The Legend of Mitzi Dupree

Photo Credit: Surrey Leader (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada) · 2 Feb. 1983

Some would argue that it is among the greatest compliments to be immortalized in a song. For exotic dancer Mitzi Dupree, British rock band Deep Purple bestowed her with this honour in 1987, naming a tune after her and alluding to some of her famous skills in the lyrics:

Flying to Salt Lake City

Seats 3A and B

I was down and needed a window

But in 3A sat Mitzi Dupree

She said, "Hi I am Mitzi the queen of the ping pong

Where you going boy?"

I said, "Nowhere"

She said, "I'm moving on"

I thought what is this

I cannot resist, here she is

And I've always wanted a girl with a name

A name like Mitzi Dupree

With a reputation that covered states, provinces and decades, Dupree was a legend in her time. A quick search pulls up several newspaper articles detailing her presence in bars around Alberta and BC, and more specifically, her ‘act’ which often involved ping pong balls, cigarettes, flutes, and other curious objects one would not usually associate with female exotic entertainment during the early 1980s.

Deep Purple wrote the song, Mitzi Dupree in 1987 to honour the famed dancer.

Photo Credit: Riff Relevant.

Attitudes towards exotic entertainment at the time were not as stiff as they had been in the earlier decades, but there were still many who opposed the industry — especially with an act as notorious as Dupree’s. Throughout her career, she would garner several criminal charges for it, in fact.

An article in the Calgary Herald from 1984 notes that the twenty-four-year-old Dupree (also referred to as Dupuis), whose real name was Michelle Pradia, had to appear in Calgary court to defend “two charges of performing an immoral, indecent and obscene theatrical act stemming from shows in hotel lounges in Calgary and Lethbridge.” A few years prior, she had to do the same in Kamloops court, when the RCMP charged her for violating local obscenity laws after a few performances at a local bar.

In all cases, she defended her act as humorous, “I even laugh sometimes,” she told the court in Calgary.

Others disagreed, however. One woman who saw Dupree’s show in Lethbridge said she found it degrading to all women and that “[She] was worried about the obscenity regarding youth…and the attitudes and beliefs this set up about women,” according to the Calgary Herald.