Podcast #3: May Ayim

The third of our monthly podcasts, produced and presented by Susan Stone.

An episode about the Afro-German poet and activist May Ayim, presented by Dead Ladies Show co-host Katy Derbyshire. Plus Berlin poet Mara Sanaga on how May Ayim influenced her work, and Afro-German life in 2017.

Also available on Soundcloud, iTunes, RadioPublic, Stitcher, and soon to come from other podcast purveyors.

Show notes:

Here’s Katy talking about May, in front of May eating a sweet treat now known as a Schokokuss:

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Here’s May Ayim with her grandfather in Ghana…

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…the Afro-German peace activist Fasia Jansen with her accordion back in the supersonic seventies…

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…and here’s a more recent photo of our studio guest Mara Sanaga:

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You can read some of Mara’s poems on her website.

Watch Maria Binder’s German documentary about May Ayim, Hoffnung im Herz.

Read May Ayim in English:
Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out, University of Massachusetts Press, 1991, translated by Anne V. Adams
Blues in Black and White: A Collection of Essays, Poetry, and Conversations, Africa World Press, 2003, translated by Anne V. Adams

And if you read German, we highly recommend this collection of writing by Afro-German women about May Ayim’s legacy:
Sisters and Souls: Inspirationen von May Ayim, Orlanda Verlag, 2016, edited by Natasha A. Kelly.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for tuning in! Check back in December for Episode 4.

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Podcast #2: Fanny Blankers-Koen

Our second monthly podcast, produced by Susan Stone:

This episode is all about the multiple-medal-winning athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen, presented by Sarah Fisher. Plus co-host Florian Duijsens on Fanny’s fame in the Netherlands and a few extra live voices from our most recent live show.

Also available on Soundcloud, Stitcher, RadioPublic and iTunes, and soon to come from other podcast purveyors.

Show notes:

Here’s Sarah showing us some pictures at the show:

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And a couple of shots of our hardy heroine herself:

Watch Fanny Blankers-Koen run really fast and win four gold medals at the 1948 Olympics. Includes some great footage of damp London spectators, and Fanny telling a joke in Dutch.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for tuning in! Check back in November for Episode 3.

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Dead Ladies Show #14

Dead Ladies Show number 14 brings you three out-and-out rebellious ladies who took their lives in their own hands and gave us great art: an East German writer who found recognition and then disapproval in the West, a painter who shaped both Surrealism and feminism, and one of the most influential blues musicians of all time. Presented by top Berlin writer ANNETT GRÖSCHNER, Australian author JESSICA MILLER, and your favourite regular, FLORIAN DUIJSENS. Co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE will be holding the reins and welcoming you all. So throw caution to the wind, embrace your inner rebel, and raise a glass to a trio of fabulous females with us in the ACUD STUDIO on 21 November, 8pm.

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

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Our dead Berliner this time round is CHRISTA REINIG, born right here in 1926. A working-class lesbian writer, her remarkable life took her from Trümmerfrau to floristry to museum curating, all the while refusing to conform to authority. Having been banned from publishing her work in the GDR, she got her poems and stories into print in the West. In 1964, she went to West Germany to accept a literary award – and never went back. The 1970s saw her discovering feminism, finding a sometimes satirical voice to articulate women’s experiences and ways to write poetry about lesbian love. But – surprise! – the literary establishment wasn’t much into that. Christa Reinig is remembered for her “life-affirming sarcasm” and brash, Berlin-style charm.

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The painter and novelist LEONORA CARRINGTON was born in England but spent most of her adult life in Mexico. Even as a child, art offered her a way out of the constraints of her family’s expectations, and she was soon drawn to Surrealism – and the artist Max Ernst. Not one to settle for muse status, Carrington began painting and sculpting in the Surrealist style. She also wrote to deal with the blows life threw at her, from incarceration in an asylum to aging while female. In Mexico, she became a fêted political artist and helped begin the country’s Women’s Liberation movement. She received the ultimate posthumous honour in 2015, with a painting of hers made into a Google Doodle.

Tobacco-chewing blues singer MEMPHIS MINNIE 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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Podcast #1: Hypatia

The very first of our monthly podcasts, produced by Susan Stone:

This episode focuses on the ancient Greek mathematician Hypatia, presented by Karen Margolis. Plus you’ll meet co-hosts Florian Duijsens and Katy Derbyshire, and hear all about how the show came to be and which dead dames we’ve featured so far.

Also available on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, RadioPublic (and soon all other purveyors of podcasts).

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Show notes:

One lady we talked about but forgot to name was the rather difficult but still fascinating actress and heiress Dagmar Godowsky. 

Here are a couple of artist’s impressions of Hypatia herself:

And here’s Karen showing that father-and-daughter calculation of the distances between various heavenly bodies.

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Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for tuning in! Check back in October for Episode 2.

Dead Ladies Show #13

The Dead Ladies Show is a series of entertaining and inspiring presentations on women who achieved amazing things against all odds. Every two months, the show hosts three passionate cheerleaders of too-oft forgotten women, inviting its loyal audience into a sexy séance (of sorts) celebrating these impressive icons, their turbulent lives, and deathless legacies.

Our 13th event showcases three such extraordinary ladies who pushed the boundaries of their times: a poet and Afro-German activist, a pioneering doctor who took a liberal view of female sexuality, and a silent movie star who wowed crowds in a lavish 1917 version of Cleopatra, now lost for all eternity. Our presenters are the award-winning German writer DAVID WAGNER, Dublin/Berlin-based columnist ALIX BERBER, and your beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE. And of course our master of ceremonies, FLORIAN DUIJSENS, will ensure the evening’s entertainment runs smoothly. So put on your glad rags and raise a glass with us in the ACUD STUDIO on 26 September, 8pm.

Launching our year of dead Berliners is MAY AYIM, who made our fine city her home in 1984. She was a founding member of the Initiative of Black People in Germany a year later, and published the groundbreaking book Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out soon afterwards. Ayim trained as a speech therapist and taught at university level, but she’s remembered for her work on Afro-German history and her unmasking of racism – and for her moving poetry which explores her own memory and identity and those of others.

ANNA FISCHER-DÜCKELMANN was one of the first women to study medicine, running a clinic for women and children in Dresden for many years. She wrote books on reforming women’s clothing, women’s sexuality, and gynecology, plus a popular illustrated guide to medicine for women. Keeping her maiden name after marriage, Fischer-Dückelmann championed both natural remedies and women’s rights. “Women’s equality,” she wrote, “is the key to a new heavenly realm of love.”

The silent movie actress THEDA BARA rose to become Fox Studios’ biggest star prior to the 1920s, often cast as a vamp. Yet she also played Shakespearean roles like Juliet and Cleopatra. In pre-code Hollywood, she was known for her skimpy costumes and early sex-symbol status. Criticized for her dark roles – from gang moll to Princess Zara of the South Seas – she responded: “I will continue doing vampires as long as people sin.” Although she made more than 40 silent films, very few of them have survived.

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

 

Dead Ladies Show #12

On May 30th, we’re throwing our 12th Dead Ladies Show, proudly presenting three very different 20th-century women, all of whom made waves doing things they weren’t supposed to do: a multiple medal-winning runner, a Hollywood writer, and a gun-toting suffragette socialist – brought to you by translator and adventurer Sarah Fisher, writer and dramaturge Antonia Roeller, and your beloved co-host Katy Derbyshire.

With Florian Duijsens to keep the show on track, you can look forward to a riotously riveting evening. Put on your running shorts, your diamonds, or your sturdiest boots, swing on over to the ACUD Studio, and raise a glass of our special drink to toast these three fine dead ladies.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!

The athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen was 30 years old and had two kids when she won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics. The mayor of Amsterdam kindly presented her with a bicycle on her return. She held 58 Dutch titles and set or tied 12 world records during her athletic career – all while putting up with patronizing nicknames like “the flying housewife” and “the flying Dutchmam”. Treasuring her Jesse Owens autograph, which she got when she competed in the Berlin Olympics at the age of 18, she lived to the ripe age of 85 and was named Female Athlete of the Century in 1999. Fanny Blankers-Koen ran like a woman.

Dubbed “the soubrette of satire”, Anita Loos wrote hundreds of film scripts with names like A Temperamental WifeA Virtuous VampA Perfect WomanPolly of the Follies, and Biography of a Bachelor Girl. Plus of course her most famous book, the short story collection Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and a decent handful of memoirs, novels, and non-fiction. She hung out in Paris, New York, and Hollywood with writers, actresses, and chorus girls, put up with and then divorced a hypochondriac husband, and worked incredibly hard to become one of America’s most feted screenwriters.

Constance Markievicz was an Irish revolutionary, suffragette, and socialist, and the first woman elected to the British parliament (although she never attended). From a landowning background, she became a landscape painter and socialized with Dublin’s intellectuals before joining Sinn Féin and the Daughters of Ireland, attending her first meeting in a ball-gown and tiara. Later, though, she advised women to “dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver.” Markievicz fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, narrowly escaping a death sentence, and became the first woman cabinet minister in the Irish Republic.

Dead Ladies Show #11

On 28 March, our 11th Dead Ladies Show brings you a congenial constellation of shining female stars from the past millennium and a half. Revisiting the fascinating lives of a mathematical genius, a literary legend, and a star of stage, screen, and espionage will be writer and translator Karen Margolis, thespian Gabi Hift (who so wonderfully shared her love for Unica Zürn back at our 5th show), and DLS-regular Florian Duijsens, all held together by co-host Katy Derbyshire.

Back at our beloved ACUD Studio, we’ll be imbibing a special drink or two and generally enjoying ourselves – so whether you favour a toga, a pantsuit, or a slightly fruitier outfit, come along and join the feminist fun.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat, and please do share this invite with your friends!

In 1927, US-born activist, singer, and spy Josephine Baker was the first black person anywhere to star in a major motion picture – that same year she was Europe’s highest-earning entertainer. During WWII she used her fame to gather intelligence and her sheet music to transport secret messages for the Resistance. In France, she lived in a chateau with her 11 adopted children, while in the States she was banned by the FBI right after being named the NAACP’s “Woman of the Year” for her anti-segregation articles and campaigns. All, of course, after having brought jazz and banana-garnished dancing to Europe.

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Our oldest dead lady yet, Hypatia of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher in Byzantine Egypt. Widely admired for her self-possession, she is considered a universal genius and headed a school of philosophy, teaching Platonist ideas to pagans, Christians, and foreigners. This being around the year 400, no one knows exactly what she wrote, but it was probably her astronomical research on the vernal equinox that got her brutally murdered in the end. A lady who lived and died for science.

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Writer Harper Lee is famous the world over for To Kill A Mockingbird. After publication in 1960, she decided “it’s better to be silent than to be a fool” and withdrew from public life. Having started writing as a child on a typewriter shared with her neighbour Truman Capote, they went on to work together on his In Cold Blood and later had his-n-hers alcohol problems. Despite allowing her novel Go Set A Watchman to be published seven months before her death last year, Harper Lee maintained a strictly protected private life almost unimaginable for writers today.