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Perry Arrested in Toronto

Victory Theater Ad, Toronto Star

On April 29, 1962, Ann Perri, the “Jayne Russell of Burlesque,” challenged the legalities of stage performance.

Toronto Police inspectors, in attendance at the “Victory Theater” — as they often were — charged Perri and the theatre’s owners and manager with permitting an obscene performance.
Toronto’s Police Morality Squad was on-hand to witness a fallen pastie, a strict requirement in burlesque aesthetic.  Inspectors, in attendance, charged Perri, theatre owners Myer and Lionel Axler as well as manager Jack Diamond with permitting an obscene performance.
The police report, signed by Insp. H.S. Thurston, alleges that Perri, 32, had “removed all of her costume with the exception of a flesh-coloured ‘G’ string and pasties, then lay on the floor, gyrating, raising her hips and simulating the act of sexual intercourse, moaning. At the completion of her act, she lowered the front of her ‘G’ string, exposing the pubic hair and a portion of her private person.”

In court, Perri claimed that burlesque’s popularity was due to its “aesthetic appeal,” not the sparse nudity. Magistrate Joseph Addison, probably having attended a burlesque house or two in his day, wasn’t buying it: “My recollection is that the more clothes the girls took off and the lewder their gestures, the more people applauded.”

The Axlers, as owners of New Strand Theatres Ltd., were ordered to pay $100 and Diamond $50. Perri’s charges were dismissed the following day.
Source: Toronto Star


Publicity Photo: Garbo, Chicago

Publicity Photo
Date: unknown Photographer: Garbo, Chicago

Perri Plays Village Nut Club, New York – April, 1955

Ann Perri played Manhattan at the Village Nut Club according to Uno’s “Burlesque Bits” column in the April 16, 1955 edition of “The Billboard”.
We also catch a glimpse of her management team – Eddie Kaplan who got her booked at the club through Trixie Rogers.

Perri Plays the Grand, St. Louis – September 2, 1954

From “The Billboard” – September 25, 1954

Ann Perri received a mention in the September 25th, 1954 edition of the entertainment trade publication, “The Billboard”.

In a column by “Uno” entitled “Burlesque Bits”:

The Grand, St. Louis, opened the season September 2 with Ann Perri, feature.

Perri Plays Casino, Boston – March 23, 1952

In a press clipping from “The Billboard” dated April 5, 1952, Ann Perri is noted as working for the Schuster Midwest Circuit

and Ann Perri for the unit that started the Casino Boston, March 23

“Paris After Dark”


In the fall of 1956, our Ms. Perri headlined a “Paris After Dark” burlesque review – taking it off for those in the Empire Theater’s 1,000 seats bundled up from a windy, cold Newark, New Jersey night.

She was part of a series of traveling road shows that arrived in Newark every so often.  And Ann rolled into Newark the week of October 12, 1956.

The weekly shows that appeared at the Empire were units of a touring circuit that played the Empire for one week, and then moved on to the next city in the circuit (or wheel).
Each weekly traveling show package included comics, strippers, chorus, scenery, and variety acts. All that the Empire Theatre management provided was the building.

Source: Nat Bodian – Burlesque at the Empire Theater

The Empire Theatre opened in 1912 at 265 Washington Street, at the corner of Branford Place, just one block in from Market Street … a beautiful theatre of about 1,000 seats and with a long balcony that brought upstairs patrons down close to the stage, and sat directly over the higher-paying customers in the downstairs orchestra seats.
It was a place, where for a very modest admission payment, a man could get his fill of girls, gags and music, in that order. Early admission prices, according to an old Empire play bill were as low as 30 cents.
The chief attraction, of course was the girls — both the strippers and dancing chorus line which showed as much of their bodies as the law permitted.

According to the playbill, Perri led off the evenings entertainment as an Act One act…

… and toured in the same circles as another popular stripper of the day, Georgia Southern.

And one more note about the Playbill…the picture of our Ms. Ann has been, well, ‘Photoshopped’ – or altered in the way of the day.  The original (below) apparently was a little to much for public consumption…necessitating an apparent Magic Marker Makeover.

Ann Perri publicity photo
Date: Unknown Photographer: Gene Laverne

“The Jane Russel of Burlesk”

Ann Perri Publicity Photo
Date: unknown Photographer: Gene Laverne

In my quest to find all, know all about the 40’s burlesque performer, Ann Perri, and having exhausted that exhaustively wonderful collection … (cough, cough)… I turned to the be all, know all Google and immediately came upon this delightfully curious photo of Ms. Perri.

It is obviously publicity photo with Ann (can I call you, Ann?) striking a striking pose complete with fur, long gloves, long earings, nylons, high heels, pasties and a hint that her panties may be dropped ever so slightly.  Sweet tease.

What’s curious is the caption “The Jane Russel of Burlesk”.

Did you catch it?

Both Jane Russell and Burlesque are misspelled…or at least it appears to be.  Jane Russell was indeed a huge (pun intended) big breasted, sex symbol, big screen actress back in the 40’s & 50’s – when Ms. Perri was, I assume, also in her prime.  So I can understand the cross-reference.

But what about “Burlesk?”  Looks like I’m the dummy.  Seriously I did not know until this very minute that both spellings are correct and widely used and have been for-ev-uh!

What I am glad to see is that respect for our elders was also in vogue way back when – at least on Thursdays when “All Seats $2 for Senior Citizens till 5 p.m.”  Perhaps this is where “Early Bird Special” came from?  But I digress.

At some point, I’m happy to report, that it appears someone realized the mistake with Ms. Russell’s name and rushed out a different version.

Here’s hoping that somewhere, someone gave a moments thought to busting out a publicity photo for Jane Russell – “The Ann Perri of the Big Screen”!

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