Needless to say, this city is famously full of such characters, but these two women are especially interesting to me. I hope one day someone decides to examine their lives more, make a film, or a book perhaps. In the meantime, I think I might just take a trip to see what their house is like on Dauphine St. now, if I can find the address.
Here are a few quotes from a great introduction to them online, part of a play about them produced a few years back:
"Flora and Piroska immigrated to the U.S. from the Jewish shtetl of Nagybanya,
Hungary, in 1922 to pursue their career as "international dancers," performing
under the names Nita and Zita. Photos indicate that their act combined burlesque
and acrobatics. Together, they performed all over the United States, and, as far
as we can tell, Shanghai, Panama, and perhaps Paris and Egypt. The sisters were
known for carrying their elaborate, handmade clothes and costumes with them in
two steamer trunks.In the late 1940's, the sisters settled in New Orleans and
became quite reclusive...."
"Their home became their refuge. They painted their entire house -- inside and
out -- in brightly colored sponge patterns, and painted most of their furniture
with intricate spider web figures. On the rare occasions that they did leave the
house, they dressed in fine handmade clothes of their own design.Flora and
Piroska died in 1985 and 1991 respectively. They are buried in the pauper's
section of Hebrew's Rest Cemetery in New Orleans. The only people present at
Piroska's funeral were a Rabbi and Betty Kirkland, the sisters' next door
"Nita and Zita lived in their house on Dauphine Street in the Faubourg Marigny from approximately 1947 until their respective deaths in 1985 and 1991. They were known for making all of the repairs to their home themselves, including repairs to the roof. Always resourceful, they fixed the floor of their home with tin can lids hammered in with tiny nails, and covered over holes in the wall with fabric. If they were known for their diligent work ethic, they were NOTORIOUS for their wild aesthetic: they painted their entire house, inside and out, with wild, abstract patterns. Bead curtains hung in the archways of their house, and photos of them in their showgirl prime lined the walls. In photos of Nita and Zita taken in their home when they were older, the painted walls and bead curtains give the effect of a fantastic nightclub or shimmering stage."
"The house was literally packed with thousands of pieces of handmade clothing,
hundreds of photos of Nita and Zita performing, handmade bead curtains, handmade
placards advertising Nita and Zita performances, and more...."
(Here's a dress of theirs that was offered for sale a while back, now sold. )
You can read more here and