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Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique [Hardcover]

Kelly DiNardo
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Nov 2007
Burlesque. A uniquely American form of entertainment...and one of the most celebrated forms in burlesque was that of the inimitable Lili St. Cyr. Her body of work as a striptease artist - featuring her innovative on-stage bubble baths and reverse stripteases - was on a level with such dazzling performers as Gypsy Rose Lee, Blaze Starr, Tempest Storm, and Ann Corio. And wherever the glamorous Queen of Burlesque appeared, controversy followed. Gilded Lili is the first biography of this pioneering artist, sure to be a smash as burlesque enjoys its own resurgence. Her tempestuous love affairs and troubled life make Lili St. Cyr's story a microcosm of American sexuality in the twentieth century, mirroring social changes in sexual politics and the commercialization of sexuality. A compelling biography and an intriguing take on feminist history, Gilded Lili is golden indeed.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill (1 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823088898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823088898
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.1 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,047,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

""Lili St Cyr was one of the most glamourous and most revered striptease artists of all time. This biography paints a picture of a woman who lived by her own rules - in life and on stage - and in turn became a legend."" Dita Von Teese

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Kelly DiNardo`s biography certainly gives you all the facts about Lili St. Cyr`s life, however some three quarters through the book I came to realise that I was little closer to knowing this woman than I had been at the start. The reason for this became clear by the last few chapters - Lili had all but become a recluse for the last twenty or so years of her life. DiNardo must have faced an enormous task in puting together the book she has - it is very like Lili`s own performances; eloquent, well conceived, but aloof and retaining the mystery of the real person behind the stage persona. DiNardo`s approach gives plenty of detail on her subject and embeds her story in the cultural and social dynamics of the times - she makes many useful observations on the relationship between sex and commerce, women`s changing role in American society and their depiction within that society - many of the contradictions and changing social mores that were to trouble Lili in her chosen career.
After her retirement Lili seemed to do little to keep her name to the fore; like Garbo, her idol, she wanted to leave her public with the memory of her as the star performer she was; unlike Garbo however, she had no body of films to leave as her legacy - the woman who influenced the style of Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and probably many more has been denied the iconic status she once had.
DiNardo`s book then, gives the reader some idea of the woman who was Lili; it is unlikely that any other biographer could improve on that aspect. But she does an excellent job of placing her subject in history and revealing a culturally important, dedicated, creative and free thinking character who deserves to be better known.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars job well done 14 Dec 2007
By Kara Mae - Published on
I've been waiting for a book about Lili St. Cyr since reading her obituary in Life magazine 8 years ago. When I finally heard it was being written, I was cautiously optimistic. I've read many biographies, and they can be overly fond of their subjects, poorly researched, tabloid-esque, or just plain dry. My fears have been assuaged as Kelly DiNardo proves to be professional, with class. She's pulled out all the stops, and you don't have
to be a researcher yourself to pick up on the laborious amounts of work put into this book.
Fellow burlesque fans may tire of the history of the striptease being detailed once again, but it is necessary in hopes of the story reaching a wider audience. The life story of Lili St Cyr certainly deserves such widespread recognition, for the reasons previously mentioned: her rise to fame, clashes with the press, independence, squandered fortune, troubled personality and ultimately dissappointing final years.
Her story is not an entirely happy one. Her choices were not all admirable. So I guess at worst that places her in good company amongst sex-symbols of the century.
DiNardo has sandwiched Lili's life events and choices within the history of the burlesque and striptease industry, as well as the changing social mores that affected it. The book contains a great deal of historical context, perhaps in an attempt to speculate at the true inner motivations and feelings of Lili St. Cyr. For a woman who was not afraid to shock the press with a sordid opinion or two, her true "intimate secrets" will always remain elusive.
The elaborate research Kelly DiNardo has done is sure to remain the best summation of the story and person that was Lili St. Cyr.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gilded Lili 25 Oct 2007
By DLC - Published on
Gilded Lili is the fascinating story of a woman, famous in her time, but little known today. Kelly DiNardo recounts her life in lively prose that traces the history of burlesque in America through one woman's experience. Lili St. Cyr's life was tragic in many respects, and could serve as a cautionary tale for many of today's current crop of celebrities. Ms. DiNardo's book put's into precise historical context Lili's struggle to remain independent, both personally and financially, in a time when women had few options to reach the level of success she managed to achieve and sustain for 20 years. Her choices, both good and bad, reflect the dramatically changing attitudes towards sex, women and relationships during the first half of the 20th century.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gilded Lily 27 Dec 2011
By Kirby Harris - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I discovered Lili St. Cyr in an old Cabaret magazine back in the 50s and was captivated by her beauty. She has remained a treasured part of my memory since that time and I wanted to know more about her. Gilded Lili has made her come alive again and now I feel that I have been able to see into her world and know who she really was. This book has made her much more real and interesting to me. Thank you, Kelly.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reasearch 9 Jun 2008
By Eileen Murphy - Published on
It is very obvious that this author did a tremendous & thorough amount of research on this star of a by-gone era. The male social mores of the movie industry are illustrated, as is the role of women in that generation. An excellent story as well as a history of the time. It would make a terrific movie.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, Thorough, Insightful and Compassionately Told 6 Jan 2008
By Joan Pham - Published on
I really enjoyed the book--it is extremely well written, clever and tender in its narrative (particular in the end). It sheds so much light on only on Lili but on the context of the times she was living in. I also thought that Lili's life story and the surrounding growth and decline of burlesque was also well researched and referenced. My favorite part was perhaps the epilogue though, where I felt Kelly DiNardo really cast an appreciative, sincere light on what Lili achieved during her lifetime and applauded her for her authentic sensual humanity :)

I highly recommend this to all people who are looking for a thrilling, entertaining read with brains and empathy behind the narrative.
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