At South Sydney Leagues Club in the Will Dower Sounds band with Ricky May, late sixties, I witnessed something that was to me at once amazing and sad. Carmen is a name that has been adopted by generations of strippers, but Carmen Christie, appearing that day was unique. She was a stripper who sang or a singer who stripped depending on the eye and ear of the beholder.
Well, it was a Sunday, so I guess what happened was not totally out of place. Carmen finished her routine of sensual undressing, a garment coming off at the end of each song, bawdy ditties all, until at last, completely nude, she was chased off to thunderous applause from her appreciative audience of music lovers and pervs. But then, completely unrehearsed, she came back, placed a chart on each music stand and hurried back to stage front and the microphone.
She was no longer nude. A ring had been clipped around her neck from which hung ankle length strings of beads. Of course her pink nippled and medically enhanced breasts protruded dramatically from between the cascade of blue baubles as she moved up to thank her audience while we boggled at the title of her chosen encore.
Les Dempsey on piano offered an arpeggio to give her the key. She paused for effect then started low and built the tension while the room hushed, first in surprise and then in awe as her voice swelled to fill the room. We were all caught up in the totally unexpected as she emotionally, dramatically and sweetly seduced us into her story of the semi-classical and totally religious song, Jerusalem.
It was bizarre. But at the end, with the audience ignoring her semi-nudity and applauding her musical talent, I watched her leave, round undulating buttocks peeping proudly between swirls of tinkling glass and wondered what might have been.