I had never heard of Zorita before, but I love a good snake/spider dancing story. Who doesn’t? So here it is, from Friday, August 15, 1941.
The next day, thanks to Zorita, a squad was assigned to city nightclubs as Edward A. DeAngelo, safety director, “declared war on the ‘udities’ of nightclub life – nudity and lewdity,” The Blade wrote on Aug. 16. The squad was tasked with enforcing the laws against indecent exposure and the employment of (or serving of liquor to) underage persons.
Zorita got out on bond but was rearrested after the assistant law director received word she was planning to leave the city. She was released two days later after posting $1,000 bond.
Justice was swift. On August 27, Zorita was convicted by a jury (of eleven women and one man!) of indecent exposure. Four patrolmen and five witnesses testified. After motions for a new trial were struck down, she was sentenced to six months in jail on Sept. 15.
In Seymour Rothman’s farewell column, March 4, 1991, he remembered it this way:
She was a very attractive nightclub entertainer who did an act dressed mostly in a large live python.
Zorita was working at the Kentucky Club, a place in a residential area of Detroit Avenue, and her picture was in the window. Whether it was Zorita or the snake, the picture attracted a lot of attention from schoolboys walking by, and when the club owner refused to remove the photograph, police arrested her on a charge of indecent exposure.
I wrote that this was a bum wrap, meaning snake, not the charge. It was one of my early failures in humor.
In October, Kentucky Klub proprietor James Karas saw his night club permit suspended for 60 days by the state Liquor Control Commission after being warned prior to Zorita’s arrest to “tone down” her dancing.
Apparently the tradition of the Kentucky Klub has carried on to this day: there’s still a building that looks very much like a nightclub at 3835 N. Detroit Ave.; in fact, it was most recently known (and may still be) The Palms, variously described in unreliable internet searches as a strip club and a nightclub.
You probably want to know if Zorita served her six month sentence. Unfortunately, I don’t know. It will have to remain a mystery.