Lili St. Cyr aka Willis Marie VanSchaack
Late one night at club Music Box in San Francisco, a g-string was flung into the balcony by a fishing rod. This unusual act was the ending to an Ivan Fehnova production known as The Flying G and the beginning to a great strand of creative shows. But these obscene and scandalous productions would not be so successful without the star of the show and that star was no what else but Lili St. Cyr.
Putting on shows that put the crowd in awe became her trademark. She was a blonde beauty with long legs and was at the top of the burlesque world. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, she was titled the most famous woman in montreal, but got into some trouble due to the catholic clergy in Quebec. She was arrested and charged for her immorality, but that didn’t stop her. Lili St. Cyr knew that no matter what happens, the show must go on.
Lili St. Cyr was born in 1918 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, into a family with three sisters, two of them already in show business. Her career began at a very young age, when her grandparents put her in ballet lessons. As she grew up, she kept at it and eventually landed herself a job as a chorus line girl in Hollywood. She had a persistent and dedicated attitude and got her manager to let her perform a solo act. She choreographed the piece on her own and got herself discovered.
She was then brought into San Francisco to perform at a well known club called Music Box. This became her first nude act, which she agreed to do because she knew it would make her the most money. From this, she spread out to a variety of different venues, performing in a number of memorable productions. Along with dancing, she participated in pin-up modeling and acting for the few lead roles that she landed.
After Lili St. Cyr retired, she started up her own lingerie business called Undie World of Lili St. Cyr. She used hand selected fabrics and sold her pieces through catalogs. The catalogs included photos or drawings of herself wearing her lingerie lines with detailed descriptions of each of the pieces and what they were for.
With the advantage of being an icon and having experience in wearing little clothing on and off stage, she really knew what she was doing with this business. She marketed the pieces by saying that they were good for the street, on stage and in front of the camera; all of which she had partaken in throughout her life. She continued with this business until she grew old and eventually past away in 1999. Her legacy lived on and her influences continue to spread throughout upcoming Hollywood stars.