Satan's Angel: Queen of the Fire Tassels (2012) - full transcript
Satan's Angel is a legend among burlesque dancers. Her legacy is filled with San Francisco counter culture, Las Vegas stage door Johnnies, and a sexuality she refused to closet. Angel has amassed four decades worth of fascinating, colorful, and riveting stories as she's traveled the globe performing the art of burlesque. This unique film documents her love for the craft and preservation of burlesque as well as her love for her life partner Vic.
Your real name is...
Your birth name is?
My birth name is none of your damn business.
Satan's Angel is wild,
crazy, loves to party,
still loves a good martini, love a good cigar, cigarette,
like to stay up four o'clock in the morning,
shootin' the breeze with the guys, the band.
Just because I'm 67 doesn't mean that--
Just because I'm old doesn't mean I'm a dead person,
like you dug me up, sat me here and said okay, Angel, speak... "Woof."
Is she the same as Angel Walker?
Oh, hell no.
Angel Walker and Satan's Angel are two different people.
One word?! Oh my gosh! Phenomenal!
She's the Cadillac of burlesque.
The costumes, the drama, the lighting,
her talents, the special tassels. Oh... she's it!
- Energetic. - Tenacious.
She has a huge following,
and I can certainly see why she's in demand all over the world.
Moxie. What can I say?
She's a bawdy broad and I love it, I wanna be like her when I grow up.
She's more fabulous today than she was years ago, just love her.
She wanted her own way and I think it's carried through all these years.
I don't give a shit who's looking.
Do you think I give a fuck who's looking?
That little spot up in there, that is fabulous because it's like really desert.
Are my lips okay? Are my lips dark enough, or should I make them darker?
Good? Alright, let me add some shine.
My hair is gonna be screwed up,
but I'm hoping we can do it where it's blowing it back.
The money I make in burlesque and what I sell
at my Ebay store and my web site is how I live,
that's how I pay my electric, my telephone...
So, when I don't work for three months,
jewelry gets very nil, we start melting it down,
hocking jewelry, selling my old vintage fur coats.
So that's what we do. It's not cheap to live anywhere, you know...
So, burlesque is my lifeline.
Sometimes I wonder, at my age, you know after coming out
from retirement in 2000, you always wonder what you are going to do,
how you can perform, how you can dance.
It's very important for me to continue to be an exotic dancer,
to show the new era of burlesque the old classic and traditional ways.
We moved to Palm Springs, I guess, because we could feel comfortable there.
It was one of the places that we found that was the gayest we could afford.
In the meantime, I was writing Dixie Evans and we were calling,
and the next thing you know, 2001, me and Vic snuck in.
2001 was the year that they didn't know who we were.
Nobody asked us who we were, nobody cared,
and then we didn't tell Dixie or anybody, and then in 2002,
I was supposed to perform, I came there, it was just like I was there the last year.
They were more interested in the pageant
and crowning the Queen than they were in the legends.
They'd say, "Who are you?" And I'd say, "I'm Satan's Angel."
and they go oh, "Aren't you supposed to have dark hair?"
I first heard about Satan's Angel at Exotic World.
I believe it was the year that I won.
So the legends started showing up the next June and, my goodness...
And the crowds got bigger and bigger
and in this little, itty bitty town they kind of ostracized,
they weren't sure what we were about.
As you dig through old photographs and things like that
from men's magazines and stuff, then you start recognizing the women.
Okay, my collection just came to life on me! This is amazing!
Oh yeah, there she is, a name to the face that you see in pictures.
That's when I first really realized that these women were out there.
I think Angel had a little bit to do
with changing the reception that the legends get now.
I work a lot on the road.
Like right now I have a six week tour, basically.
Where are you going??
I go to, starting in the first week in August,
I'm going to Dallas, then San Francisco, then Albuquerque
and then I'm going to Montreal, Canada, and from there I go
to Las Vegas, Nevada, and then I'm going to Colorado Springs.
I enjoy the traveling, but it is also the hardest part.
And then I leave November 22nd.
I will do Australia and New Zealand.
I will be back the second week in January
I will have... After that I will do the Santa Fe Burlesque Festival.
I have a week off and then I go to Stockholm, Zurich, Helsinki, Rome, Paris.
Angel got into a bit of an altercation with another patron at an event
All I have to say is never take a seat from Satan's Angel
because, who knows what can happen.
It was a small altercation...
I said, it was, you know, it was just something you just...
You didn't think.
This last year actually has been pretty rough, business-wise,
because of the altercation that Angel found herself in
made it impossible for us to go to one of the biggest pageants in the United States.
I mean, do I, do I say what happened? Or...
It's up to you. It's entirely up to you.
Okay, she threw a drink in my face,
I grabbed her by the hair and threw her on the floor.
I guess I just lost it for the moment, when I looked down and saw
this beige gown was now suddenly hot pink!
From that we lost a lot of bookings
because people can't see Angel,
and if she can't be seen, then she doesn't make any money.
You know what? I haven't had a fight
since I was probably in the third or four grade.
I'm a San Francisco girl,
I was born and raised there,
went to school there, Catholic schools,
nice little Catholic School girl
Supposedly, my Dad...
I was born in '44 and my Dad died in '45. He was a service man and...
He, I guess he was killed in the war. I don't know.
You've never talked about it?
Oh no, I've asked my Mother all my life.
I've asked my Mother for probably fifty-five, sixty years,
and she ain't coughin' it up, I'll tell you that right now.
It was probably not as bad as it is now.
The schools provided child care
and we'd get home about the same time.
She worked all day Macy's, changed her clothes,
you know.. and came here and worked as a cocktail waitress at night.
My Mom did everything that she could to make a real lady out of me.
She was a very pretty little girl, but she was very stubborn.
My Mom's a nice, kind of like a June Cleaver special.
That, I would have no idea. I'm certainly not a June Cleaver type.
I remember this because I remember all that and all the work and everything.
Should we walk in, walk down?
Oh, I would love to walk in, too.
She would come home from school, but she'd take the long way home
and she'd come home two, three, four hours later.
And that was started when she was like in the fifth grade.
I'm six years old and my Mom said
they found me walkin' the streets, just a little kid,
and a Policeman came up to me and said, "Where are you going?"
I don't know?
She said I told him I don't know where I'm going.
I know I'm not gonna go back to school.
And he goes, "Oh yes you are."
I hated school
I don't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, actually,
but, I just knew that I didn't want to go to school.
You know, you had your play days,
you had your play dates on the weekends,
and that wasn't enough for me, that wasn't exciting.
That was a very boring life as a child.
I wasn't really told about growing up,
and what happens to you when you start becoming a woman.
Yet, I always had these mixed feelings in school, like in junior high
because I could look at a good looking guy
and then look over there and look at the girls in school
and go, "Holy crapola, I wonder what she looks like naked." You know, that kind of a thing.
I ran away from home a couple of times a day.
How many days would she be away for?
Sometimes two or three days, sometimes just overnight.
Would she check in?
Only when she needed a change of clothes.
Oh, it's right here. Shit, Mother!
Its right... Here it is
If she decided she wanted to go out at night...
She'd be signing the paperwork and everything...
...she'd go out through the window.
Before the cops even left, I was gone.
She always thought somebody else's home was nicer.
When I had a bad day, I would run away from home.
You know, when you're the only child
and then suddenly there's another child
and so the attention to you is only half now
you don't understand that,
you don't understand why your mother is out there working two jobs.
When the courts got a hold of me, they said "Well, Connie,
Mrs. Lobo, what do you want to do about this?"
I just felt bad for my mom
because I really love her a lot and didn't mean to hurt her.
I hurt her so much, you know,
and I felt bad about it.
There was always nothin' I could do, though. I was a kid.
Kids don't know nothing. They think they do today...
So, like I say, when you ran away from home
they put you in schools
and I went to school there in High school
and graduated early and I graduated with good marks.
I was a good kid.
I was going to go to San Francisco State and instead I got a job
at a very prestigious company and I was like their go-for girl
and I was making 99 dollars every two weeks.
There was an art class and they did nude modeling,
you know, for the photographers, the artists, etc.
They asked me to take my clothes off,
of course, I mean you didn't lay there with your legs all spread open...
it was a very graceful, artistic position.
You didn't see your front or whatever,
just saw your breasts, but lovely poses.
And I had never taken my clothes off, basically, in public before,
but I thought it was for art, you know.
I just kind of put this part of my Catholic part of my brain
and just kind of threw it out the door somewhere.
Actually didn't feel anything. I thought it was great, because I was an actress,
I was an artist, I was doing something to better the art form.
And one day one of the girls comes in the office,
actually, she came running into the office and said,
"Oh, my gosh! Angel, do you realize
that there is an amateur strip contest going on in North beach,
which was on Broadway, which was the big entertainment area.
The contest was, basically, in a night club where everybody...
There were women that wanted to get up on the stage and the emcee would say
"Come on, ladies get up here. It's a crisp 100 dollar bill if you win!"
If the girl did a little number and took off her dress,
that was it because they hadn't even invented pantyhose yet.
Each municipality had a different standard.
Bras and garter belts.
Some places you couldn't show anything.
I was one of those girls that raised my hand and I won the hundred dollar bill.
I was like, this is unbelievable!
I started by going to an agent
and I had to do my, my, what do you call it...
...taking my clothes off. So he was the first person I ever took my clothes off to
and he hired me on the spot.
I kept going to 'em and I kept winning 'em
cause they were all different amounts of money.
And I was making like five to seven hundred dollars a week. In the early 60s!
He said, "Why don't you get up there and audition and do a little show?"
I said okay. I went up, took all my clothes off and started dancing
and he said, "You're hired. Underage or not."
It was Big Al's, Tipsey's, The Condor.
I'd look at a lot of these women and they were just like,
yeah baby, and all this, and I'm out there like this, do-da, do-da.
Miss Goody Two-Shoes. And I always maintained that...
probably had more class on stage than I had off.
Until my Mother found out about me.
It was a...
topless show in San Francisco
was when I first heard about it, and she was on Broadway
and I went to see it and surprised her.
My Mother was at home and a next door neighbor
looked in the newspaper and saw a picture of me,
and she came next door and said to my mother,
"Doesn't that look like your daughter?"
This famous artist was drawing psychedelic like body painting.
We were all taped strategically, I might add, in all the right places
and then he would paint us and we were on these huge pillars.
We would just be going around, just kind of frozen, and then the band would say...
and then like this with his fingers, pointing at you, "Come on up."
And then we would jump off the pedestal and dance and pose
with all these crazy paintings this guy did and while I was up there standing on the pedestal.
I get these, like, bad ju ju, bad vibes,
like the place in on fire,
but there was no fire, there is no smoke.
I'm looking around, going, "Oh my God, what's up? Why do I feel so bad?"
and I look down and there was my mother sitting right there
in the front row
She says, "Mother! What are you doing here?"
I screamed, "My mother, my mother!"
And I flew off of that pedestal.
We talked and I wasn't that really unhappy with her, no.
She was a big girl, she could her own thing.
My Mother does know that I'm a burlesque dancer. My father knows.
They've both seen me perform.
They don't disapprove,
but of course they're not leaping out of their seats over it.
But, I wound up in this book documenting all sorts of people in Los Angeles
and I was included with the Mayor, the Governor,
Larry King and a bunch of other types
and I think, maybe, that made it a little more cool for them.
So you try to pick out your better night clubs, is what you did,
and finally one day one of the owners came up to me
and said, "You're killing me here.
I don't pay my biggest star.
You work a whole week here, you make more than my biggest star.
I need to give you a contract."
So I got up there for seven minutes.
Plus I'm working other places, so...
I was making at least 100 dollars a night.
It was kind of like sex for me in a way.
It was a performance. I knew I had to get out there and do it,
but in my heart I knew that, uh...
kinda like it wasn't me, you know.
Another stripper and I were on my American Indian motorcycle, riding up to Sacramento
because Rolling Stone Magazine, and Evel Knievel,
and all those people were going to be there.
This was a paid gig and all these beautiful women were around, etc., etc.
And on the way up to Napa Sonoma, through that area, a Mac truck,
at 85 miles an hour, hit us,
my girlfriend at the time had her ankle crushed
and I broke 32 of my bones on the left side of my body.
So from '64 basically into '65ish,
I was laid up in bed in a body cast and all this stuff.
It's kind of hard to, you know, fake...
being gay when you have a serious motorcycle accident and then...
your Mother sees your partner,
you know, laying there in the next bed,
who looks just like a guy, you know what I mean? It's like, hm...
I mean she may have been a nice, quiet, little old lady from whatever,
that mom type thing, but by far she wasn't stupid.
No, I knew before then. Because guys had been at the house...
There was Nicki in school and Juanita and Teresa and all the... Yeah.
You could walk down the street with them, you could hold their hands,
and kiss them and everything, and it just looks like you're kissing a guy.
It doesn't even look like you're kissing a woman.
Do you consider yourself a butch?
What does it mean?
To me it just means leaning towards the more masculine side of, you know, my personality.
Your child is your child no matter whether they're gay,
lesbian, in burlesque or whatever,
they are part of you and you should always love them.
And even though they're not, say, straight, quote and unquote,
they... they're still your child and you need to love them.
That's the big thing.
Don't put them down because their sexual preferences are different.
They are still your child.
With her being a legend, thank God,
we don't have to pay for any of our vending spot.
As rule, the table can run anywhere from 250 to 500.
How much can you make a day, typically, you know...
doing autographs, or, like, any of that kind of stuff?
When we were in Montreal one night I made almost two thousand dollars.
And a bad night?
Zero... We've gone to shows where we haven't even sold a picture, you know...
Is that hard?
Is that a tough night, I mean, emotionally?
No. Because it's all part of it, you know.
It's just like one place we'll make-
-Speak for yourself.
You're damn skippy we get PO'd when I'm busting my butt and she's up there saying,
"Hi, how are you?" and "Hello, how are you?" And blah, blah, blah
And then they maul, and carry on and push and pull
and pick and break shit and steal shit,
and she's just all sweet and nice and "You have a good day now."
it was July, no June of...
Yes I do, it was June of 2000.
Our initial introduction was through my best friend.
Between my men and my women I had extremely lousy choices.
She met Angel in one of these chat rooms and they became friends
long before I even started talking to Angel.
It was at my roommates' insistence that I speak with Angel,
because I'd go in this chat room and just sit here.
"Howdy." That was all I could get.
Before I got up the nerve to talk to her actually on the telephone,
it was a good six to eight months.
geez, for a year and a half just through e-mails and telephone calls
and instant message.
You should have seen our telephone bill.
I said this has got to stop.
We really clicked,
because I said to her before we actually saw each other in person,
I said to her, "If you kiss badly, I will turn around and walk away."
I was laid up for a year, at least,
maybe a little bit more, I'm not quite sure
because I don't really have a lot of recollection.
I was pretty tore up and so,
I'd say around the summer of '65 maybe going into '66
I quit dancing the hard rock 'n roll performance art type thing
and definitely became an exotic dancer.
That's when I started traveling abroad, working around the United States.
When I was doing 10, 15 shows a night,
I decided I wanted to do burlesque.
I took a little of Lili St. Cyr's class,
Carrie Finnell's tassel twirling,
Mae West with all of her rhinestones, glitter, glamour.
I went to Bebe Hughes, had some wardrobe made.
So me and my booking agent just sat there and we came up
with Satan's Angel, the Devil's Own Mistress.
My first booking was the Moulin Rouge.
Here is this old stripper
sitting in the corner of the dressing room, with this long dressing table.
She's drinking, like, Bourbon or Scotch on the rocks,
and she's haggard, she's old, she's like 35 or 40.
And I'll be 67 and I'm stripping. Woo!
And she goes, "Oh good grief", puff, puff, puff, puff,
"There's a new girl."
I was like, "Hi!"
She goes "What's your name, honey?"
I go, "I'm Satan's Angel"
"Yeah, whaddya do?"
"I'm a tassel twirler."
"Oh brother, not another tassel twirler."
I said to her, "Oh, I twirl five of them."
She says, "That won't last long because they'll just steal it from you anyway.
You need something more spectacular."
I just got so angry and aggravated
because she was, like, picking on me.
So I just turned around and said,
"What do want me to do? Set 'em on fire?"
She said, "Now that is a gimmick!"
I'm sanctioned as one of the Satan Angel's Fire Tassel Queens.
I'm also the only performer that's sanctioned in North America
to make fire tassels
and to teach the art of fire tassel twirling.
I like to make it mean something in the piece when I do it.
It's not just "and there's fire!"
It's a great art form.
It really is.
It really takes a lot of talent.
Every girl that I see in burlesque twirls tassels at some point,
but, you really have to be a superb, excellent tassel twirler
just to twirl fires.
Sure we could teach everyone, everyone could do it.
We could just stamp, boom boom, everyone does it,
but then it wouldn't have the mystique,
and it wouldn't have the preservation
and the honor that it is to be giving a part that is Angel to your audience.
Angel came up with this idea to twirl fire,
and now we're honoring and respecting her for this extraordinary gift
that she's brought to world of Burlesque.
I get asked a lot, "Will you teach me fire tassels?"
or "What does it take to know the art of fire tassel twirling?"
This is not a game.
Your mother told you not to play with fire. We play with sanctioned fire
I just don't want it to be like a household name, or something,
everybody's doing it
It's not just the art of the fire,
it's respecting a woman who we consider to be our mother.
They all tried to do a little original kind of an act.
Oh sure, they had to take their clothes off,
but it was the way they took it off.
I had a bed that turned and I slowly turned,
and I slowly turned,
and I used to change the cover on my bed
depending on what show I was doing.
I started out as a young delicate 450 pounds.
and that was a real rarity, that's why I was a novelty act.
Most of the girls were all sexy.
You couldn't be a queen.
You couldn't have a tattoo like they do today.
You couldn't be ten, fifteen pounds overweight, they wouldn't let you work.
But me, they keep feeding me and giving me drinks.
You know, they didn't want me getting any skinnier.
I was known for lingerie shows.
And I loved it because
when you throw water on a body and when all those wonderful lights, it reflects,
and it makes you look bigger and shiny and everything like that.
I love that.
Every time I come to San Francisco,
my special friends and I get together,
and we come down here and eat.
And then we walk afterwards,
you know, in Chinatown, and kind of look at the lights and the people.
All the expensive stuff and cheap little stuff.
When you see this little area, like right here,
all the way down on both sides was like this.
Just full of people, couples in suits and ties and chiffon dresses.
I worked the Condor, I worked Big Al's,
I worked Pierre's, I worked at Tipsey's,
and then to come down where you used to work on Broadway
and see just that little, tiny bit there
of the way it used to be because the whole street was rockin'
and we had little clubs all up and through here.
It just brings back a lot of memories.
I wanted to work for Harold Minsky.
I wanted to work for Barry Ashton, I wanted to work for the greats-
the greatest in burlesque- Ann Corrio, and people like that.
I wanted to make more money.
So a friend ours, in the 60's, if you can imagine, in a two-seater Cessna
and I'm lying on the floor
flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas, Nevada.
And uh... Lili St. Cyr, was-
they were showing films and was signing autographs, etc,
and we went to see her,
and on the way back to San Francisco
I decided I was going to move to Las Vegas.
Back in those days, it was more like show business.
You'd see all these people, they would be dressed up,
not in jeans or t-shirts, or anything, but they were dressed fit to kill.
You went out in Vegas, you dressed.
It was a whole lot bigger.
There were bigger shows. You had Ann Corrio show,
Minsky, Barry Ashton.
There were smaller casinos, you had North Las Vegas which had the Gay 90's,
the Palomino, so there was a lot of work and it was classy.
Vegas was fabulous then.
She could really dance and she kept the audience in awe.
She was really a good performer and I saw her many a times.
Truthfully, I was very proud of her, I still am.
Minsky is a big name in burlesque for years.
He said "You look like Marilyn Monroe out there.
I'm going to call you the Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque."
I said, "Mr. Minsky, everybody in Hollywood looks like Marilyn Monroe."
He said, "It doesn't matter, I'm going to call you the Marilyn Monroe of burlesque."
So then, I went to my dressing room
and I started walking and talking and acting just like Marilyn.
"Golly Gee!" You know what I mean?
So I did my next act, which happened to be a young girl
trying to get into Hollywood with the producer chair.
So Mr. Minsky kept running up to the stage in Newark and says,
"I didn't expect you to do it the next show!"
I said, "Mr. Minsky, I'm from California, a long way from home.
If you'd fired me I wouldn't know how to get back home."
I always did the comedy. The comedy strip, straight strip, whatever.
We started in the late 60's,
and the days of Aquarius and things were going on,
Vietnam was going on, disco was just starting to break in the first of the 70's,
and we were really changing our styles of music and our costumes.
As we were turning into what was more strip clubs, gentlemen's clubs,
she was truly still keeping the entertainment side of it alive,
as opposed to just the sexual side of it.
So while free love was happening,
there was still that glamour and that sex appeal.
I was working at the Gay 90's
and Kitty Lynne, the cat girl, came in.
She saw my show and she said "What the hell are you doing working here?"
And I said, "Waiting for a big time show."
She said, "Well, I can get you into the Hacienda."
So, she told the people, they asked for me and...
I was probably the longest running exotic dancer off and on, on the strip
for almost twelve years in Vegas.
We were more like sisters than mother and daughter.
We had good dinners, we gambled and sometimes I would bring my young son with me.
Ray, at the time, was about 12.
He got to meet Joe Louis, the fighter, which was a great thrill for him.
Every night there was bunches of flowers.
Don't get me wrong, there was the crappy joints, too,
but the crappy joints paid just as well as the big ones,
and actually, the big ones on the strip didn't pay that much.
It was just more to say that I worked for Harold Minsky
not once, not twice, but three or four times.
Or I worked for Barry Ashton, etc, etc.
It was the same thing with dating.
Oh, I'm going to marry Bobby Darin.
A burlesque dancer was not the girl next door.
That was what the man who might have looked at his wife,
but he fantasized about us.
You know, he was the man who was married, with all the kids and this and that.
But, as an exotic dancer, a featured exotic dancer,
a star, we didn't date the boy next door,
the John Smiths or Sam Mitchell, or whatever.
We dated movie stars.
We entertained a lot of political people,
a lot of stock market people,
and I know that a lot of them would bring them to our shows
to get their point over and make a buck
because we were great entertainment for them.
You never knew who was going to come in and show up.
I had my sugar daddies,
but I loved them, they were nice guys.
And they love spoiling me and buying me things, and...
you know, I needed a new car so one of the guys bought me
a brand new Cadillac and I got a new Cadillac every year.
We wanted people with power and money because that's what we had
and we wanted it more so.
All my lovers that I had, they all knew that I was gay.
I mean, I might have been dating Clint Eastwood, but my girlfriend was at home.
I was pretty on their arm and they were pretty by my side.
So we would walk though the casinos to go have dinner,
or to go play Baccarat, or Bacchanal,
or whatever you want to call it... Chemin de Fer, whatever.
You know if you- Or, the Bacchanal, that was the restaurant at Caesar's.
That's my old haunt, that's why.
And so, and they would turn around and say, my gosh, that's Bobby Darin!
That's Bobby Darin!
She must be somebody. Who's she?
You know what I mean?
That kind of a thing. So you just kind of walk through.
Bobby Darin and Frank Gorshin were two men that I could've...
I loved them both. I loved them.
They were wonderful people, wonderful souls... talented,
and they made love good.
They had two things going for them, well three, well maybe four.
They were famous, they had money,
they made love like a woman and yet they were a man
and when they made love to you, as a man...
they were gentle, beautiful, whatever it was that turned you on about them.
There was only those two men, the rest can all kiss my ass.
You know I took care of all my lovers and everything all through my life.
My entire life I took care of them.
And every stripper in this business, that's a legend,
knows exactly how- how we are.
We gave to everybody. That's why half of us are broke!
Cause we don't have anything.
I can't get married nine times.
I'm a queer!
We were in the Fairmont Hotel's elevator going up to a suite,
and as the doors went to close a hand came through and they opened back up.
Three men walked in.
One man put his hands against the wall,
pounded a few times, and then started to hit his head,
banging it against the elevator wall.
Clint walked over to him and he said,
"My God Ted what's the matter?" And he said "They just shot Bobby."
You see this guy at three different venues
and you go, "Well this must be fate. Maybe I should marry him."
So you know after 10,000 times of trying to get me to date him, you know,
I go, "Okay , I'll do it." You know?
And so there you are. Next thing I know, I'm married to the guy.
Don't even know who he is...
How many times would. you say you did that?
Well, I actually was married three times,
but once was to a gay guy, so that's the fourth one,
so I could stay in Canada and run my businesses,
and then I married Atta Wayne Newton,
he was the drummer in our band,
and I woke up one morning in Colorado Springs, hung over,
staggered over to the dresser, put my hands on the dresser,
cause there's water and booze and stuff,
and I was like, "Uh...water." I looked down and I go,
"What the hell are all these papers?"
I pick up the paper and I look at it, and it said,
"Marriage Certificate" and I went, "What the?!"
A middle weight boxing contender...
I was there, at that wedding,
and uh... she looked like an absolute doll in her wedding gown.
And she left Vegas and moved to Albuquerque
where the marriage just didn't work out and she went back to Vegas.
Then I married Ron Martin,
and he looked like Greg Allman in a way.
I married him 'cause I kept running into him all the time.
You know, if I'd go to work in Camp Pendleton,
when I worked, you know, in Guam, because he was a Marine,
and he was up in-- I'd look down from the stage,
in the front row, there he was again.
And I said, "Oh hell, I ought to marry that guy."
He was following me around, must be fate, must be an omen.
He cheated on me and he wanted kids. I don't want kids!
Why would I change diapers when I can travel and jetset around the world?
I wasn't at um...
I wasn't at Ron's wedding
And then I married Ed Bass.
I was there when she got married to Ed.
Two hours late.
I never divorced any of my husbands, they all divorced me.
I just took off, moved out and four years later they'd say, "I want a divorce!"
You know, cause they were gonna marry somebody.
They see you on stage, they want you.
They think you're the best.
You know, they think you're the very, very best.
All these people are drooling. They see you as gorgeous,
and then they marry you and they say, "Okay, now it's time
to burn your wardrobe and quit dancing."
I'm like, "Screw you!"
People often ask me, if I was lesbian why would I marry men.
Well, because in my day you couldn't be openly gay.
You couldn't be openly gay.
You know, like, maybe say, for instance, there was another feature.
I was coming in, so she would be my co-feature,
and she'd say, "Well, I don't know why you hired her. She's queer."
Holy shit, there goes my job.
Especially the mob...
Like Kansas City... places like that.. Ohio.
I literally, literally had them on top of me,
hitting me in the face, drop kicking me,
and all I had to do was tell them,
quote, I wasn't a friggin' queer.
And I would just lean up and look at them and say, "Screw you, buddy.
I'm a lesbian."
Pow! He'd hit me again.
What are you worried about?
I don't-- You know, when I'm pointing at this guy I'm looking at that guy, you know...
They didn't behave like lesbians.
I mean, they were out there doing their stuff to the men. You know, turning them on.
Well, maybe I was looking at his wife, but--
You know what I mean? It's like...
I...performed. I did...
Gay was anything that wasn't white...
white, white, white, was not accepted.
Angel really inspires me as a performer, and as a queer performer.
That in that time where it would have been so much easier for her to just
hide who she was, she said who she was even if she didn't do it on stage.
But she never denied who she was as a human being,
and to have that kind of strength in who you are amazes me.
Performers can, yes, definitely be open and out of the closet today.
Having-- Dating a female and being a performer...
it seemed to be a little--
I had a little bit more permission to be myself
as a performer with my partner.
Angel's partner, Vic is amazing.
I love her. She is so sweet and always, you know,
she stays in the background but, I mean, she's so incredible.
I heart Vic. Alright!
Probably one of the most supportive, loving, amazing, wonderful people I've ever met.
I always see her when we're at the festivals
and she's the one carting all of Satan's clothing
and setting up the booths, and she's got the biggest thankless job.
Somebody told me that I was the greatest road manager they'd ever seen.
She helps to carry the bags.
I'm sleeping in the morning, she knows that I have to get up early, like for today,
she gets my coffee.
She brings it to me every morning for 14 years. Tells me she loves me.
You know, it's beautiful.
I set up merchandise, to make sure that everybody sees.
I sell the merchandise.
When it's time for Angel to perform I go backstage and dress her,
help her get into her costumes and things,
make sure that she's where she's supposed to be
at the time she's supposed to be there.
That kind of stuff.
I can't remember all the places went, but she did do a lot of traveling.
Going to Vietnam in 1969
following a Bob Hope U.S.O. Tour,
doing shows for the wounded.
I ended up working at the Follies in Paris.
I worked South America. I worked Mexico City. Japan, Hong Kong,
Seoul, Korea, Vietnam.
We wanted to make the troops happy.
Because it wasn't so much that we were that special,
it's just that we were Caucasian.
They had plenty of dancers everywhere.
It's just that we were Caucasian women,
coming from the United States to perform for them.
I kind of fell in lust with this young guy from Brooklyn, New York,
and I dated him regularly. I slept with him all the time.
And the at the opposite end of the island of Guam, I dated Alicia,
a very gorgeous blonde.
You know, you could be a hussy in those days.
You didn't die from any of the diseases that you got now.
Until about 1985...
and then it totally went porn, and nude, sex acts, insertion dancers.
That's not the thing that I was into.
When burlesque ended, the original burlesque,
pornography came on, the gentlemen's club came on.
Well, a man can't take, in those days, a gentlemen's club,
if he wants to take a girl out on a date
he's got to go where all these fellas are.
Someone's gonna say something, something may erupt.
They're gentlemen's clubs, they're all for men.
Features were becoming more the porno stars.
I featured danced for 13 years,
and when I did it for the first time
I actually went to a couple of clubs in Los Angeles
that were known for being in between stripping and burlesque.
And I remember walking in, I was petrified.
I had 24 shows that I was going to do in seven days,
lot of shows every day.
And I thought, "What am I going to do?
I have to be on stage for a half an hour?"
And I went to a club and the girl that I saw
had long gloves on, the burlesque gloves.
She had layers of clothing, she was sexy and sensual.
And I thought, "Oh, this is wonderful.
I have all of these different things I can do."
And my thought was, if I put on 27 layers of clothes
I can last twenty minutes.
I'm thinking I gonna do the thing with the gloves
that the stripper that did the burlesque combo thing did.
And I'd get up on stage and I go down that long runway and do the thing...
Well, what happened was the music began,
I got up on the stage, I saw all the people,
deer in the headlights!
The gloves were off! Everything's been thrown,
30 seconds later, I'm standing there naked going, "Mow what?"
I'm not very good at the girl stripping thing or the burlesque thing.
1985, I worked New York City, there was a girl on, she was my co-feature.
She walked down the runway, she had two little velvet bags hanging off her wrists,
she had a velvet cape on.
She took it all off, went down to the end of the runway,
sat at the end of the runway, laid back on the floor,
put one leg on the east coast and one leg on the west coast,
and for a dollar you got a lick.
And the boys just lined up.
I told the owner, "I can't do this."
You're missing a whole lot of zeros on the end of my paycheck,
and even if they did add them I wouldn't have done it.
And I demanded my money, and he told me that if
I walked out on him that I would never work the burlesque circuit again.
Russ Meyer found me in a nightclub
because he loved to work with strippers.
He didn't want to work with wonderful actresses
because then he would have trouble making them take their clothes off,
we don't have a problem being naked
And that's what he wanted. He wanted a naked woman running up and down mountains,
in and out of the beaches,
you know, simulating sex.
At the time, were people hitting you up to do adult films?
Were you ever solicited to do other stuff in those days?
When I was working in North Beach in San Francisco
I was approached to do adult films.
This was in the early, early times
when they were doing adult films in San Francisco and in the San Fernando Valley,
and actually it was the Hell's Angels,
the San Francisco chapter of the Hell's Angels
that approached me and asked me to do some adult films,
and I just told them I wasn't interested in doing them and they left me alone.
They were really cool.
Yeah, lots of companies, I can't remember them,
but they were doing the Ginger Lynn, the Marilyn Chambers,
all that, because I was extraordinarily beautiful.
Absolutely, smokers, guys would take their garages
and put curtains all the way around
and build a little stage and then they'd video you.
You'd get up there and do your thing.
I was told that millions of people were gonna look at this
and it was once you do it, it's forever.
Like on stage I can keep doing it and keep doing it,
but in camera you get one shot at it.
Give it to me more! Oh yeah, daddy! Oh, baby! Oh, baby!
Oh, fuck, everybody can do that.
It just takes a special woman to me to get out there and do that.
You know? Like I have pornography queens who I love very much.
I love them dearly, but I can't do it.
I was raised Catholic, I'm still a Catholic.
I'm still a square in the bedroom.
It just led from one film to the next.
It was just the time of my life,
but my true, true love was burlesque.
I really enjoyed the satisfaction
of taking my clothes off and watching men's reaction.
It's like 1961 and the next thing you know it's 1987,
and you say, "Oh my gosh, what am I going to do with my life?
How am I going to survive?"
You know, because very few people my age,
or at that age, were going back to college.
I hadn't done anything in school since I graduated.
And so I did the next alternative...
I got addicted to cocaine for two years.
It was a very, very difficult time in my life.
I was on a real big Satan's Angel pity party,
and I had heart attacks, grand mal seizures....
I just waited till I got well, and then just got high again.
I had a friend of mine, her name was Chris Walker,
she lives in Indianapolis, Indiana now.
She would come over and make sure that I ate.
She'd snoop through the house, try to find my stashes,
my pipes, my mirrors, straws, anything that she could find,
and she'd think that I would use, and one day
she came over to the house and she said,
"Angel, I brought a friend to see you, and I was like, "What?
I'm in here trying to get high and you're bringing a friend?"
"Look", she says, "just come down the hall"
'cause there was a long hallway that went into the living room, dining room, etc.
She said "Just come down the hall,
go into the dining room area and if you don't want to talk to this person
we'll immediately leave."
So I get really aggravated.
So I get up and I stomp down the hall, and I'm hollering
"Who the hell's in my house?", and "How dare you come here?"
And I'm standing there in the living room
with my hands on my hips going, "Alright, where are you?"
And she said, "She's right over there."
So I went around this partition, that separated- half separated- the living room and dining room,
when I walked around
there was about eight or nine mirrors, all along the wall,
and for the first time in two years...
I looked at myself in the mirror and I...
saw a very wasted, dying person and...
didn't recognize myself.
It was like I was fighting the devil for my life,
and I just fell on the floor sobbing.
She was a real, real big woman.
She just picked little frail me up
and put me on the couch and she said,
"If I have to die with you", she said, "that is it.
You will never do cocaine again."
And she came every single day and took care of me,
got me this little puppy to lay there with me
because I was alone, because I couldn't get into any detox.
And we both had Harley Davidsons so we'd ride a lot together before I became addicted,
and um... I always say to myself that... um..
Angel's don't always have wings,
sometimes they ride Harley Davidsons.
If it wasn't for Chris Walker, I wouldn't be here right now.
So I moved. I needed to get away from everything.
So I called my mom and my mom said,
"Come and move to Phoenix."
I said, "No, I'm gonna move back to Vegas."
and she said, "You're not gonna like it. It's changed."
Well, I was happy she was coming out
because she'd been away too long,
and it was kind of nice to have her close by.
Did you have a lot of worries during that time while she was in Delaware?
Yes, there were.
Knowing the kind of person that Ed was and the motorcycle gangs,
it wasn't a happy time.
I was working at this biker bar and these three outlaw
motorcycle bikers came in and beat up this young man almost to death.
The detectives in the state came to me and asked me to testify.
I said, "Absolutely not.
If you think that I'm going to die at this young age, you're crazy."
Cause this was a big outlaw motorcycle club.
Anyway, they found out that I was going to testify, so they put a hit on me.
She's always been open and talked to you?
Hard times, the good times. I don't think that there's much that she's kept from me.
So, I did testify,
and the biker rolled over on all his brothers
because he was looking at 17 years.
And so he ended up singing like a canary
about all the bad things that were going on,
and I think eventually, they killed him in prison.
But they took the hit off me, but I was still...
pardon my French, I was scared shitless.
So I decided to go back to where I was from.
She talked me into moving to Phoenix,
and I was there approximately, I don't know, maybe three years.
There was a small little peanut bar in East Mesa going into Apache Junction.
They had barrels of peanuts and you'd eat them and throw them on the floor!
It really was a redneck bar.
She says, "I want to work for you."
And I says, "What kind of work do you want to do?"
She says, "Well, I'll bartend."
Anyhow I seen her portfolio and I says,
"How would you like to be manager at this little place?"
And she said, "Okay, but I want free reign."
I says, "Okay, what's that mean?"
She says, "These girls aren't wearing swimsuits,
they're wearing t-backs, dental floss and bras."
And that immediately made this business.
We used to put on a burlesque show,
and if I couldn't talk the girls that were bartending, because it was a bikini bar,
if I couldn't talk them into wearing my Indian, or my Wonder Woman or something
I would hire people from Phoenix to come in and do a burlesque show.
She had a lot going on here and she doubled the business immediately.
The whole ceiling was bras and girdles, and underwear...
A girl comes in, she takes her top off,
removes her bra,
the bartender fixes the girl a Long Island iced tea,
and once she finishes the Long Island iced tea
she then signs her bra and we hang it up from the ceiling.
That was something that Cece started.
Do you still have anybody doing it today?
Oh yeah, absolutely.
It was a great bar. I mean the girls made a lot of money.
They didn't have to take it off,
they all danced.
I was a performance artist when I first started in this business and so...
some of these young girls were in their 20s and that's how they were starting out.
We moved to a small town outside of Phoenix, Arizona.
If you've never been to Apache Junction...
It's really out in the sticks.
They called it a ghost town.
It was more like a movie ranch kind of a thing.
But we had a little dinner theatre,
and it was a replica of an 1890's bordello called Whiskey Lil's.
People would come up and we'd dress them all up.
In the corner of the shop was my Indian outfit,
which was very elaborate.
It was like an Indian chief and it was blue and sequins everywhere
I've never seen so many sequins in one spot before.
Her and her husband...
her husband is the great grand nephew of Wyatt Earp.
We were performing out at Apache Trails
and we got to talking and I found out
that she had been a tassel twirler way back when.
She said, "Well I'm writing a play called Timbuktu Or Bust
and it has a story about a two strippers."
And she started telling me some stories
and I thought, "My gosh!
She would make a great play."
Next thing you know she just closed up the book.
"You know what? You're life is so interesting.
I want to write a play about your life."
And she did.
I thought, Bingo!
I really hit pay dirt here.
Well Cece was there, the story was now,
I didn't have to create something.
I mean, it was just right there for me.
It's like a gift,
and I don't turn down gifts.
When she was, like, trying to find out the information,
I said, you need to go to L.A.
because that's like the Mecca of, you know,
the burlesque world, at that time.
They told her about a museum in the desert.
And when I went there and when I saw all the pictures on the wall.
I absolutely could not believe it.
Picks up the cell phone, calls me and goes,
"Oh my gosh! Angel, you're not going to believe it.
I'm at the Exotic World Museum
and I am looking right there at a picture of you." and I was like, "What?"
Dixie told me
she thought she was in the Phoenix area somewhere, but didn't know.
'Cause she lost track of just about...
all the gals at that time and would like to get ahold of her
because I guess she was having a once a year thing
where she'd have a few strippers out there,
former strippers, and burlesque dancers,
and they'd give a little show.
Dixie launched the bump that was felt around the world!
And that's just the way it was. The girls just picked up on this
Miss Exotic World contest.
I never heard of it.
You know when I retired, I was done.
It just all comes together.
Life is like that.
It's not the plans you make,
it's the things that happen in the moment that really change your life.
You know having written her and performed as her
and all of a sudden, now I'm in her story...
I wish I had a tassel to twirl.
Okay, got it? Alright.
My co-producer, Alison Fensterstock, says, "Hey,
I heard about this really cool woman, Satan's Angel. I think you'd really like her,
and I think that she should come and do our show in Los Angeles.
And I was like, "Oh that's cool. Great, let's book her."
I think we were performing right after Satan's Angel,
and I think that was the year that she just came out of retirement,
and the crowd was going insane.
She walked into that stage and basically was like,
"Yo, kids, this is how it's done."
And just tore the house down.
She's just holding that final pose,
and tears are rolling down her eyes,
and the crowd is standing up and their just cheering her,
just thinking "Oh my God, she's amazing!"
She comes back there after her performance in all her
wraps and tulle and fieriness and she says,
"Good luck following that!"
I said, "Okay, okay."
All of a sudden I got to meet these people and I was dumbfounded
at how amazing and how open and giving and loving these people are.
They're supporting us,
and right there with us and inspiring us today with their performances.
Just to hear the stories that they have and not
read about them in a magazine is just--
You can't get better than that. That's it for me
Luckily, she's still around and doing her thing and hasn't come off the stage yet.
And people get to see that, and see what real burlesque really is.
If you don't buy me...
any more new clothes...
I'm gonna take off all of my clothes!
And I'm gonna go nude...
in front of all of your friends down in front of the post office!
You're telling me...
You're telling me...
that you're gonna take all your clothes off
'til your totally nude
and you're gonna strut your stuff
down in front of my friends
down in front of the post office?!
Would you mail this letter?
When I think about people calling me a legend now in burlesque,
it still feels a little strange.
I looked at this woman and I said, "Oh my gosh, I know her.
I know her!"
Couldn't place it. She came over and hugged me, embraced me,
and talked to me, and remembered me too, and we've been
close ever since, and it's been so wonderful
that this Burlesque Hall Of Fame gets people like us back together again.
None of us worked together
because we were all...
I worked at Club A, she worked at Club B down the street,
and we were all in at the same time,
but we knew about each other.
What's it like seeing them now?
Do you have this bond?
Some of them are just absolutely fabulous people.
It's the younger generation that keeps me in this business.
That makes me want to fly to where ever they are.
To Albuquerque... to Colorado,
these little smaller towns, these little smaller pageants
these are the ladies that are my heart.
These are my real true queens.
She has managed to come back into the community and impart what she's learned
and the stories that she has of what she did in her time of burlesque
which was also carrying on the stories of the women that were before her.
The audience just can't take their eyes off of her
and they also can kinda say, "Hey, you know what?
I think that's what the real burlesque was like."
She does do a great
absolute authentic burlesque act.
It's those young, beautiful women that come up to you afterwards
and say, "Oh my gosh, Angel, I was so inspired by you!"
"You know I was gonna quit burlesque, but now I'm not!"
And they want to learn anything and everything they can from us.
She's doing great things for that field
and everybody wants to learn from Satan's Angel.
We want this to go on , and we want it to have a good name,
and we're glad that we were in the original group of women
that could do this and are kind of being honored today.
It's a kind of a special feeling to think that you're carrying on something
that they started.
She continues to be an inspiration for strength and in sexuality.
She's one of those fierce women that I love.
She's a power house. Woo!
She's sassy, she speaks her mind,
she's kind and she is an amazing performer,
and that's a really rare kind of combination to have all of those things.
Energy, power, guts... Like...
She fills up the stage and she gives it all out for you guys to enjoy.
I have a picture of her up on my wall,
and she stares at us while we do class
and, um, it's really encouraging to see that you know, burlesque is good for any age.
The last time we had Angel out... um...
you know she was getting ready to go do the whole tassel twirling thing on fire thing
and we made a big joke out of it.
I bought the fire extinguisher out and started screaming,
"No Angel! No! No!
We can't! We don't have the fire marshal!"
So she laughed it all off, drank the martini rather than setting her boob on fire,
so it was great. But after the show, she's amazing,
she surprised us all and she said,
"You know what? We may not be able to do fire in here,
but we can do it in the parking lot!"
And she literally took our entire audience to the parking lot at our show
and walked outside, threw her robe off,
and there is this incredible force of a woman
with her boobs hanging out. She dips her right tassel!
Dips her left tassel, sets them on fire and goes,
"They can't stop me in L.A.!"
I'm going out in style, the same way I came in.
And if I quit, it's only because my body says, "Time's up.
Hang it up."
I hope she can keep continuing doing shows
because they're so phenomenal and there's nothing else like her shows.
I think she'll still be doing it in a walker, honestly.
I don't think she's ever gonna stop.
I don't know what the future holds for her,
but I know that it's gonna be fabulous.
I have never seen a woman so driven to survive and so driven
to suck every ounce of joy out of life.
It amazes me.
It brings me to tears when I start thinking about it
because I don't want there to not be a Satan's Angel.
I want there to always be one.
She's straight out of the gates of hell.
She's done over 25,000 performances over the course of 40 years.
And you know what? She is gonna blow your fuckin' mind, okay?
The original and the only
Queen of The Fire Tassels!
Put your hands together for Satan's Angel!