R.I.P. Megan Margolies, AKA Patsy Grind, the Hairdressing Burlesque Queen of Deep Ellum

Megan Margolies, from her Facebook page
Megan Margolies, from her Facebook page

Megan Margolies, a local burlesque performer, hairdresser at Halo Salon, and beloved member of the Deep Ellum music and art scene, died on Tuesday in a traffic collision, when a scooter she was test-driving on Abrams Road collided with a tractor trailer. She was 23.

The Margolies family was unavailable for comment, but Megan's friends spoke about her warmth, generosity and humor. Yesterday afternoon, her friend Stephanie Hastings, a local photographer, sat outside Tigger's tattoo shop on Main Street in Deep Ellum, waiting as an artist there drew up a memorial design.

"I chose a cowgirl boot with a filigree design because she loved Pasty Cline," Hastings said. Margolies performed under the name "Patsy Grind," had a portrait tattoo of the country singer, and often wore ornate cowboy boots during performances.

The tattoo Hastings was getting had bluebonnets brimming from the top of the boot, in memory of the last photo shoot the two did together, a little over a week ago. "It's very girly, just like she was."

When Hastings was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall, Margolies immediately organized a topless bike-ride through Deep Ellum, ending with a raffle at The Bone to raise money for her chemo treatments.

"She barely knew me then," Hastings said. "That speaks to the kind of person she is. She was very generous with her time and her spirit. Loyalty was definitely something she had in spades." Another time, Margolies and her best friend, Ashly Campbell, showed up at Hastings's house to keep her company while she was sick with the after-effects of the chemo -- both of them wearing "grown-up size footie pajamas, with the grips and everything." They handed Hastings her own pair of pink leopard print footie pajamas, then kept her company through the night, watching trashy TV and making sure Hastings ate.

"She just wanted me to have a nice evening," Hastings said. "That's who she was."

Margolies started performing as Patsy Grind barely a year ago, when Campbell, who performs as Bang Bang Lulu, spotted her pool-side in a retro bathing suit, wedge heels and fire engine-red lipstick and persuaded her to give burlesque a try. Becca Blood, a local pinup girl, says that dancing transformed Margolies's life.

"I was so proud of her," Blood said. "The burlesque thing really helped her. She got so much confidence. It helped her come out of her shell a whole lot more, not be so shy and timid. She found her confidence." Margolies also made Blood her very first pair of pasties, pink, bedazzled numbers festooned with feathers and hearts.

"I still have them," Blood says. "But I'll never wear them now."

"She went out a time that she was on a peak," another friend, Liz Mitchell, said. "She was loving every single moment of her life. Even through the struggles she just..." Mitchell trailed off for a moment, then continued, "The last six months were probably the best of her life. Onstage, she absolutely lit up and took over. All eyes were always on her."

Margolies lived in an apartment in Lakewood her friends dubbed "the pink palace," because everything was either pink or zebra-striped. She was also devotee of the Deep Ellum music scene, and could often be found at shows when she wasn't dancing, thrifting, or sneaking out with Mitchell to the movies to see "cheesy romances" that no one else would admit to liking.

Among her friends, Margolies's generosity and warm-heartedness were legendary. "There will be people at this funeral who she's gotten off of drugs or paid for their children to eat," Campbell said. "She's just a baby, and she's supported people. She's let people live with her. There are people now who are better because of her." One of the pallbearers, a former heroin junkie, credits his sobriety to her support, Campbell said. She was barely 20 when she helped him kick his habit.

The funeral is tomorrow, and will be reserved for family and close friends. There will also be a public memorial for Margolies on Sunday night at La Grange in Deep Ellum from 7-10. A memory book will be provided, and a table where people can leave flowers for her family. At 8, her favorite local band, Rodeo Clown Dropouts, will perform.

"It'll be a full, lively set, no holds barred," Hastings said. "We'll send her off in that 'use your outside voice' kinda way."

Margolies had been excitedly looking into buying a scooter for months; she wanted to make sure she bought one with enough room so Campbell could always ride on the back. She was test-driving one that belonged to a local musician when she got on Abrams, made a too-wide turn, and collided with the trailer. According to the police report, she died at the scene. The youngest of three children, she's survived by her parents and her two older brothers, Aaron and Joshua.

"She did not go through any pain from what we understand," Mitchell said. "What we'll believe in our hearts is that she didn't go through any pain. The people that did go in to see her did say she was just as beautiful as ever. Till the end, she was always put together. A bombshell."

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