Sunday, July 30, 2023

Sad Chicken Ranch news

Edna Milton (ledt) and Carlin Glynn
July has not been a kind month for Chicken Ranch alumni. Specifically, those folks connected to the famed brothel through the mega-successful Broadway musical, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Carlin Glynn, who won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Miss Mona Stangley (which was based on real-life madam Edna Milton Chadwell) died on July 13 at the age of 83 after battling dementia and cancer.

That's Glynn on the right, facing Edna Milon (left). This was a publicity shot Milton gave me from the musical. The production wanted to promote the fact that Glynn and Milton looked similar. They really don't look very similar but I suppose when the alternative Miss Mona is Dolly Parton, this bit of trivia becomes much more plausible.

Obituaries have led with the fact that she played the mother to Molly Ringwald's character in the 1980s John Hughes teen film "Sixteen Candles." She's also the real-life mother to actor Mary Stuart Masterson, who she had with husband Peter Masterson--who co-authored the book to Whorehouse on Broadway and shared background information on that whole experience with me for my book (Peter Masterson died in 2018). Glynn's first film role was in "Three Days of the Condor" but what jumped out at me was that she played First Lady Meg Tresch in the 1987-88 Fox sitcom "Mr. President" opposite George C. Scott in the title role. I remember watching this at a teen and liking it quite a bit, but also realizing that the series was never as good as it should've been with all the talent involved.

Pamela Blair, center, portrayed Angel in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
The other big loss is that of Pamela Blair, who originated the role of Angel in "The Best Little Whorehouse..." If you've seen the play, you'll know the role is much more substantial than the blink-and-you'll-miss-her role from the movie. Angel shows up at the Chicken Ranch early on, a jaded sex worker who's cynical and has abandoned any effort at nuance (that's her in the center of the image to the left). She undergoes a significant character arc through the play and by the end leads the cast through the finale of "Hard Candy Christmas," vowing at the end to leave prostitution behind her for good. Here's a fun bit of trivia for you: Angel was originally named Amber in the script, but the name was changed at Edna's insistence. Masterson and co-author Larry L. King hand found some discarded letters in the trash pile at the Chicken Ranch and used the names from those letters for the characters in the play. Edna thought that an invasion of the women's privacy and would have none of it.

Despite the success of Angel in "Whorehouse," Blair is better known for originating the role of Val in "A Chorus Line" two years prior. Her other Broadway credits include "Mighty Aphrodite," "Of Mice and Men" and "A Few Good Men." She also had stints on the daytime soap operas Ryan's Hope and All My Children.

Blair died July 23 from complications related to Clippers disease. She was 73.

Now Playing: The Tikiyaki Orchestra Stereoexotique
Chicken Ranch Central

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Alpine loves the Chicken Ranch!

Austhor Jayme Blaschke book signing at Front Street Books
Wow! I didn't know what to expect in Alpine for my Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch signing at Front Street Books, but the end result was a fantastic evening! There was a great turnout, I signed lots of books and answered lots of questions about the Chicken Ranch brothel of La Grange, which closed 50 years ago. I like to tell people that after every book signing I have, there's always at least one person who finds his way over to me and whispers quietly, "I don't want everyone to know, but I went there the summer of '68." Guess what? This signing was no different!

I'd never been to Alpine before, which seems absurd now that I think of it. My best friend growing up had an older brother living in Alpine, so I've known about it as long as I've known about pretty much any town in Texas. We almost bought a house in New Braunfels 10 years ago from folks who lived in Alpine. I've been to Big Bend, the Davis Mountains, Terlingua and McDonald Observatory but never quite made it to Alpine, until now. I'm happy to report that it's a charming little town, reminding me a little of Winslow, Az., with some Flagstaff and artsy Marfa thrown in for good measure. I'm staying in the historic Holland Hotel, which has been renovated but not to the point of being a generic Motel 6 clone. It feels vintage. The character is preserved.

Jean Pittman (pictured below), the owner and manager of Front Street Books, was a delight. I don't know if I've ever met a more enthusiastic bookstore owner. She has build a fantastic bookstore here in West Texas and I am not ashamed to admit I am jealous. New Braunfels and San Marcos, each 10 times Alpine's size, have no bookstores whatsoever. That's sad. I hope the people of Alpine appreciate what they've got.

Author Jayme Blaschke with Jean Pittman, proprietor and general manager at Front Street Books

I was also fortunate to see longtime friends Sandy and Scott Cupp. They've been in Alpine for the better part of the past decade, but Scott's nearing retirement and they plan to return to San Antonio before the end of the year if everything works out. It'll be great having them nearby again.

Author Jayme Blaschke with Scott A. Cupp and Sandy Cupp at Front Street Books
And can you say "good omen"? This is the first thing I saw when I checked in at the historic Holland Hotel: A poster advertising my book signing. A couple from New Orleans who are road tripping across the U.S. happened to stop in Alpine for the night, saw the poster and came to my signing on the spur of the moment. Being from New Orleans, they knew all about Houston's Marvin Zindler and could not pass up the opportunity to learn more about the infamous Chicken Ranch. They had me sign several copies of the book they bought as gifts for friends and relatives. Talk about great timing!

Book signing poster for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch in the Holland Hotel, Alpine Texas

I have to say, Alpine is charming and Front Street Books is a top-notch bookstore. If you ever find yourself in West Texas and have the opportunity, stop in and pay them a visit. It's well worth your time!

Next up on the signing tour is Armadillocon in Austin Aug. 4-6, Fabled Bookshop and Cafe in Waco Aug. 22 and Murder By The Book in Houston Aug. 26.

Now Playing: The Kinks One For the Road
Chicken Ranch Central

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Pflugerville signing was pfantastic!

Front Street Books, Alpine Texas
FIrst things first, I have a book signing coming up at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 13 at Front Stree Books in sunny Alpine, Texas. I will, of course, be signing copies of the 50th anniversary edition of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse. This is likely to be the farthest west I travel on my current book tour, so if you're in West Texas (I realize that covers a lot of geography) and want to see me in person, this is you chance! I'll likely do a short reading and then go into a Q&A session--the Q&A is always the highlight. Hopefully, I'll have some good photos to share afterward.

And speaking of photos, my signing last week at The Book Burrow in Pflugerville was a blast. I did a reading, answered quite a few questions and signed lots of books. Some of my Austin-area friends showed up and mercifully did not throw fruit and/or vegetables at me. Folks I'd never met before turned out. Even some tiki folk showed up. It was a lot of fun even if it was so hot outside that the AC couldn't quite keep up. People came and went all night long. We stayed way longer than the alotted time, but that's to be expected when the bookstore is inside a wine bar. It was great fun and I can't wait to return in the future (and I signed a stack of Chicken Ranch books before I left, so if you're in Austin and can't make it to Front Street Books on Thursday, Book Burrow can probably fix you up).

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX.

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX

Jayme Blaschke book signing for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch at the Book Burrow in Pflugerville, TX
Now Playing: Ernie Menehune Back to Aloha Land
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, July 07, 2023

Upcoming signing at Pflugerville bookstore!

Book tour season is in full swing for me with the publication of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch 50th anniversary edition! This Saturday, July 8 I will be at The Book Burrow, a plucky little independent bookstore in historic Pflugerville for a signing (and perhaps a bit of reading and Q&A) starting at 7 p.m.

There are two things you need to know about the Book Burrow: Firstly, it's located inside the Three Legged Goat wine bar, which is as great a combination as I've ever heard of. Secondly, a week ago the Book Burrow recieved a two-week notice to vacate their space because of needed renovations to the building. To say this short notice was problematic is putting it mildly. In order to fund an emergency relocation and keep the doors open (both literally and figuratively) they launched a book sales drive which has thus far proven quite successful. They haven't reached their goal of selling a thousand books yet, but they're getting close. Let's try and put 'em over the top during my signing tomorrow to help keep this independent purveyor of fine literature in business, shall we?

In other news, I will have a book signing on Thursday, July 13 at Front Street Books in Alpine. I don't often make it to West Texas or the Big Bend region, so if you're anywhere in the vicinity (and I realize that's a term subject to interpretation) I hope to see you there!

Finally, I made the S.A. Life section of the San Antonio Express-News' Sunday edition this past week! The story, "The Chicken Ranch has been closed for 50 years, but La Grange brothel's story still has some juice," sometimes has a paywall and sometimes not, but I'll share a couple of photos below because I'm nice that way:

Jayme Blaschke, Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, San Antonio Express-News article

Jayme Blaschke, Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, San Antonio Express-News article

Jayme Blaschke, Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, San Antonio Express-News article

Now Playing: Astrud Gilberto The Millennium Collection
Chicken Ranch Central

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

A Moment of Tiki: Witco barstool jackpot!

A Moment of Tiki Episode 57: Witco barstool jackpot!
I am terrible about posting new episodes of A Moment of Tiki here in a timely manner, but better late than never, right? First up is my latest--Episode 57: Witco Stool Jackpot! And when I say jackpot, I don't use that term lightly. Vintage Witco decor is highly sought after by tiki and mid century modern collectors alike, so when the opportunity presented itself to obtain five classic Witco barstools for less than the cost a single one would command on the open market I had no choice but to pounce. The downside was that they were filthy and in a state of terrible neglect. Watch how I brought them back to life in the video below!

Episode 56: BossaNova Life, sees the Lagoon of Mystery play host to Duke and Lola BossaNova of the long-running YouTube series that delves into kustom kulture, vintage trailer rallies, antique and thrifting and home tiki bar builds. They're fun folks to hang out with, so why don't you hang out with us as we chat?

And last but not least is Episode 55: Music for a Dark Tiki Bar part 3, the final installment of my series on how to select musical genres to create an exotic and escapist ambience in your tiki space without letting the sounds of the modern world intrude:

Now Playing: Ernie Menehune My Hula Maid
Chicken Ranch Central