Ex-Stripper’s Days Are Now Quiet Ones
By Rafael Alvarez (The Baltimore Sun, 2/2/1993)
It isn’t right for Jean Honus to be all alone on Barney Street.
The house is quiet; hours are long.
And there’s no action.
Not like the days when men gave her diamond watches just because they liked the way she moved.
When strangers by the hundreds whooped and hollered and whistled as she sashayed her knockout figure across a stage.
Back when Jean Honus did the striptease on Baltimore’s Block in the glory days of burlesque.
The theaters and musicians, the bookies, the barkers, the wise guys, the prizefighters and the straight men, all gone.
At age 74, the woman born to a coal-mining family in Shenandoah, Pa., accepts that time has reduced the art of burlesque to stark nudity and robot music.
But it’s not right, she says, that she outlived almost all of her friends from her burlesque days.
“I’m very lonely,” says Miss Honus, cooking up a big pot of rigatoni and hot sausage, grateful for the chance to entertain a new visitor to her South Baltimore rowhouse, eager to fill a fresh ear with her stories. “I go out every day now and sit with friends, but people don’t want to hear too much of your troubles. You try to hide from loneliness, but it’s so hard. I don’t know what to do with myself so I just get up and get out of here. I go down to the market even if I don’t have to buy anything.”
Fast living and hard liquor, she says, killed most of her colleagues years ago.
“I have no friends because they drank themselves to death,” she says, tears coming to her eyes. “Drink ruined my girlfriends, girls that should be here today with me. I took care of myself and I’m here. They drank morning, noon and night — they thought they were having fun, but they weren’t happy. Sometimes I’d take two days off from work just not to drink, to get some sleep and take care of myself. I had a lot of fun, but it all just came and went.”
Continue reading “Former Burlesque Dancer Reminisces” at The Baltimore Sun.
(Note: Jean Honus passed away on April 18th, 1998)