“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.
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.””