Every February, erotic art museum owner Naomi Wilzig devises a creative, imaginative and notable way to honor the iconic Baker, who is one of her personal heroes. Previous programs have featured Jean-Claude Baker, who is the biographer and adopted son of the famous entertainer, as well as performers who have evoked her spirit.
This year, Lambert will be the guest speaker. In his talk, entitled "The Bottom, the Derriere and the Nyash," he will discuss the similarities and differences between Baker, the famous American expatriate entertainer and Fela Kuti, the Nigerian activist and musician. Lambert, a Miami native, takes the stage in "Fela!," when it opens at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts on March 19.
According to Lambert, both of these remarkable talents used their sensuality as power, Baker becoming a darling of a country that called her "one of us," and Kuti a rugged in your face rebel. "Both of their spirits live on, changing our schooled way of seeing movement and hearing music. One with a beat, (the other) one with a banana," he said.
Long before she was to become "The Toast of Paris," thanks to her provocative 'banana dance,' Baker had made her electrifying presence known as the star of the "Follies Bergere." She went to Paris to escape racism, but became known worldwide as a fearless opponent of oppression who risked her life for the French Resistance during World War II, returning to the U.S. to fight for civil rights in her native country.
Wilzig has amassed an extensive collection of her Baker memorabilia, which will be on display. She will also screen Baker's films "Princess Tam Tam" and "Zouzou" continuously throughout the evening.
The Feb. 4 event marks the opening of the museum's Josephine Baker exhibit, which will run throughout February in honor of Black History Month. Admission to the opening is $15, which includes access to the world-famous erotic art museum.
More info: World Erotic Art Museum