In 1957, Lili St. Cyr sat down with Mike Wallace for an in-depth interview. I certainly consider Lily to be a woman ahead of her time in terms of her sentiment towards women’s freedom of sexual expression, the rampant hypocrisy of her time, her forward–thinking stance on marriage, the ugly side of showbusiness, religion, being brave enough to be honest about her own struggles with being a “striptease girl—” her finances, not particularly liking what she does as a profession, and the poignance in her answer regarding certain professions she respects as great contributions towards society in contrast to what she does for a living.
Her stances on life and her introspections are exceedingly surprising for her time and are an interesting comparison to the woman of the modern day era. Certainly, an intelligent and self-reflective woman — from some of the answers given in the interview, I would surmise that she did indeed greatly struggle internally with what she was famously or infamously known for, but at the same time, bucking against the sentiments of the larger populace in regards to what was deemed decent or indecent and breaking the restrictive norms of the oft portrayed “homely housewife” whose role was limited to being a child bearer, cook, cleaner, and voiceless human being within a sexually unfulfilling marriage.
I think women like Lily played an important role for the women of her era, who looked at her as not just a burlesque dancer or “striptease girl” but through eyes of admiration, for her refusal to bow down to the ridged sentiments and unjustly restrictive laws of her time. She was arrested on more than one occasion for “lewd behavior,” most likely from the very men that secretly were thrilled and entertained by her performances. Her outward beauty was undeniable, but her inward beauty was transcendent in my opinion. It would have been an honor to sit down and talk with her if she were alive today.