16 Wild But True Facts About the World's Most Famous Stripper (NSFW)

RealClear Staff


Warning: NSFW Content and Images Below

Carol Doda has died at age 78. In the 1960s, she helped take stripping out of the shadowy margins of American society and gained worldwide fame as a topless dancer. Her are some incredible outtakes from a truly original life.

1. She Is the 1st Known Stripper to Go Topless

To understand the impact of Carol Doda’s precedent-setting impromptu performance at the Condor Club in San Francisco on June 19, 1964, within two months the rest of San Francisco's exotic clubs went topless, followed soon after by entertainers across America.

“The minute I knew I existed in life was the night I started the Condor thing,” Doda said in a 2009 interview. “The only thing that mattered to me was entertaining people. That always drove me.”

2. Goldwater Republicans Helped Make Her Reputation Go National

Less than a month after she first went topless, the 1964 Republican National Convention that nominated the conservative Barry Goldwater was held in San Francisco. Delegates flocked to the Condor Club to see her act. As word spread, toplessness became a sensation in clubs and bars across the country.


3. She Started Her Act on the Ceiling

In her Condor act, there would be a fanfare to build anticipation, then the spotlight would hit a white baby grand piano slowly descending from the ceiling. Atop that piano was the statuesque Carol Doda, in her mono-kini. She would dance and swivel her way through a few numbers before the piano ascended back to the ceiling.

By the way, that piano was involved in one of the oddest deaths in San Francisco history. In the predawn hours of Nov. 23, 1983, Condor assistant manager James "Jimmy the Beard" Ferrozzo was crushed to death by the piano while lying atop his naked stripper girlfriend, Theresa Hill. Ferrozzo evidently kicked the "up" switch on the piano with a pointed-toe boot while in the throes of passion, and the instrument rose 15 feet to the ceiling and crushed him. Firefighters freed the screaming Hill, who was OK, and her dead partner four hours later.

4. Sly Stone Was Working at the Condor When Doda Started Stripping

Before he was an international music sensation, Sly Stone was just "Everyday People" -- he was a young guitarist in the Condor's house band when Carol Doda first did her act.

5. She Was Only Arrested Once -- and Beat the Rap

Doda’s only arrest came in 1965, when police raided the Condor on indecency charges. She was found not guilty and continued to dance until 1985, when she quit.

6. She Was the 1st Famous Person to Get Breast Enhancements

So many customers packed the club that Doda spent $1,500 to boost her bust size from 34B to 44DD through silicone injection, which was then a new technique. It was painful, she said, but the results were very popular. Doda said she never suffered health complications.

7. Her Breasts Were Insured for $1.5 Million

At the height of her fame, Ms. Doda’s breasts were dubbed “the New Twin Peaks of San Francisco.” They were insured for $1.5 million with Lloyd’s of London. The above photograph was taken by the noted photographer Diane Arbus.

8. She Inspired the Movie 'Mondo Topless'

When filmmaker Russ Meyer ("Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!") caught Carol Doda's act, he made a pseudo-documentary about busty women in 1966 called "Mondo Topless," which became an underground hit.

9. She Starred in a Movie With The Monkees

"Head" (1968), which starred The Monkees to capitalize on their TV show, also starred Frank Zappa and Jack Nicholson!

10. She Became the 1st to Dance Fully Nude

On September 3, 1969, Carol Doda began dancing totally nude at the Condor. That lasted until 1972, when San Francisco passed a law that stated there could be no nude dancing in places that sell alcohol.


11. She Was the Face of a TV Station in the 1970s

While still stripping, she did the station IDs for Channel 36 in San Jose. "You're watching the perfect 36," she'd coo.

12. She Kept Stripping Into the 1980s

Even in her 40s, Carol Doda was a big draw at the Condor Club.

13. After Stripping, She Started a Band

The Lucky Stiffs performed into the 1990s.

14. She Once Spent 2 Days on a Train With John Madden!

Like the noted NFL announcer, Doda was afraid to fly. In the 1980s, They met by accident on a train from San Francisco to Chicago (she was helping launch a line of lingerie). “I did everything with him for two and a half days except sleep with him, “ she said. “He taught me how to walk like a duck because that’s the easiest way to get around on moving trains. Quack!”

15. She Never Stopped Performing

Carol Doda started a lingerie shop in San Francisco called Champagne and Lace and did comedy, singing and dancing — with her clothes on — at North Beach nightclubs near where she once danced topless. She was sashaying through her flirtatious act, warbling “That Old Black Magic” and the like, until her health began to fail this year.

“The only way I’ll stop performing is when I can’t walk anymore, honey,” she once said.

She died on November 9, 2015 at age 78 of kidney failure.


16. She Actually Led a Clean Life

Carol Doda said she avoided doing drugs, drinking heavily or prostitution. “Underneath this blonde hair, I do think logically,” she said. “I know how to survive.” She began every day with a bowl of Wheaties.

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