Performing at the Old Howard Theatre

The old Howard had a slanted stage floor and I often found myself spinning toward the drummer at the far end of the pit, instead of toward the bald-headed violinist, who is dead center and the leader of the band. I used to spot my turns toward the audience from a circular move powered buy a straight line using a bald head of the leader. There were all sorts of acts on the bill with me. Vaudeville acts, like the Victoria troop bicyclist, jugglers, Burns and Burns who used to argue about missing a trick, a Whistler who sometimes couldn’t quite get the whistle to work when he had too many drinks between shows. The show was made up of a main comic, the top banana and a straight man who fed him lines, a second comic and sometimes a straight lady who fed lines, a second stripper, a chorus line, specialty dancer (that’s my job,) show girls, and a top stripper who along with the top comedian usually made the most money.

There were a number of funny scenes followed by a vaudeville act, then maybe a second stripper followed by a funny scene, then the ballet where show girls would come out and do a dance, with tennis rackets and then I would come out and do a two minute tap dance (I only learned three dances in the studio no matter what the theme was, I just did my own dance.) Then the show girls who were almost bare breasted with just pasties and G strings would parade, which was the finale of the ballet the grand finale would be the top stripper, the headliner. At one point, we were invited to the Naval Hospital that was also in Boston, that was all of us, except for the strippers, as they didn’t want to over excite the guys.

One such stripper was Charlotte Vogue who although was slightly cross eyed had a great act using a Russian wolfhound who paraded across the stage with a little umbrella on his back like a saddle. Just like Gypsy Rose Lee’s mother used To say, “you’ve got to have a gimmick!” My first number was “Honeysuckle Rose” it didn’t matter if it was a YMCA or jungle ballet I did the same numbers. My second number was a longer dance to the Minuet in G by Paderewski. The closing part of my show was a soft shoe type dance to music from “Oklahoma.”

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