We’ve been talking about classic old restaurants quite a lot lately at the Gimcrack. Here’s yet another New York institution from a bygone era.
In 1903, Cornelius Billing celebrated the completion of his $200,000 stable by holding a horseback dinner at Sherry’s. Thirty livery stable nags were coaxed one by one into the freight elevator and taken up to the grand ballroom on the fourth floor, where the host and his guests mounted them and dined off tables fastened to the animals’ withers. They drank champagne through rubber tubes connected to saddle bags hanging on the horses’ flanks.
Earlier, Sherry’s had been the scene of “The Awful Seeley Dinner” which scandalised New York and for a time tarnished the restaurant’s reputation. According to one source, hootchy-kootchy dancer, Little Egypt, was served naked in a pie. Rachel Shteir maintains she wore at least a semblance of clothing but it was something gauzy and diaphanous.
This raucous bachelor party for P T Barnum’s nephew, Herbert Seeley, was broken up in the wee hours of the morning by crusading policeman, Captain Chapman. The Seeleys brought him to trial before a police board for “conduct unbecoming to an officer of the law”. The trial of course was a media circus full of descriptions of what Little Egypt, whose real name was Annabel Whitford, did or did not wear.
You can read more about her at this interesting site relating the history of sex in cinema. Did you know the first silent stag film was made in 1915? A Free Ride depicted a wealthy man having sex with two female hitchhikers by the side of the road.
And then there was Annette Kellerman…..
Australian-born swimming and diving champ Annette Kellermann (billed as “the Diving Venus”) had already gained attention for advocating the scandalous-at-the-time one-piece bathing suit. She caused a further stir when she was seen naked with her flowing hair under a waterfall – she was the first major female star to appear nude on screen.
Annette Kellerman being arrested for indecent exposure
At least she didn’t pop out of a pie…..