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Goddess of Love Incarnate

The Life of Stripteuse Lili St. Cyr

List Price: $19.95

October 11, 2016 | Paperback | 484 pages | ISBN 9781619027947
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“Leslie Zemeckis brings a wealth of burlesque history to Goddess of Love Incarnate; a fascinating tale of love and life lived in front of the spotlight.” —Burlesque Beat

Lili St. Cyr was, in the words of legendary reporter Mike Wallace, the “highest paid stripteaser in America.” Wallace was so fascinated by Lili that out of all the presidents and celebrities he interviewed over a long career, she was the one he remained fixated on. Her beauty had that kind of effect.

Lili led an incredible life — six marriages, romances with Orson Welles, Yul Brynner, Vic Damone, arrests on indecency charges, a number of suicide attempts — all alongside great fame and money. A bigger star than Gypsy Rose Lee, Lili was named one of the world’s ten most beautiful women alongside Ava Gardner and Brigitte Bardot. Yet she lost it all, becoming a recluse in her final decades.

Goddess of Love Incarnate is the definitive biography of this legendary figure, done with the cooperation of Lili’s only surviving sister. But the book does more than fascinate readers with stories of a byone era; it reveals that behind the g-strings and the pasties stood a “complicated, eccentric, brilliant” woman, much loved and little understood. As an award winning documentary filmmaker and writer, Leslie Zemeckis restores Lili to her rightful place in American history in a way no other writer could.

LESLIE ZEMECKIS is the author of Behind the Burly Q, the definitive history of burlesque. She wrote/produced/directed the critically acclaimed documentary based on the book, which has been championed by USA Today and The New YorkerBehind the Burly Q has just been optioned for a television series and a pilot is under-development. She released Bound by Flesh, a multi-award winning documentary about vaudeville Siamese twin superstars Daisy and Violet Hilton, in 2014. She is an actress and filmmaker.


“Leslie Zemeckis has written a definitive biography on the life of the legendary burlesque star Lili St. Cyr (1917-1999) and also an informative insight into the history of the times that helped shape and create the star. Goddess of Love Incarnate is thoroughly researched and documented (the end notes run more than 20 pages), you will feel like you’ve danced in Lili’s heels, sipped champagne with her onboard a luxury liner to Europe, and heard the applause of the standing room only audiences… Leslie Zemeckis brings a wealth of burlesque history to Goddess of Love Incarnate; a fascinating tale of love and life lived in front of the spotlight. There is something in this book for everyone including how to succeed in burlesque by working your beautiful ass off!” —Burlesque Beat

“With tireless detail, Zemeckis brings an enigmatic and forgotten star back in the limelight and raises tough questions about beauty, sex, womanhood, and success in this fascinating, lavishly (and racily) illustrated biography.” —Booklist

“The book is well-written and loaded with photos…” —Kirkus

“Ah, Lili St. Cyr! Finally, climbing beyond Gypsy Rose Lee we arrive at the glories of the exquisite Lili St. Cyr, the stripper who dressed, the classy woman who stripped, and who, with her movie-star beauty, sparkling glamour, and poignant vulnerability, was the real Beauty among the stars of the glorious Golden Age of burlesque. With her erudition, passion, and most of all love, Leslie Zemeckis has done her subject proud.” —Toni Bentley, bestselling author of Sisters of Salome and The Surrender.

“In her dazzling new book, Leslie Zemeckis captures the life and times of one of burlesque’s true legends. A magnificent portrait of a complicated woman who once captured the fascination of America.” —Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

“I remember hearing my mother, who had seen many beautiful women working for my father, saying that Lili St. Cyr had the most beautiful body of any woman on stage. She did indeed.” —Barbara Walters, American broadcast journalist

“What’s most resonant in Leslie Zemeckis’s biography of Lili St. Cyr is how utterly human this Goddess of Love truly was. This is the story of a disciplined artist, a deeply generous woman, a girl who loved and lost (and loved and lost again and again), and a lady committed to living a determined life. This book, like its subject, is seductive and absolutely captivating.” —Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times bestselling author of Hausfrau

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