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