The 24-Hour Burlesque Show

That title got your attention, I’ll bet. It’ll be explained a little bit later. But first, let’s talk about something a little fancier than burlesque. Let’s talk about aspiring to a fancy retro Hollywood life. You want to feel like a movie star. And the makeup and beauty product ads that claim their products will give you that silver-screen aura just aren’t enough.You know what you need?

A canary. Canaries make you feel glamorous and special. They – well, they sing. They sing and sing! And you can call their part of the room a “Hollywood corner.” That ad over on the left says so. In the 1940s, there was a canary fad going on -  because a canary will make you feel like the Bonita Granville of the neighborhood. Or something like that.

But if you want to feel like a real celebrity, you will need something more. You will need a critic. And that is why you should also get a parakeet.

Yes, it is true. A parakeet hanging out in a little cage giving you the side-eye and making tart remarks is going to make you feel like you’re living the high life in LA.

And it won’t be all movie premiers and champagne either. In Popular Science in October 1953 an article about parakeets claimed that “Any home with a parakeet is a 24-hour burlesque show.” Oh, really? And do the parakeets wear little outfits with tassels or do fan dances? Never mind, we don’t really want to know.

It’ll be just like having a gossip blogger right in your very own home. Because they are saucy, those little birds. That 1953 article quotes a parakeet who wandered into a housewife’s vacuum cleaner tank and started yelling (as who would not): “Get me out of here! Get me out of here!” So imagine what your parakeet would say about you, given its druthers*:

“Hey, what kind of horrible outfit is that?”
“Who was that cheesy guy I saw you with yesterday?”
“You have 25 Mars Bar wrappers hidden in your pocket, don’t you?”
“You’re in big trouble now!”
“You can’t act for toffee, why don’t you just pack it in! Pack it in! Pack it in!”

And if this isn’t enough fun – your parakeet will also make lots of droppings. Oh, and you have to give it lots of seeds and be nice to it while it talks smack about you to anyone who comes over.

Now, the record actually trains the parakeet to say things that are not quite so complicated, like “Hello, baby.” Hey – maybe you could use the parakeet instead of the Girl Getter Cards. Just carry your little friend around with you and when you see a girl you like, get it to do the talking for you. Just make sure it doesn’t tell her about those Mars bar wrappers or insult her outfit.

The Parakeet Training Record is from Frank’s Vinyl Museum.

*To have one’s druthers was an 19th century American phrase; druthers was a shortening of the words “would rathers.”

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7 thoughts on “The 24-Hour Burlesque Show

  1. I had a parakeet once. Loved her. She hated me but adored The Mister. She never talked. Only squawked rather loudly whenever I tried to carry on a conversation with The Mister. I never felt glamorous cleaning her cage (and the floor around it).I miss that little mess/noise maker, still. *dabbing tear from eye*

  2. Parakeets are so very retro. I may need to get one. I will also need that album, I guess. And a cage…PS: Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. You're a sweetie!

  3. Maybe carrying a deck of girl-getter cards in the pocket and a canary on one's shoulder would guarantee success. I wonder if you could train the bird to fly over to the prospective Miss with a card?

  4. I picked up one of those albums at a flea market. It didn't come with the sleeve, so I just thought it was a monotonous zen meditation recording of some sort. Now I know. I never listened to it much before, but you can bet I will now. With visions of burlesque and newspaper droppings.

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