Since finding out that Miss Topsy passed away, I've been a bit of an emotional wreck. Because I never actually met Miss Topsy, she is memorialized forever in my head as a youthful, voluptuous version of a person who I am sure was much more nuanced and complicated than any 8x10 photo could ever reveal. I am sure she had her great loves, great losses, triumphs, peaks, valleys, and everything in between. I don't quite know who I am mourning, aside from her burlesque celebrity... but what I do know of her is enough to make me miss someone I was never lucky enough to reach.
I've been trying to get a bigger picture of who Miss Topsy was as a performer. She was very close to her family, and she also kept in touch with the Burlesque Hall of Fame, vintage photographer Neil Kendall, famed #1 burlesque industry performer Lola Van Ella, and maybe other performers as well -- she didn't seem out of touch at all, even though it was clear burlesque was more a thing of her past.
So I went back into "the past" and tried to find as much as I could. These clippings provide a glimpse into Miss Topsy's performance life from 1964-1973, and are from the Kansas City Star, the St. Louis Dispatch, and the Star Tribune. One of the ads (the last one) even gives her measurements to entice the audience (46-24-36, oh my).
There's also this one that I actually found a couple of years ago and posted on this blog. It's a feverish thirsty little write-up that some dude wrote after seeing Miss Topsy in person:
I haven't been able to shake this feeling that we lost "one of us" -- a dynamic spirit and an empowered femme, someone who was unique and extraordinary before her time. It made me feel my own mortality. Even though I never met her, I felt like a part of my own artistry died... she never even saw me perform and I never even got to tell her what she meant to me. I figure this is how some people feel about Marilyn Monroe or any other celebrity they never got the chance to meet. I had a dream last week that I saw her perform and heard her laugh at a cabaret in the 60s -- I rarely see people laugh onstage while performing, but in my dream she did. I do this all the time onstage and feel weird for it, so later on I'm going to unpack what this dream meant.
Everything I find on Miss Topsy, I will be sure to post. This is all I've found so far but I will keep looking.
Until next time, and always with love,