Resistance over blue plaque for Surbiton stripper

Recent plans to commemorate the ‘Queen of Striptease’ have caused outrage amongst local residents as Phyllis Dixey continues to set pulses racing, almost 50 years after her death.English Heritage announced plans last month to give dancer, Phyllis Dixey, who previously resided in Wentworth Court in Surbiton, a commemorative blue plaque.

But the agency’s choice of language, referring to Dixey as a “striptease artiste” has been met with fierce criticism from residents, as one worried resident said: “People would go ‘It’s the stripper building.’”

Wentworth Court Residents’ Association have ignited a fight and refused to grant their permission for the plaque to go ahead.

Nigel Bruce, the head of the residents’ association, said: “It would certainly raise the eyebrows of passers-by.”

Dixey’s family are also against the planned wording of the plaque, as Oliver Dixey, whose grandfather was Phyllis’ brother, said: “A stripper in 2011 is completely different to what it was when she was doing it. We don’t want her portrayed in the same way.”

The plaque was initially planned to state: “Phyllis Dixey 1914 to 1964, Striptease Artiste lived here in flat number 15” and would have been placed outside the flat, which Dixey shared with her husband, Jack Tracy, between 1940 and 1943.

Residents have suggested different wording to English Heritage, such as “burlesque” dancer but this was turned down, as it does not accurately describe her achievements.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage, said: “To describe her as something other than a striptease artiste would be denying not only her achievements, but placing her in the shadows of a profession of which she was a lead proponent and pioneer.”

Dixey rose to fame in the 1930s, finding recognition as the ‘Queen of Striptease’ after opening the first striptease show at Whitehall Theatre in London.

English Heritage claimed that the history of striptease is still little understood by the majority of people and it is unfortunate that today, the word ‘striptease’ boils down to images of a ‘stripper’.

Negotiations are still ongoing and English Heritage is working with Dixey’s family and the Wentworth Court residents to agree on the wording of the plaque and said: “We very much hope to come to an agreement with the family and residents.”

The dancer, who was born in Surrey in 1914, is among other notables, such as Stephen Fry, who have already been honoured by the scheme, which began in 1860.

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