The Civil War Era's Kardashian

Jan 5, 2012

News of the spectacular break-up between actress Adah Issacs Menken and bareknuckle boxing champ John Heenan splashed across the papers that year. Heenan accused his wife of bigamy. That was just one charge against the woman who was best known for bounding across the stage strapped to a horse in a skin-tight flesh colored costume. The so-called “Naked Lady’s” fame continued when photos surfaced of her posing half clad with author Alexander Dumas – it was the Victorian version of the sex tape. Adah Menken smoked in public, was courted by Mark Twain and Dickens, stole headlines from Abe Lincoln’s presidential campaign, was a pin-up girl for Union and Confederate troops, defended homosexuals, and may well be the first American master at the art of exposure. Her storied life is the topic of a new book called A Dangerous Woman: The Lifes, Loves, and Scandals of Adah Issacs Menken, America’s Original Superstar by Barbara and Michael Foster. And Michael Foster joins us from the Argot Studios in New York.