Dead Ladies Show NYC #8

You are cordially invited to the eighth DLS NYC, now on a new day and in a slightly different location!!!!!!!!!!

Please join us in the RED ROOM at the KGB Bar on MONDAY, June 3, from 7–9pm.

The Red Room is one floor up from our previous location; it is bigger, for your viewing pleasure! More space for you and your friends! Monday is two days before our usual day of Wednesday!

You knew this day was coming—I’ll be taking the stage with a presentation of my own, in addition to hosting! In addition to *ahem* myself, I am very pleased to be joined by numbers gal extraordinaire LIZ KRANE and artistic architect DARBY KLINE. We will respectively be presenting a civil rights pioneer, the original Tony (just in time for the Tony Awards), and a transformative textile artist.

Free admission: please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB’s RED ROOM.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER (1825–1911) was one of the most prominent African-American intellectuals of the nineteenth century, writing poetry and speaking publicly against slavery alongside such famous names as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Frederick Douglass. After abolition, her commitment to equal rights, rather than prioritizing women’s rights (read: middle-class white women’s rights), put her at odds with Stanton and Anthony. Her view: “We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul.”

Antoinette Perry

ANTOINETTE PERRY (1888–1946) was a stage actress, director, and producer; an activist and wartime leader; and the namesake of The Tony Awards. Called to the theatre, she rejected societal expectations and brushed aside health setbacks to become the first successful female director in the industry and devote her life to the theatre’s community and future. She served as the president of the National Experimental Theatre, financed the work of new playwrights, operated the Stage Door Canteen, and founded the Theatre Wing of Allied Relief, which survives to this day as the American Theatre Wing.

Anni Albers

ANNI ALBERS (1899–1994) quietly transformed the ancient and ubiquitous craft of weaving into a category of fine art. Informed by her studies at The Bauhaus School and her travels throughout Mexico and South America, Anni experimented on the loom using raw materials and a profound structural understanding of textiles as her guide. In 1949, she became the first textile artist to have a solo show at MoMA. Her expertise in theory and history led Anni to link thinking and making in her teaching, drawing, and writing.

About your presenters:

MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN KEMPER is a writer, translator, and editor. She hosts a little thing called the DEAD LADIES SHOW each month in New York City—maybe you’ve heard of it?

LIZ KRANE works with Galbraith + Company as a production accountant for Broadway and touring shows. Much like her Dead Lady, Antoinette Perry, she finds relaxation in numbers.

DARBY KLINE is an architect who experiments through textiles. She seeks inspiration from courageous women past and present, especially those who use their design education in non-traditional ways.

Podcast #23: Bessie Blount & Flo Kennedy

Episode 23 is our first from New York City! It showcases two incredible black women who made major achievements in their fields. First off, journalist Amy Padnani tells us about the nurse, wartime inventor, and handwriting analyst Bessie Blount, followed by researcher Deborah Streahle on the radical feminist lawyer Florynce “Flo” Kennedy. Recorded live at KGB’s Red Room, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in May 2019.

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

Show notes & pics:

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A young Bessie Blount, having taught herself to write with her feet and her mouth.

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And here she is passing on that knowledge. Elmira Advertiser, April 24, 1958

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Bessie’s invention, as patented in 1951

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As a handwriting analyst in later life. The Daily Journal

You can read Amy Padnani’s obituary for Bessie Blount in the New York TimesOverlooked section, which Amy herself established. We thoroughly approve of this new initiative.

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And on to Florynce “Flo” Kennedy.

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Early lawyer years, from her book (see below)

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A couple of our favorite pics showing Flo’s confident style

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Flo Kennedy at the N.O.W. march in 1972. Photo by Bettye Lane, courtesy of Schlesinger Library

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For further reading, there’s Kennedy’s autobiography with the great title Color Me Flo. My Hard Life and Good Times. Deborah also highly recommends Sherrie M. Randolph’s Florynce “Flo” Kennedy. The Life of a Black Feminist Radical.

And it looks like there may be a documentary in the works, directed by Keirdra Bahruth.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Special thanks to Molly O’Laughlin Kemper for taking the Dead Ladies Show to New York City… and running with it!

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in June.

Dead Ladies Show NYC #7

Lucky number seven! Also, a tale of two Flor(e/y)nces (and a Muriel). Please join us at the KGB Bar (on Labor Day, how appropriate) for the DLS NYC on Wednesday, May 1, from 7-9pm PER USUAL!

I am excited to welcome to the stage Victoria-sponge enthusiast KRISTINA MCCLENDON, well-meaning library absconder SHEILA ENRIGHT, and historical-conversational igniter DEBORAH STREAHLE to present—respectively—a radical Victorian reporter, a literary Dame (and we do mean Dame), and a powerful black feminist lawyer in pink sunglasses. All to be gently nudged along by your host, MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN KEMPER.

Free admission; please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB.

Florence Dixie

Lady FLORENCE DIXIE (1855–1905) was a radical Victorian writer, adventurer, activist, and feminist. As the first female war correspondent to be appointed by a British newspaper, Dixie covered the ongoing conflict during the first Boer War. A prolific writer, she published books, articles, and essays describing her travels across South America and South Africa, adventure stories for children, and several works reflecting her commitment to women’s emancipation and other political causes.

Muriel Spark

Dame MURIEL SPARK was a poet, novelist, editor, and biographer. Born in Scotland in 1918, she moved to Africa at 19, only to flee the continent and her abusive marriage during WWII. Returning to England, she joined the intelligence service, and after the war became a secretary, trade writer, and literary editor, ultimately publishing her first book at the age of 39 after her conversion to Catholicism. Spark went on to write more than 20 novels, as well as poems, plays, biographies, essays, and a memoir – and is considered one of the most ingenious writers of the twentieth century.

Florynce Kennedy

Black feminist radical FLORYNCE KENNEDY (1916–2000) was known for her flamboyant activism, media savvy, and strategic lawyering on behalf of oppressed people. A leader in the Black Power movement and an influential second wave feminist, Kennedy’s witty and incisive critiques of the establishment cemented her reputation as “[t]he biggest, loudest and, indisputably, the rudest mouth on the battleground,” according to People magazine in 1974. Kennedy founded cross-movement coalitions, organized intersectional protests, and fought for justice in court on behalf of the Black Panthers and women’s reproductive autonomy—all while wearing her distinctive cowboy hat, pink sunglasses, and false eyelashes.

About your presenters:

KRISTINA MCCLENDON holds an MA in Victorian Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London and currently works at NYU. She has a room of her own in New York’s only nobly-named borough (Queens) and can usually be found perfecting her Victoria sponge.

SHEILA ENRIGHT is a writer/editor at Carnegie Corporation of New York. When not neglecting to return her library books, she can usually be found thrifting in the nearest Goodwill.

DEBORAH STREAHLE is currently a PhD student at Yale University where she studies the history of health care and alternative medicine in the U.S. Her goal is to spark conversations about neglected histories. One of her favorite Flo quotes is, “We’ve got to stop sucking and begin to bite.”

Podcast #22: Josephine Baker

Episode 22 features our beloved co-host Florian Duijsens giving us the low-down on the multi-talented entertainer Josephine Baker. Recorded live at ACUD, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in April 2019.

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

Show notes & pics:

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A very young “Tumpie”

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Josephine looking glamorous

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We couldn’t very well not share this one…

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Wartime heroine in Free French uniform

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Speaking at the March on Washington in 1963: “I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, ’cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world…”

For more gorgeous pics, check out this fancy spread in UK Vogue.

Listen to Josephine singing in French in 1953. Or watch her dancing and acting in the 1935 French film Princess Tam Tam, or clowning and Charleston-ing.

Fancy a trip to France? You can visit her chateau! Or go on a walking tour just outside Paris!

For further reading, Florian recommends two titles:

Jean-Claude Baker’s Josephine: The Hungry Heart, written with Chris Chase, and Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe, by Matthew Pratt Guterl.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in May.

 

 

Dead Ladies Show NYC #6

Please join me for the sixth edition of the DLS NYC (whaaaatt?!? time flies when you’re giving new life to dead ladies!), on Wednesday, 10 April, from 7:00–9:00pm at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street).

This Show brings us a gender-bending actor, a controversial thinker, and a multitalented inventor. Presented by feminist PhD candidate DANIELLE DREES, fearless educator MONICA LEIER, and forward-thinking obituarist AMY PADNANI. Facilitated per usual by your friendly host, MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN KEMPER.

Free admission; please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB.

Mary Frith

MARY FRITH / MOLL CUTPURSE (circa 1584–1659) is quite possibly the only woman to appear onstage in Shakespeare’s day. She broke the law by dressing as a man and performing in a public theatre when only men were allowed to be actors—and she was, in turn, immortalized in a play, a pulp fiction biography, and hundreds of years of research on gender, sexuality, and why women want to wear pants. In a time when few women had public voices and terms like “genderqueer” were still 400 years in the future, Frith thoroughly confused her contemporaries and loosened up gender a little for the rest of us.

Hannah Arendt

HANNAH ARENDT (1906–1975) was one of the greatest thinkers of her time…OR EVER. Though she studied philosophy, she rejected the title of philosopher and instead described herself as a political theorist, if even that. This nasty woman is best known for her coverage of the Nuremberg Trials and her controversial writing and teaching about concepts including power, violence, evil, and political action.

Bessie Blount Griffin

BESSIE BLOUNT GRIFFIN (1914–2009) was a nurse, wartime inventor and forensic handwriting analyst best known for inventing an early version of the feeding tube. It all started with one remarkable skill she took on as an act of defiance when she was 7: She taught herself to write with her teeth and her toes.

About your presenters:

DANIELLE DREES is a PhD candidate at Columbia University, where she studies performance, feminism, and labor, and a proud member of GWC-UAW 2110, a union for graduate workers.

MONICA LEIER is an educator in Brooklyn and incorporates Arendt’s teachings into her 5th grade History classes.

AMY PADNANI is an obituaries editor at the New York Times and the creator of the “Overlooked” series, which tells the stories of remarkable women (like Bessie) whose death was never noted by the newspaper.

 

Dead Ladies Show #21

We are so very excited to invite you to our 21st show! We’re old enough to drive a heavy goods vehicle! So get ready for a juggernaut of an event. ACHTUNG: IT’S A MITTWOCH, BABY!

On Wednesday 10 April, 8pm, We’ll be kicking off our new season, built around outstanding Berlin writers who will share stories of awe-inspiring women who’ve fascinated them and influenced their work. Join us to learn about a groundbreaking children’s writer, an actor and screenwriter who helped save lives, and an adventurous journalist and novelist (more on all three below). Presented by top German writer Daniela Dröscher, shooting star Amanda DeMarco, and your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens. All held together at the seams by your other beloved co-host, Katy Derbyshire. Come on up to the ACUD Studio for an evening of entertainment, inspiration, and fabulous females.

As always, presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Once again generously supported by the Berliner Senat. The ACUD Studio doors open 7:30pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!


CHRISTINE NÖSTLINGER grew from a “wild and angry child” in a socialist household in wartime Vienna into a multiple-award-winning writer best known for her children’s books. Her first was written at the kitchen table as a housewife and published in 1970, but she graduated to three different desks for her radio, newspaper, and book jobs. Nöstlinger’s stories were far removed from the “pedagogical pills” of the past. Parents are fallible, children are disobedient but not bad people, and her language is both funny and shocking. She was not afraid to admit that she found some children very unpleasant, but she wrote with great empathy, wisdom, and humanitarianism.

SALKA VIERTEL was another Austrian, in this case originally an actor. She worked in Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf, and raised three sons. Feeling “neither pretty nor young enough” to move from the stage to the screen after she and her husband moved to the States, she switched to writing Hollywood scripts, especially for her friend Greta Garbo. Her credits include Hollywood versions of The Painted Veil and Anna Karenina. Having helped fellow Jewish artists to escape the Nazis with emergency visas, she was put out of work by McCarthy-era suspicion and ended up moving to Switzerland.

EMILY HAHN was the first woman to graduate in mining engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As if that weren’t cool enough, she then drove across the U.S.A. dressed as a man, before working for the Red Cross in Belgian Congo. Hahn spent an eventful decade writing for the New Yorker in Shanghai and Hong Kong, before returning to the West with a small child and a newly divorced British intelligence officer. Family life was not for her, however, so she moved to New York and visited her husband and two daughters occasionally, turning up at the magazine’s office every day. Her publications list runs to countless articles and 54 books, including biographies of top dead ladies Aphra Behn and Fanny Burnley.

Podcast #21: Noor Inayat Khan

Our 21st episode sees our beloved co-founder Katy Derbyshire tell the stirring story of Noor Inayat Khan, a pacifist who worked as a secret radio operator in occupied Paris. Recorded live at ACUD, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in March 2019.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Acast.

Show notes & pics:

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The Khan family portrait, Noor’s the one with the bow
Her father, Inayat, and his band
You’ll have to imagine the groans.
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Mata Hari and Noor’s father’s Royal Musicians of Hindustan

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Noor’s mother, Pirani Ameena Begum (born Ora Ray Baker)

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Noor and her instrument

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See more of her books here.

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Some of the (wonderfully named) humans working in the SOE

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Noor’s ID card

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Katy’s grandmother!

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Vera Atkins (not Katy’s grandmother)

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Noor as a civilian

You can see a picture of the radio she was lugging around Paris here.

The plaque at Dachau commemorating Noor

The trailer for Enemy of the Reich, the first biopic of Noor’s

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The biography by Shrabani Basu that Katy recommends

Embed from Getty Images

Dead Ladies Show NYC #5

We’re kicking off WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH in style with the DEAD LADIES SHOW!

This, our fifth go-round, will occur on Wednesday, 6 March, from 7:00-9:00pm at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street).

This time around, we’ll learn about the accomplishments of a Chinese revolutionary, one of the first attorneys of color in the USA, and the first woman of color in Congress. Presented by a dream team of three fifth-grade teachers who are ready to school the patriarchy: MELANIE SABROWSKE, HIAB DEBESSAI, and CLAIRE O’LAUGHLIN. As usual, there will also be a smattering of bad jokes told by your host, MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN KEMPER.

Free admission; please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB.

Qiu Jin

QIU JIN (1875-1907) was a Chinese feminist, writer, and revolutionary. Throughout her short life, Qiu Jin fought relentlessly for the rights of women, daring to defy her country’s strict patriarchal norms.

Eunice Hunton Carter

EUNICE HUNTON CARTER (1899-1970) was an American lawyer and United Nations committee member. One of the first attorneys of color in the United States, Carter built the case for and developed the strategy to successfully convict infamous mafia kingpin “Lucky” Luciano.

Shirley Chisholm

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM (1924–2005) was an educator, politician and author. A lifelong advocate for the rights of women, children and people of color, she was the first woman of color in Congress—holding her seat as representative from the 12th district of New York for seven terms. She was also the first person of color to run for president of the United States from either of the two major political parties, and the first woman to run as a Democrat.

Last but not least, a quick word about your presenters:

MELANIE SABROWSKE is a middle-school teacher from Voluntown, Connecticut.

HIAB DEBESSAI is an Eritrean-American middle-school teacher, born and raised in Haslett, Michigan.

CLAIRE O’LAUGHLIN is also an educator in Brooklyn and aspires to be like Chisholm in other ways, too, particularly “unbought and unbossed.”

 

Podcast #20: Anna May Wong

Our 20th episode features our beloved co-host Florian Duijsens spilling the details on Hollywood actress and Berlin favourite Anna May Wong. Recorded live at ACUD as part of our series on dead Berlin ladies, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in February 2019.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Acast.

Show Notes Continue reading “Podcast #20: Anna May Wong”

Dead Ladies Show NYC #4

What better way to celebrate GALentine’s Day than by celebrating some fascinating, deceased dames!?

The fourth edition of the DEAD LADIES SHOW in NYC draws nigh: it will take place on Wednesday, 13 February, as usual from 7:00-9:00pm at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street).

Free admission; please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB.

Ida M Tarbell

IDA M. TARBELL, a pioneering investigative journalist, biographer, magazine editor, and lecturer, rose to fame in the early 20th century through her meticulous reporting and fearless pursuit of the truth. She took on John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company – at the time the largest oil refinery in the world – and exposed it as an illegal monopoly, leading to its dissolution. Throughout her lifetime, she authored twenty books, lectured in forty-eight states, and served on two Presidential committees. Perplexingly, this groundbreaking woman was also an outspoken anti-suffragette.

Martha Graham

MARTHA GRAHAM is arguably the single most important figure in American modern dance. Born in 1894, she pioneered a movement style, based on the principle of contraction and release, that is regarded as the first codified modern dance technique. She choreographed a total of 181 dances, collaborating with the likes of composer Aaron Copland and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, addressing social, political, and psychological themes, and consistently portraying powerful women, both mythical and historical. The first dancer to perform at the White House and travel as a cultural ambassador, her influence is evident in cultural icons as wide-ranging as Merce Cunningham and Madonna.

Doreen Valiente

Long before Instagram hyped witchcraft as aesthetic and feminist, DOREEN VALIENTE (1922-99) paved the way. Lauded as the Mother of Modern Witchcraft, she invigorated the Wiccan ‘revival’ in 1950s England and worked to make the defining texts of the religion more sacred and beautiful. Many key spells of Gardnerian Wicca benefit from her serious revisions. She joined and created several covens and became a witch historian in order to better understand and dispell misconceptions about Wicca. Doreen was a complicated and often contradictory woman whose struggles underpin much of the problems facing Wicca today.

Last but not least, a quick word about your presenters:

JENNIE YOUNG CARR is a merchandise planner (aka Excel geek) and amateur history buff.

NINA STOLLER-LINDSEY is an arts-focused writer and content strategist. She’s written about high art, popular culture, and everything in between for Quartz, The Atlantic, Forbes, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Thrillist, Refinery29, and Mic. A former modern dancer-choreographer, she’s interested in bringing the arts to more diverse audiences and currently runs social media for TodayTix, a global ticketing platform connecting people to live performances around the world.
CLAIRE CARROLL is a writer and marketer from the Hudson Valley. As practicing herbalist and magical realist, she cares deeply about the texts and myths that underpin faith.