• Iggy Pop of Iggy and the Stooges had a talent for drawing attention to himself. One day, he admired a full-length dress that a young woman was wearing, and he convinced her to let him wear it. He ended up being arrested and taken to jail while wearing the dress, and the friends who got him his bail were shocked by what he was wearing. One friend asked, “Is that a woman’s dress?” Iggy replied, “No, this is a man’s dress.” (Iggy was wild and crazy; at his early concerts, he occasionally rolled around in broken glass, necessitating stitches. Oddly, he derived a benefit from this. When a young woman asked him if he were Iggy, he would say, “Sure.” If this didn’t convince the young woman, she would say, “Show me your scars.” Iggy was able to use his scars as a form of ID.)
• While singing at a Three Choirs Festival, Astra Desmond stayed at the same hotel as composer Sir Edward Elgar. One morning at breakfast in the dining room of the hotel, Sir Edward asked her to show him her leg, which was hidden by the dining table. She did, and he looked at it and said, “No good.” Everyone was surprised by his actions, so he explained that one of the horses in a race was named “Grey Silk Stockings,” and if Ms. Desmond had been wearing grey stockings he would have taken that as a sign to bet on that horse.
• Some punk rockers dressed very well — in clothes they found in the garbage. Debbie Harry of Blondie once posed for a poster early in her career while wearing a zebra-stripe dress. Before it became a dress, it was a zebra-stripe pillowcase that someone had put in the garbage. Ms. Harry says, “New York has gorgeous garbage sometimes. Leather jackets, suits, and boots could be found in excellent condition.”
• In 1936, the always well-dressed Sir Malcolm Sargent conducted an orchestra in Australia, surprising the musicians with his impeccable suit and the red carnation in his buttonhole. During a break in the rehearsal, members of the brass section went outside, visited a street vendor, and returned with decorations in their own buttonholes: each was sporting a red candy apple.
• After she started making lots of money, folk singer Joan Baez faced a dilemma. She enjoyed wearing expensive suits from such fancy places as Saks Fifth Avenue and I. Magnin, yet many of her songs were about the poor. She solved the dilemma by buying four of each outfit she liked and giving away three.
• Comedian Rusty Warren talked about sex in public before “decent” women were allowed to talk about sex in public. For example, when sex researchers Masters and Johnson identified approximately 349 sex positions, Ms. Warren joked that she knew only three sex positions — but she knew them good. One of her hits was a song titled “Bounce Your Boobies,” which Air America host Randi Rhodes played occasionally. Later women comedians recognized her as the pioneer she was. Lily Tomlin requested an autographed photograph of her, and Elaine Boosler sent Ms. Warren a photograph inscribed, “Thanks for blazing the trail.”
• For comedian Gracie Allen, Paul Whiteman’s arranger wrote an original concert piece: “The Concerto for Index Finger.” This involved Gracie, after a big buildup by the orchestra, hitting the wrong note with her index finger a couple of times; eventually she gets it right and the entire orchestra cheers. Gracie performed this concerto at Carnegie Hall.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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