1950’s burlesque icon Lili St. Cyr.
Again, Lili St. Cyr interviewed by Mike Wallace, this time remastered and not broken into two fifteen minute segments. In my opinion, her candid answers propelled her to a woman way ahead of her time. In her astute approach to Wallace’s direct style of questioning, I see a woman of both inner and outer beauty, calling out the glaring hypocrisy of her time, while perfectly balancing her own complex inner-conflicts. The fact that she admitted to not liking herself very much was heartbreaking and her sorrow was palpable. The inner strength to say these things in the late 1950’s cannot be overlooked. Her stance on marriage may be a point of contentious dialogue even now in the current day and much more unprejudiced atmosphere of defined relationships and matrimony. She said, “If you love someone and you want to live with them, the moment you decide that, you are married, without any law to say so—” a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. As stated in the interview, she wanted to leave her profession but found it hard to do so because of monetary concerns and mounting debt. In the beginning of the broadcast, Wallace states her annual income as $100,000.00 — certainly an amount that would have made her a wealthy woman for her time. Lili was also Marilyn Monroe’s role model; as is documented, Marilyn studied Lili’s dance moves and incorporated much of her signature look into her own personal and professional life. Lily St. Cyr had been arrested several times for “lewd behavior,” most notably in Los Angeles, California, in December of 1947. She was renowned for bubble baths during her famous burlesque performances. The interview: