Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dancer's memoir reveals church, closer Sacramento connection

"Take It All Off" by Susanne Haines Register, 1978

"Susanne wrote a memoir."

That's was the new fact staring at me via a facebook message.
It would have been nice to know that three years ago when I started this screenplay.
"Take It All Off," by Susanne Haines Register, was released by Beta Books of San Diego in 1978.
The book covers her early life, the Sacramento indecency trial, her reign as Miss Nude Universe and more than a year traveling the country as a headlining exotic dancer.
For the uninitiated,  my screenplay "Pink" focuses on Susanne's 1969 arrest and trial. The case became national news when the trial judge decided that for the jury to determine whether the dance violated community standards they'd have to see it.
News clips and the accounts of the reporters that covered it form the bulk of my research. When the script started it was a 15-minute short film I expected to produce for a few thousand dollars. But when I embarked on expanding it, it never occurred to be to exhaustively research the story before leaping into the feature length version.
Reading the news clips gave me the rough outline of what happened, but not much of a sense of the person. The Bee and other news outlets covered the story, but kept their toe in the shallow end. I knew a little more about details about the Sheriff Misterly and trial Judge Earl Warren Jr., who happens to be son of the former Supreme Court Justice, but as the story went through revisions it was clear Susanne was the star.
Why did she get arrested seven times for performing bottomless? I didn't know for sure so I filled in the blanks. I gave her voice.
The book -- somehow invisible to google searches -- provides tantalizing new details. Susanne was born Susanne Tropper (March 13, 1947) to Frank Julius Tropper and Alice May (Simpson) Tropper. Family tragedy forced her to harden fast as she split time growing up between Sacramento's suburbs (Fair Oaks and Roseville) and Provo, UT. After a tumultuous childhood, she won Miss Placer County at age 16 before finding her way to the stage of Orangevale's Pink Pussy Kat.
While the book is lacking in literary grace, it's a flashlight into the shadowy '70s strip club circuit. Susanne represented the highest ideals of the craft in fighting for free expression, but also saw the lows exotic dance.
My task now is to see how the new facts fit into my pre-existing world.

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