Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West

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Farcountry Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 218 pages
2 Reviews
Prostitutes make up one of the most engaging chapters in the story of the American West. Upstairs Girls opens a window on the lives of these women for hire--why they turned to prostitution, who they worked for, and what their lives were like. Author and historian Michael Rutter offers a thorough history of prostitution in the West, with chapters on notorious madams, the hierarchy of prostitution, from parlor girls to streetwalkers, and occupational hazards such as disease and addiction. Rutter also unveils the brutal Chinese sex trade, which was little more than slavery, with women being shipped across the Pacific and bought and sold like material goods. The engaging and carefully researched background history leads up to the often heart-breaking and sometimes humorous profiles of the individual madams and prostitutes, from the famous Calamity Jane to the less-known Rosa May, from ruthless madam Ah Toy to mother of civil rights Mary Ellen Pleasant. Great photographs and illustrations!
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - schatzi - LibraryThing

This book addresses the interesting topic of what prostitution was really like in the American West. The author talks about the different kinds of prostitutes and how/why women became "upstairs girls ... Read full review

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This book is a poorly written waste of time. I kept getting my hopes up reading it hoping that there would be a hidden bit of lost history in the pages. The best there is are a few pictures and some brief newspaper articles. It is unorganized, generalized, and painfully repetitive. I have learned nothing new reading this book. The writer attempts to spice up the book by switching between the many different nicknames there were back then for prostitutes. All it does is confuse and slow the reader down. I've slept through the first three chapters and I cannot bring myself to suffer through this very dull failure of a high school paper in book form. Don't waste your time with this one.  

Contents

THE BAWDY WOMEN OF THE WEST
1
The Chinese Sex Trade
41
The Madams
52
Occupational Hazards
59
THE OTHER WESTERN WOMEN
78
PROFILES ON PROSTITUTES
105
Julia Bulette
111
Laura Bullion
120
Mattie Silks
134
Annie Rogers
144
Calamity Jane
158
Poker Alice
169
Pearl Starr
175
Chicago Joe Hensley
182
A Working Girl Until the End
193
References
209

Ah
127

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