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. 

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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.  

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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