"What does it mean to be found obscene in New York? This is the most sophisticated city in the country....If anyone is the first person to be found obscene in New York, he must feel utterly depraved."
--Lenny Bruce, after his conviction for obscenity in New York's Cafe Au Go Go trial.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Lenny Bruce was the spirit of hipness and rebellion. His underdog, idealistic humor took on every American sacred cow, from capitalism to organized religion to sexual mores. Fans were attracted to Bruce's dark sexiness and brutal honesty. Kenneth Tyson described Bruce as "fully, quiveringly conscious."
Bruce's rise to the status of cultural icon began in the mid-1950s in the strip clubs of southern California where Bruce began to develop the iconoclastic edginess that would be his trademark. In his autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, Bruce described the importance of the freedom that came from the burlesque circuit...