Her real name was Sheila Alberta Bowater.
Get by with a little help from my friends…
A reader kindly posted a helpful comment to my original bio-less Lady Zorro post.
Here’s the comment that led me to find out a little about Lady Zorro’s hard life. On October 11, 2009, Alex wrote:
“… John Waters mentions a dancer named Zorro on page 75 of his book, Crackpot. He writes,”She’d stomp around the stage naked after removing her cape and mast, sneer at the audience with pure contempt, and snarl, ‘What are you lookin’ at?’ — Could it be the same lady? …”
John Waters goes on to compare Lady Zorro’s looks to ruggedly-handsome actor Victor Mature. After seeing their photos side-by-side, I’d have to say he’s right — and that there must have been only one Lady Zorro!
Here are some quotes from John Water’s book, CRACKPOT, which was reissued in 2003 with updates from the author. Sadly, he informs us that Lady Zorro is no longer with us. I hope her daughter does write the book that John encouraged her to write.
In the NY Times review of John Water’s 2010 memoir ROLE MODELS, Tom Carson writes:
An initially sprightly tour of Baltimore’s dive bars (“the good ones have no irony about them”) sets up reminiscences of two local legends: a lesbian stripper who styled herself Lady Zorro and a Native American named Esther Martin, who ran a derelicts’ bar called the Wigwam “like an iron-fisted Elaine’s.” But then both women’s grown children tell him about their upbringings, packed with hair-raising episodes of selfishness, booze, abuse and neglect.
From reviews for the John Waters book ROLE MODELS:
Waters also talks about personalities from his hometown of Baltimore. One of them was the stripper known as Lady Zorro, whom he describes as “[having] a real rage she brought to the stage, which added a demented hostile sex appeal. An angry stripper with a history of physical and sexual abuse with a great body and the face of a man. Now there’s a lethal combination…Zorro was so butch, so scary, so Johnny Cash. No actual stripping for her at that point [at the end of her burlesque career]; she just came out nude and snarled at her fans, ‘What the f*** are you looking at?'”.
You can find the book on Amazon — be sure to click the Look Inside link to read the chapter on Lady Zorro (page screen shots below). — Role Models / Amazon
She’s been around the block…
Here’s Lady Zorro’s obituary, from the Baltimore Sun, 2-08-2001:
More info tidbits from John Waters including a bizarre photo of Lady Zorro in her later years.