Saying Goodbye to My Stripper Friend
Sometimes, you work on a story, and it gets much larger than you ever anticipated. In 2010, I pitched the idea for an article on the re-emerging burlesque scene in Dallas. My editor Tim liked it, and thus I began work on my first feature for D Magazine. I initially requested that the article be 3,000 words long. Tim asked for 2,000 words. I gave him 2,755 words. I had dinner with and interviewed numerous burlesque dancers. (Journalism is amazing!)
I got the phone number for Nancy Myers — who went by the stage name Tammi True. She had done burlesque in the 1960s. She headlined at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club in Downtown Dallas. I went to her house, and I brought a poinsettia because it was almost Christmas. We talked for several hours. I met her again, a week later, and we talked for another few hours. That was the beginning of our friendship. My stripper friend Nancy. (I think she preferred the term “stripper” because it got a bigger reaction from people.)
The first draft of the article was all over the place. Tim needed to know: is this a story about modern burlesque with Tammi True as an interesting footnote or is this story about Tammi with modern burlesque as the coda, i.e., her legacy lives on. It was decided the story should focus on Nancy/Tammi. Hours worth of research, interviews, and field trips on modern burlesque would go unused (but we’ll always have the Londoner, Angi B. Lovely).
In the end, the story came together. However, I discovered that Nancy — as someone skilled in the art of tease — hadn’t shared everything with me. Among other things, apparently, she had once or twice tried to kill her husband over some disputed child support and a new girlfriend. The short version: The shot missed him, took off part of the girlfriend’s ear, and Nancy avoided jail. This story should have been in the article! There was also the time she was sexually propositioned by Tony Bennett, and a hundred other little anecdotes that slipped her mind while we were talking in her kitchen.
Nancy and I decided to work on her memoir. Over the next three years, we would meet at her house and talk. I’d record everything. I…