Known as “China’s Most Daring Dancing Doll”, Coby Yee began dancing in the 1940s and soon became a mainstay in Asian nightclubs, particularly Charlie Low’s Forbidden City in San Francisco. She performed all over the country through the 1950s and ‘60s, eventually buying Forbidden City in 1962 and running it until it closed in 1970. Coby was an avid seamstress. She designed and sewed all her costumes, including her partner Stephen King’s and many burlesque dancers’.
In the last couple of years Coby and Stephen traveled and performed in Cuba, Shanghai and Las Vegas with the Grant Avenue Follies. She did her last public performance at Clarion Performing Arts Center’s Firecracker Burlesque to the delight of her fans. Coby received the Legend of the Year 2020 award from the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Sadly she passed away on the night of August 14, less than 24 hours before she was to be virtually honored. Coby was 93.
Read SF Chronicle’s Date Book on Coby and the Forbidden City Nightclub here.
The Woman Who Ate French Fries for Coby Yee Food was not complicated for a woman who had fully tasted life who loved to dance danced to love set fire stoked desire with fingers rolled down a shoulder strap the pieces fell the crowd went wild hunger was fed pride was stripped nature was celebrated in sequins and flesh wink, you, wink, and you too a final shimmy the house came down what thunderous sound With utmost love Stephen held all ninety three years of her off the stage Behind the curtain she demurely nibbled on her french fries