Femmes Fatales Dec 25 2021
YOU GET MISTY
Bringing joy to the world through burlesque.


In choosing a femme fatale for today we wanted to reinforce an idea we constantly discuss—that pulp fiction and film noir protagonists are often motivated by sex. Due to censorship, writers and directors of the era had to be subtle about the connection, but it's obvious. The lead characters of gritty crime tales were nearly always men of the world, which is to say they'd had sex before. So when a femme fatale drove or enticed them to robbery/murder/extortion/et al, it wasn't because she was beautiful, but special. And she wasn't just someone willing to have sex, but someone who gave even experienced men pleasures they'd never imagined. That's the subtext of numerous pulp novels, as well as scores of mid-century films, and it's something we try to hit upon with our femmes fatales, who sometimes lay that subtext bare by being bare themselves.

To exemplify what we mean, we wanted someone very tempting, which is why we chose Misty Ayers, who was one of many burlesque dancers embodying sexual allure during the mid-century era. The art of burlesque features in many of the books we've talked about—in fact a couple of our very favorites—so the link to pulp is perfect. Ayers is seen here keeping fit, and below, preparing to make a meal to keep that body of hers functioning at top efficiency. She was pretty well known in her day. She appeared in the 1953 burlesque documentary A Night in Hollywood, played herself in the 1954 films Tijuana After Midnite and Striptease Goddess, and later scored an acting role in the 1965 film Bad Girls Do Cry, which we'll circle back to later. We don't have a copyright date on these photos, but figure they're from the zenith of her fame—circa 1953.

Bonus material: two of the greatest burlesque dancers you never heard of here and here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 18
1920—U.S. Women Gain Right To Vote
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified despite heavy conservative opposition. It states that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote because of their gender.
1958—Lolita is Published in the U.S.
Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita, about a man's sexual obsession with a pre-pubescent girl, is published in the United States. It had been originally published in Paris three years earlier.
August 17
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
August 16
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
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