Dead Ladies Show #7

It’s practically summer! And to ring in this wonderfully sunny (and thunderstormy) season our very special literary cabaret is heading to Gay Paris – although not literally. Tuesday, 14 June, 8pm sees the seventh Dead Ladies Show at ACUD, featuring three fascinating women of yesteryear: Louise MichelDjuna Barnes, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe! From communard to bohemian writer to gospel legend, each of them rocked the city in their very own way.

As always, we will be celebrating them in German and English, with this edition’s presenters being author and journalist Jan Groh, translator Laura Radosh, and your co-host Florian Duijsens – all held together by Katy Derbyshire, of course.

By popular request we’ve moved upstairs to the ACUD Studio, where there’ll be a special drink available at the bar as ever. So whether you come say “Bonjour Paris” in your best Audrey Hepburn/Fred Astaire threads or pick a more down-and-out look, make sure you join us. It’s only €4 on the door – come on time to get the best seats!

p.s. Should you require a daily dose of dead-lady magic, check us out at @deadladiesshow.

LOUISE MICHEL (1830 – 1905) was an anarchist and animal lover, a feminist, a romantic, a passable writer and a teacher. Known as “the red she-wolf”, she was famed for attaching a protest poster to a policeman’s back and rescuing a cat from a hail of bullets mid-street battle. She fought for the Paris Commune and survived various prison sentences and exile in New Caledonia, where she became a fan of Kanak quarter-tone music. On her return to France she was lauded and lambasted as an agitator for freedom, equality and social justice. Her funeral drew a hundred thousand mourners onto the streets.

In 1912, DJUNA BARNES (1892 – 1982) walks into the Brooklyn Eagle office and declares: “I can write and I can draw and you’d be a fool not to hire me.” Thus began the literary career of the writer of one of *the* modern novels, Nightwood. From an unhappy childhood in a highly unconventional dysfunctional family, via the 1930s Parisian lesbian literary bohème, to a misanthropic recluse in the West Village, Djuna Barnes’ life was certainly never dull. Plus she was one of the only people in the famous circles she moved in who actually had to earn a living as a writer, illustrator, first-wave feminist, bisexual, and alcoholic.

Called the godmother of rock ‘n’ roll, SISTER ROSETTA THARPE (1915 – 1973) was a guitarist and gospel singer with 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. “With a Gibson SG in her hands, Sister Rosetta could raise the dead. And that was before she started to sing.”

Dead Ladies Show #6

We are proud to announce that Monday 11 April, 8pm, will bring you a triple-A Dead Ladies Show, your favorite literary cabaret dedicated to ladies who were once wonderfulJoin our sixth extravaganza and come celebrate three fascinating women: Special guests Lucy Renner-Jones and Fabian Wolff spill the beans on Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Alma Cogan, while regular Katy Derbyshire parts the mists of time to tell us all about Aphra Behn—all held together by your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens.

Come along in your finest finery or your raggedest rags for an evening full of fabulous facts and females, with a special drink on offer to suit the occasion. Entry is €4 on the door, and as always we’re at ACUD, Veteranenstrasse 21, in the back of the courtyard; come on time to get the best seats!

As always, the evening will be presented in English and German (Bitte scrollen für die deutsche Version) for your delectation and inspiration, so tell your German and your Anglo friends!

p.s. Should you require a daily dose of dead-lady magic, check us out at @deadladiesshow.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach was a Swiss photojournalist and writer. Addicted to morphine from her early 20s, she was the first woman to drive from Geneva to Kabul (in the 1930s!) and had stormy relationships with Carson McCullers and Erika Mann. Thanks to her pioneering reportage and famously androgynous style, Schwarzenbach has in recent years been rediscovered as a true lesbian icon.

Alma Cogan, “the girl with the giggle in her voice”, was a Jewish girl from London and briefly England’s biggest pop star, fifty years before Amy Winehouse. She had hit after hit in the 1950s and knew everyone who was anyone, playing host to Audrey Hepburn, Noel Coward, Sammy Davis, Jr. and John Lennon. Alma’s career ended as the 1960s began – her friendly pop tunes went out of fashion. By the time she died, aged 34, she was little but a memory, long due a revival.

Aphra Behn was one of the first women ever to make a living as a writer. She wrote plays, novels, poetry and translations, was probably also a spy and may have travelled all the way to Surinam – all this in Restoration England during the late 17th century! Famously praised by Virginia Woolf as a role model for women, Aphra came out of obscurity to lead a “life dedicated to pleasure and poetry” and has inspired writers for hundreds of years.

Lucy Renner Jones was born in England and did several jobs before becoming a translator. Up until 2004, she worked in Barcelona, Hamburg and Berlin as a photographer. Then she returned to her roots in literature and founded the translator’s collective Transfiction. She has a BA in German and Film from UEA, where she was taught by W. G. Sebald, and an MA in Applied Linguistics. She has translated Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Silke Scheuermann and Brigitte Reimann, writes book reviews for CULTurMAG and Words Without Borders, and hosts a series of events under the label The Fiction Canteen for writers and translators in Berlin.Fabian Wolff is an author from Berlin. He writes for newspapers, is occasionally on the radio and is working on his first novel. He writes in German and in English about old books and new music and vice-versa. A man of few words and great knowledge, might we add.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach war Schweizer Fotojournalistin und Schriftstellerin. Ab Anfang 20 morphinsüchtig, sie war die erste Frau, die eine Automobilreise von Genf nach Kabul machte – in den 30er Jahren! – und hatte stürmische Beziehungen mit Carson McCullers und Erika Mann. Dank ihrer bahnbrechenden Reportagen und ihres androgynen Stils ist Schwarzenbach in letzter Zeit als lesbische Ikone wiederentdeckt worden.

50 Jahre vor Amy Winehouse war ein anderes jüdisches Mädchen aus London kurz der größte Popstar Englands: Alma Cogan, “the girl with the giggle in her voice”, landete in den Fünfzigern Hit nacht Hit und war Dauergast der BBC. Alma kannte jeden, in ihrer Wohnung gingen Audrey Hepburn, Noel Coward, John Lennon und Sammy Davis, Jr ein und aus. Mit dem Beginn der Sechziger endete ihre Karriere – ihr freundlicher Pop-Schlager war nicht mehr gefragt. Als sie mit 34 starb, war sie nur noch eine Erinnerung.

Aphra Behn war eine der ersten Frauen, die sich vom Schreiben ernährt hat. Sie schrieb Theaterstücke, Romane, Lyrik und Übersetzungen, war vermutlich auch Spionin und reiste vielleicht bis nach Surinam – all das Ende des 17. Jahrhunderts in England! Von Virginia Woolf als Vorbild für schreibende Frauen gepriesen, kam Aphra aus unbekannten Verhältnissen, um ein „dem Pläsier und der Poesie gewidmetes Leben“ zu führen.


Lucy Renner Jones stammt aus England und hatte einige Berufe, bevor sie Übersetzerin wurde. Bis 2004 arbeitete sie als Fotografin in Barcelona, Hamburg und Berlin. Dann kehrte sie zu ihren literarischen Wurzeln zurück und gründete die Übersetzungskollektive Transfiction. Sie übersetzt u.a. Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Silke Scheuermann und Brigitte Reimann, schreibt Kritiken für CULTurMAG und Words Without Borders und organisiert eine Berliner Veranstaltungsreihe für Schreibende und Übersetzende mit dem Namen The Fiction Canteen.

Fabian Wolff ist Autor aus Berlin, er schreibt für Zeitungen, ist manchmal im Radio und arbeitet an seinem ersten Roman. Er schreibt auf deutsch und englisch über alte Bücher und neue Musik, und umgekehrt. Sagt hier wenig, weiß sehr viel, fügen wir hinzu.

Dead Ladies Show #5

The fifth Dead Ladies Show is upon us, and it brings ladies complicated, competent and completely scintillating. Join us for an evening all about three women who were once at the top of their respective games. In German and English, with plenty of mingling and music – and as usual, with a special drink of the night available at the bar, to make sure your hair stands on end.


Writer and translator Isabel Cole will share her love of:
Scion of an ancient theater dynasty, Ida Lupino (1918-1995) was an idiosyncratic star of Hollywood’s golden age – and in the 1950s she broke down barriers as a woman director/producer who tackled taboo subjects with her own inimitable style and panache.

Regisseurin und Autorin Gabi Hift erzählt uns von:
Unica Zürn, Surrealistin, Schriftstellerin, Malerin, Graphikerin, ist berühmt für ihre Anagramme und für die faszinierenden Erkundungungen aus dem Inneren ihres Wahnsinns. Sie und Hans Bellmer lebten als notorisches symbiotisches Künstlerpaar im Pariser “Hotel de l’esperanze”, er bastelte an den zerstückelten Sehnsuchtskörpern seiner Puppen, verschnürte Zürn zu Fleischpaketen, sie halluzinierte den “Mann im Jasmin”, die beiden waren Komplizen in der Kunst und in der Liebe. Zürn verbrachte immer wieder Monate in der Irrenanstalt, blieb auch dort produktiv, malte die Schrecken und Freuden des Kopfleuchtens. 1970 sprang sie aus dem Fenster- genau wie sie es drei Jahre vorher in einem Roman beschrieben hatte. (“Wer aber verzweifelt stibt, dessen ganzes Leben war umsonst.”- wer zum Teufel sagt denn sowas?!)


And your beloved host Florian Duijsens tells us: Even if her only role had been The Bride of Frankenstein (back in 1935), Elsa Lanchester would have been assured a cult following lasting infinite Halloweens. Yet her lightning-bolt hairdo surely wasn’t her only legacy, as she also hijacked the screen in classics such as Witness for the Prosecution, The Big Clock, and Mary fucking Poppins. Together with her husband Charles Laughton (an esteemed actor himself, plus the director of the DEATHLESS Night of the Hunter), she also recorded several bawdy albums of cockney songs, and with quips like “She looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – or anywhere else,” she’ll make a perfect addition to our Dead Ladies pantheon!

€4 entry – come nice and early to get a seat!

Dead Ladies Show #4

It’s freezing outside and you may well be facing your family for days on end rather soon.

So first, why not enjoy a seasonal evening celebrating three seasoned ladies: cabaret performer and famed trouser-wearer Claire Waldoff, plus two Hollywood legends, actress and director Barbara Loden, and child and adult star Natalie Wood. All presented to you by translator and publisher Amanda DeMarco, and author and journalist Katja Kullmann, then after a break co-host Katy Derbyshire with special musical guests Hans Kellett and Sigrid Grajek. All in a mishmash of English and German! Your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens will be holding it all together.

Event includes seasonal socializing/commiseration and very possibly eggnog, Gühwein, or a similarly wintry beverage. Heating and conviviality will be provided free of charge.

Dead Ladies Show #3

Another show jam-packed with dead ladies of the impressive kind, this time a quadruple double whammy: three dead ladies, two languages, two Florians, two electronic music inventresses and two Derbyshires.

So shimmy into your sequins or dress down and dirty to celebrate ethnographer Mary Kingsley – who explored Africa in full Victorian mourning dress and criticized missionaries – Bebe Barron – who literally cut and pasted hours of tape to compose the soundtrack for Forbidden Planet – and Delia Derbyshire – “the unsung heroine of British electronic music”.

All presented by your beloved hosts, Katy Derbyshire (no relation) and Florian Duijsens, plus special guest stars Susan Stone (NPR, WWD) and Florian Sievers (Spex, Groove).

And we’ll wind up the evening in time-honoured Dead Ladies Show style with a spot of socializing over special futuristic cocktails. Or perhaps a Victorian-style beverage? All will be revealed.

€4 on the door, or free entry for anyone appearing in full Victorian mourning dress.

Dead Ladies Show #2

The second Dead Ladies Show once again explores the collision of feminism and fabulousness, glamor and genius. Get dressed up in your finest of finery, or come as you are, Berlin-style, ready to learn about three more ladies who were amazing in their lifetimes.

This Dead Ladies Show celebrates Chicago-born silent film actress Dagmar Godowsky, her fellow Chicagoan (albeit “from the other side of the tracks”), pioneering R&B star LaVern Baker, and the Viennese salonnière Alma Mahler-Werfel. Though long departed from the world’s stage, these artists have never stopped inspiring this evening’s hosts, Katy Derbyshire (translator extraordinaire), Florian Duijsens (SAND, Asymptote), and their guests Luisa Zielinski (Paris Review, Asymptote) and Julya Rabinowich (author of Splithead and other novels).

After a night of short bilingual readings and presentations, we’ll mingle and listen to forgotten tunes and drink to deceased dames. The cover charge is 4 Euro, and there will be a signature Chicago-style cocktail on offer.

Foto : Alma Mahler-Werfel

Dead Ladies Show #1

The Dead Ladies Show not only presents a fabulous excuse to dress up in faux-fox furs and other early 20th-century accoutrements, it is the first in a series of very Berlin events exploring the collision of feminism and fabulousness, glamor and genius.

This inaugural Dead Ladies Show celebrates Irmgard Keun, Dorothy Parker, and Pola Negri. Though long departed from the world’s stage, these artists have never stopped inspiring this evening’s hosts, Katy Derbyshire (translator extraordinaire), Florian Duijsens (SAND, Asymptote), and Daniela Dröscher (author of the novel Pola).

After a night of short bilingual readings and presentations, DJ Johnny Stardust will pay tribute to other spirited jazz, blues, and country women of yore, so be sure to wear your dancing shoes. The cover charge is €4, and there will be a signature ‘Dead Lady’ cocktail in Dorothy Parker’s honor.