The Story of Granny Go-Go by K.P. Kendall
from Wig Out! #19 (January, 1992)
Granny Go-Go (Sylvia Eads) was born on Halloween in Centralia, Washington back in 1910 (that's right kids, this chick is 81!). She had a difficult childhood at best. Her very early years were spent growing up in Washington. After her mother died when Sylvia was eight years old, she was sent to a strict boarding school in Toronto. It wasn't until the 60s that she took the name Granny Go-Go. After battling medical problems and depression due to the loss of her only son, doctors finally sat her down and said, "Listen baby, you gotta move! Shake your thing, work it! You gotta GO, GO, GO!
So go she did, working every gyp joint and watering hole from here to California. Dancing in now-deceased Tacoma clubs like Esmarelda's, Scotty's, The Winthrop Hotel, The Sherwood Inn and just about any lounge in Long Beach, California that would pay her. Back home in Tacoma things really started to move when Granny managed to wiggle her way onto a local TV show, "Stu Martin's Double Date at the Movies", where after competing with other "talent", she won. Thanks to call-ins she became a regular on "Stu Baby's" as she calls him.
(Here's Granny entertaining at a private party in Tacoma.)
Then finally her big break came in 1980 (or somewhere thereabouts) while living in California. With the help of some financial donations from neighbors and local businesses such as the Chamber of Commerce, the light company and a drug and grocery store, Granny Go-Go traveled to Burbank where she auditioned for the immortal "Gong Show". She heard they were auditioning for talent one Friday and gave them a call. When they asked what her talent was she said, "I'm a little old lady, I dance and I'm called Granny Go-Go." They said, "Be here Monday."
Before long all America watched as she go-go'ed her way into second place and into the hearts of millions. But don't fret about her mere second place winning. Due to contractual agreements and lotsa find print involved, with a first place win she would not have been able to appear on its sister show "The $1.98 Beauty Pageant" (Hey, Chuck Barris was no dummy; with Granny he'd struck gold!). This then led to appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, The Mike Douglas Show and even The Jerry Lewis Telethon. At one time during her illustrious career she even danced where showgirls reign supreme, Las Vegas, Nevada.
After working the Hollywood circuit, she made her way back to T-town where she danced regularly at the world-famous Java Jive. She still hangs out at the Java Jive and even celebrated her 81st birthday (what else?) dancing. Area nursing homes have also been the setting for many a Frug, Twist, or Pony from the hips of Granny (charity work has its place in every performer's schedule). She recently danced at the Tacoma Mall, wowing crowds there for a "Welcome Home the Troops" celebration. Just try warming up a crowd mixed with mall shoppers and see how far you get. No problem for Granny. They were soon eating out of her hand to a go-go beat.
The print media has certainly been no stranger to Granny Go-Go either. Over the years she's been featured in many senior citizens papers. The Tacoma News Tribune did a huge piece on her in their TGIF entertainment section, with Granny getting a full-page color photo right on the cover page. Even national papers like The Star and National Enquirer have gotten hip to Granny Go-Go. She received a two-page spread in a recent issue of The Star. But she hasn't been quite as luck with the Enquirer. They've attempted to take photos of her twice without success. The photo sessions have been great with Granny really letting her backbone slip; only to find later that the photos didn't turn out clear enough for the tough Enquirer standards. I was lucky enough to witness one of these photo shoots along a few of her close friends. She danced during the off-hours at a vacant club while we sat at the bar and cheered her on. Those photos would have been awesome! Hopefully the Enquirer won't give up on the Granny Go-Go feature.
Granny even rated a whole chapter during the late 70s. She
was included in the book "Unstill Lives - Portraits of Northern
California Women", published by colleges in Uba City and
Marysville, California. Granny's chapter was entitled "Let
Me Die Dancing", and related her life story.
If you've never seen Granny Go-Go do her thing, just let me say that gold lame hasn't looked this good on anybody since Elvis Presley. And speaking of The King, Elvis is one of her favorites, along with Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Beatles and The Beach Boys. In fact, Granny has even had the pleasure of performing on stage with The Beach Boys at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup. At last year's fair, 50s heart-throb, Fabian, even defied fair security to bring Granny up on stage to shake her tailfeather. She's a Rock and Roll Gal, through and through. "Disco sucks," she claims, "Someone has to carry on the true rock and roll sounds!"
When she's not out dancing, she's probably at her Southend home taking care of her three dogs and numerous cats, making phone calls or watching TV. I often get phone calls from Granny. She usually starts out by scolding me for unplugging my phone, and never fails to tell me the latest dirty joke. Granny Go-Go enjoys television and has a large collection of videos. Among the vids in her collection are plenty of Elvis movies, Beach Boy performances and current thrillers.
Or maybe she's washing one of her two flashy fringe mini-dresses, complete with hot pants. This is the true, go-go dancing, Candy Johnson style outfit. None of that bare skin stuff for her. "I don't take my top off. I don't like that topless crap!" says Granny. In fact, Granny is very direct about this point. She is a GO-GO DANCER and always has been. She upholds the pure go-go tradition and has never strayed into any other style (including burlesque and strip-tease). Some of the places she's worked at recently feature strippers, but Granny don't go for that shit!
So whether it's appearing on "America's Funniest People" or having a two page spread in The Star, Granny aims to keep on dancin' for the rest of her ever-lovin' life. At a point in time when most people would have decided to take a load off, Granny is more determined than ever to work it on out. So keep your eyes peeled for her frantically vibrating torso as she puts to shame the best dancers west of the Rockies, with her display of the Northwest's hottest new moves. Go Granny Go!