Monday, November 23, 2015

Carol Doda's dead, now what

Death of would be documentary star adds urgency to project 

Carol Doda performing at Chuck Landis' Largo during Sacramento obscenity trial 

By Ed Flethcher
Meeting Carol Doda always seems a matter of when, not if.
Once I began to pursue producing a film about Sacramento’s infamous strip club indecency trial, I’d decided Doda could be key in securing more media coverage and access to financial backers.
The world famous San Francisco entertainer turned the 1969 trial into a national story when she was called to testify by performing a striptease for the jury.
Doda’s cooperation and (hopefully) support would open the doors to media coverage and financial backers, I’d reasoned.
While I briefly spoke with her (more on that later), I never got my interview.
She died Nov. 9  at age 78 due to complications related to kidney failure.
Doda’s death and the passing of Sacramento County Undersheriff Larry Stamm is a sad reminder that time is of the essence when it comes to uncovering dusty historical gems contained in human memories.
When the project was first conceived it was singular in focus: produce a feature-length film on the arrest and trial -- think “American Hustle” meets “The People Vs. Larry Flynt.”
Maybe some screenwriters have a clear distinction between research and writing phases while writing a historical fiction. That has not been the care for me. I researched and wrote, then researched some more.
All along the way, I’ve been sharing the process and the bits history I’ve uncovered.
Somewhere along the way, we decided this rich American story is worth sharing as a documentary.
Doda would have been one of the stars.
I’d resisted the urge to rush right into calling Doda early in the process, but more than a year ago a summoned the courage to call Miss Doda. I looked up the number to her San Francisco lingerie shop and dialed it up.
The problem was she said she had not been to Sacramento and did not perform at the trial. Rather than trying to convince her otherwise, I politely let her off the hook and resolved to try to meet her face-to-face once I had the pictures to show her.
Now I have the photos, but Doda is no longer with us.
Former KCRA reporter Steve Swatt said her appearance was a highlight of the trial.
“Carol Doda was the main attraction in Sacramento's famous topless-bottomless obscenity trial in the late 1960s. She testified at the trial by performing her San Francisco act -- topless, of course -- at what was then the Largo nightclub on Fair Oaks Boulevard,” said Swatt, who covered the trial. “Needless to say, her appearance in front of judge, jury, attorneys, media and curious onlookers was the highlight of the trial.”
The San Francisco Chronicle credited with helping take the strip tease out of the fringe and exposing it mainstream audiences.
Using her loss as added motivation, stay tuned for announcements aimed at kicking the documentary project into high gear. If you’d like to help please contact Ed Fletcher at

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