My chapter on Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell ‘A Travesty on Sex’: Gender and Performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ appeared last year in an edited collection called Howard Hawks: New Perspectives. I recently discovered that this book has been shortlisted in the top three for this year’s Kraszna-Krausz Book Award in the category of Best Moving Image Book.
The Kraszna-Krausz award celebrates excellence in photography and moving image publishing, with prize for the Best Photography Book Award and the Best Moving Image Book published each year. The shortlist was announced last week and the winner will be announced on Thursday, at this year’s Photo London, exhibition at Somerset House where there is a display of material from the shortlisted and winning books this week.
It was my long standing interest in pin-up brought me to the project, and naturally it is through the lens of Monroe and Russell’s pin-up personas that I investigate their roles and Continue reading
(L-R) Sadie Sinner, Heidi Bang-Tidy, Rubyyy Jones, Dr. Ellen Wright, Dr. Jacki Willson, Dr. Claire Nally.
Welcome to the first half of the #DMUEngage panel discussion event ‘I am Woman, Hear Me Phwoar!’ which took place on the Sunday of the 2017 Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival.
Here performers, promoters and activists Sadie Sinner, Rubyyy Jones and Heidi Bang Tidy and scholars of burlesque Dr Jacki Willson and Dr Claire Nally joined me and a room full of interested members of the public to discuss the politics of female performance.
Following the unveiling of the We Never Clothed exhibition at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque festival, the Windmill Girls exhibition is now available to go on the road.
My first post-Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival exhibition was on the Wednesday after HBBF. I took a scaled down version of the exhibition, a talk about the media representation of women of the Windmill and a fan dance demo to Eagle W.I. in Lincolnshire.
I love giving talks to branches of the W.I. I have been doing it at various branches for a couple of years now and always find it extremely rewarding. Incidentally the Women’s Institute is so much more than just jam making. It’s a fascinating movement which celebrated its centenary in 2015. The Eagle branch is a small but friendly, enthusiastic and engaged group and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. They were extremely kind and welcoming. Continue reading
The panel from left to right: Rubyyy Jones, Sadie Sinner, Heidi Bang Tidy, Dr Claire Nally, Dr Jacki Willson and me.
I’m thrilled to say the panel discussion event ‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Phwoar!’, on the politics of female performance went exceptionally well.
We had a fantastic turn out (so many that not everyone who turned up could fit into the space!) especially considering other events were taking place at the same time and the weather was lovely. The atmosphere was amazing. Very open, honest and supportive. A number of complex ideas were discussed and the panel and audience were great, asking and answering some really interesting questions around intersectionality, personal politics, disabled bodies, classism, misogyny, gendered bodies, sexuality, ethnicity, exploitation, sex work and what brought our panelists to burlesque. Continue reading
“If It Moves, It’s Rude”: The Windmill Tableau Vivants
The Windmill was famous for its ‘tableau vivants’. Tableau vivants are ‘living pictures’, a person or collection of people posed statically to create a scene.
The Windmill’s tableau vivants were notable because at least one female within the scene would be nude.
However, these were not obviously titillating scenes. The Lord Chamberlain, the theatres censor, specified that posers must be absolutely motionless or be deemed obscene, prompting the saying ‘If it moves, it’s rude.’ Furthermore nude posers were also very carefully posed and lit to obscure almost as much as they revealed, and themes, costumes and poses were artistic, with posers invariably staring up and off, seemingly in a reverie, rather than provocatively gazing directly at the audience.
Further more posing in a tableau vivant was a feat of amazing stamina. Whilst it only takes seconds to pose with the exhibition standee, tableau vivant participants were required to pose totally still for 5-12 minutes. Exhausting work, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Performers Lady Wildflower and Tawny Kay pose with the standee at the 2017 Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival.
To see more of the #TheyNeverClothed exhibition catalogue and resources click here.
I’ve recently had an abstract accepted for the rather exciting conference, Revisiting the Gaze: Feminism, Fashion and the Female Body. My friend Jacki Willson (author of The Happy Stripper: Pleasures and Politics of the New Burlesque and Being Gorgeous: Feminism, Sexuality and the Pleasures of the Visual) told me about it and suggested it would probably be of interest to me.
My writing tends to be historical in focus (not surprising really, I’m part of the Cinema and Television History Research centre at DMU). I’m repeatedly drawn to American cinema and its (often deeply problematic) representation of women and to how these representations may speak to and about audiences and culture, both at the time of their production and thereafter. Continue reading
Below is a small sample of some of the resources that feature in the #TheyNeverClothed exhibition about the media representation of the women who worked at the Windmill theatre which is due to be taken up to the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival at the end of the month.
Simply click on the images below to learn about the resources photographed.
For those who are experiencing the whole exhibition first hand, it is possible to scan the QR codes located next to these particular resources with your phone & learn more about each individual resource that way.
If you are interested in seeing more & actually visiting the exhibition, it will be in the lobby area of Todmorden Hippodrome on the evening of Saturday 29th of April and in the Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Sunday 30th of April.
After this the exhibition will be taken on the road and available for bookings. Its first post-Hebden Bridge outing will be on May 3rd at Eagle (Lincolnshire) Women’s Institute.
If you would like me to bring my pop-up exhibition and a short accompanying talk to your club or venue, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Continue reading
For the next 48 hours my Bunny Yeager article is available free from Feminist Media Histories as part of their Women’s History Month offer.
N.B. The window for the free download has now expired, anyone who can’t access the paper through their library send me a message.
This Year’s Model: Fashion, Media, and the Making of Glamour
Elizabeth A. Wissinger
New York University Press, New York, 2015, 353 pages, ISBN 978-1-47986477-5
Using the figure of the model, Elizabeth A. Wissinger successfully ‘draw[s] back the curtain to reveal the magical workings of the glamour machine’ (2015: 2) examining the intersection of consumerism, conduct, desire and femininity in Western popular culture.
In her introduction she introduces the notions of ‘glamour labor’, examining the model’s ability to embody and convey ‘affect’ and begins to explore the current value of these two skills across a number of historical moments including the current age, which she argues is notable for its preoccupation with the image and instantaneousness and she terms, borrowing from journalist Malcolm Gladwell, the ‘regime of the blink’.
This month is Women’s History Month and to celebrate, each Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of March, the journal Feminist Media Histories is making an article from past issues free to download for 48 hours.