QUEEN OF BURLESQUE: The Autobiography of Yvette Paris by Yvette Paris

QUEEN OF BURLESQUE: The Autobiography of Yvette Paris

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The poignant life story of a professional stripper. Not that Pads, now 38 and retired from the stage, necessarily intends to tug heartstrings. Rather, she writes proudly of her long career as Time Square's premiere stripper, famed for her old-fashioned act complete with ""glamorous gowns and feather fans,"" and tells how she's now ""happy posing for men's magazines--sixty spreads so far and counting."" In fact, what's saddening about Paris's story is her seeming inability to see or own up to the obvious psychosexual currents of her life. She offers a frank account of a childhood marred by poverty, an alcoholic father, early rape, and gang rape (by nine bikers), but she says of the gang rape, ""I blame no one but myself. Of course, I don't think it's O.K. to rape a girl, but it's also up to the girl not to put out the wrong signals"" and fails to properly connect these early abuses to her later choice of profession; she writes about her final Times Square years spent working as a masturbatory object in peep shows, but fails to acknowledge that degradation as an almost inevitable corollary to her stripping. In effect, Paris's tale is a psychological bump-and-grind with the performer apparently unaware of much of what she's revealing; fortunately, what's shown is, for all its sleaze, fascinating--a rare look at a Dostoevskian netherworld of whores and losers and cons, of neon and velvet, of go-go bars and strip joints, which Paris walked through, by her account, not as a victim but as a conqueress with unstained gloves and a warm heart (""I genuinely care about people""). A kind of X-rated Alice in Wonderland, with a heroine and landscape as unlikely as Carroll's but less charming by far.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1990
Publisher: Prometheus