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11 August 2012

Hotcha Hinton (1915 - 1983) circus, performer.

Hayward Hinton was literally born in a theater trunk, and was raised in Daytona Beach, Florida. His mother was an aerialist with the Sells Floto Circus, and his parents separated when he was young. At the age of 7 he learned to dance in a studio run by Christian Ebsen (the father of Buddy Ebsen). The name ‘Hotcha’ came from a Broadway show, and also became a slang term for approval or delight.

Hinton first danced in clubs in Chicago when she was 16, and at 18 was working in the chorus line at a midway carnival, where Gypsy Rose Lee was the headliner, at the Chicago World’s Fair. Later in 1933 she was in the revue, The Streets of Paris, at the My Oh My Club in Miami. As the vaudeville theaters closed, she moved into burlesque. She toured the US in the burlesque musical Vogues, and became acquainted with Mae West and most of the big-time strippers.

Paulson & Simpson p 141.
By the late 1940s Hotcha had landed at the Garden of Allah club in Seattle, where she worked each winter and did many of the costumes for the show until it closed in 1956. Her act involved live snakes to the consternation of the other performers. In summer she would leave to work in carnivals.

She lived as a woman full-time, was quite pleased to be taken as a woman, and she would get upset if she failed to pass on the phone, or if show-biz rival like Ray Bourbon or Liz Lyons referred to her as a man. She had electrolysis but apparently did not take hormones.

In 1969 she had a small part in the film Lady Godiva Rides. She did charity benefits, especially for the disabled, and political fund-raisers for John Kennedy (Potus 35) and Jimmy Carter (Potus 39). She went to the Carter inauguration ball with stripper Flame Fury. In later years she often performed for college audiences.

When she checked into hospital at the end, she did so in male clothing to avoid the fuss that would otherwise happen. She was cremated in an androgynous hospital gown. She was 68.

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