Banned In Boston - About The Book

At fourteen, under the pseudonym of Lily Ann Rose, Lillian followed her mother and three aunts into the world of Burlesque. She learned to twirl tassels like Sally Keith, envied Sally Rand’s famous feathers, and emulated Ann Corio, Boston’s most beloved stripper. Totie Fields introduced her with body beautiful jokes, and she worked with some of the most famous baggy pants comics of the day. She was befriended by mob bosses, champion boxers, politicians, including Jack Kennedy, and held captive by the Chicago Mafia.  She was loved by many and raped by a childhood friend. She paraded and stripped to the songs of boy tenors including Robert Goulet, was banned in Boston when she mistakenly bared her breasts on-stage under the watchful eyes of Boston’s Watch and Ward Society, and was imprisoned by an overzealous State Trooper – all before she turned eighteen.

Although the book reads like fiction, it is the true story of her years as a stripper and follows the careers of her mother and aunts in Vaudeville and Burlesque from the excitement of the “Roaring Twenties” through the “Great Depression.”

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It was Thursday the fifth of June and I had been working in the chorus of the Casino Burlesque Theater for four days and had gained quite an education from the chorus girls about men. They had me working on a degree in finance and banking – learning how to figure a man's profit and loss statement. Peaches had given me a valuable lesson in muscle control and the art of stripping, but I was confused. As we sat at the long dressing tables, lined with bright light bulbs and looked into the mirrors that we shared, I asked the chorus girls over and over, "Where does love come into this?"  I needed to be in love. I needed to be loved. I was sure love, not money, nor stocks and bonds would make me happy. So, when on Thursday night during intermission I received a note in the dressing room – my very first note from a stage door Johnny – I was thrilled. All it said was, "You are beautiful. Anything you want is yours. Just name it." The note was signed Jack with a telephone number to call. I ran all over the dressing room waving the note in the girl's faces. "Look, look," I screamed, "I can have anything I want. I’m going to call him and ask for White Shoulders perfume and orchids."

Honey pointed a bright red, polished fingernail at me. "Wow kid. That must be Jack Kennedy. I heard he was in the audience tonight in Mayor Curley's private box. He is just about the richest congressman in D.C.  Kid, you just struck it rich. Forget about flowers and perfume. I told you they wouldn’t pay the bills. Get diamonds, jewelry, gold, stocks and bonds, anything but flowers and perfume. When the flowers die what have you got? A bunch of dried up old leaves."

"Yes, but I can press them and put them in the Bible like Granny does." I had an answer for everything.

"Oh my God! She can press them and put them in the Bible. Where have you been all these years, in a convent? Wake up. This is the forties honey. The war is over. Women need to be independent. Take charge. That takes money and brains. Start using your little money maker to get you where you need to go – up!"

"I don't know. I don't think I could ever let a man kiss me if I didn’t love him. I can't imagine selling my love to anyone."

"Oh kid, you are hopeless,”  Honey said and walked away.

I read the note over and over. I remembered Jack Kennedy as he walked the streets of Boston. Up and down Beacon Hill to the South End, the North End and the West End canvassing for votes. Granny and all the family had voted for him. He was a naval hero of World War II. I couldn’t imagine any man sending me a note like that when he could have Peaches Queen of Shake or any one in the chorus. Why me? Why was I so special?  I had to know. I tucked the note into my net panties and dreamed all night of the handsome Jack who had written and told me I was beautiful.

I got up early the next morning to call the number on the note. A man answered and I asked to speak to Jack.

"This is Jack. Who's calling?" His voice made my knees weak.

"Lily Ann Rose. I received your note at the casino last night. Do you remember me?” I tried to keep my voice from trembling.

"How could I forget you, beautiful girl," he answered. “I won't be in town much longer. Where do you live? I can send a car for you right now. How about it?”

 My heart pounded – my mind raced. What’ll I wear? What’ll I say? What’ll I do? What if he doesn't like me? What, what, what? My head was spinning. Jack Kennedy wants me. Jack Kennedy thinks I’m beautiful. Six months before my fifteenth birthday, one week after my debut in burlesque at the Casino Theater, and already I was in love with the most handsome man in Boston, Jack Kennedy.”  I said. “We have four shows and no breaks. I can meet you after the last show."  I was afraid he could hear my heartbeat over the telephone.

"My driver will pick you up at the stage door," he said and hung up.

All day was a blur. I thought the night would never end. Every act, every scene, went on and on. It seemed that every stripper would be on stage forever. I didn't say a word to the girls because I knew they would hound me about stocks and bonds and jewelry. What did they know about love? This man was in love with me. I was in love with him. It would be the most beautiful moment in my life. I knew he would change my life forever. He would make me his own, and I would be his. Jack would carry me away in his big black sedan. What do these chorus girls know about love? All they know is stocks and bonds and a man's financial worth. I have found true love.

After the finale, I slithered into a black strapless dress with thin black straps that crisscrossed over my neck and tied in back. I touched up my make-up and shadowed my blue eyes until they looked like pansies and brushed my hair until it shined half way down my back but left the pompadour that swept up over my arched darkened eyebrows. Gold earrings, the longest ones I could find in my jewel box, dangled from my ears. I left my net panties on and my bra off and rouged the curve of my breasts so he would be sure to notice how firm and pointed they were. I had made a mental note that my breasts were more perfect than the other girls in the chorus. I wanted him to fall in love with me as I had with him.