I recently became acquainted with an Instagram photographer from Berlin named Sven Goerlich (Instagram @sven.goerlich, web site) who took these amazing portraits of the famous Jadin Wong in 1999. Jadin was one of the first Asian burlesque performers who appeared in numerous films, theater productions, and was one of the featured dancers at the famed Forbidden City Nightclub in San Francisco during the golden era of Chinese nightclubs in the 40s. Her accomplishments reached far past burlesque and into stand-up comedy, Broadway theater, and founder of the Jadin Wong Management Talent Agency.
I've done a lot of research into the few Asian burlesque performers that have been on my radar for my "Fresh Off the Boa" talk that I tour with, and Jadin is someone whose image is often shared and re-shared by people who don't know anything about her. They see a cool 'exotic' image such as this and don't bother researching. Ever hear of Google image search? To see a portrait of her that I have never seen before felt like finding a treasure! I messaged Sven out of curiosity and he graciously shared with me his marvelous encounter with Jadin in NYC 1999.
I am from Berlin and met Jadin in January 1999. With Mona, a female commercial director, and others, we created a commercial for Lux shampoo in Berlin, New York, and Barcelona with 30 different women, young, old, diva, student, classic dancer, domina, writer, salesgirl, and so on. The slogan was: Just be a woman. The commercial was for Germany and some European countries, Australia and New Zealand.
Jadin was part of the New York cast. Everybody from our crew was impressed with her light and kindness and fitness. She was 87 years and worked still as a dance teacher. I talked a little bit with her in a dark club with red light for an hour. She invited me and the director to a little dinner at her home in a little skyscraper in Upper West Side New York. A small apartment with windows full of sunlight. On the walls were a lot of photographs of herself and with stars like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and others. She told us that she was the first Asian dancer that danced for the Queen in London. Also photographs with Ronald Reagan and Barbra Streisand. And Charlie Chaplin, I guess.
We ate some delicious Asian food from a delivery service. She was so smart and lovely. Just a meeting for two hours, but full of light, glamour, and wisdom. She was an amazing inspiration for me. Good, warm memories.
These portraits were taken on location in the dark club he mentioned. Jadin is wearing her own costume. Sven also said that Jadin was one of his favorite people that he met in his life along with Barack! Yass!
And....here is the final product for the Lux shampoo commercial that Sven and Mona worked on! Jadin appears around 0:45. And guess who else is in it? Julie Atlas Muz (at around 0:35)!
And another fun fact, Jadin remained actively dancing til well into her late 70s/80s, and she still did commercials and film cameos. In my own research, I found this Levis commercial from 1997 in which Jadin appears towards the end! Enjoy! I wanna cry when I find these historical gems, a piece of the past speaking to the future as if Jadin is reaching out to us from the past, a glimmer of her life, personality, and the people who touched momentarily, perhaps that is all that time travel can be....