Charles Rammelkamp

The Sepia Sally Rand

I was twenty, a student
at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance in Chicago,
when a Broadway talent agent approached me.
Although I’d never even laid eyes on a burlesque show,
soon I was training with a choreographer,
became the best fan dancer in the Midwest,
prancing onstage in my ostrich feathers,
headlining at Minsky’s Rialto Theater in Chicago
and other top nightclubs in the U.S. and Canada,
rolling in dough, driven around in a chauffeured Cadillac,
accompanied by a security guard for my protection.
I always said, stars do not drive used cars, honey.
You got to get to the show and make that money!

In Minneapolis I needed three locks
on my dressing room door;
the fresh guys always tried crashing in for a date
after they’d watched my torrid stage act.
They called me a Shake dancer,
if you get my drift.

After about fifteen years I got out of the business,
married Bill Holliday, the trumpet player and MC of our show,
settled down, raised a family,
but I still taught dancing with ostrich feather fans,
and you know what? In 2012, at age 82,
I was inducted into the Burlesque Hall of Fame.
I danced at the Titans of Tease that weekend.
Hadn’t performed in five decades, but you know what?
I’ve still got it, baby!

Charles Rammelkamp lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife, Abby, and their two daughters, Anna and Zoe. He has a collection of short fiction involving Jewish converts entitled A Better Tomorrow (PublishAmerica) and a novel The Secretkeepers (Red Hen), plus poetry books, Presto, A Magician Among Spirits, Mortal Coil, Ugler Lee, Catastroika, and Fusen Bakudan: Poems of Altruism and Tragedy in Wartime.