Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eva Tanguay

The great 1953 film The I Don't Care Girl (starring Mitzi Gaynor and Oscar Levant) was just on the Fox Movie Channel this morning, showing the modern world amazing choreography and costumes so rarely seen nowadays.

It's the bio story of one of our favorite Vaudeville/burlesque performers, Eva Tanguay, billed as The "I Don't Care" Girl. Wikipedia says:

Aleister Crowley called Tanguay America's equivalent to Europe's music hall greats, Marie Lloyd of England and Yvette Guilbert of France. "The American Genius," he wrote, "is unlike all others. The 'cultured' artist, in this country, is always a mediocrity. … The true American is, above all things, FREE; with all the advantages and disadvantages that that implies. His genius is a soul lonely, disolate, reaching to perfection in some unguessed direction. … Eva Tanguay is the perfect American artist. She is... starry chaste in her colossal corruption."

Eva Tanguay is remembered for brassy self-confident songs that symbolized the emancipated woman,` such as "It's All Been Done Before But Not the Way I Do It," "I Want Someone to Go Wild With Me," "Go As Far As You Like," and "That's Why They Call Me Tabasco." In showbiz circles, she was nicknamed the "I Don’t Care Girl," after her most famous song, "I Don’t Care."

Tanguay spent lavishly on both publicity campaigns and costumes. One obituary notes that a "clever manager" told Tanguay early in her career that money made money, and she never forgot the lesson, buying huge ads at her own expense, and on one occasion allegedly spending twice her salary on publicity. She also got her name in the papers for allegedly being kidnapped, allegedly having her jewels stolen, and getting fined $50 in Louisville, Kentucky for throwing a stagehand down a flight of stairs.

Now that's our kind of performer!

In 1922 Eva made a 78 RPM record of her "I Don't Care" song, and you can hear it on The Creeps Records MP3 Blog.