In my most recent stumbling around in the wonderful world of YouTube relevant to GOTGE research I have found the following video of Valérie Čižmárová appearing on the televised version (from 1993) of the theatrical performance entitled ‘Jedeme do Evropy’ (‘We’re Going To Europe’), presented by Miloslav Šimek and Jiří Krampol, demonstrating that, despite being, amongst other things, a terrific Soul singer, ultimately she’s a girl from a town way out East, with all the Folk traditions that entails. If one has been a regular GOTGE reader one may spot, in the short, gold dress, Valérie’s friend Miluška Voborníková, amongst the fellow artists dancing along with Valérie.
The aforementioned is Valérie’s brilliant comic creation – the Cook from Slovakia and ‘typical Slovak woman’, Maria Drevokocúriková, who also happens to be a mean Blues Singer, as she demonstrates in the following performance (from 1990) of ‘Blues myčky nádobí’, thereby becoming the embodiment of the ‘Eastern/Western girl’ that I think Valérie was, at heart.
From a related performance from the same ‘stable’ from 1995 – ‘Černá hodinka a půl’ (‘The Black Hour-and-a-half’) we have Valérie once again showing how ‘Black’ and Western she could be, performing a slice of Boogie-Woogie – ‘Stará Amerika’ (‘Old America’) with Josef Fousek, referencing Elvis Presley in the lyrics on the way.
Going back to the heart of the appointed GOTGE era (the party uploading the video below falsely gives the year of this performance as 1976, but my research indicates that, in fact, it really dates from 28th May 1977) here is Valérie performing a Swing number – ‘Jezdíme metrem’ (‘We’re Travelling On The Metro’), complete with dancers in very ‘G.I. Jane’ outfits, with Aleš Ulm. The TV programme was ‘Kabaret U dobré pohody’ (‘Cabaret For A Good Cause’) which indicates that, even under Communism, fund-raising telethons were clearly necessary, showing that not everything was provided by the state, so yet another misapprehension about what life was really like on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain is swept away by these amazing discoveries by GOTGE. It also means that here is another aspect of Popular Culture in which it could be said that the Brits lagged behind Communist-era Czechoslovakia, since our great telethons would still not even have been a twinkling in anybody’s eye back in 1977.
Finally, I don’t think I’ve ever embedded this astounding first radio recording of Valérie (from 1970 – the year she’d have turned eighteen) performing ‘Poúkradmo’ (a version of Duke Ellington’s ‘Prelude To A Kiss’), demonstrating once again the Western influences on Valérie’s early career. Like has occurred to me countless times when listening to the pre-twenty Valérie, does this sound like a blonde teenager from a small town in the far East of Slovakia to you? (The shot below would have probably dated from the following year, when she’d have turned nineteen).
In summary, could Valérie not be described (coming from the ‘Irish’ part of the former Czechoslovakia and launching her career with a version of that hymn to ‘Englishness’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’) as ‘The All-American Slovak/Hungarian/Jewish English Rose of Tralee’? Confused?
Well, when I was a teenager myself back in the late 1970s/early 1980s, I suppose I could have been described as a ‘Mod-abilly Rebel’, (the Mod who liked Matchbox and Stray Cats) so I know all about being ‘confused’!