I was amused to be asked by a reader whether 'Mitzi Dupree', the 'star' of a well-known 1987 rock song by Deep Purple, was a real person, and if so, whether she was South African, because the name sounded like a South African one.
First off, yes, Mitzi Dupree was (and presumably still is) a real person. It was the 'stage name' of Michelle Pradia, a stripper who worked in western Canada. A 1981 report noted:
Michelle Pradia, 22, who dances under the name of Mitzi Dupree, pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance in Kamloops Provincial Court Friday.
The charge was laid Wednesday after RCMP officers watched what patrons have called an 'incredible' act at the Bar-K tavern.
Bar-K owner Ronald Thompson hired the stripper two week ago to boost business during the slack daytime hours. She certainly did that.
Patrons packed the house daily to see Ms. Pradia -- utilizing parts of her anatomy other than her mouth or hands -- perform stunts such as play the flute, smoke a cigarette and pop ping pong balls into the audience.
There's more at the link. I don't know what happened to Ms. Pradia after that. Perhaps a better informed reader can enlighten us in Comments?
Deep Purple's song was, indeed, about her. For those who don't know it, here it is.
When the last strip joint in Kamloops closed in 2013, another report noted:
They're calling it the end of an era, the last strip show in Kamloops.
The Duchess, formerly the Village bar, will reportedly host the final revue Saturday. Those with a sociological bent say men have come to understand that watching women undress in public is inappropriate.
Maybe, but at one time exotic dancing was more popular here than hockey.
Some will remember Mitzy Dupree and her show at Bailey's on Eighth Street in the '80s involving ping-pong balls. I never saw her show (honest), but I remember the spirited competition among male reporters for the assignment of "covering" the story.
Her Kamloops engagement made Dupree so famous the rock band Deep Purple wrote a song about her for their 1987 album House of Blue Light. You can now get it as a ring tone for your cell.
Jack Knox, who was this paper's city editor at the time, reminisced about Mitzy just a few months ago. "Kamloops was a veritable Sodom and Gomorrah, or at least Amsterdam-On-The-South-Thompson," Knox claimed.
We blush at such tributes, but it's true you didn't have to go much past the next block to find a bar with peelers.
Again, more at the link.
As for her name, no, it's not South African. The surname 'du Preez' (with a silent 'z')is common there, but it's of French Huguenot origin. A lot of Huguenots came to South Africa in the 17th century, but a lot went to French Canada too, and there are many Dupree's there to this day - hence, the origin of the stage name used by Ms. Pradia.
(As to why I'd even address this topic; yes, I'm a retired pastor, but I was also a military man long before I became a pastor. Those of my audience who were young and in uniform will remember that our decisions at the time were, shall we say, less than mature on many occasions. I daresay many of you, like me, will have seen the inside of a strip club on occasion!)
Finally, Mitzi Dupree is by no means the only stripper famed in song. For example, courtesy of Chris de Burgh's second album, 1975's 'Spanish Train and other stories', we are reminded that before Mitzi, there was . . . Patricia.
Yes, there are many other ballads about ladies who remove their clothing; but most aren't the kind of music one can include in a (normally) family-friendly blog!
EDITED TO ADD: Within half an hour of publishing this article, an alert reader e-mailed me the link to this 2016 recap of Mitzi Dupree's heyday in Kamloops.