Theater

The Life and Death of Dallas Theater Center's Jack Ruby, All-American Boy

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When Foxy's name comes up with old cast members, the conversations grow more animated. They all remember her. All of her.

"When Chastity Fox was hired for the play, she really let us in on that whole world, introducing us to strippers who had worked for Jack Ruby," says actor Randy Moore, who played the emcee. Moore was a lead actor in the DTC resident company for 33 years and now acts at the Denver Center Theatre. "Foxy had to teach the girls in the show how to be bar girls, how to walk and how to take off their tops. It was an eye-opening experience for everyone. She would stroll into the green room with very little clothing on. She'd open her dressing room door and be stark naked. She didn't think a thing about it. She was wonderful. She had real class and a great body. I'd love to know what she's doing now."

Linda Daugherty, now playwright-in-residence at Dallas Children's Theater, was a grad student when she played "Barbie Dahl," one of the young strippers in Jack Ruby. She remembers feeling terrified during private rehearsal sessions with Foxy in the locked studio above Kalita, working for weeks to get to the point where the actresses could disrobe onstage without blushing.

"Foxy was beautiful," Daugherty says. "Her skin was luminous, even without makeup. We'd never seen anyone like her. And she was classy and smart. We were all a little bit in awe of her at the time."

Chastity Fox's real name is Germaine Walker Brown. She just turned 66. She still lives in Dallas, retired from a short but still-talked-about career as a professional ecdysiast — the term she prefers over "stripper" — since the day she was cast as Honey Suckle in Jack Ruby, All-American Boy. She's still beautiful, petite and lithe, with chestnut hair scraped back into a ponytail. Her skin is still luminous without makeup.

Brown spent six years as one of the highest-paid stars on Dallas' small, union-protected strip-club circuit of the late '60s and early '70s. She was hired for Jack Ruby after Paul Baker saw her belly dance at a fundraiser for the arts charity group The 500, Inc. Working with Baker and the other artists at DTC introduced her to "polite society," Brown says.

She never went back to stripping after the play closed, turning instead to teaching dance at University of Texas at Arlington and acting professionally in productions of Gypsy, Cabaret and other musicals at the New Arts Theatre (which used to be downtown), the old Country Dinner Playhouse and other venues.

Brown and her husband, Danny, raised two children, a daughter who now lives in New Zealand and a son who's a sound designer. These days she dabbles in the metaphysical, doing "energy work" and the occasional astrological reading. She's held onto boxes of clippings and photos accumulated at the end of the era of old-fashioned burlesque. An avid photographer, Brown documented the rehearsal process during Jack Ruby. Her scrapbook of pictures of Baker and the cast is part of the Paul and Kitty Baker Papers Collection at Texas State University. Except for a few publicity photos, it's the only visual record of the show.

"I was perfect for this play and Mr. Baker was so gracious to me," Brown says in an interview at her son's apartment in the Dallas Design District. "He told me I had acting talent, but that it needed to be developed. He said, 'I want you to feel like you can use this venue to develop yourself.'" Baker sent her for diction lessons and dance classes, where she studied different styles of movement.

Brown was too young to have known Jack Ruby or to have worked in any of his clubs. She was still a student at a Catholic high school in Orange County, California, when he shot Oswald. But she knew some of Ruby's strippers, including Carousel Club headliner Tammi True and other girls who were getting out of the business as she was breaking in.

Brown was discovered on amateur night at the upscale Colony Club, where "exotic dancers" shared stage time with nationally known comics and singers like Tony Bennett. Back then, she says, legit strippers had to join the American Guild of Variety Artists. They were paid weekly salaries, covered by health insurance and treated like ladies by gents like striptease agent Pappy Dolsen and club owners Abe and Barney Weinstein (renamed the Greenberg brothers in the play). Customers weren't allowed to tip or touch. Except in Ruby's clubs, where non-union "B-girls" hustled men with overpriced fake Champagne, dancers were forbidden to fraternize with patrons.

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Elaine Liner
Contact: Elaine Liner