Rusty Warren Documentary Gets Digital Release Date

Born in New York City and raised in Boston, Rusty Warren began studying classical music when she was six years old and in time studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. Finding that the academic arena was not one she was suited to, she began playing piano around Boston in small clubs and hotels, and there got her initial taste of – and for – the stage. Her natural talent for engaging her audience became apparent, and she developed a keen ambition to pursue her career in show business.

Rusty Warren performs on stage
Rusty Warren On Stage

As her flair for creative comedy and quick repartee grew, she began adding more jokes and humorous lines to her repertoire. More and more original material followed, until she had built up a unique routine based on personal observations of people and serious study of human nature.

As we covered in a post not long ago, Rusty Warren passed away earlier this year. Amongst other outlets, The Advocate noted her life in an article, writing that “She became famous in the 1960s with her nightclub appearances and comedy albums, performing routines and songs usually described as “bawdy.” She dealt frankly with sex and encouraged women to enjoy it openly. Her song titles include “The Knockers Up March” from her second album, Knockers Up, and “Bounce Your Boobies.” She became known as “the mother of the sexual revolution.”

1955 saw Rusty’s big break, when she was brought out to perform engagements on the West Coast, and she was big enough by 1958 to record her debut album “Songs for Sinners.” Rusty really came into her own after that, recording “Knockers Up” in 1961, a record that eventually went gold, selling over two million records. In 1963 Rusty was awarded the industry title “Best Selling Comedy Recording Artist of the Year.”

Knockers Up… and More Knockers Up!

Rusty continued to cover new ground as the foremost comedienne in the business, breaking attendance records in Las Vegas and drawing huge crowds all over the West Coast. Club owners fought to book her. What kind of philosophy could speak to so many people?

“We all enjoy sex, but let’s laugh about it,” said Rusty. “Let’s have a little fun with our problems. I do not indulge in dirty talk just for the sake of shock.”

Musician, singer, comedienne, anthropologist, psychologist, businesswoman – she has many feathers to her bow, but most of all Rusty Warren is an entertainer. She has an enviable insight into the frailties of men and women and a rare ability to talk about them and make everyone laugh. Rusty has a true gift, and shares her story in this documentary.

Rusty Warren: The Lady Behind the Laughs has its digital premiere on Friday September 10th on Vimeo. At noon Pacific Standard Time, it will be available to rent and buy here:

Rusty Warren: Knockers Up – Cabaret and Comedy as Tools of Change

“Always have the courage to say what you want. Few women do.”

The late Sophie Tucker thus advised Rusty Warren many years ago. Although Rusty avoided expletives and “four letter words” in her cabaret and comedy, her for-the-time daring innuendo nonetheless pushed the envelope far enough for her to be considered too vulgar for regular broadcast. Rusty had courage in saying out loud what had for so long been taboo, and she also had smarts to choose comedy and cabaret as her medium. Critiques of her forwardness and outrageousness may have kept her from the kind of mainstream fame achieved by some of her peers, but her reputation drove a career of astonishing sales and some of the highest pay of any nightclub comedians of her time.

Rusty Warren Lays It On The Line, GNP Crescendo 2081 cabaret and comedy album

GNP is working to bring our 2008 documentary to Vimeo for streaming rental and purchase. Look for it in September.

Having lost Rusty earlier this year, many people and outlets have a lot to say about her life and career in cabaret and comedy. The sad news seems to have broken on The Laugh Button with people remembering her as fans and friends.

The Washington Post also wrote at length about her life and times. Matt Shudel writes about how “she was considered daringly original for her frank and racy jokes about breasts — for which she used a variety of terms — the fragile male ego and the hidden desires (and fears) of women.”

The Laugh Button summarizes well: “In a time when comedy was considered to be a “boys club”, Warren was one of the few female comedians of that era that embraced it head on. And while she never reached the acclaim that others at the time got, she managed to still break down barriers nonetheless. And given the frank and bawdy routines that she would perform onstage back when it was still considered taboo to not be “ladylike,” she was once heralded as the “mother of the sexual revolution.””