Chamblee54

Tubby Boots

Posted in History, Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on September 7, 2016

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PG found Classic Television Showbiz while reserarching a recent feature about the late Sherwood Schwartz. The site is a treasure, with youtubes of classic tv shows, and interviews with “entertainers”. Somewhere in the sidebar was a link to a story about Tubby Boots.

Charles “Tubby” Boots was born around 1926 in Baltimore MD. He was a nightclub comedian. Mr. Boots weighed 375 pounds, had bleach blond hair, and often performed without a shirt. He wore pasties on his boobs, and would twirl them simultaneously in opposite directions.

The parts in blue are borrowed from Classic television showbiz.
Tubby’s parents were a vaudevillian dance team called Boots and Barton. At the age of seven this youngster was clocking in at an astounding two hundred pounds, a constant target of ridicule in his Baltimore schoolyard….During his childhood, Tubby managed to witness a performance by comedy’s greatest cult icon, Lord Buckley … Tubby Boots recalled shortly before his death, “[Lord Buckley] was like a father figure to me. I met Buckley when I was seven years old when I was working at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, Maryland, and I was in awe of him. I saw his act every time he would come back to play the theater … I would sit in the theater all day and watch the shows. I’d stay out of school for the whole week – my mother would pack me a lunch – she knew what I was doing because I wanted to learn about show business. Buckley would do his hat-switching act. Every other show he would get me to do it with him. I’d hang out with him backstage, we’d go out for lunch or dinner, he’d sneak me back into the theater and I’d watch the whole stage show again. I started working nightclubs when I was eleven. I weighed 250 pounds and passed myself off as twenty-one. I got arrested in a strip joint and the police said: ‘We’re not going to throw you in jail but you’re not going to work in this town again – you’re too notorious.’ So they actually put me on a train and said ‘Where you wanna ticket to?’ I said, ‘New York.’ I didn’t run away – I was forced to leave. So when I got to New York I called Buckley and, pretending to sob, said, ‘My mama died in a car crash…my father was with her…’ Unbeknownst to me, he called my mother and told her, ‘He’s with me.’ So he got me a job at The Three Deuces, passing me off as twenty-one.” The Three Deuces was one of Manhattan’s major jazz holes in the thirties and forties, regularly featuring Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Lord Buckley was connected to the jazz world for most of his career, performing in their clubs and utilizing a great deal of the Black hipster vernacular in his act.”
Mr. Boots got a job as the emcee for burlesque shows, frequently in traveling carnival shows. He was doing well, when Lord Buckley called him from Hollywood. Supposedly, there was a movie job waiting for Mr. Boots. When he got to California, he found out otherwise.
“Tubby became affectionately known as Princess Lily. “He used to call me Princess Lily but Prince Charles of Booth was my title. Buckley used to say: ‘Lil! You had the misfortune to be born with the beautiful body of a woman in the ridiculous body of a man!””
In 1959, Mr. Boots was in a bizarre accident. He was taking a bath, and the controls for the hot and cold water were in another room. Lord Buckley was handling these controls, and poured scalding hot water into the tub. Mr. Boots was stuck in the tub, and was badly burned. He spent a week in the hospital, and was not friends with Lord Buckley later.

After he recovered, Mr. Boots moved to Miami Beach. He performed in motel lounges for many years, and developed a following. Comedy albums were becoming popular, and Mr. Boots contributed “Thin my be in but fats where its at”. The albums were sold at his shows. The legend is that no copies exist that were not autographed.

The various search engines are sketchy about Tubby Boots. The Lady Bunny tells about going to see Mr. Boots in a supper club on Long Island in the eighties. Reportedly Mr. Boots did well during the comedy club explosion of the eighties.

PG saw a show by Tubby Boots. It was December 1974, at a dingy Atlanta bar called The Cove. PG was hanging out with someone we will call McClain, who liked the drag shows at The Cove. The bar was a former electronics warehouse, with a sign for Ballantines Beer by the front entrance. Ballantines had not been sold in Georgia for a long time, but the sign stayed. This was on Monroe Drive, behind Piedmont Park. Tubby Boots was a friend of somebody, and did a show at The Cove one night.

If you can stand to look at the embedded video, you get an idea about his show. Forty years later, PG can remember a few of the jokes. There was a one liner about an *African American* who took a shit, and thought he was melting. There was a routine based on the role Katherine Hepburn played in “Suddenly Last Summer”. My boy is not queeyer, he’s carnivorous. After a while, the shirt came off, and he twirled pasties from his boobs in different directions.

After the show, PG talked to a black friend, who did not want to meet the comedian. Meanwhile, Tubby Boots and McClain were making out. Before long, McClain came over to PG, and said he wanted to go somewhere else. McClain died in July, 1992. Tubby Boots died in August, 1993. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. This is a repost.

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