A history of the showgirl which presents her as a cutural icon and role model for both men and women. It explores the lives and representations of showgirls through chapters on figures such as Dietrich, Colette and Madonna and the modern showgirls.
The showgirl is one of the most resilient erotic icons of modern times. She exploded into action in the entertainment palaces of fin-de-siecle Europe and America. Her feathers, sequins and nearly-nude flesh are evocative symbols of pleasure, leisure and man-made joys of city life, and the showgirl has continued to generate a special frisson as a prime embodiment of the power and danger of female sexuality. In this, the first full exploration of the showgirl, Andrea Stuart places centre-stage individual showgirls Missinguett, Josephine Baker, Colette, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, and Babette. She brings them and a full international supporting cast of showgirls to seductive life, examining their careers and performances as well as highlighting the shifting social anxieties of the times in which they lived and from which they drew their inspiration.
Andrea Stuart was born in the Caribbean and has lived briefly in the USA and Paris, as well as London. She has worked as a journalist, a TV producer and in publishing. She has contributed to a wide range of magazines and journals, from Cosmopolitan to the New Statesman, and to the books The Female Gaze (1988) and Identity: Community, Culture, Difference (1990). She currently works as a lecturer in Cultural Studies at Central St Martin's College of Art and Design in London.
Showgirls by Andrea Stuart
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