HIPPIE CHICK

COMING OF AGE IN THE ’60S

A candid and engaging account of hippiedom.

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A teenage rebel leaves her New Jersey home for San Francisco and finds herself swept up in the hippie movement in this debut memoir.

Raised in the Italian Jewish neighborhood of Mill Road in Irvington, New Jersey, English was the youngest of six siblings. She lived in the shadow of a “strict and old-fashioned” mother, who died in 1962 when the author was only 16 years old. English confides: “My mother’s death set me free.” Just over a year later, she moved to San Francisco to live with her sister Carole and her husband, David. The author soon found alternate accommodations “a few blocks off Haight,” at the epicenter of the counterculture movement. She recalls her first sexual experiences, her introduction to marijuana, and her rapid immersion in the hippie scene. The memoir goes on to describe English’s emotional highs and lows, from meeting Janis Joplin and living on The Farm (a community founded in Tennessee by spiritual guru Stephen Gaskin) to coping with abortion and Carole’s development of lupus while pregnant. The author offers an unabashed account of being part of the hippie movement. Regarding “free love,” she discusses the idea that sex “wasn’t that different from hugging someone” but also discloses that she could “often be found sitting in the bathtub afterwards, trying desperately to feel clean again.” English also shows that being a hippie chick was no escape from gender inequality—men expected her to have sex with them, and should she fall pregnant, they assumed she would get an abortion. Even Gaskin abused his position of power by making sexual advances: “Before I knew what was happening, he slipped his tongue in my mouth.” The author’s straight-talking style comes at a price—the book is lacking in rich imagery. For instance, she attended a Doors concert and unimaginatively describes Jim Morrison as “really adorable in a bad-boy kind of way.” An opportunity to transport readers to the event using vivid details is sadly missed. Nonetheless, this memoir, illustrated with English’s photographs, is a revealing account of hippie life from a female angle and will interest anyone intent on discovering the realities that lay behind countercultural ideology.

A candid and engaging account of hippiedom.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-586-5

Page Count: 344

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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  • New York Times Bestseller

TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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LOVE, PAMELA

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

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The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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