|Intl. Notebook||Apr 29 2010|
This is the oldest tabloid we’ve managed to locate so far. No surprise it’s The National Police Gazette, which began publishing in 1845. This issue, printed on pink cover stock, is from April 1941 and features burlesque dancer Amy Fong. Fong gained fame stripping at Charlie Low’s renowned San Francisco club Forbidden City, starring in a revue called China Dolls. It could have been “doll”, singular, because Fong was the only Chinese, or indeed, even Asian, dancer in the show. Forbidden City—located in an area of San Fran that once was home to its infamous Barbary Coast vice district—mainly catered to Chinese patrons, but Fong became popular enough to go mainstream, and toured nationally with revues like Modes and Models, Sunkist Vanities, and Moonlight Maids, always as the only Asian performer.
We think her story is probably real interesting, considering the time period involved and the probability that many Americans likely did not consider her ethnicity distinct from that of the Japanese enemy they were fighting in the Pacific, but she’s one of those figures we lose in the mists of time. We know she announced her retirement in 1942, but she must have made a comeback, because we found a flyer of a performance in Pittsburgh from 1949. After that, nothing. Maybe one day more information will appear on Ms. Fong and we’ll learn this pioneering woman’s full story. Until then, we’ll have to make do with hearsay and a few photos.