Winner of the 2015 American Book Award and now available in collectible hardcover, Forbidden City, USA captures the magic and glamour of the Chinatown nightclub scene, which peaked in San Francisco during World War II.
In the 1930s and ’40s, audiences flocked to nightclubs to escape the problems of the day with a cocktail and a show. Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong spent thirty years interviewing the entertainers from this era, many of whom time had forgotten, and collecting hundreds of rare images and objects. The result is a sexy and insightful exploration of a time when Asian Americans pushed against exploitation and racism—as well as expectations from within their own community—to pursue their dreams of working in show business.
Here are the sassy, bold, and sometimes heartbreaking memories of dancers, singers, producers, and nightclub owners, as told in their own words. Meet the “Chinese Sinatra,” the “Chinese Ginger Rogers,” the “Chinese Fred Astaire” – witness the true-life stories behind China Dolls, the bestselling novel by Lisa See, who provides an insightful foreword to the book. Accompanying these previously unpublished stories are over four hundred stunning photos, postcards, menus, programs, and yes, even souvenir chopsticks. Together they recreate a forgotten era, taking readers on a dazzling tour of the old “Chop Suey Circuit.”