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Posted inArts & Entertainment

How Cynthia ‘Empress’ Yee is preserving SF Chinatown’s glamorous showgirl history

“I think people come to Chinatown because they expect a Disneyland atmosphere,” Cynthia Yee says. “When they see it’s just a neighborhood, a community with restaurants and daily life, they wonder.” Yee is a tour guide with the award-winning Chinatown Magic Tours, but she was once herself at the center of the spectacle. At 17, Yee was invited by legendary Japanese American dancer Dorothy Toy to join Toy’s traveling showgirl troupe.