Farewell to Gilda and Her Crowning Glory…

Gilda and Her Crowning Glory, a burlesque dancer who started in show business as a child actress in Hollywood for the “Our Gang” comedies in the early 1930s, passed away on February 6th. Although I’ve seen a lot of strippers in old videos, as I am a retro burlesque fan (I like Neo Burlesque too), I don’t recall seeing Gilda do her act. Still, I’ve been familiar with her photos for years.

Her real name was Shirley Jean Rickert.

Her real name was Shirley Jean Rickert.

I probably saw her in the “Our Gang” shorts back in the 1950s when they were popular on tv, but once again, I have no specific memories. Somebody on the Web described her look as something like that of a “flapper,” and her bobbed hair does recall Louise Brooks.

I don’t know who the “Thomas” or “Don” are in the autographs on these Our Gang publicity photos. I found them around the Web…

There were a lot of entries about her on the Internet and in blogs yesterday. One interesting site had this publicity image from a burlesque film she made; I have to check if it’s out there somewhere on video.

I imagine a world where women dress like this all the time...

I imagine a world where women dress like this all the time...

After her stints in the “Our Gang” and the Mickey Rooney “Mickey McGuire” comedies, her film career became a series of bit parts and uncredited dancing numbers in the 30s and 40s. Wisely sensing another outlet for her talents, she became a burlesque performer. Ironically, as reported in the L.A. Times obit, in cities like Detroit in the 50s she would be on tv as “Shirley Jean” introducing to kids the revivals of the “Our Gang” shorts, and at night peeling for adults in nightclubs as “Gilda.” People now look back on the 50s as uptight, but it’s our era that’s really judgmental, because I can’t imagine any television station in 2009 hiring a known stripper to introduce films to children. With all our supposed lack of inhibitions, our society is more condemning and Puritanical than ever. One proof of this is how few of her obits showed her as Gilda, opting instead for pictures of her in Our Gang.

After retiring from stripping in 1959 at age 33, Gilda went back to being Shirley full-time and had different jobs such as bartender, secretary, sales director for a regional theater, and saleswoman for industrial hardware. From what I’ve read, she had a good attitude about life and took her career changes in stride. Although I am not a graphologist, I sense that her unpretentious, straightforward signature on those autographed photos shows a friendly, down-to-earth personality who was appreciative of her fans.

Let’s close with one last shot of Shirley as Gilda, which I found on a great site called Burlesque Babes. I also discovered that Shirley Jean also had her own site. Well, it looks like I gotta track down The ABCs of Love! I wanna see her show.

A rare publicity shot for a stripper—usually, they're much less clothed!

A rare type of publicity shot for a stripper—usually, they're much less clothed. But I like it a lot!

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Busty babes of 1955!

If you want to travel back in time in a horny fashion via the medium of a magazine (and you are 18 years of age or older), check out the March 2009 issue of GALLERY, which features the latest installment of my column, The Horny Time Traveler. It will be hitting the stands momentarily.

You'll see it wrapped in plastic on the stands. That's because it comes with a DVD, too.

You'll see it wrapped in plastic on the stands. That's because it comes with a DVD, too.

In this issue’s installment, we travel back to 1955 via two editions of a classic men’s magazine called NIGHT AND DAY. You’ll see reproductions of pictorials featuring sizzling 50s babes like Abbe Lane, Eve Meyer, and Brigitte Bardot. (Below are not the clippings used in the article, but a few pix I found on the Web to illustrate this blog post.)

Abbe Lane was an international sensation, the very definition of a 50s "thrush," as singers were called then.

Abbe Lane was an international sensation, the very definition of a 50s "thrush," as singers were called then.

The late Eve Meyer got more mileage of four opened buttons than most models today get out of a bikini...

The late Eve Meyer got more mileage of four opened buttons than most models today get out of a bikini...

Here is Miss Bardot at the Cannes film festival...

Here is Miss Bardot at the Cannes film festival...

In this issue’s column, you’ll see the first tv horror hostess Vampira with a shaved head, long before such shearing became fashionable; and you’ll learn why Abbe Lane, the young Jewish girl singer from Brooklyn, New York, who married the older Latin band leader Xavier Cugat, was rated as the “Total Woman” by the NIGHT AND DAY editorial board. You’ll gaze at an image of busty singer/actress Meg Myles, one of NIGHT AND DAY’s most popular covergirls…

Meg gained immortality in the cult classic Satan in High Heels!

Meg gained immortality in the cult classic Satan in High Heels!

…and you’ll learn from the words of a top burlesque agent the qualifications for being a stripteaser in 1955, and how much a newbie peeler could expect to make. And you’ll also read about a “posture teacher” who criticized Marilyn Monroe for slouching and not wearing a girdle!

Vampira was tv's pioneer horror movie hostess!

Vampira was tv's pioneer horror movie hostess!

The column also gives a sampling of ads from 1955 for everything from radio and tv repair schools to lingerie to lonely hearts clubs, as well as a roundup of the general trends in the American world of 1955. And of course this issue of GALLERY has much more—pictorials of pretty gals like their signature “Girls Next Door” (aka GND), as well as interviews with creative folks like Gregory McDonald, the 100,000,000-copy bestselling author of the Fletch and Flynn mystery series, and a profile of the producers of Spike-TV’s outrageous show “MANswers.” Ever wonder what animal has a vagina most like a human female’s? The MANswers team gives you the lowdown in the March 2009 issue of GALLERY, edited with flair by David J. Evans!

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If you want to find out more general info about my column, read the “Who I Am” page. Thanks!

Girlie mags: a sexy doorway to the past!

As I explained in the “Who I Am” page, I write a column called The Horny Time Traveler for the adults-only publication GALLERY. The first column is available on the stands in the February 2009 issue, #147.

Covergirl Karin occupies eight stunning pages of this issue!

Covergirl Karin occupies eight stunning pages of this issue!

The concept of the column is that I travel back in time and give myself and the readers a glimpse of a different year by showing them excerpts of vintage girlie magazines, the less explicit adult periodicals of earlier eras. I start off by giving a summary of the major events of a particular year, everything from politics to entertainment to sports to crime, and then I review the articles and the captions on the girlie photos and convey through my summaries a little bit about what women and men, and the sexual culture of the time, were like. I keep it sexy and informative, as befitting my own tendency to be both horny and scholarly. In the first column, I take my readers on a visit to 1957 through the pages of the March issue of MODERN MAN and the April issue of CABARET.

Through this magazine, we visit the fleshpots of 50s Tijuana and the old burlesque nightclubs of Chicago.

Through this magazine, we visit the fleshpots of 50s Tijuana and the old burlesque nightclubs of Chicago.

If you’re 18 (or 21 in some states) and interested in a little “horny time traveling,” check out GALLERY and my column. I give you a peek at yesteryear’s beauties as well as the sights, sounds, and even aromas of the past–through CABARET, we get a sense of what it’s like to eat an enchilada while watching a hot Mexican stripteaser!

GALLERY, as edited by David J. Evans, is a great mix of sensual and explicit erotic photography, celebrity journalism, and of course, Horny Time Traveling. I hope you check it out soon, and let me know what you think about the column by leaving a comment here on this blog.

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By the way, if you want to see some cool vintage men’s mag covers, check out the website Poseur, where I found the scan of CABARET’s cover.