Blog | Banned in Vancouver: The Ankle Watch

Banned in Vancouver: The Ankle Watch

By admin | February 4, 2016
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By Chelsey Stuyt

With a nickname like, “Queen of the Music Hall,” Marie Lloyd crashed through conventions like the Miley Cyrus of the Gold Rush era. Touring the world in an act built on suggestive lyrics, knowing winks, and couple of waggling eyebrows, Lloyd arrived in Vancouver in 1914 red-hot and ready to trot. Her act debuted on February 2, 1914 at the Orpheum Theatre and was attended by the toast of Vancouver’s high society including Mayor Truman Smith Baxter and his wife Sarah Whiteside. After all, it wasn’t every day that a famous British entertainer made it all the way out to the Pacific. Everything went well until Lloyd started in on her trademark number, The Ankle Watch. While local papers are slim on the details, one rather poetic editorial described the act as “the way a watch, plus a slashed skirt, would awaken a general masculine interest in the passing of time.” Naturally, the mayor was outraged.

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Click to listen to an original recording of Every Little Movement has a Meaning of it’s Own – recorded in 1912

According to license inspector Charlie Jones, the Mayor immediately called for her performances to be drastically altered, saying “two of Marie Lloyd’s songs might go all right in London, but Vancouver would not stand for them.” With such a high bar set for all that was moral and decent Marie Lloyd did what she did best—went down and played dirty. Lloyd attacked the writer of a scathing editorial in the Vancouver Sun and even bit a stage hand that refused to let her take the stage. She very nearly finished her run at the Orpheum but after threatening to do something in her final performance to really make Vancouver sit up and take notice, Mayor Baxter personally cancelled her final show forcing the “Queen of the Music Hall” to take that final performance back to London.

One response to “Banned in Vancouver: The Ankle Watch”

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