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Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse

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You think I’m overdressed? This is my slip!

No, I’m going to tell you the truth about what I’m wearing.

I used to work as a lampshade in a whorehouse.

I couldn’t get one of the good jobs.
 From housewife to humorist, Phyllis Diller made millions laugh for over five decades with her groundbreaking comedy. Boasting unique material, a raucous laugh, wild hair, the trademark cigarette holder, and garish clothes, this pioneer blazed a trail for comediennes during the fifties and sixties, leading them out of small dives into the kinds of top venues that had previously played host only to their male counterparts. While her routine broke new ground and opened doors to subsequent generations of female standups, it also served as a form of self-therapy amid a life steeped in tragedy and turmoil.

                Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse is Phyllis Diller’s own story about the struggle and the pain behind the comedy and the success: her Depression-era adolescence; her marriage to the chronically unemployed husband who inspired her most famous comic character, Fang; her desperate attempts to stave off poverty as a professional comic while raising five children; the disastrous club engagements that coincided with homelessness and separation from her young family; and the problems that clouded her stage and screen success when a second marriage unraveled because of her new spouse’s alcoholism and inner demons.

                Over fifty years after Diller’s professional debut as a standup comic, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse describes her separate careers as an artist and as a piano soloist with symphony orchestras; her failed attempts to become a Playboy centerfold; and her outspoken attitude toward her extensive plastic surgery that earned her a special award from the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. It’s quite a story.

Publishers Weekly Review

Feb 07, 2005 – Brash comedy and a surprising bitterness fuel this unsparing account of Diller's drive to make it big. Born to elderly parents in Lima, Ohio, in 1917, Phyllis Ada Driver was blessed with neither beauty nor wealth. At 20—and already pregnant—she married Sherwood Diller, a handsome, selfish ne'er-do-well who became the "Fang" in her comic monologues of domestic life; the couple had five children. Nearly 40 when she began her performing career, Diller turned a knack for relentless self-deprecation into a nightclub act. She performed in The Poets' Follies of 1955 with poet/painter/composer Weldon Kees and Beat writer Lawrence Ferlinghetti. But women were a novelty in the bar-based world of stand-up comedy, and plenty of humiliating club engagements ensued. Diller persisted, though, and while her male colleagues (Milton Berle, Don Rickles, Lenny Bruce) were pioneering 1950s "insult comedy," she turned the venom on herself and reaped its rewards. Eventually shedding her dud husband, Diller became a superstar—and the first one to go public about her plastic surgery ("I was a walking billboard for plastic surgery," she observes wryly). Retired from show business since 2002, Diller retains a dedicated fan base and an enormous interest in the world that spawned her. And considering she's the original "He's just not into me" girl, a pioneering desperate housewife, might this be the time to launch a comeback?
Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Feb 16, 2006
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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