images of Broadway dancers

Two dancers that rivaled Carol Doda on the Broadway nightclub scene were Yvonne D’Angers and Gaye Spiegelman. Born in Tehran, Iran, D’Angers’ nickname was Persian Lamb. Her main haunt was the Off Broadway on Kearny St. whose client list also included Doda and a topless girl-band called The Ladybirds. In a publicity stunt, D’Angers chained herself to the Golden Gate Bridge to protest her deportation to Iran, which was overturned in 1968.

Gaye Spiegelman was a graduate of Santa Rosa High School in Sonoma County and danced at the El Cid where the marquee billed her as “The Topless Mother of Eight”. Her act also included singing. She recorded a not too popular single with Accent Records titled “Momma Wants to be a Go-Go Girl”. In a tragic car accident in 1968, she died along with three of her children.


Mayor Jack Shelley declared that a criminal element had moved into the North Beach area of Broadway and that “The topless craze was at the bottom of the whole problem.” Doda, D’Angers and Spiegelman were arrested along with other dancers. It took nineteen minutes for a jury to acquit them. By the 1980’s, however, the strip clubs were on the wane. In a brief flurry of experimentation, the neighborhood gained, and then lost, a topless shoeshine parlor, a topless ice cream stand, a topless band and two competing topless dancers who performed with live boa constrictors. El Cid was a typical example, closing in 1988 –the victim of a vanishing fan base and high rents.  This was the end of one era and the beginning of another as Broadway no longer became the dividing line between North Beach and Chinatown.  El Cid nightclub was transformed into a Chinese bakery.