Burlesque Book Review with October Rush

This month’s book review is about Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee by Noralee Frankel.  The review of this biography, of one of the greatest legends in burlesque, is brought to you by reader of Burlesque Bible and performer, October Rush.

When I was asked to review a book detailing the life of Gypsy Rose Lee I was more than pleased.  I’ve always admired Miss Lee and saw this as a wonderful opportunity to learn a bit more about her and find out why she has become so iconic in the world of burlesque.  Stripping Gypsy by Noralee Frankel is an insightful and detailed account of the amazing life of the star that documents her life from childhood right up to her passing.  It covers her early years, her first experiences on stage, how she came into burlesque, her Hollywood film career, her writing years and her foray into the world of art.  It also tells of the turbulent relationship she had with her mother, the infamous Mama Rose, and her never ending mission to be seen as something more than ‘just a stripper.’

Throughout her life Gypsy sought to lose the label of stripper by taking on many high brow pursuiits, such as art, classical music and politics and by finding more ‘respectable’ ways of earning a living.  It annoyed her that the press would never leave behind her stripping years when reporting on her other ventures, even though she herself returned to stripping at times as it was a lucrative pass time. She liked to maintain a glamorous and decadent image and enjoyed making her house a home by collecting many stylish and beautiful objects; this all required more funds then acting, writing or art could provide her.

Her turbulent childhood and tempestuous relationship with her mother drove her need to make a proper home for herself. She spent her early years travelling around America with her mother and sister appearing in various productions. For many years her mother overlooked Gypsy’s talents and focused on her sister however once they were finally recognised her focus turned to her.  In her later life she ended up supporting her mother, grandmother and aunt  and her mother at least proved to be not just a financial but an emotional burden.

The book also details her personal relationship with her sister, June, who she grew closer to in later years, her friends, lovers, husband and son, Erik.  It also demonstrates why she thrived as a burlesque dancer and why many people flocked to see her on stage.  She worked hard at her art and put a lot of thought into every detail. With her gift for timing and expertise at creating a rapport with her audiences it’s not difficult to see why she became one of the most successful burlesque dancers of her time.

Full of interesting stories about this very colourful character, Stripping Gypsy paints a vivid image of her life.  Often richly detailed, it’s certainly a book for a fan of Gypsy Rose Lee or someone very interested in finding out more about her life, rather than someone looking for a romantic rags to riches story.

If you would like to write a book review please email us at burlesque@anthem-publishing.com and we can discuss it further!