‘Carol Doda Topless at the Condor’ directors on the famous dancer’s impact

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As March comes to a close, continue celebrating Women’s History Month by learning about someone who helped shape the sexual revolution of the 1960s: Carol Doda.

A new documentary about her life, Carol Doda Topless at the Condor, is playing in theaters now. Directors Jonathan Parker and Marlo McKenzie spoke to ABC Audio about Doda’s impact.

In 1964, Doda became the first dancer in the nation to perform topless. She wore fashion designer Rudi Gernreich‘s monokini swimsuit and danced on top of a white baby grand piano that descended from the ceiling of the Condor Club in San Fransisco’s North Beach.

Her act launched a heated debate around what constituted indecent exposure in a public setting. The ensuing arrests and trials paved the way for a sexual revolution.

“A lot of discussions can be started with her story,” Parker said. “I always just zero in on this moment in the movie where she’s asked if she thought of herself as a feminist pioneer. And she said, ‘No, I don’t think of myself as a feminist pioneer, but I was the first bra burner.’ … Right there you have this weird, ironic coming together of an action that can mean multiple things to different people.”

McKenzie agreed, saying she was drawn to telling the story of a woman in charge of her career when many were not afforded that opportunity.

“It was a time when women were very restricted, and we were just starting to think about what it might mean to be in the world,” McKenzie said. “Carol having this career … where she takes off her top, in that time was a really big deal. And so, I was drawn to her courage where she was totally being her authentic self in a time when that was not really accepted.”

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