Happy Thursday! I thought last week went by fast, being that I started my new job a day into the week, giving me a 4-day week, but this week is supposed to be my first full week and it went by even faster than the last! It feels like I blink and it’s already almost Friday. Time is wild!
Today’s post is my review for Tanqueray by Stephanie Johnson & Brandon Stanton!
1970s New York City: Go-go dancers, The Peppermint Lounge, gangsters, Billy’s Topless, and Stephanie Johnson…
In 2019, Humans of New York featured a photo of a woman in an outrageous fur coat and hat she made herself. She instantly captured the attention of millions. Her name is Stephanie Johnson, but she’s better known to HONY followers as “Tanqueray,” the indefatigable woman who was once one of the best-known burlesque dancers in New York City.
Brandon Stanton chronicled her life in the longest series he had yet posted on HONY, but, now, Stephanie Johnson—a woman as fabulous, unbowed, and irresistible as the city she lives in—tells all in Tanqueray, a book filled with never-before-told stories, personal photos from her own collection, and glimpses of New York City back in the day when the name “Tanqueray” was on everyone’s lips.
When I first read Stephanie’s story, it was via HONY’s Facebook page and, I’m sure like many others, I eagerly waited for Brandon’s next piece to the story as they typically get posted in a time interval rather than the entire story all at once. It was an amazing story that brought tears to my eyes and I knew, a short time later, that a book was coming out as well. I never actually got around to it, until this month when I’d simply happened upon it while scrolling through Libby, looking for my next read.
This was a great story, although I doubt “beautiful tale” and “wonderful story” is the right word, but, it evoked strong emotions in me and just as I loved the original posts, I loved this book as well. There was a little bit more in this book than what was in the posts and includes an extra (audiobook special) interview towards the end between Brandon and Stephanie, looking for updates from Stephanie and discussing the emotions that came during the process of this book.
The story by Stephanie was captivating and makes you keep reading on. Most of HONY’s stories will have you glued to your phone for updates on the next piece of the full story and this was no different. I’m so glad that Brandon had stopped to listen to Stephanie’s story, even though he didn’t have his equipment on him (and he even went back to grab it!). From this book and from Stephanie, we get to listen to her life as both as Stephanie and as Tanqueray and my was Tanqueray glamorous and unstoppable. She had a special resilience to her. It does have a little different feeling from normal memoirs and autobiographies, but it doesn’t take away from the story one bit. Her childhood and much of her life is incredibly drama filled, intense, and heartbreaking. Her memory and ability to recall all of this information from all the way back to her childhood and her dolls, praying to have a chance to escape her mother. She remembers her good friends, the warden that helped her during her time in jail, the times she spent with other people, the mobsters that helped her…Her ability to show us readers what NYC was like back in the 70s was remarkable and so crystal clear even after all these years.
This was a story that was engrossing and simply too short. It was fascinating though and a great read. I’m glad Stephanie was able to share this story and I’m so glad to come across it again.