Who are you?
Karen Abbott is a journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Sin in the Second City, an exploration of the role of brothels in the cultural and political life of turn-of-the-century Chicago. Prior to publishing Sin in the Second City – which took her three years to write and research – Abbott worked for Philadelphia magazine and for Philadelphia Weekly. Abbott, a native of Philadelphia, received her BA from Villanova University in 1995. The critically acclaimed Sin in the Second City tells the story of Chicago’s Everleigh Club, a famous high-end whorehouse that was known as the “finest brothel in the land.” Abbott lives with her husband in Atlanta and is working on her second book, a portrait of Gypsy Rose Lee and Depression-era New York.
Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City. I’m from Philadelphia originally. I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in a town called . . . right outside Philadelphia called Norristown which is a sort of blue collar . . . blue collar edging towards rough town. Probably the most famous person who’s from there is Tommy Lasorda. And if it gives you any implication about my high school . . . I went to Catholic school for 16 years, which of course, you know, I’m sure the nuns will be very proud. I’m here writing about prostitutes and my next book is about strippers. (Chuckles) So I’m sure that they would find something to say about that. But Tommy Lasorda is from my town, and he used to come back frequently about once a year because he had . . . he had nieces and nephews in the school, and would give us pep talks about how we, too, could escape this town; and we’re not stuck there. And he would try to sort of bring this message of entrepreneurship and you know lift yourself up by your boot straps kind of thing. It was . . . It was an odd town because if there were any wealthy pockets it was blue collar wealthy. A couple of my friends who had money, their families owned construction companies and carpet laying companies. And most of their fathers were high school dropouts who began these companies. A lot of random Mafioso ties. It was . . . It was kind of a colorful place to grow up, so . .
Recorded On: 1/22/08
A Catholic school graduate writing about strippers and prostitutes. The nuns, Abbott says, would be proud.
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International poker champion Liv Boeree teaches decision-making for Big Think Edge.
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