Partner Dorothea "Torchy" Wilde

Queer Places:
Greenwood Cemetery New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA

Stacy “Stormy” Lawrence (December 7, 1925 - March 6, 1982) was a legendary Bourbon Street stripper of the 1940s and 1950s. Lawrence, who achieved notoriety when Louisiana State University students pitched her into a campus lake in 1948, eventually ran her own club on Bourbon Street and even worked in a presidential campaign. In later years she suffered from emphysema and lived alone in New Orleans.

A native of Philadelphia, Lawrence was brought up in a carnival family. She spent a year at Temple University, studying voice and piano, before launching her show business career. She came to Bourbon Street as a singer in 1945 but found it hard to recruit and train strippers for the finale of her act. 'Some of the girls resented my interference when I attempted to give them advice and asked me to try the strip myself if I thought I could do it better,' Lawrence said in 1947. 'I said I thought I could.' As Stormy, she enjoyed a career that included engagements in a string of French Quarter nightspots, photographic layouts in Look and Holiday magazines and an appearance in a newsreel. In the 1950s she opened her own club, Stormy's Casino Royale. Lawrence did not confine her appearances to Bourbon street. In 1948 she attracted a torrent of publicity by journeying to Louisiana State University to promote the sales of a campus humor magazine and help the editor become student body president. During her appearance with a band on a truck bed, she began to strip. A handful of students seized her and hurled her into a nearby lake. 'Boys will be boys,' she said. Her next foray into politics was an offer to join Alabama Gov. James 'Kissin' Jim' Folsom's unsuccessful campaign for the 1952 Democratic presidential nomination. Lawrence said she like the politician because he was 'a honey pot.'

Stormy’s Casino Royale at Bourbon Street and St Louis Street, was shut down in the late 1950s amid a lawsuit between the club owner and his landlord, and its namesake star faded from the spotlight. She was married briefly to a reporter, though it’s unclear when the two wed, and they had a son, John S. Lester. Lester told the Times-Picayune in 1997 that his parents divorced when he was a baby. His father was a writer for the Newark Star-Ledger in New Jersey, where the family lived at one point. But Lawrence wanted to come back to New Orleans. Lester lived with his father and didn’t see much of his mother growing up, he said. “Hers was a night life, his was a day life,” Lester told the Times-Picayune. “I think she knew he would take better care of me than she could. There was no animosity; Dad never said an unkind word about her.”

Keith Marshall, a friend she met years after Stormy’s closed, said Lawrence quit dancing after a car accident and botched hip surgery. Lawrence resigned herself to a quieter life, he said, until eventually, nobody knew who she once was. Marshall and Lawrence met in 1981, when she worked as a purchasing agent at his store, Dixie Art Supplies, a few miles from the French Quarter. She showed up to work every day dressed in black pants, a white long-sleeved blouse that sometimes had ruffles, and glossy black stiletto heels that boosted her to about 6 feet, Marshall said. She walked with a slight limp from her surgery, he said, but still was poised in her movements, as if she were gliding on a runway. “So dramatic and so impressive,” he mused.

Stacy Lawrence was found dead on March 6, 1982, at her home. She was 54. Police who discovered her body Friday said she apparently died of natural causes. Lawrence is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in a twin tomb to that of Dorothea "Torchy" Wilde, in Wilde family plot.

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