The Almost Marilyn Monroe, Almost Naked

Dixie and Marilyn

The renowned burlesque dancer, Dixie Evans, died this weekend. She was known as burlesque's "Marilyn Monroe." Yes, the resemblance was uncanny! See for yourself.  Here's how she built her act.

Take it off, take it all off,

— Josie

August 10, 2013

Dixie Evans, Who Brought ‘Monroe’ to Burlesque Houses, Dies at 86

By MARGALIT FOX / New York Times

Dixie Evans, a popular stage performer billed as the “Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque” — the first two words in very large letters and the last two in very small ones — died on Aug. 3 in Las Vegas. She was 86.

Her death was announced on the Web site of the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, of which she was a former curator and director.

Ms. Evans was a marquee name at midcentury, mentioned in the same avid breath as Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand and Lili St. Cyr. In later years, she was featured in newspaper articles and television programs about burlesque and appeared in the 2010 documentary “Behind the Burly Q.”

She was profiled in the 1996 book “Holding On: Dreamers, Visionaries, Eccentrics, and Other American Heroes,” by David Isay, with photographs by Harvey Wang.

Reflecting on her unlikely stardom in a 1992 interview with CNN, Ms. Evans said, “I was not that talented and I wasn’t that pretty.”

But her close-enough resemblance to Monroe — enhanced by a peroxide blond coiffure and the uncanny ability of Ms. Evans, who never met her subject, to mimic her speech and shimmy — ensured her success as a locus of transference.

“If you couldn’t meet the real Marilyn,” Ms. Evans told The New York Times in 1998, “you could come to the burlesque and meet me.”

Night after night from the early ’50s onward, at burlesque houses around the country, Ms. Evans took the stage in Monrovian garb and swung into musical numbers that recalled those in Monroe’s films. Unlike Monroe, she ended the numbers far more lightly attired than when she began.

She kept the act going for more than a decade, modifying it enough to mollify Monroe, who at once point threatened to sue. Wherever she played, she drew a devoted, even rarefied, following.

“Walter Cronkite used to come every year to see my act,” Ms. Evans told The Los Angeles Times in 1993.

Frank Sinatra was said to be a fan. So, too, was Joe DiMaggio, who was reported to have visited the show for consolation after his divorce from Monroe in 1954.

Then, in 1962, Monroe’s suicide rendered the act obsolete overnight. As Ms. Evans told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2002, “When she died, I died.”

She held a string of jobs, doing public relations for a hotel in the Bahamas and working as a nurse’s aide in California, before an abandoned goat ranch in a dusty Western town afforded her an improbable return to burlesque’s glittering glory.

 

Mary Lee Evans was born on Aug. 28, 1926, in Long Beach, Calif., to a well-to-do family. Her father, an oilman, died when she was a girl, and the family fortunes declined precipitously. Young Mary worked in the celery fields and during World War II was an airplane mechanic.

 

Dreaming of stardom, she began her stage career as a chorus girl in touring musicals. One night, in her late teens or early 20s, she found herself stranded in San Francisco between jobs with 50 cents in her pocket. She discovered that the local burlesque theater paid four times what she had been earning.

 

A few years later, when Ms. Evans was performing at a Minsky’s burlesque house in Newark, Harold Minsky, the son of the impresario Abraham Minsky, transformed her into Marilyn.

In the late 1980s, Ms. Evans learned that her friend Jennie Lee, a retired burlesque star, was terminally ill with cancer. Ms. Lee, who was living on a former goat ranch in the desert in Helendale, Calif., had created a de facto museum there from her old memorabilia.

Ms. Evans moved in to help care for her, assuming responsibility for the collection after Ms. Lee’s death in 1990. She expanded it into the Exotic World Burlesque Museum and Striptease Hall of Fame, whose holdings included Jennie Lee’s silver-sequined pasties, Gypsy Rose Lee’s wardrobe trunk, the cremated remains of the burlesque queen Sheri Champagne and — perhaps the collection’s most curious artifact — a photograph of Lili St. Cyr with Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1991, Ms. Evans founded the Miss Exotic World pageant, an annual competition she liked to call the Olympics of burlesque.

In 2006 Ms. Evans moved the competition and the museum, now known as the Burlesque Hall of Fame, to Las Vegas, where she made her home from then on.

 

Ms. Evans’s marriage to Harry Braelow, a prizefighter, ended in divorce. Survivors include a sister, Betty, and many nieces and nephews.

For years in the 1950s, Ms. Evans was a fixture at the Place Pigalle, a burlesque house in Miami Beach. One night, she was arrested.

“Whenever it was election time in Miami, they’d raid the strip joints,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 2009. “I told the judge, ‘Your Honor, this is the same act you saw at the policemen’s show.’ ”

His Honor dropped the charges.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 11, 2013

An earlier version of this obituary omitted a survivor, Ms. Evans’s sister, Betty.

(c) 2013 New York Times


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Impossibly Tongue Tied gets its village…in Europe, Australia, and Japan, anyhow.

Impossibly_Tongue_Tied_1024x768For novelists, all of our books are our children. As a parent of nine of them (and counting!), I can honestly say that I don't play favorites, even if one or more has done better than the others.

Until recently, authors shared parenting responsibilities with their publishers. We write the books and in many cases promote them as well, while the publishers edit, create covers, print, distribute and promote the books to bookstores and readers.

Sometimes it's a wonderful collaboration. The book is nurtured by both, and flourishes out in the hard, cold world. But in many cases, the book is neglected by one parent or the other.

Sadly, this was the case with Impossibly Tongue Tied, my second novel. The publisher admitted they had no plans other than to toss the book onto the shelf.

Hearing this broke my heart.  At the time I wrote it, I was going through a family crisis, and put all my energy and angst into creating a fun, dark farce on the world of Hollywood fame and celebrity. I cried and laughed the whole time a wrote it. (Sort of like Diane Keaton, as she processed Jack Nicholson out of her system via her play, in Something's Gotta Give; I've got that clip, below…)

From the letters I received from readers, I was happy to hear I'd accomplished my goal.

Thankfully, the publisher only has rights to the book in North America (for now, anyway; my publisher will only allow me to  buying leftover inventory at a price that is worse than wholesale, and shipping above that; bookstores get free shipping, whereas the authors do not; go figure).

For those of you who live in other parts of the world, I've created a digital eBook version of Impossibly Tongue Tied, and I've priced it at a very reasonably. In Amazon.uk, you'll only pay £1.96 and throughout the other Amazon online stores, EUR 2,68.

If you enjoy it, please do review it within Amazon (it will be up soon, in the Apple iTunes Bookstore as well) and on GoodReads.

My baby deserves to be loved.

It takes a village to love a book,

Josie

Reviews:

"Brad, Angelina, Britney and Kevin may want to check out Josie Brown's new novel, Impossibly Tongue-Tied, for its ripped-from-the-headlines plot that mixes their scandals together…"
– PAGE SIX, New York Post

"Josie Brown gives us another page-turning guilty pleasure." – Marin Magazine


SYNOPSIS:
All over Hollywood, men are dialing O—for orgasms. Her steamy naughty talk fills them with lust and longing, and helps them perform like the studs they claim to be.

In truth, the industry's favorite "erotic phone operatrix" is Nina Harte, a struggling actress who has put her career on hold so that her husband, Nathan, can pursue his own dreams of stardom.

When Nathan's career takes off, so does he, leaving Nina and their four-year-old son, Jake, for his diva costar, Katerina McPherson. Then "Kat 'n' Nat" are crowned the media's newest celebrity sweethearts, and Kat labels Nina an unfit mother in order to win custody of Jake, just so that she can have that highly-coveted celebrity accessory—an adorable child—sans any unsightly stretch marks.

The one person who does care about Nina is Nathan's agent, Sam Godwin. In fact, he's in love with her. And because he has both a heart and a conscience, Sam feels guilty for having put Nat in Kat's path in the first place . . .

So, how will he feel when he learns that Nina and O are one and the same?

Read an excerpt here…

 

 IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED  (Signal Press, 2006, 2012)

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Another reason to read TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES, My red carpet red hot read

Red-carpet-woman
The stars. The scandals. The sex.
 
You'll find it all in my red hot red carpet read, True Hollywood Lies.
And that's not all…

Every day between now and February 26, 2012 — the evening of the event — I'll be giving away digital copies of True Hollywood Lies, gifted from Amazon.com
All you  have to do is read the excerpt, then email back to me at MailFromJosie@gmail.com with the correct answer to the question posed.
 
Daily winners will be announced by noon the following day, on my Twitter feed and my Facebook Fan and personal pages!
Even if you don't win that day's prize,all correct entries will be held over for the grand prize drawing of a $25 Amazon gift card.
 
Contest Deadline: Midnight PT, February 26, 2012.

eBook winners will be announced daily.

Grand prize winner will be announced by noon Mon February 27, 2012.
BONUS POINTS for putting up a review on

Amazon.com (1 bonus point)
BN.com (1 bonus point)
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I'll see you on the red carpet!
 –Josie

  TrueHollywood LiesDiversion Books/ ISBN# 13: 9780984515196
Order online today!

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"…The tone is confessional, the writing laced with venomous humor…"
–The Wall Street Journal

"Brown captures the humor of working for a megalomaniac…[A] well-paced, entertaining story." –Publishers Weekly

"A fine piece of literary work." –New York Post, Page Six

What drives authors crazy? Amazon rankings. Here’s why.

Reading-on-the-beach-007We should both be hitting the beach with a good book, just reading…taking it easy…

In other words LIVING — instead of locked up inside, making a living.

To get my mind out of the fantasy of sand and surf, I've been spending my breaks between writing by   gauging my ranking for TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES on Amazon.com, which thanks to my publisher Diversion Books, has hit the zeitgeist in that online bookstore.

Right now it's at #444 on the category called Amazon Bestsellers/Kindle. But when you consider that there are over 3 million books in Amazon, that ain't too shabby.

What is even more astounding is that in the subcategories, it's ranking is even lower: To wit:

-  #9 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Comic (where I'm bookended by Tina Fey and that guy who wrote "Go the F**K to Sleep")

– #14 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Humor

– #25 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Romance > Contemporary (Just behind a Nora Roberts book. How sweet is that?)

I feel honored and blessed that so many new readers are discovering it.

I've got to admit, it's a fun read: lots of sex, scandal, and celebrities gone wild. You know, the usual stuff.

If you haven't read it yet, you can read an excerpt here …

Aw hell, for $1.99, just go ahead and buy it, here!

Blatant self promotion,

: )

— Josie

TrueHollywood Lies

"…The tone is confessional, the writing laced with venomous humor…"
–The Wall Street Journal

"Brown captures the humor of working for a megalomaniac…[A] well-paced, entertaining story." –Publishers Weekly

"A fine piece of literary work." –New York Post, Page Six

"Josie Brown does an outstanding job capturing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood living yet illuminating the stark loneliness present beneath the façade.  Filled with good-natured humor and witty repartee…"
–Romance Reader's Connection

Elizabeth Taylor: jewels weren’t her career, but they made her star sparkle even brighter.

Elizabeth Taylor jewels

Sotheby's has just auctioned off Elizabeth Taylor's treasure chest (no pun intended) of jewels.

The booty (sorry!) fetched $117 million, including a necklace that features a 16th Century pearl, La Peregrina, which  had was once painted by 17th Century Spanish artist Velazquez.

That alone sold for $11.8 million, which is a record for the gem.

Also on the auction block was the actress' infamous 33.19-carat diamond ring, which was given to her by her twice-spouse, actor Richard Burton.

Despite all her great movies — National Velvet, Giant, Splendor in the Grass, Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf – here was a time in Elizabeth Taylor's life when she was better known for what she wore around her neck, or on her fingers and ears, than her acting.

Personally, I think that's a shame, because I think she was an arresting actress. When she was on the screen, everyone else (well, except Montgomery Clift or Richard Burton) disappeared into the background.

But she was an even better celebrity. In that stellar firmament, everyone's got a gimmick.

Hers sparkled.

Taylor put it this way: "I adore wearing gems, but not because they are mine. You can't possess radiance, you can only admire it."

If only one of her earliest suitors, Howard Hughes, had known that. His way of courting was to wear down the prey-du-jour by offering a role in a movie at his studio RKO, cold hard cash–

Or jewels.

None of which worked with Taylor.

In fact, he stalked her to a gal pal's hideway in Palm Springs. There she was, soaking up the sun poolside when Hughes, piloting one of his helicopters, landed on the lawn. His greeting — to sprinkle her with diamonds — didn't get the result he wanted:

She ran away, giggling.

Smart girl.

I guess she meant it when she said, "I have a woman's body and a child's emotions."

Admit it, ladies: don't we all?

Watch the video, below, about Sotheby's auction…

 –Josie

 

10 very broad hints that Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing the wrong hat…

Sjpx-large

Ya gotta love Sarah Jessica Parker. Not only is she the consumate fashionista, she is also too often a much better actress than the roles she chooses.

Case in point: State and Main

All the more reason to wince at her latest choice in le chapeau, which she wore while wow'ing crowds down under.

Not that I'm any style maven. In fact, I've made a few fashion missteps myself. (Full disclosure: I've been known to wear shoes from different pairs. That's what happens when all your shoes are black flats.)

That said, I would counsel Ms. Parker thusly:

Dear Ms. Parker,

(Can I call you Sarah Jessica? How about SJ? …oh, never mind! How 'bout I just call you a cab?)

You know you're wearing the wrong hat when:

1. You can be mistaken for the Wicked Witch of the West.

2. You've been invited to tea by Johnny Depp — and he's dressed as the Mad Hatter.

3. Your neck starts to hurt because of it.

4. Walls jump up out of nowhere, and smack you on the nose.

5. People on the street yell out: "Gaga! Can I have your autograph?"

6. Bees mistake it for their hive.

7. Even the posh crush attending Aston is giggling and pointing.

8. It is drawing more attention to you than your latest film.

9. Your kids won't hug you because they are scared of you.

10. Your doorman gently reminds you that Halloween is over.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

Just sayin',

— Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2Buy 
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I love it. Shia LaBeouf gives new meaning to the term Office Skank.

Megan-fox-shia-labeouf
Admitting that he hooked up with two of his Transformers co-stars — Megan Fox and Isabel Lucas — actor Shia LaBeouf somes it up this way: ""I never understood the separation of work and life in that situation…I think you can see the chemistry onscreen."

Frankly, I thought the carbots were more animated.

Shia's kissing and telling the press is somewhat ungentlemanly considering that both ladies had (obviously not so) significant others: Megan's long-time squeeze at the time was her now hubby, old school Beverly Hills 90210's Brian Austin Green, and Isabel was dating Entourage's Adrian Grenier at the time.

I guess when your name sounds like something you'd find on a menu in a Parisienne restaurant, you'll say anything to get a few more columns of ink, right?

–Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

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to some lucky winner who likes thriller movies as much as romantic suspense!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE CONTEST RULES…


Tiger Woods and Infidelity: You Call that a Confession?

Elin_and_Tiger_Woods Sex. Lies. And yep, here's the video tape.

The Tiger wants us off his back. He's hoping his public confession today will get us to jump off of it, once and for all.

Well . . .

No.

Because actions speak louder than words. At least, that's what my mama always told me, and here it is in pixelated HD TV as proof that she knew what she was talking about.

Because I write novels in which infidelity — and yes, redemption — are major plot points, I can tell you, first hand, that the whole Tiger Woods meltdown is stranger than fiction, to be sure. As a woman, I can't help but feel that his point in apologizing is to appease his endorsement sponsors and his golf fans, as opposed to his wife and family.

If he really wants to say he's sorry, then I hope he's in counseling with his Elin. I hope, when he says he loves his wife, that he respects her wishes that he ends all affairs. Yes, he can have anyone he wants. But if, who he wants is her, he'll have to earn back her love, her trust, and her respect.

But I'm no expert. I'm only a woman, and a wife.

That said, here's what Lee Dixon, an assistant psychology professor and relationship expert at the University of Dayton, reads this into Woods' statement today will affect Woods' relationships with his family, friends, business associates and competitors:

“Tiger acknowledged wrongdoing, expressed remorse and offered compensation, which in this case is treatment and therapy. That's conducive to one being forgiven. He also did a good job helping others feel empathy for him, which aids in one being forgiven as well.

“He really had a tight focus on the people whom he really hurt. If he had apologized to the whole universe, it wouldn't have worked as well. Apologies backfire if they are perceived as insincere or manipulative. He avoided that by apologizing to the people he hurt the most and not everyone in some sort of blanket apology.

“Getting in front of the camera will help for some people like his fans and business partners. But, Elin is right. For her, the rest of his family and those people closest to him, it's going to be about how Tiger lives his life and not what he does in front of the camera.

“I will say, for people who headed into this being skeptical, this probably didn't help Tiger at all. They could say this looked too scripted. But, for people who went in willing to hear Tiger and forgive him, I think this helped a lot.

“Also, in my opinion, I wouldn't read too much into Elin not being there. Because I felt he seemed sincere during the apology, it could be possible that he couldn't have gotten through the statement with his wife sitting there. If you put Elin in front of him, there could have been a meltdown. Also consider that he may be trying to protect his family. It would have been hypocritical to have his family there for a photo-op.”

Here's to walking the walk,

—Josie

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SecretLivesCover200w Josie's Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

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Audrey Hepburn as Housewife

Audrey_hepburn-en-pointe Even the celebrated have a corner or two of life that was — and still is ordinary.

I found this great photo of Audrey Hepburn. Any others you'll see on the web show her "in character," that is, her face fixed with a coy gamine gaze, or hair upswept, with long gloves and a cigarette holder in hand.

Not this one. It must have been taken in the 1950s. It was possible that she was married to actor Mel Ferrer at the time. As you can see, it shows her crouched in front of an oven, potholder in hand, gauging the readiness of whatever is in the pan. Her look is causal: barefoot and dressed in a short summer romper. You'll note that, even in that stance, she is on tiptoe.

A formally trained ballerina, she was always en pointe.

Born in England to a Danish mother and a father who was a Nazi sympathizer, when her father deserted the family, her mother took her and her brother out of Great Britain to the Netherlands. While her country was under German occupation, she had to change her name so as not to be incarcerated, as her brother was. She supported the Danish Resistance by putting on covert fundraising benefits. When the Germans tried the starve the Danish for information on local Jews, she, like others, scrounged for food, even going so far as to crush tulip buds into flour for bread and cakes. Her starvation led to a lifetime battle with anemia.

Because of these experiences, since the 1950s she willing gave her time to UNICEF, becoming one of its Goodwill Ambassadors in 1999.

She knew the value of a life well lived. It drove her success in her career, which she took quite seriously. And despite two miscarriages, she eventually had the children she'd always hoped for. Two sons: one with Ferrer, and another with her second husband, Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti.

Sadly, both men were philanderers. She was smart enough to get out of both marriages.

I know this is a publicity shot. That's okay. Whatever her domestic skills truly were, one thing is certain: we don't love her for her baking and basting, but for her joi de vivre on film.

Besides, any woman who can bake a cake from tulip buds is a force to be reckoned with, in or outside the kitchen.

—Josie


SLHW fauxsmall


 Josie' s Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

Pre-Order at any of the bookstore links in my sidebar…

No More Twitter for Miley Cyrus: What Does That Mean for the Rest of Us Tweeps?

Miley-cyrus-vanity-fair Okay, yeah: I Twitter.

But seriously, who doesn't?

From booksellers to bake shops, If you have any kind of business at all that needs visibility in a cheap (right now, free) way, it's a great way to get out a quick message to a few hundred thousand of your closest friends.

Or twenty (you sad, pathetic soul….Just kidding!)

Some celebs have use this social networking platform very successfully to polish up their tarnished brands. Demi Moore and her hub, Ashton Kutchner are great examples of this.

And, yeah, so was pop songstress Miley Cyrus.

Twitter was the new kid on the block (oh, and by the way, some of them use Twitter, too) after MySpace and Facebook.  But let's face it: MySpace has a stodgy platform and asks too much of you as far as time and effort; and whereas Facebook is easier to use and allows you to actually have text chats with those who like what you write and in turn scrawl on your wall, it has a friend cut-off.

Then you have to open a "fan wall".

Well, la-dee-dah. Can I touch you?

Just kidding. Really I'm jealous of those who've beat my measly FB friend count —

But I digress.

Will her defection kill Twitter? I doubt it. The rest of them (celebrities) and us (pleebs…tweebs?) need it too badly.

As for Miley, I'm sure her mom and dad are happy she's off Twitter. I'm a parent, too, and sometimes I think all this social networking stuff is too too much…

Then again, if she's the primary breadwinner in that family (I'm guessin' not, coz Billy Ray is still a powerhouse, gawd luv'em) that's gonna hurt. I mean, the 'Net is now and happening. Even airplay won't get her peep demo ( 0 to 18) to purchase her downloads.

As for the rest of us, it won't exactly be a feeding frenzy for her heartbroken fans.

Unless they want to console themselves with cupcakes.

Or a good book.

Needless to say, I'm praying for the latter.

So, where will they be able to find li'l Miss Miley? Well, over 1.6 million of her nearest and dearest friends have already found her on Facebook, so you can, too.

Unless she plans on going off the grid totally. If so, it should be interesting to see how long her career lasts then.

I'm guessing though, that even she won't be able to do that. Fame is quite an aphrodisiac, particularly if you've been weened on it since birth.

Granted a kid her age must get tired of being "on" all the time, for an adoring public who can turn on her for the most fickle of reasons, like that beautiful, artistic Vanity Fair cover photo with her dad.

But artists need audiences. If she wants to keep practicing her art, she'll have to keep in the spotlight to do so.

Something tells me Miley will  be back on Twitter, if only to lurk under an assumed name that only her personal peeps (twersonal tweeps?) know.

And I wouldn't blame her in the least,

—Josie


SecretLivesfaux

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
Simon & Schuster/Pocket

Look for it in bookstores
September 2010