Brandon Stanton, the author of Humans of New York (HONY), is set to launch his latest book. Stanton is partnering with Stephanie Johnson, the beloved woman who was featured in his HONY series in 2020, to release a book titled Tanqueray.
Johnson, better known as “Tanqueray,” was one of the best-known burlesque dancers in New York City in her younger days. She captivated HONY followers when Stanton chronicled her story in an extensive feature and photographed her unique style, including the outrageous fur coat and hat she made herself.
Johnson now shares more about her story in the new book, expected to be released on July 12. Tanqueray will also feature personal photos from Johnson’s personal collection.
Stanton went to Facebook to announce the plans for the book. The popular photographer said the book will include “all the classic hits from the original story,” as well as “some brand new jaw droppers.”
While the publishers are feeling anxious, Stanton said he assured them that the book will be a hit.
“If you’re relatively sure you’re going to be reading Tanqueray on a beach this summer—and why wouldn’t you—you could help out me and Steph by preordering a copy,” the author said to his fans on Facebook. “Steph has been handing out her homemade business cards ‘like crazy,’ but we might need a little extra lift.”
According to People, Johnson faced a scary situation in 2019 when she slipped on ice and fell. As a result, Stanton shared Johnson’s life story with his fans and raised more than $2.5 million on GoFundMe to make sure the elderly woman “can live the rest of her life in comfort and dignity.”
In the Instagram posts shared back in 2020, Johnson recalled her difficult relationship with her mother while growing up in Albany, New York. The former dancer said she moved to New York City after becoming pregnant as a teenager. She also returned to her childhood home briefly to pick up her belongings. Johnson said that’s when her mother called the police and told them to arrest her for burglary.
Before going to prison at age 18, Johnson agreed to give her unborn son up for adoption. After being released on parole, she worked at a clothing factory in New York City. At the same time, Johnson learned that she can make money as a go-go dancer.
“I was a better dancer than all of them,” she said. “But I knew the clubs wouldn’t hire me. Because go-go dancers had to be perfect. They couldn’t have stretch marks. Couldn’t have tattoos. And they couldn’t be Black.”
Still, she finds ways to land gigs. Johnson earned more money when she started working as a burlesque dancer.
“My first gig was at a volunteer firehouse on Long Island. I was so nervous that I had to pee every five minutes. And I kept having to stop the performance while they drove away on calls. But I must have done something right because they booked me again on the spot… I decided right then to make a career out of it,” she said.
That’s when the New York native started going by Tanqueray. The dancer eventually earned her own column, “Tattletales from Tanqueray,” in the adult magazine High Society.
“And after the first issues came out, I was like famous,” she said. “[Publisher and porn actress] Gloria [Leonard] would send boxes of the latest issue to all of my gigs. Guys would be lining up on the street to get a signature. And my salary went up — big time.”