All Episodes

January 1, 2019 45 mins

Tune in today to learn all about the legendary NYC Rockettes, who actually got their start in Missouri. 

Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you should know from how Stuff Works
dot com. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark.
There's Charles W. Chuke Bryant. There's Jerry. Happy New Year.
You are too tall to be a Rockett, aren't you?
Just barely? Jerry and I can be rockets and you can't. No,

(00:27):
it's true, which is a shame, because you have the
gams I do. Actually, I've got pretty decent legs. You know,
at least my calves are all right. What no thighs
they're a little tree trunky for for my taste. Yeah,
I've got a bit of like a fertility idle thing
going on, like up tour the hips and all that.

(00:48):
M Yeah, well it's because of all those squats. I
was not expecting to talk about this about your gams. Yeah, well,
I'll talk about my legs all day long. Well, let's
hear it. They're shapely, Okay, they're they're not. I gained
all my weight between my waist and my chin. Uh huh,
Like I don't. If you looked at my legs in

(01:09):
my arms, you'd be like, think, I weighs a hundred
and sixty pounds and then the rest of me comes
along to bust that myth step aside, I still have
a nice little fanny. Sure everybody knows that. Sorry listeners
in the UK, Oh yeah, that means something different over there, doesn't.

(01:30):
It's just so dainty and nice that a little, a
little five year old kids can say fanny. In the
United States, it's just the Brits who are sick ghos.
But this isn't about our gams. This is about a
dance troup, A legendary dance troop. Yeah, about as legendary

(01:50):
as a dance troup can possibly be. Are the rockheads?
I think so? I just said that sentence like, Yota,
can you do the voice? No? No, no, not even
going to try. But this totally surprised me digging into
the research on this to to learn that the legendary

(02:12):
Rockets of New York City and Radio City Music Hall
are not from New York City. No, they're not. Where
are they from? Chuck? Did you know this? I had
no idea. Now, yeah, so shout out to St. Louis. Yeah. Uh.
They were founded in the nineteen twenties five, to be exact,
in St. Louis, Missouri as the Rockets, the St. Louis Rockets,

(02:36):
which I think they were trying to be a basketball team.
Maybe St. Louis Rockets. Sure. Yeah. There was a choreographer
named Russell Markert, which is uh, I kept wanting the
same market, but that is an r. And he founded them,
like you said in and he was he was inspired
by a British dance troupe named the Tiller Girls, which

(03:01):
was founded in the by John Tiller, and it was
kind of a similar idea. He saw these Tiller Girls
and he was like, I want a high kicking, glamorous
theatrical dance troupe of my own. Yeah, so I'm gonna
rip it off. He did. Actually, so, John Tiller is
is um widely acknowledged as the the creator of what's

(03:24):
called precision dance, which is where you have a bunch
of dancers who are really highly trained, really athletic, and
really precise in their movements, UM that can move in
such unison that that you take a number, like a
number of different dancers and they basically become one thing

(03:45):
that's that can do things that an individual dancer can't do.
And that's precision dance technique. And John Tyler literally invented it.
With I think four ten year old girls in the
eighteen nineties, and um, he came up with some further
refinements to it, like when you put your hand around
the waists of the people on either side of you,

(04:06):
it kind of lends to the unity of the whole thing.
Um And and uh, Russell Maker Marcert saw this and
was like, this is amazing. If I can get some
American girls with longer legs to kick higher, it'll knock
everybody's socks off. That's a quote, by the way. Yeah,
and there's a there's something to that, that synchronicity of

(04:28):
for me for movement and sound that just knocks me
out every time. Um, when I go and see a
a choir, what's like a hundred people singing together and
high kicking, or or a symphony, just the not only
the sound, but the movement when you watch a symphony,
that's a big part of it for me. Uh, forget

(04:50):
a coral symphony, Like I'm on the floor weeping if
you take me to a coral symphony. But there's something
about that precision of of all these people together. It's
just really like, I don't know what it is about it.
I mean, it's Uh, it's a collective voice or collective movement,
but it's that precision that really just gets gets me

(05:12):
every time for sure. Well that's what the Rockets are
known for. It's their their trade is precision dance. They're
as good as it gets with it. Although the tailor
girls are definitely still around, they still have Christmas specials themselves, um,
and they're doing their thing for sure. So it's it's
not just an off hand thing to say the Rockets
are as good as it comes, as good as they

(05:34):
come in in precision dance, because the tailer girls would
probably say, um, I would dispute that statement, but they
would say it with a British accent, right, I just
be that statement. Uh. So they were not as tall
back then. The original height requirements were between five two
and five six and a half, and now they went,

(05:57):
will take your tallest dancer and make them our shortest ancer,
because I guess it's just I don't know, I'm not
sure why they did that, but now it's between five
six and five ten and a half. And it is
not because they want to exclude people or any or
discriminate against people who are too tall or they feel

(06:18):
too short. But it's so they can just all look.
It's an optical illusion, so they can all look the
same height because they take that five ft ten and
a half inch dancer, although they don't have to be
that tall, but they take whoever their tallest. Answer is
put her right in the middle and then just stagger
it out from there, and in the end everyone looks.

(06:39):
It's weird. Everyone looks to be the same height even
though they're not. I don't understand how this works. It's
just I saw so many different places that I'm convinced
that it does work. I just don't get the illusion
of how how it works. Well, I think over four
inches and thirty six women, it's just so nut of

(07:00):
differences as you scale down that it would take I
guess a an extraordinary human to be like that woman
is an inch and a half taller than the one
five people away from her. You know, I got you. Yeah,
I guess that's true. So you're just a normal person,
is what I'm saying. Yeah, you should feel good about that.

(07:23):
I fall for that optical illusion every time. Yeah, everybody should. Um.
So they started with the Missouri Rockets with just sixteen women,
and like I said, now, they have thirty six and
they debuted in St. Louis, but then went to New
York to perform Rain or Shine on Broadway, and that
is where a man named s L. Roxy that was

(07:45):
his nickname, uh Rothafel, which is an interesting name. That's
where he saw them and said, Hey, I gotta get
in on this. This is amazing. Yeah. So Russell make
Markert took the idea from John Tiller, and Roxy Rothafel said, Hey,

(08:05):
I want in on this jam. So I'm gonna grab
a few of these dancers from St. Louis and bring
him over to New York City and we're gonna have
him start dancing there. Okay, And I know just the
place for him. There's this new venue that's opening up
in ninety two and they're gonna call it the Radio
City Music Hall. And I'm going to make sure that

(08:27):
these dancers are able to perform, and we're going to
call them the Roxyettes. How about that, huh because of
his nickname, right, And Marcaret said, that's fine, just make
sure you pay me some money for it. Sure, And
he did get paid and got paid until nineteen seventy one.
He that's it's hard to believe. But he worked for

(08:48):
the Rockets or with the Rockets from nineteen thirty two
to or I guess even previous in St. Louis, all
the way until nine. It's really amazing. Yeah, it's pretty amazing.
That's a pretty long career. UM. So they they opened
Radio City Music Hall. I think they're part of a
seventeen UM group act. Uh. And that was like such

(09:12):
a hot ticket, something like a hundred thousand people wanted in.
But there it's a theater, which I think it still
remains the nation's largest UM indoor venue, which is really
saying something because I guess it would just be a
like a theatrical venue because obviously the largest indoor venue
sports venues UM have it beat by quite a bit.

(09:36):
But oh, theatrical it has to. Yeah, it's either movie
or theatrical or something. But it's the largest venue of
its kind in in the United States from what I see. Yeah,
and for many years they they I mean they had
specials every now and then, but it was sort of
just a movie theater. Yeah, and here's the thing, you
could go see the movies. I think especially it started

(09:57):
to take off in the fifties, like before they would
have premieres for movies, and the Rockets would like perform
at the premiere. And then at some point, I don't
know if it was Russell Markeret or Roxy Rothefell, or
somebody said, well, why why just do this once? How
about every time somebody comes to see a movie at
the Radio City Music Hall, We'll have the rock the

(10:18):
Rockets perform before the movie. Can you imagine that? It
would be pretty cool? I mean, like imagine seeing that
and then being like, okay, now for the movie. That's
just it would be a different experience for sure. But
it was rough on the Rockets because not all the
movies were successes. So they would change the Rockets show

(10:40):
for each movie. So if a movie came along and
it was just a terrible flop, this whole choreographed routine
that they had learned would be out the door in
two days. And now all of a sudden they had
to learn a new one quick because there was a
new movie coming into replace that one. So they did
a different routine for each film. Yes, interesting, and sometimes
they would have to learn it in a matter of hours,

(11:02):
like around midnight before the next day's performances. I wonder
if it was tied to the film sometimes, I think
not all the time. I think it was. I think
it was in some cases, but I think more than anything,
they would change the routine just because the people coming
to see a different film would want to see a
different routine. Okay, I got you, that makes sense. Yeah.

(11:25):
Uh So in the nineteen forties they were one of
the first groups to sign up for the United Service
Organization and go and perform for the troops. Uh And
in the nineteen fifties is when things really started to
kind of take their toll. Like they were performing sometimes
up to five times a day. Uh And so they

(11:46):
said they built a dormitory there, which you know, they
could live in. I don't think they were required to,
but it really was to accommodate the fact that they
were working almost around the clock, whether because learning these
new routines like you said, and then performing up the
five times a day really grueling stuff. It was basically
the prototype for Google, just just making it so your

(12:09):
employees didn't have to leave. Oh interesting, you know what
I'm saying, Just go sleep in your pod. So the Rockets, UM,
their fame started to grow pretty pretty quickly. Um And
they made like a few steps, if you'll forgive the
pun um along the way. That kind of cemented them

(12:30):
as a as much a piece of America as apple
pie or baseball or moms or what have you. So
the fifties were also big for the Rockets too, because
they joined the Macy's Thanksgiving they prayed in nineteen fifty seven.
I think, yeah, that was the big the big move, yeah,

(12:53):
because they went from just a group that you either
had to go to New York or go off to
war to see um too. While they're in my living
room now, these girls are high kicking on my television
and I'm just loving life, all right, So let's take
a break. It's nineteen fifties. Good times are ahead, and

(13:13):
then dark times come in the seventies because it's New
York City in the seventies and everything was kind of
awful then. So we'll be back right after this. Okay, Hey,

(13:51):
before we get started to check, I want to say
we put on a pretty good stage show ourselves. We've
been known to and we've got some coming up, you know,
plug plug. Yeah, there's no high kicking involved. There could
be if people demanded it. I would be willing to
do a little high kicking. So are we talking about
some shows? Yeah, let's do the real quick, all right.

(14:12):
So we're we're going out west for our annual sojourn
in January where we go to Seattle and we go
to Portland and then we end up at SF sketch
Fest like we always do in mid January. Yeah, and
I've got an End of the World live show on
Friday at sketch Fest, and you have a movie Crush
on Saturday at sketch Fest, right. Yeah, I'm doing a

(14:33):
matinee show at one o'clock on Saturday, January nineteenth with
Busy Phillips is my guest, nice and my show is
Friday the eighteenth that Cafe du Nord did I am
my own guest, fine solo. And then I have another
one in Brooklyn on the at the Bellhouse too. Oh
I thought you already did that one. No, huh, it

(14:54):
got postponed to January. Great, Yes, so you haven't missed it.
There's still time for you to come. Fantastic. Uh. So
that is our little plug, how about that? Yeah? And
of course our our big stuff you should know show
is that the Castro on what is that Thursday night?
That is Thursday. The Yeah, so come see us at

(15:15):
the More in Seattle, Revolution Hall in Portland, at the
Castro in San Francisco. Check out our individual little shows.
Are are cute little individual shows, and there's plenty of
information on s y s K live dot com. That's right.
So now it's the seventies. Mhm. New York is uh,

(15:36):
it's it's suffering, which is crazy when you look at
pictures of New York City and the seventies and early
eighties even just hard to believe how bad things were there. Yeah,
it was pretty rough. And actually it's funny, like you
can thank Rudolph Giuliani for I guess, cleaning up the
town if you want to call it that. Okay have

(15:57):
you ever heard that? What too, Rudolph Giuliani for cleaning
up the town? Huh uh sure, okay, good for him. So, um,
I saw him in the park one day. You did,
what was he doing talking to a duck? No, he was.
He was doing like a photo op. But I had
friends in from uh, from another country, even, I think,
and I said, hey, guys, that's that's the mayor of

(16:19):
New York over there, and they're like, oh, that's nice.
I went it's kind of a big deal to just
walk around and see the Mayor of New York Did
they say have a chalk? I think they're Australian. Actually, yeah,
that was my Australian impression. That was good. Then that's
pretty that's a great story, Chuck, Yeah, it's fine. But uh,
for them, they didn't understand fully that the Mayor of

(16:42):
New York City is is Uh, it's it's quite a
big deal to see him just out and about in
the city. I I have a similar story. I was
watching um one of the first few seasons of Law
and Order on my television one day, and there was
the Mayor of New York City, really Rudy Giuliani. Interesting,
but I you it was a big, big deal. I

(17:02):
got another story, Okay, did you know and the Michael
Bay film Pearl Harbor that they camped in Bruce Willis's
John McClean character from die Hard in one hospital scene.
How just digitalie, that's an anachronism right now, that doesn't
make any sense. Did they really do that? Yeah? There
if you can look at up Pearl Harbor John McClean

(17:24):
and there's like screenshots of of John McLean and his
white tank top just briefly for a blip in the
background of one of the hospital scenes in Pearl Harbor.
It's so weird. So you know, there's a nude woman
in the window of one of the buildings that the
rescuers fly by. The Disney movie from the sixties. Yeah,

(17:46):
all these weird movie easter eggs just board editors. I
guess that's exactly what it hit for juvenile editors. All Right,
so it's the nineteen seventies in New York. None of
this has happened yet that we're talking about. The rescuers did.
The rescuers did, but there was no die Hard. There
was no Pearl Harbor movie except for Toro Toora Toora,

(18:07):
but no bad Pearl Harbor movie. Okay, uh No. Rudy
Giuliani he was alive, sure, but he was not in
the mayor of New York City and in the nineteen seventies,
not as far as we know, who was at that
was Ed Cotch he was the eighties, I think was
he maybe late seventies. All right, we'll get that straightened out.
But New York City is going down the toilet, including

(18:30):
believe it or not, Radio, the Great Radio City Music Hall,
much like our own legendary Fox Theater in Atlanta, UH
was facing shutdown and demolition potentially. Yeah, there was a
rough transition from some of those old movie palaces after
people stopped well going to movie palaces and moved out
to the suburbs. Um, a lot of those beautiful places

(18:53):
were left out in the cold, and some of them
didn't well, a lot of them didn't make it, but
some of them almost didn't make it. Like you said,
the Fox and Radio City and apparently it was going
to be turned into a parking lot. And Belushi himself
got onto the news desk at Saturn and Live and
was railing against the demise of Radio City Music Hall.
And the Roquettes too had said, hey, hey, hey, hey,

(19:17):
this is our home. This is an iconic place. Let
us help, like go raise awareness and funds to to
save this place. And they did. They were successful. They
got it put on the National Historic Register of Historic
Places and it has a Landmark designation. Not just the
buildings buildings in New York with the Landmark designation, but

(19:38):
only a hundred and ten interiors have the landmark designation,
and Radio City Music Hall is one of them, which
means that its interior is so amazingly beautiful that is
to be protected landmark in the United States. Yeah, I've
never been in there. I haven't either. I've been to
Carnegie Hall, but never Radio City. Uh, that's on the
list for sure. But um, it's interesting because they tried

(20:00):
to Their whole deal was is they wanted exclusive movie bookings.
Like they were they were to be the only theater
in town that would be showing a particular movie, so
that that limits there, uh, their pool immediately, and then
they really prefer g rated movies. They had really strict

(20:20):
screening criteria, so that just it narrowed down their their
movie pool so small that they would go weeks and
weeks at a time where nothing happened there. Yeah, so
they would just shut down because again, remember like the
Rockets are a dance troupe that you would see before
you saw a movie. So if they're not showing movies,
they're not showing the Rocketts. And at this time in

(20:42):
the seventies, the Rockets said, Okay, we're our talent is
being wasted here. At least let us go take the
show on the road. While you guys are sitting around
waiting for another movie to come along. And they actually
they gained that right because their union dancers. We should say,
we'll get into that a little more later, but they
made it's to get the right to take the show
on the road and they really started to make a

(21:03):
name for themselves in the seventies. Uh, in places like
Tahoe in Vegas. Apparently made a huge fan out of
Sammy Davis Jr. Who would come see the same show
like night after night when they when they play in
Vegas or Tahoe or whatever. He was just fascinated by
the rockcats. Love that for sure. Little Sammy, what a
great guy. We should do a show on him. Apparently

(21:24):
he also, oh yeah, I'm done with that. He also
surprised them on stage once by joining them on stage
for a dance number, which apparently he knew because he'd
seen the show so many times, which that's a pretty
Sammy thing to do in Las Vegas. High kicking, Well,
his his kicks weren't so high. Run out on stage, unbidden, uninvited.

(21:44):
He's a little guy, he was. He was the littlest
rockette I imagine. Wow, but he was too. So, Uh,
they're doing their show on the road, here and there.
They're making ends meet. Radio City is struggling, even though
it was designated as a landmark. The eighties were not
super kind to Radio City either. Um. They very famously
appeared at the halftime show the Super Bowl, and um,

(22:08):
they're trying to change with the times. Uh, they're dancing
it uh in the nineties at different places. And they're
always doing their Christmas deal throughout all this after you know,
they started doing that. And what was at fifty seven?
Oh they did the Macy's Prade in thirty two. Oh no,
I'm sorry, I thought you meant the Christmas Spectacular. Yeah,
the Macy's Parade was the Thanksgiving Prairie was fifty seven. Yeah.

(22:31):
So they've got their their holiday stuff, their Easter specials,
their Christmas specials. Uh. They're dancing at inaugurations for George W. Bush. Um.
In fact, they came under under fire for dancing at
Trump's inauguration. Well, the dance troop almost was split asunder
over whether they wanted to do that or not. And
it was a big deal. It was a huge deal actually,

(22:53):
and they had revived the Easter extravaganza. They renamed it
the New York Springs spectacular the year before or and
they said they took a year off and I don't
think they ever went back to it because of all
the controversy over two thousand sixteen and the inauguration. It
was just such an unusual experience for the Rocketts. Um

(23:13):
like they're they're just like America personified. And for there
to be a huge national conversation about, you know, them
performing at an inauguration. It was a big deal for
the organization for sure, especially for the dancers who were
like career rockets. Yeah exactly, Um, should we talk a
little bit about just being a rocket? I think we should, man,

(23:34):
because we've done it. We have. I mean, there was
a brief time although we've basically entered Dina Lohan territory
now Lindsay Lohan's mom, she very famously lied about being
a rocket. Yeah, she said that her she has a
background in show business. Um, she was a rocket for

(23:56):
a while, and some journalists went and dug around and
they found out that she was definitely They had no
record whatsoever of her, under any name, maiden or married,
ever being a rocket. It's always amazing to me when
very provable or disprovable public lies are told by people
like that, or like politicians who say that, you know,

(24:19):
like they've fought in a war when they didn't, like
that's happened. Uh, It's just I don't know why people
say things like that. That's like, no, we kind of
can go check that really easily. Yeah, even but even
without like you know, the check ability of it to
to just like you know, lie in an interview to
puff yourself up. I guess, like I don't understand the

(24:41):
psychology of it. Is it just because you don't feel
like you're given the interview or enough of what they need?
Or do they did they lay some sort of trick
that led you into it? Or I don't understand it either. Yeah,
I wonder if people start to believe these lies, Like
if you make up a story about yourself and you
just stick with it for so long. It's weird. Psychology, Yes,

(25:01):
human psychology is indeed quite weird. Didn't you have a
web show called Psychology is Weird? Nuts? Psychology is Nuts,
a little short lived video thing. Yeah, I can check
that out. Everyone. Oh, we'll take a break. I am

(25:46):
We're back. Yes, So we were going to tell everyone
about our experiences rockets because we're Dina Lohan. So here's
the thing. If you're a rocket and you've been doing
this for ten years, you're pretty long lived rocket. Although
I think I saw um one woman who is a roquette.

(26:09):
And if I'm talking weird all of a sudden, it's
because I am stalling everybody looking for her name and
I'm not finding it. But I think it's Lindsay How.
I'm almost positive her name is Lindsay How. I believe
she has been a rocket for fourteen years. That's a
very long time to be a rocket, because, as you
will soon learn, being a rocket is extremely difficult and

(26:32):
very demanding, and inside of show business and out there
widely seen is probably some of the best professional dancers
in the business, and certainly some of the most disciplined
professional dancers in the business as well. Um, but it's
really hard to do for a really long time, and
one of the main reasons why is because their work

(26:53):
schedule is extremely grueling. But but with Lindsay um How,
she would make the same amount of money that a
first year rockette would make because they're all paid the same,
they work the same hours, they do the same work.
Some of them are kind of promoted as like the
faces of the Rocketts. Um the company I think the

(27:14):
Madison Square Garden company that owns Radio City Music Hall,
and the Rocketts are really protective of their image and um,
like they aren't free to just kind of talk to
the media or whatever. There's some that are kind of
like you and you and you. You're the Rocketts. You're
the face of the Rockets. But other than that, everyone
does the same amount of work, same amount of ours,

(27:34):
same amount of pay. And one of the reasons they
do that is because the point of the Rockets is
not to have standouts. It's not like other dance troops
or other Broadway troops or anything like that. There's not
meant to be stars. The Rocketts are the star and
they're meant to be one single unit that moves and
works and lives together. Yeah, and their their union. I

(27:55):
so uh they make there. They make most of their
money over holiday season. So they walk out after a
couple of months with about forty grand in their pocket,
which isn't bad. Um, you know, for a couple of
months work, but it is, like you said, super grueling. Um,
if you want to become a Rockett, you're not required to.

(28:16):
But there is something called the Rockets Summer Intensive Dance
Program where you can go, you can enroll, you can
spend six hours a day learning uh, learning everything um
over the course of about a week, UM. All the choreography, UM,
how to how to get in that shape, stay in
that shape, how to prevent injuries, um, and sort of

(28:37):
the business of it all. And like I said, you
don't have to do that, but they do place a
lot of Rocketts if you attend that Intensive Dance program.
Well some I saw out of a thousand that have
taken it, sixty have gone on to actually become Rockets. Yeah,
because it's very tough to become a Rockett too. Yeah,
I mean I get the feeling that's that has less

(28:58):
to do with the program then, just how hard it
is to make that cut right right exactly. So Uh,
not only do you have to be fit enough to
kick those famous kicks up to twelve hundred times a
day through all these shows, but there's one, uh, there's
one clothing change you gotta do all these costume changes,

(29:20):
but there's one in particular in between, uh, the Parade
of the Wooden Soldiers in New York at Christmas that
you have to be completely changed out in seventy eight seconds.
Seventy eight seconds, and these costumes are not like super
easy to take off, the wooden Soldier one in particular,
pretty complex. Um, So seventy eight seconds probably goes by

(29:43):
extremely fast. Yeah, and there's there's thirty six Rockets total
UH performing on stage, but there are eighty certified Rocketts
total overall. You have a morning cast and afternoon cast,
and then you have for each of those shows you
have for UH swings or extras per so, like if

(30:04):
someone's like I just twisted my ankle, I can't do this.
They have four women waiting in the wings for each
of those morning and afternoon shows. Yeah. So the thing is, though,
is they're working six days a week, or the Rocketts
are performing six days a week. If you have two casts,
rather than work all work both casts six days a week. Um,

(30:26):
they'll they'll alternate to give one another a day off.
And they'll do that on days sometimes where there's four
performances in a day, which means that if you're a Rocket,
there are days and I've seen also sometimes they're back
to back days where you're where you're doing four performances
in a single day. Four ninety minute performances, and that's

(30:48):
when those kicks that you mentioned, Chuck comes in, because
some of those shows have three hundred high kicks, and
we're talking eye level kicks, and if you do four
of them in a day, you've just kicked at eye
level are times in a day, And from some of
the articles I've read, that is about as much as
your body can possibly take. Yeah, I mean, they they

(31:09):
all in the interviews I saw. There was that great
New York Times article where they really sort of dive
into a day in the life of a rocket during
the holiday season, and they all kind of are are like,
there's no way to prepare your body for this, Like
we are in the best shape that a dancer can
be in, and it just destroys us to the point where,
like one of them said that just taking their stockings

(31:30):
off at the the night is laborious. And you know,
with their commute, depending on where they come from, some
of them are are awake and either commuting or or
rehearsing or performing twenty hours in a day, just grueling,
grueling stuff. But across the board, they also all say

(31:51):
that it is the only job that they want. It
is a great sorority and sisterhood and an honor to
be one of these over the years. Three in women
who have made that cut you never were like, well,
it's really not worth it in the end. Yeah, no,
the I mean, at least the ones who are allowed
to speak to the media certainly have a lot of

(32:13):
positive things to say about being a Rocket and like
how familial it is and how you're just hanging out
with your best friends, and um, it is a great
gig for a dancer, especially as one of these articles
pointed out, if you're a dancer who doesn't sing. Yeah,
that's a rare thing to get that kind of a gig.
I think it's one of the few, uh for jazz

(32:33):
and tap dancers were singing is not involved. But also
not just like a good gig, a good paying gig
to like forty grand for a couple of months of performances.
A lot of the Rocketts, um, they don't live in
New York. They'll come live in New York during the
season when they need to rehearse and then do the
Christmas spectacular and then they go home. So they might

(32:55):
live in New York from September to um the end
of December, and then they go back home, and wherever
home is, forty Graham probably goes a lot further than
it does in New York, unless they live in San Francisco,
in which case it is probably it goes even faster.
But um, it's a really good paying gig. They also
have benefits because their union in their contract workers, they

(33:17):
have year round benefits and and forty Graham so they
can go work as pilates, instructors, as nutritionists, as all
the other stuff that they do during the year normally,
and then they come back and they they're a rocket.
But what something I thought was pretty cool it was
even if you're say a tenth year roquette, um, you
get invited back like once you're a roquette, you're in

(33:39):
as a roquette, but you still have to audition in
April like everybody else. So you audition in April, and
if you make the cut, um you start to go
get in shape, and then rehearsals I think start in September,
and rehearsals are six hours, six days a week for
basically the six weeks leading up to the performances, which

(34:00):
run from mid November till I saw December thirty one.
I also saw tickets available for January one show, so
I don't know if they extended it or not. Yeah,
and it's it's funny like it's forty grand sounds like
a lot of money over a couple of months, and
it is. But when you break it down per show,
it it breaks down to about a hundred and thirty
five bucks a show, which all of a sudden, it

(34:20):
doesn't seem uh like great money. No, but that's what
you make as a standard cast member for a Broadway
union dancer or actor variety performer, I think is the
nion they're they're part of. So no, it doesn't seem
like much. But that's another reason why the Rockette gig
is so good. You get over time on those days

(34:41):
when you do a third and a fourth show, you're
getting overtime pay um. And there's multiple shows in on
multiple days, so you can I mean, if another actor
at a different gig, working the same days over the
same period would not make that amount of money that
already grand because they wouldn't have any overtime, they wouldn't

(35:02):
have that many shows. Yeah, and I don't think anyone
like dreams of going to Broadway to become rich and wealthy,
like part of the allure Broadway as you're with the
best of the best, and you can say I danced,
or I sang or I acted on Broadway with Brian Cranston.
I saw him on Broadway. Yeah. I saw Michael McKeon
on Broadway. An accomplice. The audience was the accomplice. That

(35:27):
was the big twist. Well, you just ruined that one.
Was it good? It was great. It was one of
the greatest stage performances I've ever seen. I saw Lenny
live on stage Derek st Hubbinds. Yeah, this is before
I knew him as anything but Lenny. I was like eight. Oh,
so this is a while ago. Um Cranston is in

(35:52):
something new on Broadway. Now, I think to network, right, man,
I want to see that. Sure, but that's good. I
saw that was described as get this Chuck, get ready
for this boy. Electrifying. Really Broadway show described as electrifying.
His performance was electrifying. I don't think I've ever heard
that word used for the theater. Um. So another thing

(36:16):
though about the Rockets, even though they do make most
of their money over those couple of months and then
they have the rest of the year too. Um and
in a lot of cases be like a dance instructor
or something like that, or fitness instructor. UM. They increasingly
are working more and more, uh, more and more months
out of the year, whether it's um as ambassadors for

(36:38):
the Rockets or doing like video things for YouTube. UM.
They are increasingly called on to do other other things. Yeah,
a lot the So what is the woman who came
along as the league choreographer and director and really kind
of punched punched it up even further. Her name is
Linda Haberman, and she took over I think in like

(36:59):
the mid two thousand's, maybe two thousan eight, and she
kind of brought like this whole new not new, it's
not a whole new thing. She just kind of she
made it a little more pro feminist, a little more
like you go girl kind of vibe to the Rockets
than they had before they were seen, you know, rehearsing

(37:20):
in the rehearsal gear rather than like full costume. And
it was just kind of like, um, the the intent
I get was to make them more Yeah. Yes, because
one of the great criticisms of the Rockets is that
they're nothing but like of teeth and legs, just a
bunch of women out there kicking like forming one large

(37:41):
uber woman who can kick her legs amazingly high and
has like the widest gleaming ist teeth ever you've ever seen. UM,
and that that it was really kind of just objectification
of women like to like by definition, and uh, Linda
Hammerman like really kind of took that and tried to
unravel it quite a bit. And she also took the show.

(38:04):
So we should talk a little bit about the show.
It's a it's depending on who you are. It's either
like just beloved traditional Americana, kitchy, UM, offensively sexist. Who knows,
but I think the first two are kind of the
predominant views of it. It's kitchy and sweet, or it's
it's you know, endearing Americana. UM. And Linda Haberman kind

(38:30):
of took that and tried to punch it up into
the century a little more. And there's like way more
visual effects than there were before. UM, there's like a
three D component I think to this year's show or
recent year shows like the whole The whole theme is
like a girl wants a video game and her mom
is kind of showing her. Um, you know why that's
not so great because it's a violent video game. There's um,

(38:52):
there's a lot of kind of updating that's that the
Rockets have undergone in the last few years. And that
was largely from what I understand Linda Haberm is doing.
I think she was the one that digitally inserted John
McClean from die Hard. She was he swoops in in
the New York Follies section. Now, I'm glad they updated
things because this was a prime case of like a

(39:15):
blood American tradition that could use some refreshing and you
can't highlight them as humans and individuals and still you
can have both, you know, and you can still have
that desired effect of uniformity and precision that they're known for,
you know, right exactly, But they don't have to be
just like faceless and nameless, you know. Now. And I

(39:35):
read a few like feminist critiques of the Rocketts, and
they seem to have been kind of outdated. Like I
really feel like Linda Haberman did a good job at like, yeah,
she she kind of took those those critiques and changed
them in a lot of ways. Um. One of the
other criticisms is that it wasn't until ninety five that

(39:58):
the Rockets are their first woman of color as a
member of their cast, of their troop. The first woman
of color was a Japanese woman named Setsuko Mada Haashi,
and in she joined UM. The first African American woman
joined her name was Jennifer Jones. And the reasoning, apparently

(40:19):
it was Mark Markert who was like, no, it from
all I saw, it had nothing to do with racism.
It was the idea that it was going to disrupt
the visual unity of the dance line if there were um,
you know, differing skin colors in this dance line. And
apparently he was so um not so about it, like

(40:42):
you would get in trouble if you had a sun tan,
Like that's how that's how he wanted everything to be
homogeneous and in unison. Well, regardless in the twenty century,
in the late twentieth century that that sentiment didn't hold up.
And I guess shortly after he died is when they
started um adding women of color more to the Rockets troupe. Yeah,

(41:02):
and then they saw people of color in that same
dance line and they went, oh, it's still awesome and
synchronized and looks great exactly, and from his grave he went, no,
he started rolling around in it. Oh goodness. So you
haven't seen the Rockets Christmas Spectacular. Huh do you mean
live in person? Yeah? I have not. I have not either.

(41:24):
Are we going to go now? I think we should.
I want to know if any Rockettes listen to the show. Yeah,
that would make me super super happy. It would for
me as well. Uh. And the only other small tid
better have as they have microphones in their heels of
their shoes. I saw that too. They used to They
used to play recordings of their um tapping right. Oh

(41:46):
I don't know, and that that does not surprise me. Yeah,
and then they figured out how to do the actual
like broadcast the actual tampling. So we're gonna go one day, Chuck,
We're gonna go through the Christmas Spectacular. We're gonna go
see the live Nativity with the real camel and donkeys
and the wooden toy soldier um March where they fall

(42:06):
down like a domino and slow motion. It's pretty amazing stuff. Uh.
And if you want to know more about the Rockets,
then go to Radio City Music Hall and find them there.
How about that that sounds great. Uh well, since I
said that, then it's time for a listener, ma'am. I'm
calling this. I was a Search and Rescue UM victim volunteer.

(42:30):
So this guy his dad. I'm gonna summarize at the
beginning of it because it's kind of long, but his
dad lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and as
a member of the local s a R team, and
so they were like, we need someone to play the
victim here, and he was like, I'll do it. This
guy's son. So here's what happened. He said, off into

(42:50):
the heavily wooded area and did he said. I did
everything I could to think of to try and fool
the dog in the handler. I ran in circles, went
back over my own trail. I threw off my hat.
I even found some garbage and rolled around in it.
Didn't ask my scent. Once I had done everything I
could think of to try and fool the dog and
handler that would be tracking me, I found a nice
comfy spot up in a bush on a hill where

(43:14):
I could just watch the dog in the handler try
and track me. I thought it had done a pretty
good job, but once I called the handler and let
him know I was in position. Was all over very quickly.
I sat back, and everyone was shocked to watch the
dog basically retrace my trail, step by step, every move
I made, all those circles, finding my hat, even that

(43:36):
I've thrown off, even getting into that pile of garbage
that I'd rolled around in. I love that this dog
is just basically making a fool look for Ryan up
there in the mountains, so he said. Needless to say,
the dog found me in short order. Gave him lots
of praise uh for the great job he had done. Thankfully,
I was never in any real danger, so my experience

(43:57):
was a lot more enjoyable, obviously than when blurt in
real need of a certain search and rescue dog. Thanks
for the great episodes, guys, keep me company on overnight
shifts and make it all go by quicker. So if
you read this on the show, can I get a
shout out to my girlfriend Tarn She would be thrilled
to hear her name get called out on the show.

(44:18):
I think that just happened, so that is from Ryan.
I like the the gusto that Ryan put into trying
to foold this dog. Ll holding a garbage, and I
equally loved that this dog was like whatever. So thank
you Ryan, thank you Terran for listening, and thank you
to the star dog, sure scruffy. If you want to
get in touch of this, you can go to our

(44:40):
website Stuff you Should Know dot com. You can find
all of our social links there. I have a website
called the Josh clark Way dot com. And you can
send an email to Chuck, Jerry and Me at Stuff
podcast at how stuff Works dot com for more on
this and thousands of other top is it how staff

(45:01):
works dot com mhm

Stuff You Should Know News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Hosts And Creators

Josh Clark

Josh Clark

Chuck Bryant

Chuck Bryant

Show Links

Order Our BookStoreSYSK ArmyAboutRSS

Popular Podcasts

2. Dateline NBC

2. Dateline NBC

Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

3. Amy and T.J. Podcast

3. Amy and T.J. Podcast

"Amy and T.J." is hosted by renowned television news anchors Amy Robach and T. J. Holmes. Hosts and executive producers Robach and Holmes are a formidable broadcasting team with decades of experience delivering headline news and captivating viewers nationwide. Now, the duo will get behind the microphone to explore meaningful conversations about current events, pop culture and everything in between. Nothing is off limits. “Amy & T.J.” is guaranteed to be informative, entertaining and above all, authentic. It marks the first time Robach and Holmes speak publicly since their own names became a part of the headlines. Follow @ajrobach, and @officialtjholmes on Instagram for updates.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.