans went unbuilt while she established her unique style, until she designed a fire station near the Rhine. From then on, her projects grew bigger and bigger (and often curvier). She taught and painted and designed interiors and products, and was also on the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.