Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show

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Oxford University Press, Nov 1, 2004 - Performing Arts - 448 pages
2 Reviews
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. Throughout the book, readers will find essential profiles of famed performers, including Gypsy Rose Lee, "the Literary Stripper"; Lili St. Cyr, the 1950s 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.

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User Review  - TLCrawford - LibraryThing

On an opera stage in France, sometime in the 1830s, a dancer showed her ankle and shocked the audience. One hundred and fifty years later Goldie Hawn was gyrating in a gilded birdcage wearing only a ... Read full review

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Rachel Shteir uses primary sources poorly, if at all. Her description of Sol Bloom's income from the Algerian Village and the danse du ventre. is completely inaccurate and sensational. Bloom's outrageous income was a result of his position as the manager of the Midway Plaisance, not the dancers of the Algerian Village. Her accounts of the danse du venter at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 are also sensationalized to promote her scandalized version of the dance. The Persian Palace of Eros did feature corseted Parisian dancers performing pseudo-Oriental movements to popular music. The Algerian dancer performed a variety of dances that were eventually lulmped into the danse du ventre or belly dance. It appears this is attributed to the origin of the strip tease by some autors, In reality Strip tease and exotic dance do not have the same ancestry. The teas exsisted in many forms long before the introduction of Oriental dance. As such her interpretation of history of the dance casts doubt on all her research and analysis. If you really care about dance history don't waste your money on this sensational trash. 

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About the author (2004)

Rachel Shteir is Associate Professor and Head of the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism Program at the Theatre School of DePaul University.

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