Arch Madness

A rough guide to St. Louis

A couple stories are floating around from your time here. One of them had to do with some nuns who lived behind you who were offended at some nude sunbathing.

Oh, forget it. Jesus Christ. Number one, there was no kind of protection around the pool. You could see it from the street. There's no way that anyone in their right mind would take their clothes off in that pool. I never heard of any nuns around there, even. Somebody's floating stories. Give me the other story. I can't wait.

Apparently you performed at Webster High School; your material got a little bit blue, and there was a big outcry. Something about a Playtex bra and "My cup runneth over"?

Oh my God. If they objected to that -- no. Here's the joke: "My living bra died of starvation." I didn't use the word "Playtex." That's not a funny word. They've got two jokes running together there -- everything's all mixed up. At the end of my act, after doing all of these chest jokes, which were all perfectly clean, I said, "If just once I could throw up my arms and say, My cup runneth over!" Now if that's a dirty joke, I'm Greta Garbo.

Did you perform in Gaslight Square in St. Louis?

Three times at the Crystal Palace, and it was one of the most fun things I ever did in my life. Sold out every night, plus, at one of my appearances my opening act was the guy who wrote Hair.He was a jazz harpist. I remember vividly I was playing one of my three gigs there when Kennedy was shot.

How did you end up in Webster Groves?

It's all in the book. My children had been taken care of by an aunt and grandmother in St. Louis for five years while I was trying to get enough money to buy that house. I bought the house because it didn't make any sense to move the children away from their only relatives. It was a good place for me because all I was doing was traveling, and it was a central point. I could get back to see them oftener than if they'd been anywhere else.

Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Well, I'm not in good shape. I was in the hospital yesterday. I'm still in rotten shape.

Pneumonia, right? And you recently had hip replacement surgery?

No, no. Pneumonia's enough. I was spitting up blood. So now, stupid me, I planned another thing that I have to do, so I have to go do it. It's nice talking to you. And I'll tell you the truth: What a joy to be able to quash all three rumors. Please help me with that.

I will.

The day I go swimming in the nude. That'll be the day.

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