The infamous Carol Doda, known as one of the first strippers to ‘go topless,’ in the U.S. died at age 78 this week in San Francisco.
Doda, who perfected her act and reputation at San Francisco’s Condor Club, marked 1964 as the year she not only came into national prominence by appearing topless, but actually enhanced her physical ‘prominence’ by being one of the first well-known strippers in the U.S. to seek out silicone injections. After being given a Rudi Gernreic ‘monokini’ by Condo P.R. man Davy Rosenberg-and wearing the item Doda was in effect topless-Doda’s reputation beyond the Bay City began. When she grew her bust from 34 to 44, and her new attributes were labeled the “twin 44s” and “the new Twin Peaks of San Francisco” the lady rose to international fame.
Written about by Tom Wolfe, appearing in the Monkee’s psychedelic freak-out film Head (written by Jack Nicholson) and also Golden Boy, Doda went bottomless in 1969. She was working into the 1980’s, dancing as much as much as owning Carol Doda’s Champagne and Lace Lingerie Boutique and as late as 2009 could still be seen dancing (clothed) in certain San Francisco clubs.
In light of what stripping has turned into, as much in smaller establishments featuring all nude women in the many smaller towns across the U.S. to high-end ‘Gentleman’s Cabarets’ featuring champagne rooms and lap dances negotiated to the highest bidder, it’s difficult to consider truly what an innovator Carol Doda was. Challenging the conventions of the day, augmenting her already ample bosom, appearing topless at the time not so many strippers were, all of her personal sexual revolutions’ turnings seem tame by comparison of where we are today.
But without the likes of a Carol Doda, people like Larry Flynt, Mitchell Brothers who ran the O’Farrell Theatre (in San Francisco) and so many more men and women who were just simply trying to make a living, we certainly would not be where we are right now.