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Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique Hardcover – October 16, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Contemporary "stripper chic" and the "neo-burlesque movement" have spurred new interest in Lili St. Cyr, one of America's best-known postwar striptease artists, and this swift, engaging biography from freelance writer DiNardo is sure to satisfy, offering not only a portrait of the pioneering sex symbol but also a carefully researched history of the burlesque industry from the mid-1800s to its 20th century heyday. Most enthralling, however, is the delicious dossier of St. Cyr's lovers; although her official husband-count is six, her love affairs-with both men and women-may number into the hundreds. Ironically, she battled loneliness all her days, sinking into despair and heroin addiction toward the end of her life. The story of the burlesque queen with the physique of a goddess makes for great reading, and gossip hounds will delight in rumors that "Gilded Lili" taught Marilyn Monroe many of her best-known sexpot affectations. (Even more intriguing, sources claim that St. Cyr had a clandestine love affair with the blonde bombshell.) DiNardo shows admirable skepticism while reporting the salacious morsels long associated with St. Cyr, sorting the stage siren's real life from the legend that grew around her. Despite the rigors of fame, Lili proves strikingly self-aware-"Years of adulation...spoiled me,'" she admitted-making her as tragic and sympathetic a figure as any of the famously troubled stars who followed.
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Review

Contemporary "stripper chic" and the "neo-burlesque movement" have spurred new interest in Lili St. Cyr, one of America's best-known postwar striptease artists, and this swift, engaging biography from freelance writer DiNardo is sure to satisfy, offering not only a portrait of the pioneering sex symbol but also a carefully researched history of the burlesque industry from the mid-1800s to its 20th century heyday. Most enthralling, however, is the delicious dossier of St. Cyr's lovers; although her official husband-count is six, her love affairs--with both men and women--may number into the hundreds. Ironically, she battled loneliness all her days, sinking into despair and heroin addiction toward the end of her life. The story of the burlesque queen with the physique of a goddess makes for great reading, and gossip hounds will delight in rumors that "Gilded Lili" taught Marilyn Monroe many of her best-known sexpot affectations. (Even more intriguing, sources claim that St. Cyr had a clandestine love affair with the blonde bombshell.) DiNardo shows admirable skepticism while reporting the salacious morsels long associated with St. Cyr, sorting the stage siren's real life from the legend that grew around her. Despite the rigors of fame, Lili proves strikingly self-aware--"Years of adulation...spoiled me,'" she admitted--making her as tragic and sympathetic a figure as any of the famously troubled stars who followed. (Oct.) -- Publishers Weekly, November 19, 2007

Recent women's-studies interest in striptease has resuscitated the stars of the form during its mid-twentieth-century heyday, from Bettie Page to Gypsy Rose Lee. One of the biggest star strippers, tall, thin Lili St. Cyr, didn't just dance out of her clothing. She created imaginative variations (e.g., the reverse strip) and settings (bubble baths, Cleopatra and Salome portrayals, etc.) and spiced them with elements of ballet. She realized early that the greatest differences between headliners and chorus dancers were salary and the fact that the stars were usually naked, the chorines usually not. After that, her career path was clear. Although she performed nude for at least part of most appearances, much of her act seems tame today. In the 1940s and 1950s, however, her routines were sufficiently risque to cause legal trouble, and an audience member once sued her for lewdness (one wonders what he thought he was buying a ticket to see). Apparently the first book about St. Cyr since her autobiography, Ma Vie De Stripteaseuse (1982), this is an excellent show-biz study.--Mike Tribby -- Booklist, October 15, 2007

The most popular burlesque star throughout the Forties and Fifties, Lili St. Cyr influenced Marilyn Monroe, performed with Dean Martin, and danced well into her 50s. Author Kelly DiNardo recounts the fascinating life of "the queen of striptease" in the well-researched and superbly written Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique. -- Austin Chronicle, November 15, 20007
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Back Stage Books; First Edition ~1st Printing edition (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823088898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823088898
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting for a book about Lili St. Cyr since reading her obituary in Life magazine 8 years ago. When I finally heard it was being written, I was cautiously optimistic. I've read many biographies, and they can be overly fond of their subjects, poorly researched, tabloid-esque, or just plain dry. My fears have been assuaged as Kelly DiNardo proves to be professional, with class. She's pulled out all the stops, and you don't have
to be a researcher yourself to pick up on the laborious amounts of work put into this book.
Fellow burlesque fans may tire of the history of the striptease being detailed once again, but it is necessary in hopes of the story reaching a wider audience. The life story of Lili St Cyr certainly deserves such widespread recognition, for the reasons previously mentioned: her rise to fame, clashes with the press, independence, squandered fortune, troubled personality and ultimately dissappointing final years.
Her story is not an entirely happy one. Her choices were not all admirable. So I guess at worst that places her in good company amongst sex-symbols of the century.
DiNardo has sandwiched Lili's life events and choices within the history of the burlesque and striptease industry, as well as the changing social mores that affected it. The book contains a great deal of historical context, perhaps in an attempt to speculate at the true inner motivations and feelings of Lili St. Cyr. For a woman who was not afraid to shock the press with a sordid opinion or two, her true "intimate secrets" will always remain elusive.
The elaborate research Kelly DiNardo has done is sure to remain the best summation of the story and person that was Lili St. Cyr.
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By DLC on October 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Gilded Lili is the fascinating story of a woman, famous in her time, but little known today. Kelly DiNardo recounts her life in lively prose that traces the history of burlesque in America through one woman's experience. Lili St. Cyr's life was tragic in many respects, and could serve as a cautionary tale for many of today's current crop of celebrities. Ms. DiNardo's book put's into precise historical context Lili's struggle to remain independent, both personally and financially, in a time when women had few options to reach the level of success she managed to achieve and sustain for 20 years. Her choices, both good and bad, reflect the dramatically changing attitudes towards sex, women and relationships during the first half of the 20th century.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have loved everything Simon Callow has written on Orson Welles, and this latest volume is proving no exception. I did spot one mistake that gave me pause, though. In one of the photograph sections, the actress Corrine Calvet is mistakenly identified as Charlton Heston's wife, Lydia. Even a tiny bit of research could have prevented that goof. Sometimes, photos from photo agencies are mis-identified, so they should never be taken for gospel; they should be checked before publication. This is, however, a tiny complaint about a wonderful book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I discovered Lili St. Cyr in an old Cabaret magazine back in the 50s and was captivated by her beauty. She has remained a treasured part of my memory since that time and I wanted to know more about her. Gilded Lili has made her come alive again and now I feel that I have been able to see into her world and know who she really was. This book has made her much more real and interesting to me. Thank you, Kelly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book brought to life Ms. St. Cyr' s wild and wonderful existence and was a real page turner! Simply fascinating!
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