Beehive Burlesque in Cicero Unlikely Hero Anita Lopushok Fethema Vintage Sleaze
Unlikely hero Anita Lopushok (who performed under the name Fathema) prepares to testify before a Senate Investigations subcommittee in 1962. More about Fathema later...suffice to say she was a stripper who was not treated well. Before awarding Anita the credit she deserves, let's look at the climate in which she performed.
Cicero, Illinois was named for a noble Roman statesman, but they have hardly lived up to their name ever since Al Capone moved there to avoid arrest. Cicero was a pit of hell.
A UPI story from June 15, 1962 reports the investigator for the Cook County state's attorney's office, Roswell T. Spencer, told the U.S. Senate that clubs like those of Joseph "Doves" Aiuppa, a reputed mobster who owned the Magic Lounge, the Cermak Club, the Frolics Lounge, the Turf Lounge and the Towne Hotel, ALL in Cicero, treated their customers like mud. "...Cheating, robbing and gouging them... taking their money from them by any means necessary, from exorbitant prices and B-drinking to jack-rolling and knock-out drugs." says Spencer.
I have to say the last thing I'm looking for on a night out is a Jack-rolling.
Bad enough? According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, Martin Luther King didn't dare protest in Cicero! King had courage which certainly exceeded that of most men, but in the 1960s, a few years after Ms. Lopushok above was testifying, King and his organization wanted to march for civil rights and open housing in Cicero, but the King was hit by a rock there on a visit. There was additional violence when a local Cicero high school tried to integrate. But this post is not about equality under the law...it's about strippers!
Cicero was a perfect place for strip joints.
Owner Aiuppa showed up at the Senate hearings, I assume, because he was asked...but he had nothing to say in his defense. The Fifth Amendment. So Subcommitte chairman John McClellan had a few words for the businessman. "You are a cheap racketeer, a parasite, living off the flesh and blood of human beings." Senator McClellan could call them with accuracy.
The brave beehived Lopushok also testified, and on a bigger stage than the dank mob-run slime pits where she was employed. The 22 year old exotic dancer may have had not the most noble profession to admit to in 1962, but she did. Lopushok, in public, in the nation's capitol, with cameras rolling, told about being forced to hustle the sale of overpriced drinks to patrons. About being forced to continuing dancing after her costume was torn off her body and then being told "now finish." by a club owner. Finally, about being tricked into giving up her own 1-year old daughter for adoption (a ring which was being investigated...I guess the mob wanted to sell babies along with over-priced drinks) and being threatened with "crime syndicate violence" when she tried to get her own child back.
Here is a nice little picture of Joey "Doves" Aiuppa, who acquired his mob-name by being arrested with 563 frozen doves in the trunk of his car. It was hunting season, but the limit was 24.
Photograph of Anita Lopushok Original Press Photo "Daily News Sat. Arrow" Property of Newspaper Divison June 1962, cropped. (Original AP Wire Photo) Collection Jim Linderman.
Photo of Joey "Doves" from Wikipedia.