Marie Lloyd’s Controversial Performance, 1914

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Marie Lloyd postcard ca. 1900, National Portrait Gallery #NPG Ax160001.

1914
Marie Lloyd’s Controversial Performance
English music hall great Marie Lloyd visited Vancouver for a controversial series of performances at the Orpheum Theatre. Mayor Baxter and other officials in the audience were aghast at Lloyd’s opening night performance, which included “The Ankle Watch” (at one point she lifted her floor-length gown up two inches to reveal a watch on her ankle!)

Charley Jones, the City License Inspector, was directed by the mayor to order Lloyd to drop two songs and to give a “less vivid rendering of others” to avoid having her show cancelled altogether. Lloyd begrudgingly complied with the City’s specific demands, but she didn’t do so quietly. From her platform on the Orpheum stage all that week, she let the full houses know just what she thought of the mayor and, he claimed, she had found new ways “be offensive to good taste.” In a pre-emptive move, Mayor Baxter banned her final performance after deeming Lloyd too risqué for Vancouverites.

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