"It was an interesting time to be on the Block ..."
Writer, Burlesque Performer, 1940s Pin-up at Heart, Margo Christie writes jazz- and burlesque-themed literary fiction that focuses on creative but fallen characters and their struggles to set their stories straight. A self-described "refugee from a broken home in which nostalgia played a major role," she grew up in Baltimore, a city described by local crime writer Laura Lippman as a place where "the true local malady is nostalgia." A product of the TV-crazed 70s, she recalls One o'Clock Movie re-runs of classic Hollywood films such as "Gilda" and "Miss Sadie Thompson." While her peers idolized Farrah Fawcett, misfit Margo identified more with Rita Hayworth, Becky Shelling's idol in These Days. A childhood fan of the World War II-set sit-com "Hogan's Heroes," she recalls references to pin-up/actress Betty Grable and burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee. Though it would be years before she'd learn the meaning of "burlesque,"the word's mysterious appeal would stick with her for years.
At age 16, Margo landed on Baltimore's World-Famous Block, the teenaged girlfriend of a charismatic older man. There, she made the acquaintance of many a retired burlesque queen turned Block barmaid.
"It was an interesting time to be on the Block," she says of the adult-entertainment strip that was once a world-renown burlesque destination. "The clubs were rundown. Drug-abuse and prostitution were rampant. But many of the old burlesque people were still around, and the older dancers still stripped in the classic, slow-tease style. It didn't occur to me until years later how fortunate I was to be just one degree separated from such a glorious era!"
Soaking up these storied old timers' tales of the Block's glamour years, she learned the meaning of "burlesque" at last! Today, she counts Gypsy Rose Lee and other glory-day burlesque queens among her "creative but fallen" writing muses. For Margo, these are strong women who, despite marginalization by greater society, put on a smile and got onstage to face the music 3 to 4 times a day. Margo focuses on "creative but fallen" characters in the hope of providing a sense of fellow-feeling to anyone who's ever felt the need to set their story straight. She writes of bygone eras to cast a light of glamour onto an era when "please," "thank you," and men tipping their hats to ladies were the norm rather than the exception.
An avid jazz fan, the cool but tumultuous culture of icons like Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Charles Mingus is a prominent feature of These Days, as well as Margo's second novel -- a tangled tale of family secrets centered on a 1940s swing band singer, whose disappearance off the family radar screen intrigues her awestruck young niece into uncovering the seedy truth about her aunt's supposedly glamorous life. It is currently in progress.
An artist for most of her life, Margo started painting and drawing in her teens, making sterling silver and enamelled jewelry in her twenties, and stained glass in her thirties. As owner of Americana Art & Collectibles in Denver (2001-2005), she sold art, jewelry, stained glass and antiques, in-store and online.
Today, Margo resides in Denver. There, she performs in Burlesque shows around town, works full-time at a job that's "just a job" and makes a concerted effort to write something each and every day. She shares a home with her husband-to-be and a cache of mid-century modern collectibles.