I distinctly remember Mom taking me to see the movie Gypsy when I was 5. I did the math. I was born in '57. It came out in '62. I also distinctly remember her trying to blow smoke over the fact that Miss Gypsy Rose Lee was a STRIPPER like a nervous parent glosses over the first innocent inquiries a child makes about where babies come from. Instead of "Oh...a mommy and a daddy love each other so much that God gives them a little baby!" she simply cooed, "Aren't their dresses preeetty!" and "That lady sings with a funny voice, doesn't she!?"
A few days ago as I was making my bed, I turned on TCM and there was Natalie Wood (my all-time favorite actress) saying, "Don't worry Momma, we'll find a job somewhere!" I dropped the pillows I was holding and gasped, "Ohhhhh! Gyp-seee!!!" Well, you know the old story. When the going gets tough, some mothers make their daughters become strippers. And, some of those daughters get really good at it. .. . .. . ..
Back in 1962, I didn't realize that there was anything particularly naughty about the movie because I was already enamored with the Ziegfeld productions that I watched in old movies on our the grainy black and white TV.
Fast forward to the best part - 3:43, and say hello to Judy.
Then, watch the magic happens as the Dream Girls float down the staircase.
To a little girl, Dream Girls and Miss Gypsy could be sistas.
DON'T MISS Pom-Pom Girl at 4:42!! I have no words.
So, as I was smoothing out the quilt on the bed I had a little flashback to my childhood. I remember trying to mimic Gypsy's sexy stripper strut in our living room while breathing through my snaggle-toothed grin the tantalizing tease of the high hat - teh-teh-TEHHH! teh-teh-TEHHH! teh-teh-TEHHH!" Strut. .. . .. . ..to the front door. .. . .. . ..then, BACK. .. . .. . ..to the couch where I'd begin trilling "Let-ME-EN-ter-tain-yooooooou! Let-me-MAKE-you-SMILE!" Perhaps I stumbled about in one of mom's tea length party dresses with clouds and clouds of pink netting and my plastic gold dress-up heels with the ever-so-comfortable black elastic straps. (See "Green Box 4 - Carolyn - Dress Up Clothes" in attic.) My lips were probably caked with Mom's Coty Flamingo Pink lipstick. No doubt my ears bleated from the pain of her dressy clip-on rhinestone "pink diamond" earrings the matching dazzling necklace lying cool against my neck. I can hear my little girl voice calling out...
Hi! My name's Gypsy! What's YORES!
I don't remember Mom running into the living room with Ajax and a damp sponge clutched in her rubber gloved hands panting, "Stooop! Nice girls don't pretend to be Gypsy Rose Lee! Have you played this with Kristi and Penny? What about Jane?! Have you played stripper with Jane?!!! Have you?!! Have you?! I'm gonna have to call their mothers!!!"
A fine 2012 mother would heed the warning signs of the stripper strut and throaty strains of "Let-ME-En-ter-tain-yooooooou!" She would google "my child plays like she's a stripper" and call the pediatrician crying. "She probably...sniff sniff...saw little Elizabeth playing stripper...sniff sniff...at the Montessori School. Can you give me the name of a top-notch play therapist!?"
I guess my Little Mother figured that a little girl who was engaged to Paul McCartney and played with a doll named Poor Pitiful Pearl (See "Green Box 3 - Carolyn - Keepsake Dolls) was already pretty messed up. A little Gypsy never hurt anybody.
I'm off to click my heels together three times in hopes that I'll float down from the fly space in a fabulous theatre in New York onto one of Mr. Ziegfeld's spiral spinning sets. Tony Martin will gently take my hand and sing, "Carolyn stepped out of a DREEEEEEAM!"
Seriously, did any of you ladies "live" musicals when you were little girls? Or, was it just us Poor-Pitiful-Pearlites?