Behind The Garter Belt: SATAN’S ANGEL

When I saw Satan’s Angel perform her fire tassels routine out in the Mojave Desert heat in 2005’s Miss Exotic World pageant, I was speechless. This woman was Tina Turner and Mick Jagger rolled up into one fiery package. She is the rock n’ roll of burlesque! I’ve been fortunate to have this outstanding woman as a mentor in my own fire tassels act and Toronto will get to see her in action this July for The Toronto Burlesque Festival.

Note: The capitals are the way Satan’s Angel always types so I’ve retained that.

1. How did you end up in burlesque?

I HAD JUST GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL AND WAS GETTING READY TO GO TO COLLEGE. I HAD GOT MYSELF A JOB AS A PBX OPERATOR, MAKING $99.OO EVERY TWO WEEKS. ONE FRIDAY, SOME OF THE OTHER LADIES THAT WORKED THERE CAME INTO THE LUNCH ROOM AND ASKED ME IF I WANTED TO GO OUT WITH THEM THAT NIGHT. THEY HEARD THAT THERE WAS GOING TO BE AN AMATEUR STRIP CONTEST. FIRST PRIZE A HUNDRED DOLLARS! AND THE FIRST AMATEUR STRIP CONTEST TO EVER HAPPEN IN NORTH BEACH IN SAN FRANCISCO, CA. TOPLESS HAD NOT HAPPENED YET!

SO I WENT HOME, RATTED MY HAIR UP INTO A HUGE BEEHIVE HAIRDO, CLEOPATRA EYE MAKEUP, STALE PACK OF CIGARETTES, FAKE ID’S, AND MY MOTHER’S OLD COCKTAIL DRESS. WE ALL SAUNTERED IN THE NIGHT CLUB LIKE WE WERE ALL OVER 21….SOON AFTER WE ALL ARRIVED AND SEVERAL SLOE GIN FIZZES LATER, THE AMATEUR STRIP CONTEST STARTED. THE MC GOT UP ON THE STAGE AND YELLED FOR THE LADIES IN THE AUDIENCE TO COME ON UP TO THE STAGE , ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS TAKE OFF YOUR DRESS! NOW REMEMBER, PANTYHOSE HADN’T EVEN BEEN INVENTED YET. SO AFTER 5-6 GIRLS GOT UP AND DANCED, THE MC WALKED BEHIND EACH GIRL AND HELD HIS HAND OVER THEIR HEADS. THE ONE WITH THE MOST APPLAUSE WON THE HUNDRED DOLLARS. I THOUGHT THIS IS THE KIND OF THINGS THEY SHOULD HAVE TAUGHT US AT CAREER DAY IN HIGH SCHOOL! NOW THIS I COULD DO! HELL, I WAS BETTER BUILT AND BETTER LOOKING. SO WHEN I GOT HOME LATER THAT NIGHT, I TOOK MY SEXIEST DRESS OUT OF THE CLOSET AND PUT IT ON AND PRACTICED TAKING IT OFF! THE VERY NEXT NIGHT I WENT BACK TO THAT NIGHT CLUB, GOT INTO THE CONTEST, AND I WON! I’VE BEEN WINNING EVERY SINCE. THAT WAS IN THE WINTER OF 1961….

2. Tell me the origins of your name?

I HAD GRADUATED FROM CHARM SCHOOL AND ONE OF THE MANY THINGS I LEARNED WAS DANCE, AND MODELING. SO WITH THE TAP, BALLET, IMPROV., JAZZ AND FENCING. I DID SOME MODELING FOR COLLEGES IN THEIR ART CLASSES, RETAIL STORES, TELEVISION FOR TOP NAME BRANDS OF HAND LOTIONS (THEY SAID I HAD BEAUTIFUL HANDS). BUT *ANGEL* WAS A NAME THAT WAS MISSING SOMETHING. SO WHEN I BEGAN TO DANCE, THEY CALLED ME *THE TASSLIN TOSSIN TEMPTRESS*, I DIDN’T LIKE THAT. THEN IT WAS *ANGEL THE BODY*, I DIDN’T LIKE THAT EITHER. SO THEY (AGENTS, PROMO PEOPLE) THOUGHT MAYBE I’D LIKE SOMETHING MORE CLASSY SOUNDING, LIKE *ANGEL DAHL* (DOLL), IT WAS OKAY….BUT I WAS A HIPPY, A SINGER, A DANCER, A MUSICIAN. I WAS A WILD CHILD! I WANTED TO PARTY PARTY PARTY AND RIDE MY MOTORCYCLE. SO I THOUGHT HOW ABOUT *HELL’S ANGEL*?? MY PR PEOPLE AND AGENT WENT NUTS! NO WAY CAN YOU USE YOUR NAME WITH HELL IN IT. NO NEWSPAPER, MAGS, RADIO, TV, NO NOTHING! YOU COULDN’T USE A SWEAR WORD, AND HELL WAS. SOOOoooo WE SAT DOWN AND THOUGHT AND THOUGHT AND CAME UP WITH *SATANS ANGEL* THE DEVIL’S OWN MISTRESS…..AND WHEN I DID FIRE TASSELS, YOU ADDED ON QUEEN OF THE FIRE TASSELS. ALL OF US HAD A HANDLE. LIKE MISTY CHAMPAGNE, THE TOAST OF EUROPE, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. LOL

3. Where did you perform? The Good? The Bad?

HOLY MACKEREL, I CAN’T NAME ALL THE PLACES! LET’S SEE… IN AMERICA I WORKED EVERY STATE IN THE USA EXCEPT FOR FIVE. IN CANADA I WORKED ALL THE MAIN PROVINCES IN CANADA EXCEPT FOR NUNAVUT. I ALSO WORKED ALASKA, NORTHWEST TERRITORY, YUKON, NEWFOUNDLAND, NOVA SCOTIA AND GREENLAND. I’VE WORKED MEXICO CITY AND ACAPULCO. I WORKED HAWAII, GUAM THE PHILIPPINES, JAPAN, CHINA AND KOREA. IN EUROPE, I WORKED THE NETHERLANDS, SWITZERLAND, GERMANY, FRANCE, ITALY, SPAIN AND YUGOSLAVIA. SOUTH AMERICA I WORKED RIO DE JANEIRO BRAZIL. WHEW!!!

4. Did you perform for any celebrities?

IN OUR DAY, THERE WERE ALWAYS BIG NAMED STARS IN THE AUDIENCE. FOR US IT WAS NO BIG DEAL, BECAUSE THEY WERE THERE PERFORMING OR WORKING ON A PICTURE. LIKE CLINT EASTWOOD. SAN FRANCISCO WAS THE TOWN THAT PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD LOVED TO COME UP AND VISIT.

5. How did the fire tassels come about?

WHEN I FINALLY REALIZED I WAS MOVING PAST THE TWO TASSEL STAGE AND WANTED TO TWIRL 5 OF THEM, THE FIFTH ONE ON MY NAVEL. I WENT TO WORK AT THE MOULIN ROUGE IN SAN FRANCISCO. AS I WENT BACK INTO THE DRESSING ROOM, I WAS PROBABLY 18-19 YEARS OLD BY THEN. I SEE THIS *OLD* STRIPPER SITTING IN THE CORNER OF THE ROOM, DRINKING SOMETHING ON THE ROCKS AND CHAIN SMOKING. I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, MAN THAT WOMAN NEEDS TO RETIRE. OMG HOW OLD CAN SHE BE? SHE WAS 35 YEARS OLD!!! LMAOOOOOOO AND I’M 65 AND DOING THIS! I WISH MY WAIST WAS 35 LOL.

ANYWAY SHE ASKED WHAT I DID FOR AN ACT? I TOLD HER I WAS A TASSEL TWIRLER. SHE SAID “OH BROTHER, NOT ANOTHER ONE!” I SAID “HEY! I TWIRL FIVE OF THESE PUPPIES.” SHE SAID “WELL IT’S NOT BAD. BUT WHY WOULD YOU COME INTO A BUSINESS THAT’S DYING? YOU REALLY NEED A GIMMICK!” AND SHE RATTLED ON. I JUST GOT TO THE POINT THAT I YELLED AT HER, SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT OF, “FINE FINE I’LL GET A GIMMICK, GEEZ YA THINK YOU’D WANT ME TO SET FIRE TO THE DAMNED THINGS.” AND SHE JUMPED OUTTA HER CHAIR AND YELLED ****BINGO**** NOW THAT’S A GIMMICK! SO I WENT TO BEBE HUGHES, MY COSTUMER, AND SAID WE’VE GOT TO MAKE SOME FIRE TASSELS. SO WE SAT IN HER LIVING ROOM TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT, WHICH WE DID… AND I’VE BEEN TWIRLING THEM EVER SINCE.

6. What was your favorite costume?

MY SOLID RHINESTONE GOWN AND MATCHING UNDERTHINGS. IT WEIGHED OVER 30 LBS. MY SECOND WAS MY BLACK LACED GOWN AND THE BLACK FOX FUR. YOU SEE MANY PICTURES OF ME IN THIS COSTUME.

7. Tell me a story that’ll blow my mind? Any good backstage catfights? Or better?

WHEN YOU ARE A FEATURED DANCER, YOU ARE NOT IN THE SAME HUGE DRESSING ROOMS AS THE OTHER GIRLS. VERY FEW TIMES I WAS IN THE MAIN DRESSING ROOM. AND WHEN I WAS, IF TWO DANCERS DIDN’T GET ALONG, IT WAS QUIETED VERY FAST. AS USUALLY ONE WAS TOUGHER THAN THE OTHER, AND THE MEEKER OF THE TWO DIDN’T WANT THEIR ASS KICKED. OR MAYBE SHE JUST HAD MORE CLASS……WHO KNOWS! THE STORIES I HEARD ABOUT WAS USUALLY THE TIMES BEFORE OUR GENERATION, LIKE ITCHING POWDER IN THEIR G-STRINGS, GLASS IN THEIR FACE POWDER, BUT I NEVER SAW THAT.

AND ONE OF MY FAVORITE STORIES WAS WHEN I FLEW FROM CANADA TO WARM UP A LIL IN MIAMI BEACH FLORIDA. I WAS A COUPLE OF DAYS EARLY, CHECKED INTO THE FONTAINBLEAU HOTEL. I WAS TO WORK AT THE PALACE PICQUAL (OR HOW EVER YA SPELLED IT, TOO LONG AGO TO REMEMBER). I SAW THE SHOW, WENT BACK TO THE HOTEL, AND AS I WAS GETTING READY TO GO TO THE ELEVATOR, I HEARD THIS JAZZ TRIO PLAYING IN THE LOUNGE. SO I DECIDED A NIGHT CAP WILL DO BEFORE GOING TO BED, AS IT WAS LATE. THERE WAS ONLY ONE PERSON IN THE LOUNGE, KIND OF A HIPPY LOOKIN DUDE. SO I SAID TO THE BARTENDER, SEND HIM DOWN A DRINK AND ASK HIM IF HE’D LIKE TO JOIN ME. THERE WAS NO ONE IN THE PLACE, AND I WAS IN THE MOOD TO TALK. SO THE MAN JOINED ME….THE NEXT MORNING WHEN *WE* WOKE UP. WE WERE HAVING BREAKFAST ON THE BALCONY WHEN I SAID TO HIM, “SO, YOU SAY YOU’RE FROM BOSTON.” HE SAID, “NOOOOO ANGEL, I’M THE DRUMMER FOR THE BAND *BOSTON*.” HUMMING AS I TYPE THIS…..MORE THEN A FEELING.

8. What part did being a lesbian play in your occupation, if at all?

IT DIDN’T DO A DAM THING FOR ME. I WAS VERY OPEN, AND LOST MANY A JOB DANCING BECAUSE OF BEING GAY. I WAS THROWN OUT OF NIGHT CLUBS, SPAT UPON, BEATEN, CALLED EVERY DIRTY GAY WORD IN THE BOOK, AND LEFT PENNILESS AND STRANDED, WITH NO FOOD OR TRANSPORTATION! THANKS TO SOME OF THE JEALOUS LADIES I WORKED WITH, WHO RAN TO THE OWNER’S TELLING THEM I WAS GAY! BUT I DIDN’T CARE…..I JUST MOVED ON TO THE NEXT TOWN.

EVEN THOUGH I HELPED TO PAVE THE WAY FOR LESBIANS, TO THIS DAY, I HAVE NEVER BEEN INTERVIEWED FOR ANY GAY MAG, RADIO, OR TV. HELL I’VE NEVER EVEN BEEN ON A GAY PRIDE FLOAT. WHAT CAN I SAY?

9. When did you decide it was time to get out of business?

AROUND 1984-OR 5 I DID MY LAST TOUR. I WORKED IN PLACES THAT HAD MEN AND WOMAN ON STAGE HAVIN SEX, PORN MOVIES, INSERTION DANCERS. MY FAVE ONE IS THE LADY WHO SAT DOWN ON THE END OF THE RUNWAY NAKED, WITH ONE PURSE ON EACH OF HER WRISTS, ONE TO HOLD HER VAGINA WIPES, AND ONE TO HOLD HER MONEY. BECAUSE FOR A *DOLLAR* YA GOT A LICK!

THAT WAS IT I WALKED OUT OF THE THEATRE AND NEVER CAME BACK TILL THE YEAR 2000!


–Tanya Cheex, http://rhinestoneswhiskey.blogspot.com/2010/05/satans-angel-devils-own-mistress.html

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