Dead Ladies NYC #20

We are thrilled to invite you to our twentieth DLS NYC on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at the Red Room at KGB Bar! (85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003, Third Floor.) You can buy your tickets here!!!

It’ll be a sister act (in fact, if you’ve been with us a while, you’ll know it’s our very own Sister Act II), featuring one nun presented and a pair of sisters doing the other two presentations! LOVE IT.

Join us as we are regaled with the tales of a nun even the pope couldn’t bar from good works, a groundbreaking American dramatist, and a Black champion of Southern cuisine. Presented by three fascinating and intrepid Women of History(TM).

NB: We are now charging a $10 cover to defray costs of the event—if this presents any issue, please contact me and we can absolutely work something out.

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CLARE OF ASSISI (1194–1253), born a noblewoman, is best known for her association with Francis of Assisi. When she was 18, she eluded unwanted marriage, escaped her parental home, and taking a vow of poverty, established a community of lay women under his guidance. She preached and served lepers and the poor—the life Francis had promised her—until a powerful cardinal set about to make her a cloistered nun. Ultimately from behind locked walls, Clare waged a decades-long fight with the papacy, upending some of its plans and blindsiding the pope who thought he had shut her from the world.

SUSAN GLASPELL (1876–1948) is the greatest writer you’ve (probably) never heard of. She flourished during the golden age of the short story, co-founded the first modern American theater company, the Provincetown Players, and earned the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A path-breaking feminist writer, her play, Trifles, will keep you hanging on the edge of your seat and twist your stomach into knots. It’s a real killer. 

EDNA LEWIS (1916–2006) was a self-taught African American chef and champion of Southern food, who trail-blazed the farm-to-table movement in the US—well before the model came to define the work of Chef Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. Born in Freetown, Virginia, Lewis eventually moved to New York City, where she opened Café Nicholson in 1948 with her friend, Johnny Nicholson. As the Midtown restaurant’s chef—rare for a Black woman at the time—she attracted literati, movie stars, and bohemians for decades with a pared down menu of roasted chicken and chocolate soufflé. Her mentorship and four cookbooks, based on a seasonal appreciation for ingredients, challenged America’s perception of the South and elevated its foodways.

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Your presenters:

KATHLEEN BRADY is the author of Ida Tarbell: Portrait of A Muckraker, for which she was named a Fellow of the Society of American Historians. She has also written biographies of Lucille Ball and now Francis and Clare of Assisi.

DEBORAH STREAHLE is a historian who writes about health activism, psychedelics, and death in American culture.

DR. KRISTEN STREAHLE is an expert in medieval Sicilian art and architecture. She has also worked in communities around the country to shift policy and urban design toward increasing food accessibility.

Podcast 56: Mae West

Courtesy of our pals at DLS NYC, we meet the first meta sex symbol: Mae West. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Mae was brazen, buxom, bawdy, sensational, and sexy. She was known for her husky voice, risqué performances, and double entendres that slipped past the film censors. With over 70 years in show business on both 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.”

DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens joins producer Susan Stone to introduce our featured Dead Lady.

Artist, lecturer, researcher, and self-described ‘professional eccentric’ JR Pepper tells Mae’s story; you can find out more about JR here.

DLS NYC is curated and hosted by Molly O’Laughlin Kemper, and was recorded by Jennifer Nulsen, all under the auspices of the KGB Bar’s Lori Schwarz.

If you’re in the NY area, why not sign up for their newsletter so you can find out when the next show will be? Find it here.

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

Show notes:

Continue reading “Podcast 56: Mae West”

Dead Ladies NYC #19

It was wonderful seeing so many of you last month at DLS NYC #18! We are very pleased to announce that we’ll be back in the Red Room on September 7, 2022 for our nineteenth NYC show. (Can you believe it??)

At this, our nineteenth show, be regaled with the tales of an imperious librarian who fended off literary predators to protect the people’s access to great work; a Black lesbian playwright who made history on Broadway and off; and a justice perhaps best described as simply…notorious. Presented by three live ladies who have each graced the DLS stage before, now back and better than ever!

SHEILA ENRIGHT is a human woman who lives in New York. She can usually be found sitting or standing when not lying down. 

MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN KEMPER is a writer living in New York. Her work has appeared most recently in MUTHA Magazine. She also just so happens to be the host of the DEAD LADIES SHOW NYC.

EMILY KNAPP lives and works in New York. She is also the founding partner of LTDEDTN (@__ltdedtn__), a gallery that showcases emerging artists, one artwork at a time.

Join us, Wednesday, September 7, 7–9pm at the Red Room at KGB Bar! (85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003, Third Floor.)

NB: Due to an increased bar minimum at our beautiful space, we will now be charging a $10 cover. Get your tickets here!

*** If this charge poses financial difficulties for you, please email me and we can absolutely work something out! ***

Read more: Dead Ladies NYC #19

LOLA SZLADITS (1923–1990) was a librarian and curator of the Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library. During her 20 year tenure, she built up the Berg into one of the world’s great collections of English and American literary manuscripts and rare books. A “dragon guarding the treasure horde,” Lola was renowned for her sardonic sense of humor, and feared for her caustic wit. With an unparalleled foresight for authors who would become giants in the canon of English Literature, she wrangled with “hard hitting literary widows” and held off well-heeled collectors to ensure that the public had access to the manuscripts and papers of such greats as Virginia Woolf, W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, and Samuel Beckett.

When her play A Raisin in the Sun opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959, LORRAINE HANSBERRY (1930–1965) became the first Black woman to have a play performed on Broadway. At only 29 years old, she became the youngest American playwright to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, and she was nominated for a Tony to boot. Her writing ranged from the intimately personal (e.g. her experience as a closeted lesbian married to a white Jewish man) to the global and political (Black liberation worldwide), and everything in-between.

Justice RUTH BADER GINSBURG (1933–2020) was the second woman and first Jewish woman confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. Guided by her Jewish identity and upbringing, Justice Ginsburg spent her entire career using her expert knowledge of the law to advance the lives of those not fully protected by our Constitution—especially women. After spending 27 years on the court, Justice Ginsburg succumbed to complications from cancer on September 18, 2020 on Rosh Hashanah; those who pass on this auspicious day are considered a Tzedek/ket or a righteous person.

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 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.  

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

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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 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 NYC #17 – Zoom edition!

The seventeenth edition of DLS NYC is upon us! Tuesday, July 21, from 7–8:15 pm on Zoom. This month, please join EMILY KNAPP and ELIZA ROCKEFELLER to learn about a visionary artist and teacher and the revolutionary Mayor of Christopher Street. Presented, respectively, by an art historian-slash-curator and a student of government and philosophy. 

 Free admission, and an ~*important note!*~ If you can, you’re welcome and encouraged to donate what you would have paid for a drink or two to the KGB Bar/Red Room, which has been hit hard financially by the pandemic. They are distributing 30% of all donations directly to employees. Donate here: Literary Landmark KGB Bar NYC Aid

We also ask that you consider donating to the following organization: G.L.I.T.S. Inc, a nonprofit led by trans women of color that works to address “the health and rights crises faced by transgender sex workers.”

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LOÏS MAILOU JONES (19051998) was a visionary artist and teacher who spent much of her 70-year career as an ardent advocate for African-American art. She established the art department at Palmer Memorial Institute and later became a professor at Howard University, where she mentored generations of African-American artists until her retirement in 1977. Her profound range spanned mediums and continents, from her early work designing textiles in New York to her captivating paintings of Paris and Port-au-Prince, not to mention her work as a U.S. cultural ambassador to numerous African countries in the 1970s. 

A_photo_of_Marsha_P._Johnson

MARSHA P. JOHNSON (1945-1992), also known as the “Mayor of Christopher Street”, was an activist, drag queen, performer, and sex worker. Credited as one of the initiators of the Stonewall uprising of 1969, co-founder of the radical activist group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, and an AIDS activist with ACT UP, she was one of the most prominent figures in the fight for queer liberation.

About your presenters:

INDIRA A. ABISKAROON is an art historian based in New York City. She is currently on leave from her role as Curatorial Assistant, Collections at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

ALMA BRADLEY is a Senior at Hamilton College concentrating in Government and Philosophy. She is spending her summer conducting research on alt-right protest movements and experimenting with fermentation in her spare time. 

Dead Ladies Show NYC #16 – Zoom edition!

The sixteenth edition of DLS NYC is upon us! Tuesday, April 7, from 7–9pm, though we won’t meet in the Red Room this time, given the pandemic; we’re meeting on Zoom. We hear it’s hip to meet online these days! 😉

In April, join EMILY KNAPP, ELIZA ROCKEFELLER, and HALL ROCKEFELLER to learn about a colossal Jewish-American literary figure, a Celtic warrior queen, and a revolutionary prison-reform advocate. Presented, respectively, by a museum director-slash-historian, a classicist passionate about very dead ladies, and a director-slash-arts activist.

Free admission, and an ~*important note!*~ If you can, you’re welcome and encouraged to donate what you would have paid for a drink or two to the KGB Bar/Red Room, which has been affected by NYC’s mandated business closures and has been hit hard financially. They are distributing 30% of all donations directly to employees. Alternatively, you can buy drink tickets to use when the bar reopens (whenever normal life returns, blessed be the day!)—just specify “drink tickets for DLS” in your donation note.

Emma_Lazarus
EMMA LAZARUS, though now most famous for her poem “The New Colossus,” an excerpt of which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, was both a consequential literary figure and activist for Jewish causes. She spoke out against anti-Semitism and waves of pogroms. In her short 38 years, she produced some of the most recognized and relevant prose of the 20th century.

Boadicea_Haranguing_the_Britons_(called_Boudicca,_or_Boadicea)_by_John_Opie

BOUDICCA (aka Boudica, Boudicea, or Boadicea) is perhaps one of the least popularized revolt leaders in Roman history. Celtic queen of the Iceni people in the 1st century CE, Boudicca led a deleterious revolt against the Roman Empire—yes, that Roman Empire—in the year 60/61 CE. Her story has been primarily bequeathed to us by two distinctly male and Roman voices (Tacitus and Cassius Dio), neither of whom were present during the revolt. The intense inherent bias of her biographers notwithstanding, she was a fierce warrior, who fought to protect her lands and people from the tight grasp of Roman rule.

Elizabeth_Fry

ELIZABETH FRY earned her place on the British £5 note through her revolutionary prison reform advocacy and activism in the early 19th century. She kept extensive and revealing diaries throughout her life, but her best known writing came in the form of an exposé-style book entitled Prisons in Scotland and the North of England. Fry invited members of the British nobility to spend nights with her in prison to reveal the conditions and encourage political action and founded the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate.

About your presenters:

ANNIE POLLAND is the director of the American Jewish Historical Society in New York and co-author of Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration.

CAROLINE KNAPP is a lover of the ancient world, languages, and ice cream. Unlike Boudicca, she has not spearheaded a revolt against an invading foreign army to protect her beloved homeland…yet…

LEIA SQUILLACE is a Virginia-born, Brooklyn-based theatre director, arts activist, criminal justice reform advocate, and baker.

Dead Ladies Show NYC #15

As you may know, our fearless DLS NYC leader Molly is having a baby, and handing off her duties to a new set of hosts each month. If you didn’t know: Surprise! Molly is having a baby! But even as new ladies are born, dead ladies continue to inspire and challenge us all, and so DLS continues.

In March, join HELEN O’HARE and MARY KATE SKEHAN to celebrate three women from the past: a legendary Broadway actress, the “mother of forensic science,” and a wildly inventive feminist science fiction writer.

You know the drill: 7–9pm in 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.

Elaine_Stritch_My_Sister_Eileen
ELAINE STRITCH (1925-2014) was an actress and singer known for her work on Broadway. She made her Broadway debut in 1946 and continued to appear on stage and screen nearly all her life–most recently as Jack Donaghy’s mother on 30 Rock, a role for which she won an Emmy. Stritch is best known for her unforgettable performances in Stephen Sondheim musicals, particularly Company. She continues to be emulated–and occasionally parodied–in pop culture today, from The Simpsons to Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

640px-Nutshell_Studies_of_Unexplained_Death,_Unpapered_Bedroom_3

FRANCES GLESSNER LEE (1878-1962) is known as the “mother of forensic science.” She’s most famous for creating the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, 20 true crime scene dioramas recreated in minute detail at dollhouse scale, used to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” Eighteen are still in use today. Lee became the first female police captain in the United States, and also helped to establish the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard. Her work revolutionized the emerging field of homicide investigation.

Joanna_Russ_obit
JOANNA RUSS (1937-2011) was a writer, academic, and radical socialist feminist. She is the author of works of science fiction, fantasy, and feminist literary criticism, including the polemic How to Supress Women’s Writing, the book-length study of modern feminism What Are We Fighting For?, and the utopian novel The Female Man.

About your presenters:
LAURA PITTENGER is a playwright and director living in Astoria. Her work has been seen at FringeNYC, Athena Theatre, Project Y, The Playwrights’ Center, The Tank, Brooklyn College’s GI60 Festival, The Sheen Center, and more.
DANIELLE DIETERICH is an editor at Penguin Random House, where she acquires thriller, suspense, and commercial women’s fiction.
B. D. MCCLAY is a writer and editor at The Hedgehog Review. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Outline, The Baffler, The Week, Commonweal, and more.

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.

The_Book_of_Margery_Kempe,_Chapter_18_(excerpt)

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.

Retrato_de_Sor_Juana_Inés_de_la_Cruz_(Miguel_Cabrera)

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.

Photo_of_Hedda_Sterne

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.