Dead Ladies Show NYC #3

I am very pleased to present the third edition of the DEAD LADIES SHOW in NYC, coming at you on Wednesday, 2 January, from 7:00-9:00pm at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street).

We’ll be kicking off the New Year in style, with presentations about a radical suffragist, a forward-thinking sculptor, and a former sex worker turned activist. Presented by socialist feminist biologist ALEXANDRA WALLING, female-artist-focused critic HALL W. ROCKEFELLER, and editor extraordinaire BRIA SANDFORD, with the occasional interjection by your host, MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN. Join us as we greet 2019 with a dose of Dead Ladies—good for the body and soul.

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

Sylvia Pankhurst

SYLVIA PANKHURST was an artist, suffragette, communist, anti-fascist, pacifist, newspaper editor, and tireless crusader for justice. A co-founder of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, she soon abandoned the bourgeois organization to focus on poor, working women and advocate for pacifism during WWI; after the war, she became a communist and avowed anti-fascist. In 1944, Pankhurst helped found Ethiopia’s first teaching hospital, and she later moved to the country as a guest of the Emperor. When she died in 1960, she was given a state funeral and burial in Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity church—the only foreigner ever awarded such an honor.

Eva Hesse

Artist EVA HESSE survived the Holocaust, but succumbed to brain cancer thirty-one years later, which is the textbook definition of unfair. Despite this, she made more of her thirty-four years on Earth than most people make of lifetimes double that length. She changed the way art is made forever (how many people can say that?), pioneering the movement that would become known as post-minimalism. She made simple sculptures whose structures belied the chaos within, captivating the art world by the time she was in her late twenties. Eva Hesse may be the most important sculptor of the 20th century. (No, this writer does not consider Duchamp a sculptor, and yes, she did consider Rodin for this distinction.)

Andrea Dworkin

Radical feminist ANDREA DWORKIN is somewhat inaccurately famous for claiming, “all sex is rape,” but the arguments she actually made in the 1970s-1990s were no less controversial. When she crusaded against male dominance and domestic violence in the 1970s through 1990s, conservatives mocked her for being anti-man. When she campaigned unsuccessfully against pornography, liberals vilified her as puritanical and prudish. Yet Dworkin would not be silenced. Drawing on her personal experience as a sex worker and as a survivor of rape, she made it her business to speak, even to shout, on behalf of all abused women in a way that still echoes today.

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

ALEXANDRA WALLING is a PhD student in Comparative Biology, where she studies microbial evolution. When she is not pursuing her studies, she organizes with the Socialist Feminist Working Group of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America.

HALL W. ROCKEFELLER is an art historian and critic. She is the founder of less than half, a website that covers female artists in New York City, including exhibition reviews and interviews with practicing female artists. Visit lessthanhalf.org to subscribe to the newsletter.
BRIA SANDFORD is an editor at Penguin Random House.

Podcast #18: Elsa Lanchester

The last part of our 4-part special FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced in December 2018 by Susan Stone.

In a special encore presentation, Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens tells the story of Elsa Lanchester, the actress made famous by her role in 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein. Recorded live at Bard College Berlin.

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

Show notes:

Here are a few trailers to the movies in which Florian first encountered Elsa:

Elsa’s mother, Edith Lanchester. Read more about her scandalous cohabitation and activism here.

“Male impersonator” Vesta Tilley

Above, Elsa’s early favorite Vesta Tilley, and below, a longer version of Elsa talking about her time with Isadora Duncan in Paris

Lanchester’s Children’s Theatre

Below, a recording of Elsa singing one of her Cave of Harmony hits later in life and introduced by her husband, Charles Laughton

Elsa and Charles (right), along with the Lanchester family parrot (middle)

Here’s the delightful full version of the silent short Bluebottles (1928), one of Elsa’s first movie roles, scripted by H. G. Wells.

1934

Above, Charles Laughton; below, Elsa on a terrifying swing at their country home

Embed from Getty Images

The full version of Elsa Lanchester’s role as Mary Shelley in Bride of Frankenstein, and as the creature’s eponymous bride

And here’s rare footage of Elsa live onstage later in life.

And here’s Elsa duetting with Elvis in 1967.

Elsa and Elvis in Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)

If you want to read more about and by Elsa Lanchester, check out her marvelous autobiography, Elsa Lanchester, Herself.

And as a special treat, here’s a version of the perennially problematic (and delightful) “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a sung on the radio in 1950 by Elsa and her husband.

Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out the first three parts of our FRANKENFRAUEN series for yet more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Podcast #17: Ada Lovelace

Part 3 of our 4-part FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced by Susan Stone in December 2018.

Professor Laura Scuriatti of Bard College Berlin presents the story of Ada Lovelace, accomplished mathematician. She fits into the Frankenstein puzzle by being the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, who was present at the story’s inception. But of course she achieved a whole lot without ever really meeting him. With a live intro from the Dead Ladies Show at the ACUD Studio.

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

Show notes:

Here’s Ada in a little sparkly number, painted by Margaret Sarah Carpenter in 1836.

Ada_Lovelace

Here’s a model Babbage made of the Analytical Engine that he and Ada worked towards, on display in London’s Science Museum.

AnalyticalMachine_Babbage_London

And a sketch of the full ballroom-sized thing, never made in real life:

babbage-analytical-engine

Laura recommends three great books to find out more about Ada: James Essinger’s Ada’s Algorithm; a collection of Ada’s own writing in the dOCUMENTA series 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts; and the graphic novel The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sidney Padua:

LovelaceandBabbagemockup-e1420927216954

Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out parts 1, 2 & 4 of our FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries for more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Podcast #16: Mary Shelley

Part 2 of our 4-part special FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced in December 2018 by Susan Stone.

To top off 2018 and get in one more celebration of the centenary of Frankenstein, beloved DLS co-host Florian Duijsens tells the story of its creator, Mary Shelley.

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

Show notes:

Mary Wollstonecraft’s grave marker at St. Pancras, London

by Amelia Curran, oil on canvas, 1819

Percy Bysshe (pronounced “bish”) Shelley, aged 27

from the 2018 film Mary Shelley

Tumblr loves Mary Shelley, understandably.

Barbarossa Chapel, Nijmegen, 1900
Portrait by Amelia Curran, 1819

Mary’s stepsister, Claire Claremont, aged 21

Portrait by Henry Pierce Bone, 1837

Lord Byron in a dreamy, posthumous portrait, below is a portrait of his personal physician, John Polidori.

Portrait by F. G. Gainsford

Here are the trailers for the three films about the legendary summer on Lake Geneva when Mary started writing the horror story what would become Frankenstein.

The title page of the first edition of Mary Shelley’s first novel
Portrait by Amelia Curran, 1819

Mary’s third child, William “Willmouse” Shelley, painted just before his death from malaria.

The Funeral of Shelley by Louis Edouard Fournier

Above, a painting depicting Shelley’s funeral pyre; below, locks of Mary and Percy’s hair

Frankenstein first found popularity through a plethora of (unauthorized) stage adaptations.

The first film adaptation, from 1910, recently restored by the Library of Congress

Below, Mary Shelley’s grave at Bournemouth, plus an engraving of the moment to her and Shelley

If you want to know more about Mary Shelley, do read the biographies by Muriel Spark and Miranda Seymour.

Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out the other three episodes in our FRANKENFRAUEN series for more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Podcast #15: Mary Wollstonecraft

Part 1 of our 4-part special FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced in December 2018 by Susan Stone.

Your beloved DLS co-host, translator extraordinaire Katy Derbyshire, gives us the low-down on proto-feminist and mother of Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. With lots of live atmo from the stage presentation.

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

Show notes

Here’s Mary, painted by John Opie. The studious look at the top of this post is from 1790-1 and the more relaxed portrait below is from 1797 or thereabouts.

Mary W 2

For contrast, here’s a fashionable lady with a lapdog from the 1780s, a portrait of Dona Maria Teresa Apodaca de Sisma by Agustín Esteve:

Lapdog lady

Clearly, you’ll want to read Mary’s classic proto-feminist text, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. We recommend this annotated edition, edited by the excellent Janet Todd.

And if you want to find out more about Mary herself, try Claire Tomalin’s now-classic The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Follow the progress of – or donate to – the campaign to get a statue of Mary put up on Newington Green, where she first led an independent life. Mary on the Green! And here’s what that statue will look like, designed by Maggi Hambling:


maggi-hambling_photoshop-of-woman-installed-at-site-1-on-newington-green_cropped-23

Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out parts 2 to 4 of our FRANKENFRAUEN series for more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Dead Ladies Show #19

Show number 19 is an all-out fantabulous Frankenstein special… bringing you three terrifyingly impressive dead ladies who led unconventional lives and were all somehow tied up with that genre-defining novel: author Mary Shelley, her mother, Urfeminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and Ada Lovelace, computing innovator (and daughter of Lord Byron). Your presenters for the night will be co-hosts Katy Derbyshire and Florian Duijsens, along with Bard College’s own Professor Laura ScuriattiCome along and join us in our favorite venue, the ACUD STUDIO, on Tuesday, 27 November at 8 pm.

Presented (just this once) all in English. €5 or €3 reduced entry (free for BCB students/staff). This edition generously supported by Bard College Berlin. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

And if you cannot make it this time, check out the new season of our wonderful podcast (produced by Susan Stone), which just kicked off last month and has already seduced a great many listeners with its presentations on genius Marie Skłodowska Curie and novelist Aphra Behn, plus special features on forgotten German doctor, reformer and writer, Anna Fischer-Dückelmann, and almost forgotten photographer Vivian Maier. Listen wherever you get your casts!

625px-RothwellMaryShelley

How could we talk about dead ladies and Frankenstein without the original creator, Mary Shelley? Tutored by her philosopher father, including in story-writing, she may or may not have lost her virginity in a cemetery, to her later husband Percy Shelley. Prompted on a rained-in trip to Lake Geneva in the midst of a positively millennial tangle of relationships, Mary first published Frankenstein anonymously in 1818. She lost three children and numerous close friends and relatives before being widowed at 24. Yet she managed to battle depression and raise her surviving son, writing six more novels, plus travel pieces, articles, and short stories, and living on the proceeds. Mary Shelley was a writer with a radical imagination, a woman who challenged social convention and gave us the gift of science fiction.
Mary_Wollstonecraft_Tate_portrait
Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft died eleven days after Mary Shelley’s birth. Best known for her proto-feminist A Vindication of the Rights of Women, she too was never one to do what was expected of her. After publishing her bestselling rant, she moved to France to watch the Revolution unfold, returning to London in 1795 with an illegitimate child fathered by a useless chancer. Baby Mary was conceived out of wedlock too, but her mother swiftly married the philosopher William Godwin to make up for it. Mary Wollstonecraft earned her own living throughout her life, as a lady’s companion, schoolteacher, tutor, and most successfully as a writer of novels, reviews, and philosophical tracts on education. She now has an asteroid in her name.
Ada_Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron, one of Mary Shelley’s tight circle of friends present on that fateful stay in Switzerland. Her distant mother, pissed off by her husband abandoning her shortly after the birth, raised Ada to take an interest in mathematics. She built a set of wings in the hope of flying at the age of 12 and became an accomplished mathematician. As an adult, she translated an Italian paper on a proposed machine, the Analytical Engine, which would have been the first computer. Adding notes three times as long as the original, she went ahead and invented the first computer program. Ada Lovelace has sparked imaginations ever since, becoming a popular feminist figure with hundreds of things named after her, including a computer language.

Podcast #14: Aphra Behn & Vivian Maier

Episode 2 of our new season, produced and presented in November 2018 by Susan Stone.

Translator extraordinaire (and DLS co-founder) Katy Derbyshire tells us all about Aphra Behn, the first woman author who lived off her writing. Additionally, our podcast producer Susan Stone visits a new Berlin exhibition of work by the mysterious photographer Vivian Maier and tries to pin down just who took these pictures and how she would feel about them becoming public.

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

Show notes

Here’s a sketch of Aphra Behn by George Scharf:

Aphra_Behn Scharf

Here’s a longer version of that Blackadder clip, note the period fashions:

The opening pages of Behn’s Oronoko, in French translation:

Oroonoko

Aphra Behn, “The Poetess”, by Peter Lely:

643px-Aphra_Behn_by_Peter_Lely_ca._1670

More Behn:

Aphra_Behn_by_Mary_Beale_2

If your interest in milk punch is piqued, try any of the delightful recipes out there and serve some Restoration-era cocktails at your next social gathering. And here’s the final extant portrait:

Aphra_Behn_by_John_Riley_E

Katy recommends you read Behn’s The Rover, and the excellent biography by Janet Todd, Aphra Behn: A Secret Life. And at this link you can find a picture of Behn’s grave at Westminster Abbey.

On to Vivian Maier. Here she is in a typical selfie:

PF111457
Self-portrait, undated,  © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY.

If you want to see more of her work, check out the show at the Willy Brandt Haus in Berlin (up until January 6, 2019), browse the website dedicated to her work, or check out the fantastic biography by Pamela Bannos. 

This episode features music by Dee Yan-Key (“Weep No More“), and our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back in December with our next episode.

Dead Ladies Show NYC #2

It is with great pleasure we invite you to the sophomore outing of the DEAD LADIES SHOW in NYC, back by popular demand! Please join us at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, 7 November, from 7:00-9:00pm.

The very special second NYC edition brings you not just your usual three ladies, but an extra bonus LIVING lady as well—we are thrilled to welcome AMY PADNANI to the stage to talk about her superlative NYT series, “Overlooked,” the reading of which has been described by some as akin to attending the Dead Ladies Show, except in the comfort of your own home and far better established.

The incredible women being posthumously presented include a suffragist hiker, a queer star of the Harlem Renaissance, and the first woman to run for U.S. President. The perfect dénouement from Election Day, if you ask us. (Everybody vote!) Presented by editorial guru HELEN RICHARD, rare researcher LIA BOYLE, and your host, MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN. Join us as we raise a glass to these glass-ceiling-shatterers.

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

(N.B.: once up the outside stairs of the building, enter and climb one more flight of stairs, then take a hard right and enter the bar. We are not in the Red Room, which is yet another flight up! We do not need to hike more elevation! We are not all Fanny Bullock Workman!)

Fanny Bullock Workman

An American hiker, cyclist, explorer, geographer, adventurer, and author born in 1859, FANNY BULLOCK WORKMAN was one of the first female professional mountaineers. She and her husband cycled thousands of miles across Europe, Algeria, and India, and were the first Americans to explore the Himalayas in depth. Workman set several women’s altitude records, published eight travel books, insisted on a new precedent for accurate scientific record-keeping, and championed women’s rights and women’s suffrage every step of the way.

Gladys Bentley

GLADYS BENTLEY was a blues singer, pianist and entertainer in the Harlem Renaissance. A Black lesbian, she started her career as a crossdressing pianist and singer at a gay speakeasy called Harry Hansberry’s Clam House, and she was so popular that the club was soon renamed after her. Her combination of musical talent with a raunchy sense of humor and flamboyant queerness wowed audiences of all races and classes. Langston Hughes called her “an amazing exhibition of musical energy…a perfect piece of African sculpture, animated by her own rhythm.”

Victoria Woodhull

Once called “Mrs. Satan,” VICTORIA CLAFLIN WOODHULL was the first woman to run for president—announcing her bid in 1870, 50 years before women had the right to vote. Disowned by the suffragettes for her radical ideas—that women should be able to choose whom they love, that marital rape should be illegal, and that birth control should be widely available—she was far ahead of her time. Among many other achievements, she was the first woman to address a congressional committee and one of the first female brokers on Wall Street.

Helen Richard is an associate editor at G. P. Putnam’s Sons and a moderately aspirational female mountaineer.

Molly O’Laughlin is a writer and translator who recently moved back to NYC from Berlin, Germany.

Lia Boyle studies rare genetic disorders and directs plays in her spare time.

Podcast #13: Marie Skłodowska Curie & Anna Fischer-Dückelmann

Episode 1 of our new season, produced and presented in October 2018 by Susan Stone.

Professor Agata Lisiak teaches us all about the world’s most famous physicist, Marie Skłodowska Curie. And writer David Wagner talks briefly about a forgotten German doctor, reformer and writer, Anna Fischer-Dückelmann.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Acast. You can download the transcript here.

Show notes:

Here’s Marie Curie herself:

mariecurie-1

And here she is on that big banknote:

20000-old-polish-zloty-banknote-maria-sklodowska-curie-obverse

The famous shed where she and Pierre worked:

Marie shed

A page from her notebooks, so radioactive they’re now stored in locked boxes:

Marie notebook

A rare NYT obit:

mariecurie_obit

Why not watch one of her two biopics? The Courage of Knowledge (2016) or the super-schmaltzy Madame Curie (1943). 

Agata recommends various books that you might like to read:

Obsessive Genius by Barbara Goldsmith; Marie Curie and her Daughters by Shelley Emling; Making Marie Curie by Eva Hemmungs Wirtén; and the gorgeous graphic novel Radioactive by Lauren Redniss.

On to Doctor Anna Fischer-Dückelmann. Here she is:

AFD

Here are some NSFW images from her million-selling book…

AFD4

AFD3

AFD2

Get David’s book Berlin Triptych. You really should. Or if you read German, we highly recommend Leben

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

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back in November with our next episode.