Lusty LeanneWednesday, July 18, 2012
One very lonely Christmas Eve in 1966 I happened to be walking on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I was the only passenger on an Argentine Merchant Marine ship, the Río Aguapey. I decided that I would go into a burlesque bar and see what this was all about. I sat down; I was much too stupid to be ashamed or uptight, on the front row. A woman came in. She was chewing gum. She did not acknowledge me or the few patrons who perhaps not being from a ship had nowhere else to go on Christmas Eve. The woman went to the side of the stage and plugged in a jukebox. She selected her songs and began to dance. I ordered Bourbon; after all I was on Bourbon Street. The Bourbon was much too strong for me and I gagged. The woman danced with no feeling and emotion. She took most of her clothes off and left. I was disappointed.
I was hooked. It may have been at this time that a now prominent Vancouver lawyer and former arts reporter for the Globe & Mail worked there as a D.J. We would connect and become friends a few years later.
Because of my free lance job at Vancouver Magazine I found out that a lot of very important magazine business happened at the Drake, the Marr, the Number 5 Orange, the Cecil, the Austin and many more Vancouver pubs that featured exotic dancers. It had been Gary Taylor who had gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to make it possible for us to eat a hamburger and have a beer while watching beautiful women take all their clothes off.
One of my most frequent companions to the ecdysiast afternoons (and evenings) was writer Les Wiseman. We had our favourites and we discussed their merits in great detail.
Another young lady I called the Watch Lady. She had very nice looking wrist watch. She would finish her act but that watch was on her wrist.
One very special one had a beautiful face, a long and supple body and very long hair. Her act was to lie on her stomach on stage and tickle and hide her bum with her long hair.
An amazing dancer, Princess Lilly was her name, was hearing impaired. She danced to the vibraions that she could feel with her feet. Her trick was to insert matches in her nipples and light the matches. She would then twirl her breasts around. If you think that is amazing, consider that she could make one breast go clockwise while the other turned in the opposite direction.
But soon men became bored and the bars tried to out-compete each other by pushing the liquor laws. Showers were installed on stage. Dancers took showers to our delight until we got bored. Tubs were installed. Dancers tried to compete with incredible pole heroics. They would swing down like airplane propellers.
One hotel, the Austin Hotel on Granville had raffles. The prizes included the best cuts of meat that money could buy. In fact I believe that Wiseman took a roast beef home at least once.
In order to create an air of legitimacy these dancers started associations that organized stripathons in which the money made during one day (dancers did not charge the pubs for their work on that day) was donated to charity. There were some would-be recipients of this hard-earned cash who demurred at accepting any of the cash.
Until then dancers danced to three songs. By the end of the first song they might go topless. The second was topless and only in the last segment would all the clothes come off. Many opted for removing it all at the last possible moment and they would scurry away before you could focus your eyes.
Lusty Leanne changed the playing field. During her time of fame (she quit when she was ahead one evening in the Flamingo Room sometime in 1987) she could dance where she pleased and commanded fees that others could not even think of. What was her trick?
Lusty Leanne dispensed with her clothing as soon as she could. She had the longest legs imaginable and a round, firm and spectacular bum that she paraded to our delight. Her chest was just right. Not too big not, too small. Her trick may have included all those body features. But the greater sum of those parts were her eyes. She looked at you and her eyebrows went up. If you were like me you would blush and avert your gaze.
We all knew that not only did she have 20/20 vision (there was one very lovely dancer that I really liked lots who could not see past her nose) but that her ears were like a cat’s. She was alert, and to top it all intelligent.
While Lusty Leanne was probably not the instigator of the personal towel or rug, dancers would place on the stage floor a rug (terry cloth, faux leopard, satin, Canucks towels, etc) for their third song act. This was usually a combination of moves on their backs and stomachs.
Lusty Leanne brought to the mix a move in which she had sex with the floor. While having sex with the floor, if you were anywhere near her field of vision, she would stare at you and give you that smile. Another move of her was a very quick whiplash movement of her head, back and forth, back and forth while the floor rumbled.
Ultimately (I have inside knowledge) it was Lusty Leanne’s whiplash move that affected her back and she had to quit when she did. Only at the last moment (“I didn’t want to be one of those girls who quit and came back,” she told a little bird who told me) did she announce that the dance she had danced had been her last.
My memory fails me in trying to recall if Lusty Leanne may have been the first dancer to adopt the Brazilian. I am almost sure. We had an expression for it that Leanne approved, "Think pink".
The strip joints are mostly gone and even if any of them became popular again I could not return. The times, those special times, cannot come back. Gary Taylor’s concept of munching on a hamburger and squirting catsup on fries, while watchng women taking it all off seems alien to me.
But I do miss Lusty Leanne and being able to go to any of those former joints, sit at the bar and have the bar men tell me, “Alex, your usual?” And they would place a glass of soda water in front of me. I had to make sure I was completely sober, just in case Lusty Leanne was to look in my direction.