Press and Praise

“An intriguing, humorous, poignant dive into the origins of modern female comedy and friendship. For a funny ride worthy of multiple reads, classroom study, or book club feature, Anarchy in High Heels: A Memoir by Denise Larson should be at the top of your list.” Click here to read the full review
―Reader’s Favorite 5-STAR Review

We bought old thrift store sweaters and sewed on big block letters ‘N’, ‘I’, and ‘C’, teased our hair into puffy dos, and wore miniskirts. We pranced out singing a cappella, ‘Music! Music! Music!’, camping it up with choreographed 1920-style dance. We turned around, flipped up our skirts, mooned the audience with our underwear, and scampered offstage,” Larson said, “The crowd awarded us with boisterous applause.”  —San Francisco Senior Beat

“Pluck and gumption animate Larson’s telling. If you, too, fantasize about an art project that seems far away or impossible, just somehow throwing your zany ideas out there and making them happen, you’ll likely find a primer and an inspiration in Anarchy in High Heels.” ―San Francisco ChronicleClick here to read the full review

And even more brazenly, we conjured up bawdy comedy from our shared female experiences and added a salacious feminist kick to it. Even the second-wave feminists didn’t know what to make of us. Les Nickelettes also rejected the accepted model of the time that women’s groups, by nature, were competitive and combative. We supported, promoted, and advocated for one another. We were collaborators. No cat-fights, no trying to steal boyfriends, no backstabbing.”  —Women Writers Women’s Books – Click here to read the full interview

“I was inspired to write the memoir because I didn’t want the story of Les Nickelettes to be swept into the dustbin of history. The group did things no one else was doing; we were ahead of our time. My story is a snapshot of a culturally historical time in ‘70s San Francisco that reveals an unprecedented liberation of women’s humor. My female perspective of that era needed to be told and preserved.” —Book Club Babble – Click here to read the full interview

“Denise Larson proves a wise and witty guide to the taboo-busting, iconoclastic underground scene of ’70s San Francisco, charting the development of her own artistic growth and confidence through spearheading the subversive, ground-breaking ensemble Les Nickelettes, who served notice that women could be outspoken, raunchy, and above all funny.”
―Ellin Stein, author of That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick: The National Lampoon and the Comedy Insurgents Who Captured the Mainstream

“This is a delightfully nostalgic peek into the Baby Boomer-era of funny, feminist Americana.”
―Anna Fields, author of The Girl in the Show – Three Generations of Comedy, Culture, and Feminism

“The best thing about the Nickelettes was the way they resisted compromising to fit into acceptable norms for women at the time. Using humor and theatre, the affinity of this zany girl family sustained them as they embraced an aesthetic of anti-seriousness through play and laughter. And in the process, they learned to value themselves and each other.”
―Ilene English, author of Hippie Chick: Coming of Age in the ‘60s 

“The engrossing book addresses the importance of empowering marginalized individuals, who have so much to say … A meaningful, feminist joyride that travels back in time.”
―Kirkus Reviews. See complete review below.


Kirkus Review:

ANARCHY IN HIGH HEELS

BY DENISE LARSON ‧ RELEASE DATE: JULY 27, 2021

A debut memoir focuses on a young woman performing, making lifelong friendships, and finding herself during the 1970s.

Larson’s book is a feminist coming-of-age story about breaking free from the conservative ethos of the ’50s. The author, who grew up in a Los Angeles suburb, believed she would end up as a housewife, secretary, nurse, or teacher. But she had a taste of show business as a child, when she appeared on a daytime variety show, and it left a mark. While studying drama as an undergraduate in San Francisco, Larson began working as a cashier at a “porno theater.” (“Porn is no big deal anymore,” a friend assured her.) The author began performing in an after-hours event at the theater and formed a feminist comedy troupe called Les Nickelettes. Larson wrote the satirical plays as well as directed and produced the shows, which were popular among critics and audiences. Les Nickelettes had a stint in New York City, but their reception was lukewarm, and they returned to California in debt and overwhelmed. Still, their bonds remained strong, and the author returned to New York to continue performing with her friends years later. Larson’s memoir deftly captures the countercultural energy of the ’70s. The bawdy performances included skits of the women “as cowgirls riding stick ponies and singing ‘Deep in My Solar Plexus.’ ” But the story is also a stark reminder of the sexism that women experienced in that era. “Until Les Nickelettes asked for my opinions, I didn’t think my thoughts mattered,” explained one of the performers. Similarly, while auditioning in New York, Judy, a biracial Nickelette, experienced startling racism: “They’d say: ‘Are you a little Asian?’ ‘You’re not Spanish looking enough.’ ‘Can you be Black?’ ” Larson recounts key events without glamorizing or dramatizing the highs and lows of this time in American history. Instead, she celebrates the power of friendship and the critical role of art to push boundaries: “Here’s the premise: Would religion and culture change if God were perceived as female instead of male?” In addition, the engrossing book addresses the importance of empowering marginalized individuals, who have so much to say.A meaningful, feminist joyride that travels back in time.