Dead Ladies Show #15

New year, new Dead Ladies! February sees a fabulous array of foregone females dished up for your delight: an award-winning author who taught herself to read and write, a swashbuckling lady sea captain, and an early stuntwoman and inventor. Presented by top Berlin writer Deniz Utlu, amazing translator Laura Radosh, and your regular co-host Katy Derbyshire. All kept on the rails by your other beloved co-host, Florian Duijsens. So get ready to laugh, gasp, and cry as you raise a glass to a trio of inspiring women with us in the ACUD Studio on 13 February, 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!

Also, since we last wrote you three (!) more podcast episodes have gone up. Courtesy of our magnificent producer Susan Stone, these present highlights from past events, plus one or two extra bits to delight your ears. Do click through for a listen to Katy on the great poet May Ayim (recorded live in the studio), Florian on the deathless Dorothy Parker(recorded live in Wannsee), and the fab Jessica Miller on surrealist artist/author Leonora Carrington (recorded live in front of you, our beloved audience)! Get them wherever you get your podcasts (and don’t forget to rate and subscribe).

Romanian-born Aglaja Veteranyi came from a family of circus artistes. After a decade of being forced to perform as a dancer around Europe, she settled in Switzerland and taught herself German while training as an actor. She went on to run the acting school where she had trained. Alongside her work on the stage, she wrote novels, short stories, poetry, and plays, winning prizes and acclaim. Facing a crisis in 2002, she drowned herself in Lake Zurich. Her work is available in Spanish, Romanian, Hungarian, Slovenian, French, Polish, and English translations.

Grace O’Malley, or rather Gráinne Mhaol, is lauded as a “pirate queen,” “a most famous femynyne sea captain,” and “the dark lady of Doona.” She was lord 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 met with Queen Elizabeth I and negotiated their release in Latin, while also teaching the court about disposable handkerchiefs. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Our dead Berliner is Käthe Paulus, Germany’s first female airship pilot, a professional aerial acrobat, and the inventor of the folding parachute. On meeting a balloonist, she decided to learn how to pilot a hot-air balloon and perform parachute jumps. Having had his baby out of wedlock, she lost him in a ballooning accident and made a living for herself – and her mother, who she lived with throughout her life – flying balloons, airships, and planes, and jumping out of them, starting her own parachute production line during WWI. And yes, they have named a street at BER after her.




Podcast #5: Leonora Carrington

A brand new podcast for 2018, produced and presented by Susan Stone.

Listen to writer Jessica Miller talking about the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington and her really rather surprising life.

Also available on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, and other podcast purveyors.

Show notes:

Here’s Jessica with a self-portrait of Leonora with a hyena

3DeadLadies14 ©KarenMargolis2017

And a drawing Leonora did of the clinic she was put into at Santander


Her great friend Remedios Varo in a mask


Works by Leonora and Remedios

And a link to Leonora’s classic novel, The Hearing Trumpet. ‘This book is so inspiring…I love its freedom, its humour and how it invents its own laws. What specifically do I take from her? Her wig.’ Björk

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for tuning in! Check back in February for Episode 6.


Podcast #4: Dorothy Parker

Our fourth and (so far) frothiest and festivest podcast, produced and presented by Susan Stone.

This time it’s your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens revealing some lesser-known sides to the late, great Dorothy Parker. Plus the rest of the gang getting fizzy on a popular Berlin beverage.

Also available on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, and soon to come from other podcast purveyors.

Show notes:


Here’s a young Dorothy, contemplating.


Here she is with the Algonquin table crew.


And a sad “awaiting the stork” photo.

Watch A Star Is Born.

Listen to an interview with legendary author and broadcaster Studs Terkel.

Listen to “Big Blonde” in full, read by Cynthia Nixon.

And Tallulah Bankhead reading the great “A Telephone Call”.

Plus more Dorothy recordings.

Von Herzen

And here are some of the accoutrements used in preparing the show.

Speaking of The Portable Dorothy Parker, here’s The Portable Dorothy Parker. Enjoy.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for tuning in! Check back in January for Episode 5.

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, Apple Podcasts, 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:

DLS13 (7 of 8)

Here’s May Ayim with her grandfather in Ghana…


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


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


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.


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 Apple Podcasts, and soon to come from other podcast purveyors.

Show notes:

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


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.


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!


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.






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, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, RadioPublic (and soon all other purveyors of podcasts).


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.


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!