Will Dean of The Desert Sun, a Palm Springs publication, recently interviewed Joani Waldor, an 82-year-old female drummer. Starting at the age of 11 in her home state of Minneapolis she went on to be a full time performer and even to own the gay nightclub, Joani Presents in Los Angeles. She can be seen drumming in Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis.
Our editor-in-chief Mindy Abovitz is quoted on the second page of the article.
“Monroe was standing beside her drum set as a scene was set up, Hannan said, and remarked in her famously breathy voice: ‘I just love the drums. I wish you’d teach me to play.’
Hannan was speechless. In that moment, she was as starstruck as Monroe seemed nervous.
‘She was a sweet, sweet person,’ Hannan said about the star. ‘She was not dumb at all. Always late? Yes.’
Hannan counts the film among her career highlights. But it was not without challenges.
Getting the part required acting in a way that made her uncomfortable. She knew from prior experience performing with bands on USO tours that an “extremely feminine” drummer was wanted.
‘I was forced to be a heterosexual woman,’ said Hannan, who is a lesbian. ‘I had to constantly flirt.’
Though she got dressed up and ‘swung my hips for the interview,’ Hannan said her confident drumming got her the part. The producers wanted band members who were attractive but they didn’t want dainty performers, she said.
It’s not uncommon even today for women musicians to feel pressured to be sexy or ‘dress in a certain way,’ said Mindy Abovitz, editor of Tom Tom Magazine, a publication dedicated to female drummers.
Hannan is a pioneer, Abovitz said.
‘It’s still a very atypical thing to come across a woman or a girl drumming,’ she added. ‘Times haven’t changed that much. To have these role models as strong as her and who were in movies, that strengthens our future.'”
Read “To The Beat of Her Own Drum” by Will Dean here.