Margo the Z-Bomb in Singapore (1956)
You may remember my post last November about the origins of the Z-Bomb. This tasty piece of American slang was used in Hong Kong movie magazines in the late 1950s to describe sexy stars like Fanny Fan and Lau Leung-wa. Of course, it doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out that it was made popular by the unforgettable Margo the Z-Bomb, whose explosive dancing was captured in the 1957 film Mambo Girl.
In my post I included a clip of Margo's scene that I'd put up on YouTube, and what do you know... three months later, thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web, I was contacted by RMarie, who tells me that her mother just happened to be Margo's road manager during her 1956 tour of Asia. OMG! How cool is that?!
RMarie told me that she had lots of photos and promised to scan some and send them to me. Well, she did even even better than that by launching her very own blog to share her Margo treasures with the world. This is amazing news, because there is practically nothing about Margo in print or on the Web (just google her name and you'll see what I mean). And that, my friends, needs to be corrected, because based on the newspaper accounts that I've been able to find, Margo was a legend (with a capital L) in the San Francisco nightclub scene during the 1950s. She obviously made quite an impact in Asia as well. Check out this picture of Margo and Run Run Shaw from RMarie's blog.
Margo and Run Run Shaw in Saigon (ca. August, 1956)
I'm sure that Run Run would have loved to sign her up for one of his films, but alas Margo ended up with Shaw's main rival, Loke Wan Tho and his Cathay Organization, shaking her stuff in the film Mambo Girl. The movie was created as a vehicle for Miss Grace Chang allegedly inspired by her knack for dancing the mambo but Margo's presence added some much appreciated authentic Latin spice. Compared to Margo, Grace is just a mambo-girl-next-door. Don't get me wrong... I absolutely adore Miss Grace... and love her uncharacteristic "bad girl" turn in The Wild, Wild Rose (1960)... but take a gander at these publicity photos of Margo and Mambo Girl's leading man Peter Chen Ho and try telling me that he'd rather be dancing with good girl Grace. I think not!
Margo and Peter Chen Ho from the December, 1956 issue of International Screen (thanks Charley!)
If you're hungry for more about Margo and her conquest of Asia, here's a tantalizing account that I came across from surgeon and author Richard Selzer in the book What One Man Said to Another (1994). Selzer tells his friend about seeing Margo at a Hong Kong nightclub.
Pretty soon the performance was announced, and it was Margo the Z Bomb. Not the A Bomb, the Z Bomb. It was this Portuguese woman who was going to perform and there were great cheers from the Chinese men it was ninety percent men and out came Margo the Z Bomb, absolutely gorgeous and vulgar to her toenails. She had on this very sexy outfit, which was minimal, she danced and sang, and then she began to take off her clothes. She called a man up from the audience, and there was a general reluctance for some guy to get up and take part in it, but finally some young Chinese man got up and she wrapped her legs around him and rubbed him up and down, and everybody laughed and he was a little embarrassed, but not much, and she was carrying on she knew how to play the crowd to a fare-thee-well. If I could perform like that, believe me, I would be a rich man, because she knew exactly what this audience wanted of her and she delivered it.
OK, so now you want to see Margo in action, right? Well, here is an encore presentation of her scene from Mambo Girl, because like all good things, once is never enough. And for godsakes, will the whole bunch of you please give this video a 5-star rating to counteract the killjoy who gave it one star! Finally, don't forget to visit RMarie's wonderful Margo blog.