Monday, February 18, 2013

Built for Speed and Not for Comfort

from Fiona Gruber's review of Andrew L. Erdman's Queen of Vaudeville: The story of Eva Tanguay:

Her song titles convey her racy appeal. "I Was Built for Speed and Not for Comfort", "Go As Far As You Like" and "That's Why They Call Me Tabasco"were delivered while wearing a series of outrageous costumes which included a dress made entirely of Lincoln pennies. These she threw, one by one, at the audience; as her biographer Andrew L. Erdman comments, it is probably the only known case of a stripper tipping her audience rather than vice versa. The money theme continued with a dress made entirely of dollar bills; another resembled a swaying, see-through chandelier, and she also favored flags and coral (the latter costume weighed 45 pounds). It is not for nothing that Erdman compares her to Lady Gaga, of beefsteak frock fame, and her imitators were also plentiful at the time. Mae West is reputed to have modelled herself on Tanguay in her early days, opening her vaudeville routine in the 1910s with a song entitled "I've Got a Style All My Own", a claim undermined by its similarity to Tanguay's earlier number, "It's All Been Done Before But Not the Way I Do It".

TLS January 25 2013

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