It’s been more than 50 years since Angel Cecilia Walker first strode into a San Fransisco nightclub, introduced herself as “Satan’s Angel” and asked for a job as an exotic dancer.
“I came early and there was nobody there but this old broad…” Walker said. “She goes, ‘So what do you do?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m a tassel twirler.’ She goes, ‘Oh boy, not another tassel twirler’ and I go, ‘Hey, I twirl five at one time.’”
Still unimpressed, the woman at the club made a suggestion that would ignite Walker’s decades-long career as “the Devil’s own Mistress”: “Why don’t you set those puppies on fire?”
From there Walker and her seamstress got to work on a set of patented flaming tassels. That was in the early 1960s. At age 74, Walker still uses those same tassels, but on Nov. 2 they will be extinguished for good after she performs her last show as Satan’s Angel at the Queen’s in Nanaimo. The evening will also include routines by members of Vancouver’s Lost Girls Burlesque and Nanaimo’s Sweet Tooth Burlesque Revue.
Although Walker’s come out of retirement more than once, she insists that this time it’s for real.
“I have bone diseases, so my joints sometimes bother me a lot and so I’ve just gotten to the point where this will be my last,” she said. “I just can’t do it any more. It’s too much for me. I’ve been going it for five and a half decades. I’m done as a piece of toast.”
Walker said she’ll miss performing her burlesque routines, although she plans to continue making appearances in films and music videos. She said she’s unsure what the future holds for an ex-stripper.
“I love all the attention you get and it makes your ego feel good and makes you feel like you really produce and gave them something and you really entertained them. I’m going to miss a lot of that, oh yeah,” she said. “I mean, I don’t even know how I’m even going to get a part-time job. I mean, what do you put down on your resume? Fifty-two years as a stripper?”