Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show

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Blending careful research and vivid narration, Shteir captures striptease's combination of sham and seduction while illuminating its surprisingly persistent hold on the American imagination. Striptease recreates the combustible mixture of license, independence, and sexual curiosity that allowed strippers to thrive for nearly a century. Rachel Shteir brings to life striptease's Golden Age, the years between the Jazz Age and the Sexual Revolution, when strippers performed around the country, in burlesque theatres, nightclubs, vaudeville houses, carnivals, fairs, and even in glorious palaces on the Great White Way.

Taking us behind the scenes, Shteir introduces us to a diverse cast of characters that collided on the burlesque stage, from tight-laced political reformers and flamboyant impresarios, to drag queens, shimmy girls, cootch dancers, tit serenaders, and even girls next door, lured into the profession by big-city aspirations.

Striptease - Rachel Shteir - Oxford University Press

Throughout the book, readers will find essential profiles of famed performers, including Gypsy Rose Lee, "the Literary Stripper"; Lili St. Cyr, the s mistress of exotic striptease; and Blaze Starr, the "human heat wave," who literally set the stage on fire. Striptease is an insightful and entertaining portrait of an art form at once reviled and embraced by the American public.

Blending careful research and vivid narration, Rachel Shteir captures striptease's combination of sham and seduction while illuminating its surprisingly persistent hold on the American imagination. Happily, Shteir's book provides a record of the golden age of American striptease, and she gives a persuasive account of its democratic verve and feminist appeal. Striptease, Shteir argues, 'gave women a chance to realize the American dream' and a way to 'overcome their working-class origins and make it.

Shteir, Rachel

Shteir's scholarly and very entertaining book is part of that great tradition. You may have already requested this item. Please select Ok if you would like to proceed with this request anyway.

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STRIPTEASE: The Untold History of the Girlie Show

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The Untold History of the Girlie Show

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The E-mail message field is required. These texts, while important sources, all have shortcomings for the theatre historian: Allen's text primarily focuses on pre-twentieth-century burlesque; Zeidman's work is more personal history than scholarly record; Jarrett's contribution is under-researched and poorly written. As a thorough, intelligent summary of erotic dance, Shteir's work will be welcomed by theatre historians and feminist scholars; its novelty alone justifies its winning of the Theatre Library Association George Freedley Memorial Award, given to the best English-language book about live theatre.

Of course, Shteir's monograph has several other points to recommend it. She begins her history in , with ballet dancer Mme. Francisque Hutin's thigh- and hip-revealing "semi-transparent Grecian robe" 13 ; and ends with neoburlesquers the Pussycat Dolls, who currently dance and tease for hipster audiences at Los Angeles's notorious Viper Room. Shteir's command of her material—and the sheer wealth of that material—is phenomenal.


She carefully traces changes in the composition of burlesque shows from jokes, skits, and provocative songs and dances to only striptease acts ; audiences from working-class men and women, to upper-middle-class slummers, to working-class and middle-class men ; geographic locations from Harlem, to Broadway, to New Jersey ; venues from vaudeville theatres, to speakeasies and nightclubs, to burlesque palaces, to strip clubs ; impresarios Florenz Ziegfield, the Minsky family, Earl Carroll, Mike Todd ; the evolution of erotic dance from the "flash" of a single breast, to topless dancing, to stripping to panties, then to g-string, and finally total nudity ; and censorship struggles from the relative freedom of Jazz Age New York, to the s stranglehold of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and Fiorello LaGuardia, to the sexual revolution and attendant loosening of public decency codes.

Weaving participant accounts with contemporary reviews as well as reading dozens of photographs, programs, and other theatrical ephemera against archival records of burlesque reform and legislation, Shteir presents a cogent and fascinating history. Second, though Shteir focuses on New York City, her study also considers burlesque, striptease, and erotic dance throughout the United States. Very few histories acknowledge that women removed their clothing onstage outside of New York, and Shteir's attention to Midwestern venues is groundbreaking.