Category Archives: 30’s Music

A chorus girl’s dressing room

Fine, for those privileged to see both blogs tonight, you’ve got one serious one, and a silly one. Of course, in either case, if you only know of one, or the other, well, its pot luck, in that case! In case you needed tipping off, this is the serious one.

Today I got to find out where I’d be changing on Saturday, for my ‘performance’ as an Edwardian Lady in Blackpool, in the chorus girl changing room at the pier! Yes, who could I possibly know who would have changed regularly in such a place? Hmm, Clara Johnson, just maybe? But no, having either always worked in school plays, am dram, and the (very rare) theater, I’ve never had the delight of being a chorus girl. Played a number of girl parts, long before transitioning, but in this life, a chorus girl, oh I wish!

So, unsurprisingly yes, I’m looking forward to this moment more than I probably should, even though my outfit will be far less revealing than anything thats normally worn on the chorus line at Blackpool, or in all likelihood, anything Clara got to wear, in that sense! I mean, some of her outfits were relatively normal, but revealing, though others were crazy, and revealing! One of them shortly, honest… I do suspect that if ‘someone’ gets her chance, in November, I’ll probably get to wear something that would make Clara giggle, blush, or both! Yes, I probably will, even at my age, just because it would be fun, however silly it might look. So fine, A, if you can find something in my size, bring it on!

I think its fair to say that I’m going to walk out of that dressing room in an outfit that a chorus girl would be unlikely to wear, given the era its from. I suspect that even if they’d made a musical based in the Edwardian era, that the outfits that the girls wore would be more revealing than mine, lol. But equally, wouldnt it be funny if I walked out of that changing room, went through a time warp, and out walked a young dancer, wearing not a lot, onto a Hollywood studio dance stage? As long as I had Clara’s dance skills too, at least!

“Yes, Mr Berkeley, I’m ready for my dance routine.”

Sorry, Miss Swanson, couldnt resist pinching that idea! Yes, other than maybe A, I suspect this is as close as I will ever get to chorus girl life!

Right, video time. Among the numerous movies that Clara danced in, was one called Footlight Parade. Why I’ve picked this one is simple, earlier today, someone posted a picture of 13 chorines from that movie, pictured in a row, and asked if anyone knew any of them. Yes, you guessed it, one of them was Clara! So… And also, yes, she is seen in one of those cute, crazy cat outfits in this number. So…Yes, Ruby Keeler, and Dick Powell star, but there among the cat girls…

 

Advertisements

You’re getting to be a habit with me!

I must admit that I had a great time in Blackpool in March, and definitely made a diary note to repeat the experience next year, but I was assuming I wouldnt get back there before then. And to be fair, up to a few days ago, that was still the plan! But then…on Thursday…

The same lovely lady who posted previously for March, posted that she was looking for volunteers again, this time for Blackpool Piers Watch day, on Saturday 9th June. Yes, you Brits, get that date in your diary immediately, lol. Yes, I can say that now, my guest house room is booked! No, I cant find a link to it, but trust me, its not fake news! Sorry…he may be a jerk, but…

InΒ  truth, I had no idea whether I could do it at short notice with work, given that Saturday is part of my standard working week, and for most other people, its a working day to avoid! Anyway, one wonderful workmate agreeing to swap the Saturday she works on her rota, and management being wonderful, all was settled, I can go to the, err, ball! Will be nice to have a long weekend away, as I’m going to travel down on the Friday, and only come back on the Sunday, just being sensible with my back, thats all!

Yes, there are numerous people I’m looking forward to meeting again, sooner than expected, I must say. In truth, I have no idea what I will end up wearing this time, because though the Pier is of Victorian origin, I dont know if our manner of dress will go back that far, or not. As long as its not bikini’s, all will be fine, lol. Mind, Victorian look would be interesting, for sure, as long as the corset isnt done up too tightly lol! I might enjoy it, but for a whole day, in summer, hmm…? Oh fine, mermaid might be fun, but would need to be a body stocking look, at my age! Might make moving tricky too!

Yes, this time I’ve planned better, found a guest house at the right end of town, near the pier, and near the railway station. And good ratings on Expedia, and Trip Advisor, so… Funny isnt it, you go about 40 years without visiting somewhere, then go there twice in 3 months!

Fine, video time. An oldie, but not quite Victorian. Not quite flapper era either, but not far off!

What do you go for?

Generally nowadays, most sports that I’ve seen in person in my life, I’ve seen both pre, and post transition. In fact I cant think of one that I’ve only seen post transition in truth. There are a few, that I only saw live in school years, because of being on school teams, so in those days, annual trips gave me the chance. The two I remember strongly are tennis at Wimbledon (I wasnt any good, but hardly anyone played, so others got the chance to go, to fill the coach), and athletics, because despite all my physical limitations, there was something about me, and a shot putt, that just clicked for a couple of years, so…Crystal Palace, for some competition saw me there once. The only other two that ring a bell in that sense, are football, because of course when I was young, all boys were expected to go to the game, so I had that initiation of life in my time. I cant see me ever going now, in truth, but never say never, and all that…

The other, and probably only sport that I havent been to post transition, and think that it might be fun to do so, is horse racing. Not because I have any great interest in the sport nowadays, but purely and simply because I think it would be fun, just once, to get dressed up nicely, and taken to the races. Or at least go, if nothing else. In truth, I cant remember the last time I went to the races in this country. I’m guessing it would be Newbury, at some point in 2001, as I working there at the time. In fact, I have been to 1 meeting since then, but it was in the US, at Philadelphia Park, and even that must be about 10 years ago, or more. That was fun, no entry fees! To be honest, I suspect that one of the reasons I havent yet fulfilled my ambition to go to the races in a nice dress, and shoes, is the cost of entry to meetings over here, especially the bigger ones. Yes, Yorkshire sensibilities with money, and spending it, probably play a part in that call.

There is also the factor that one of the major reasons for going to the races is the gambling side of it, and lets face it, I’m a once a year punter now, so…is it a silly thing to want to do? I guess its just one of those silly, completing the circle of life things that I feel I would love to do?

So what brought all this on, you ask? Well, most of my race going has been less than major meetings, with just one little exception, the Punchestown Festival, in Ireland. Yes, that started today. In truth, I watched one race, the fun one. Yes, the one over the cross country course, much more fun than standard racing lol! I went there a few times in the 90’s, never been back since, and now probably never will! Likewise, the only course I’ve never been to, that I would love to go to, is a quirky one. Yes, Laytown, on the beach. I know, you wouldnt wear a nice dress to go there, lol! Still would be on my dream list, but likely to go no further now, I suspect?

Will I complete that circle in life, who knows? If you asked me honestly, probably not. So many reasons its silly to want to do it, and just the one that makes me want to do it, but I’m sure unless I get free tickets somehow, will not get done, ah well. But, maybe…? All the same, dont expect me to wear heels, if I do! πŸ˜› As for Royal Ascot, I really dont think so! Please, me, in a silly hat?

Fine, what would I go to the races for, but to be one of those beautiful dames, of course! So, 30’s musical time…

The Acting Capital Of The World?

I’ll be honest, when I think of the echelon of places to act, my first thoughts turn to Hollywood. No idea why, because I’ve never made a proper movie of any kind, and in terms of theater royalty, Broadway, or Leicester Square should rank higher for me? Not that I have ever got even vaguely close to acting at any of those places either, to be honest.

Me, look at small theaters, village, or school halls would have been places where I was far more likely to perform, lets face it. Then tonight, I was watching something on TV, where the actors involved said that in fact, the acting capital of the world, for them, was Stratford Upon Avon.

I suppose if you’re a classical actor of some note (they are), then I can see the logic of that, given the whole Shakespeare thing, and all. As far as I can remember, I’ve only acted in one piece by Shakespeare (that Scottish play), and amusingly, and probably aptly, with foresight, I played a witch! Let me add, it was being done by a boys Grammar school, so apart from a few main parts, for which we borrowed girls from their grammar school across the road, we were expected to play all the parts. So, with hindsight, probably my first main female role!

Now, if I told you that the first movie capital of the world wasnt Hollywood, wasnt even on the West Coast, would you believe me? Yes, the movie industry was created in, and around the New York/New Jersey area in fact! But the winters made filming tricky, and when they heard about the all year round warmth in California, then history was created! It was really late into the 1920’s before Hollywood began to dominate the scene.

So where, readers, would you say was the acting capital of the world? I still say my vote goes for Hollywood, but thats probably that 30’s chorus girl/movie actress buried within me. No, I dont really expect anyone to answer here (rare that anyone does), but just think about it, for me, OK?

OK, video time. So my vote goes for Hollywood anyway, and besides which, I couldnt think of an apt song that links to Stratford in any way. I did think of using Shakespeare’s Sister, but seriously…? Anyway, fine, this seems apt, as its what the modern day chorus girl would probably be doing nowadays, shows on cruise ships, and the like.

A Need To Dress Modestly

So fine, lets go from the sublime to the ridiculous! Last posting, I was suggesting going full flapper for an evening, probably showing some leg, and even in all likelihood, some knees too. Fine at 20, but at 60, should a lady be more modest in her style? Which leads on to this…

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/lifestyle/style/marks-and-spencers-modest-clothing-for-women-faces-heavy-criticism/ar-BBI50ET?li=AAnZ9Ug

In truth, I couldnt afford to buy clothes at Marks And Spencer, way beyond my budget, and in truth, was even before I had to cut back to a 4 day week! So no, until I saw this article today, I didnt even know they had what they call a ‘Modest Clothing’ section nowadays. Would be great for me, if I could afford any of it, but seemingly, for others, the title seems to be an issue.

Maybe I’m too easy going, and open minded, but I dont see the issue with it, and to say that means that everything else is immodest is just plain crazy. But fine, there are some crazies about, so…? Personally, in the middle of British winter, I appreciate clothing that covers my wrists, and ankles, it helps to keep me warm! I cant vaguely imagine in this country (other than in certain religious groups, maybe?) that people who want to wear respectable, but not figure hiding clothing shouldnt be free to do so, they should be! And lets face it there is a whole difference between dressing like that, and not dressing modestly, in my opinion at least.

I know, maybe in ‘everyday’ mode, I am fairly modest in my clothing looks. Probably comes from my nature, and more so, my age, and also the desire to look neat, and pretty (well, as much as I can!) in what I wear. Oh lets make no bones about it darlings, in my time, I’ve worn short skirts, I’ve worn leather numerous times, and even latex on occasion. Thats all before you start on what I’ve worn when acting, and some of those outfits were definitely weird! No, not saying, not without a huge bribe lol!

Lets be fair, this line isnt aimed at youngsters, and twenty somethings, is it? Lets be honest, Marks and Spencers works to a more mature, generally reasonably wealthy market, and they are probably more modest in look!

So no, sorry, most of their target market wont see it as regressive and wrong, lets face it. And no, modest ladies, please dont take this as an opportunity to say that Ann Summers (and the like) clothing makes women look tarty, because then we’re just as bad as the people complaining about this. Each to their own, I say.

Me, generally I verge on modest, but I do have my moments, boop, boop a doo! Short flapper dress, anyone, for me to wear? πŸ˜‰ Think I’ll pass on latex clothing nowadays lol!

OK, a video treat tonight, in more senses than one. Who used to wear less than modest clothing in Hollywood? Why the chorus line dancers, of course! And who was one of those, why, Clara Elaine Johnson. Tonight’s piece is actually from Strike Me Pink, one of her 2 credited films, this one as a Goldwyn Girl. Oh, and the girl, with Cantor, at 4:13 on this video, well…? πŸ˜‰ Yes, Clara is definitely less than modestly dressed lol!

Shuffle off with Buffalo

Back when the NFL first hit the TV screens over here, in the mid 80’s, it seemed that everyone had to choose a team to support, if you cared for the game at all, and fine, I got hooked on it. However, being perverse, and awkward as I was, and indeed still am, I decided not to pick one of the popular, highly successful teams. Oh no, I decided to attach my limited fandom to a team who were pretty awful, named the Buffalo Bills. As any NFL historian will tell you, that was pretty handy timing. One season after that, the rival USFL league collapsed, the modern day irony relating to that being, that one of the men whose greed brought it down into bankruptcy, was a certain Donald Trump! Definitely not the last time the words, Trump, and bankruptcy have gone together lol!

What that meant was, that a quarterback named Jim Kelly finally signed with the NFL team that had drafted him, the Buffalo Bills. So, all of a sudden, I was supporting a successful team, who went to 4 Superbowls in rapid time, even if they didnt win any! Of course, eventually father time caught up with him, he retired, and Buffalo rapidly slipped back into anonymity again. They are in fact, currently the team who has gone longest since making the play offs. But this year…

There is 3 weeks to go in the season, and they are in a playoff position! In fact, in theory they could still win the division, but they would have to win their last 3 games, the Patriots lose their last 3 games, so not going to happen! But yes, this late in the season, and still in with a chance of making a playoff place, great stuff.

Oh fine, if you believe some of the Forum idiots, they wouldnt be happy until Buffalo had won 25 Superbowls in a row, and might even complain then…Yes, some people are just crazy. And sadly, from what I’ve read from some of them, some are very racist too, ah well…rolls eyes…I’m not!

No, they arent yet guaranteed a playoff place, but its closer than its been in a while. Well…?

Oh, and before anyone says anything about me, and underdogs, and mentions the Dodgers, they are the one exception to the rule. And thats because of the locality, nothing more! πŸ˜›

Right, video time. Big clue in the title, as is so often the case with me. This is the 30’s film version, and I do wonder if one of the ladies you briefly see the face of, could be Clara Johnson? Short of trying to stop the film on every shot, compare pictures, and…the likelihood is probably no, anyway!

Night or Day?

Well yes, we are now into December, and indeed 3 weeks today, as Slade said, and you will probably hear again this year, ‘It’s Christmas!’.

Last year, I missed out on the works Christmas Dinner for the first time in 7 years, because I wasnt working! Yes, those William Hill dinners were fun, even if someone I knew got far too drunk every year, and that was before the meal even got started. His choice of outfits were, err, interesting too! Love you Andy, really I do! No, not in that sense, heaven forbid!

What I used to do, because these were midweek, and I’d be working the next day, was stay in a (relatively cheap) hotel in Leeds overnight, and then go to work direct from there the next morning. No, I’m not a big drinker, so it never bothered me covering for those who wanted to celebrate a little more! Mind, even if it had been a Saturday night, I could well have been working the next day, anyway! The other advantage of staying at a hotel was that I could get dressed up after work, once I got there, not have to be dressed up all day.

So anyway, next Saturday is my new job’s Christmas Dinner, though this is a departmental thing, not a building one, as far as I know. Yes, a working day, but no point in booking a hotel, as Sunday is most definitely not a working day at our place. But yes, it means I’ve got a choice to make. Do I just wear a nice top, slacks, as I would do anyway, or do I get dressed up for a working day? No, definitely not wearing high heels lol! πŸ˜›

Probably going to go with the dress, though unless it warms up considerably, it wont be a thin, short one, or one that reveals any glimpse of leg! So probably the black lacy one, but we will see. Yes, this one

Me in lacy dress

Not the greatest shot of it, but the only one I’ve got, so… Yes, I’ll definitely wear a coat over the top when I go over the road to buy lunch! Mind, this time of the year, I need to, anyway!

Oh, and for those of you who might complain about government spending, we pay for ourselves!

Dont worry, I’m sure I will bore you with Christmas songs over the next few weeks, but I’ll let you off tonight. Now, if I only had a dress like Ginger’s…and a fraction of her dancing skills!

You ought to be in pictures

Yes, I did mention there were a couple of reasons why I had to do the Thanksgiving posting a day early, so without remiss, lets get to them.

Firstly, and I’ll keep this brief, because he will hate the mention, I need to briefly say thank you to someone whose 76th birthday it was today. He’ll know who he is, and a few special friends will as well, and lets leave it at that. Other than to say that without him, there’s a fair chance I wouldnt be here today writing this. So thank you so much, special friend.

Secondly, and in far more lengthy form, the tale of 24th November, 2014, the only one of his birthdays that I’ve missed in 12 years. Maybe even more, but definitely at least 12. It had always been my dream to be in the US for one of the big events, and Thanksgiving, for me at least, was always the most special one. So when, in November 2013, someone offered me the chance to be there the next year, for Thanksgiving, I wasnt going to say no! Unfortunately, if I was going to do my standard Saturday to Saturday thing, it meant being away for his birthday, which was going to be on the Monday. He told me to go, when I asked him about it, so I did! Had a wonderful time, as I mentioned last night, but in truth, this isnt about Thanksgiving Day, this is about the 24th November.

That morning, 2 years ago, I had my first experience of Greyhound buses, from Albany, to Worcester. Yes, unexciting enough coach journey, though the gentleman I was meeting there, and I had fun connecting with each other there, because apart from pictures, we had no idea what each other looked like, and neither of us knew the Worcester transit centre at all! But in good time, we tracked each other down, and headed north into New Hampshire.

After the usual niceties, I sat back in the hypnotist’s chair, and he put me into a deep trance, and regressed me. A couple of stages back in my life, then a little bit further, and…a sweet little voice said “Hi!”

(The rest is what I remember vaguely, and what he told me after I’d recovered, so…)

He asked me where, and when I was, and I apparently replied firmly, “1928, Hollywood!”. Now given the whole Jean Harlow look thing, he told me he was thinking, “Oh good grief, is she really…?”, so he asked my name,

“Clara Johnson.” ‘I’ proudly replied.

A few questions about what she did, and yes, she was an actress, though she admitted, only a small part one. One or two personal details later, including her marriage, her daughter, and her early death (smoking related), and he decided to bring me back to this world, and let me remember it all.

So, a lot of “Oh my God’s” from me later, he told me to come over, and look at his computer. Yes, we’d found her on Imdb. Only for one credit, but as was the case, only the stars in the late 20’s, and early 30’s got credited, so… but yes, we knew she was for real. I’ve since managed to find that as well as bit part acting, she did some dancing too, though it seems likely that was chorus line stuff, and no more. I now know the state she was born in, the year she was born, and the year she moved to Los Angeles. Because she married, and the surname changed, I have no way of finding out who she married to, her daughters name, and when she died, and where she was buried. Next September, I might well be back in the area, and maybe we can get Clara to give up a lot more secrets then!

The second delight that day, after I’d sort of recovered from the shock, was to try something more. Playing to my kinks, he ‘injected’ me with nanites (yes, a pen tip), and created Jean Harlow-bot! Seems I sounded like her, and I know that when I looked in the mirror, it was her reflection I saw looking back at me!

After all that, he gave me a trigger to go back to that state, which by now, sadly, I’ve long forgotten. Pretty certain he wont remember it by now, either! But yes, it was incredible to do, when I could remember that trigger!

So yes, its fair to say, in more senses than one, 24th November is always going to be a very precious day for me!

The video, well, you could say it was what Clara did! Maybe one day I will too, though given reality, I suspect that if I ever act again, its going to be a small part in a theater, not in a big Hollywood movie. But, you never know…?

Happy Belated birthday, Ann Veronica Lahiff

So fine, I felt I needed to keep the campaign up, for ‘Nancy Carroll deserves more recognition’, so I’m posting this, a few days late for here.

All totally baffled? Oh fine, apart from classic movie lovers, I’m not surprised. I’d love to think that if I said she’s better known as Nancy Carroll, that a few more might know who I’m talking about, but maybe not? Oh fine, thanks to issues with Paramount/Universal, and making her movies more available, there’s a fair chance you dont know her. Shame, you dont know what you’re missing out on. Oh, yes, technically at least, she was 113 yesterday, though sadly she died in 1965. Not that she’d be likely to be alive now anyway, but 61 was still quite young.

Nancy was a fine actress, singer, and dancer from the very end of silent movies, and the beginning of sound. She did make a few more movies after that, but mainly in small roles. Not to worry folks, because she was plenty busy enough working in theaters, when not living, and doing business around the world. Indeed, the main reason it was discovered she had died, was when she didnt turn up for a performance, and her daughter went and found her dead, in her apartment, a brain aneurism having taken her from this world.

If you believe what the studios said, Nancy didnt help her career, because of temper issues. But fine, if you believed everything put out by the studios…rolls eyes! I’m not saying she was sweet and innocent, she was Irish American, and a redhead, so… But yes, if she was that much of a diva, theaters wouldnt have been rushing to employ her, lets face it!

Me, I’ve only known Nancy myself for a couple of years, but grown to love her in that time. She’s made a fine support actress to Jean, Clara and others in my stories since then, but enough of that. For those she can mainly blame the bountiful number of pictures of her dressed as a witch, a cat, and the like! So, how did I discover her? Well, 2 years ago, having discovered the Clara Johnson past life for the first time, I went on a discovery hunt for her. As I have discovered, that was easier said, than done. Found a few pieces of info, but no definite pictures. And thats where Nancy came in! I put the name Clara Johnson in Google images, and found plenty of Clara Bow, who I instantly recognized. But then I found this one, that I didnt recognize, was clearly from that era, and no name.

clara-johnson

So was it actually Clara, I asked? No, my hopes were quickly dashed, when I was told that it was Nancy Carroll! But yes, she was cute, and I loved the hat, so I looked into her more, and have been hooked since.

So yes, for yesterday, Happy Birthday, Nancy, or Ann, or Diane, as one reader of this will get that joke! πŸ˜‰

OK, video time. So lets introduce my readers (if needed) to Nancy Carroll. I think the best way to describe this, is that when sound came creeping in, all sorts of short pieces were put together, to test out the new system. Some were good, some, err, werent! As this is the only bit I’ve seen of this session, I have no idea how good the rest of it was. But yes, the singer, and dancer, is Nancy Carroll, and fine, let me imagine that one of those chorus line dancers could just be Clara Johnson!

Trying something old, something new. Nothing borrowed, or blue

Well, today, I’d sort of had plans to go to the rugby league, over Keighley, but I never made it, thanks to the weather. Most of the morning was wet, part of the afternoon was too, and in between, it was grey, and miserable, so I never bothered. I might regret it, it probably was my best chance this year, but anyway…this early in the season, and all that. Hopefully I can get in some cricket at least, somewhere, when its a bit warmer.

So fine, its enabled me to catch up on things of a writing nature instead. I have a friend over on Twitter (well, contact at least) who runs excellent blogathons on movies of the distant past, usually silent ones, which given her handle of @movies silently is a bit of a give away! I’ve often read them, but never taken part, mainly due to work, and commitments. Well, as I havent got those at present, I volunteered to do one for her next series, which is all about short movies.

Did you know, before she became famous, Jean Harlow worked in a series of small, uncredited parts? Probably not, but she did. Some of those (including the one I’m going to mention), she quickly got added to the credits once she became famous, others she didnt.

Probably the most famous of those bit parts, was in a movie with Laurel and Hardy, called Double Whoopee. Possibly famous, because Jean (with Stan’s help) manages to lose most of her dress in this, and reveal plenty of leg! So despite my friend having reviewed it expertly recently, in a recent readers request thing (yes, it was my request), it was the one she suggested I tackle.

Her expert review can be found at http://moviessilently.com/2015/03/01/double-whoopee-1929-silent-film-review/

So, I couldnt compete with that, so I had to do something new with it, and have! I’ve taken a look at the movie from the eyes of Jean Harlow, and what happened during the movie, and afterwards. You can find the movie on You Tube, both the full 20 minutes, and just the section with Jean in, if thats what you prefer?

In addition to this, after far too long, I’ve started work on a new story. First 3 chapters are written, of about 10, I would guess. If you’ve ever read, or seen the movie of ‘A Christmas Carol’, you have an idea of how things play out, though not exactly the same as events in that story, all the same. I’m guessing it will be a few weeks before I release it to the public, especially given the holiday, but it will depend how the writing goes, and how busy my poor editor is.

But sometime soon…

I thought long and hard about a video, and then I thought of this. Were these 2 gentlemen involved in Jean’s big break? Who knows?