Hester Prim

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Prim Hester The Rockabye Contract.jpg

Folk singer/guitarist who performs topless, from the 1968 novel by Philip Atlee (pseudonym of James Atlee Phillips), The Rockabye Contract, the seventh book in the Joe Gall series. Joe Gall, a contract spy/assassin, becomes her manager as cover for a tour of Europe.

A Miss Hester Prim, who had just come on stage, was wearing a short black vinyl skirt and black boots. Strands of her flaming hair had been taped over the nipples of her breasts, and she handled the twelvestring Gibson like a ukulele. Hester was a big girl, several inches over six feet.

Miss Prim opened with a couple of Child ballads, straight, to not much of a hand. Then she went into the big-beat sound with some imitation Beatle arrangements that got over better. From them she segued into a bawdy Roger Miller and an even bluer lament for a hairdresser named Freddie. Her timing was good, her delivery droll, and she bowed off to heavy applause.

When the applause became insistent, she encored with a fiery number she said was her own arrangement of Lorca's "Bloody Sunday." Pre-Franco Spain could have sued, had there been any jurisdiction, but she got another full hand and that was it. I glanced at my watch and saw that she had done forty minutes. Her voice was appealing, in a light alto range, but she was no Baez, for all her boot-stamping. It was the superb body that had held them.

Her name is a play on Hester Prynne, the protagonist of the 1850 novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, set in the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony during the years 1642 to 1649.

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