This kind of stuff blows my mind. If you want to talk about pioneers in Asian American entertainment... Arthur Dong's new book, Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970, is a fascinating look at the Chinese American nightclub scene, which peaked in San Francisco during World War II.
With previously unpublished personal stories, and a treasure trove of vintage images and rare artifacts, the book is an insightful chronicle of this little-known era of Asian American nightclubs and performers, circa 1930s and 40s, who defied multiple barriers to pursue their showbiz dreams.
FORBIDDEN CITY, USA captures the magic and glamour of a Chinese American nightclub scene that peaked in San Francisco during World War II. Previously unpublished personal stories, along with over four hundred stunning images and rare artifacts, are presented in this sexy and insightful chronicle of Asian American performers who defied racial and cultural barriers to pursue their showbiz dreams. It was the mid-1930s: Prohibition was repealed and the Great Depression was waning. With a global conflict on the rise, people were out to drink, dine, dance, and see a show to forget their woes—and what a surprise for the world to behold an emerging generation of Chinese American entertainers commanding the stage in their own nightclubs. FORBIDDEN CITY, USA reveals the sassy, daring, and sometimes heartbreaking memories of the dancers, singers, and producers who lived this story, and it weaves in a fascinating collection of photos, postcards, menus, programs, and yes, even souvenir chopsticks. Together they recreate a forgotten era, treating readers to a dazzling night on the town.Forbidden City, USA is the culmination of filmmaker and writer Arthur Dong's nearly thirty-year devotion to the topic, originally inspired by his research for the documentary of the same name.
If you're in San Francisco, there's also a Forbidden City, USA exhibition showcasing Arthur Dong's stunning collection of memorabilia from the Chinese American nightclub scene. It's currently running through July 6 in the Jewett Gallery at the San Francisco Public Library.
The book is available for order from Amazon. For more information about Forbidden City, USA -- both the book and the film -- visit Arthur Dong's website, and follow updates on Facebook