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Theatre, Music, etc.


February 22, 2013

Evenings Out

Sexy does not have an expiration date

When the conversation turns to LGBT elders, the topics usually range from a lack of social services to the possibility of gay-friendly retirement homes.

Less often brought up are those elders who are not retired, who travel constantly all over the globe, who light their tassels on fire and send them spinning in opposite directions.

Um, what?

When one thinks of burlesque dancers, one generally does not expect them to be 68 years old. Yet Angel Walker came out of retirement in 2002, and brought with her a stream of legendary burlesque acts to teach the young ones the classic skills.

One also does not expect a 68-year old burlesque dancer to be an out and proud lesbian, yet that is what Walker is.

Her life and times, and more times, onstage as Satanís Angel are chronicled by Joshua M. Dragotta in his documentary Satanís Angel: Queen of the Fire Tassels.

Dragottaís interviews with Walkerís mother could be a recruiting film for PFLAG, not to mention a case study in unconditional love.

Walker first became a dancer after winning a contest at a San Francisco topless bar in the early 1960s. She was soon a fixture at the gentlemenís clubs on Broadway, before heading off to Las Vegas to work with big-name promoters. Along the way, she worked with big-name stars, banged Hollywood celebrities and had a ball all around.

Yes, she slept with men. Why? Because she felt like it. And anyone who can say that Frank Gorshin made love like a woman can do anything they damned well please.

Dragotta interviews Walkerís now-ex-partner Vic, who, like a good butch, schlepped bags and was ďthe best tour managerĒ Walker could have. He also interviews dozens of dancers, burlesque performers and even a porn star or two. Those with their minds in the artistic gutter will recognize a number of the names, from Ginger Lynn to Kitten Natividad, Dixie Evans and Big Fanni Annie among many others.

When she retired in the 1980s, as showmanship gave way to shove-it-in-manship, she had performed in a topless cover band, played thousands of gigs at dozens of clubs. In her life away from the public eye, she applied as a bartender in Arizona, instead being given the job of manager and doubling the barís business in months. She worked with Wyatt Earpís great-great-grandniece-in-law (if thatís a thing) on a play of her life. But nothing could keep her hiding away, and in 2002 she came back. Because of her, large burlesque gatherings now have performances by the old-time dancers. She teaches classes on flaming tassel-twirling. And she travels, performing in countries across the globe.

No, sexy does not have an expiration date. And if you have a problem with that, Satanís Angel has a couple of flaming tassels for you to kiss.

Satanís Angel: Queen of the Fire Tassels is now available on DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures.




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