A few months ago Llewella Chapman, PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia, asked me would I like to write a blog for the International Association for Media and History website. Its a cracking organisation so I excitedly agreed.
The International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST) is a scholarly organization which brings together media historians, media scholars and professionals with an interest in media history. You can find them on Twitter at @iamhist
My blog on the Hollywood Glamour Photograph appeared on the IAMHIST website last week and can be accessed here:
Considering Hollywood’s reliance upon photography between the teens and the 1960s, as a means of promoting, shaping and altering star images, the photographic representation of stars remains a peculiarly underdeveloped area of star studies. This is a real missed opportunity, as these images can offer considerable insights into the construction of film stardom and the pleasures Continue reading →
So after a year of tantalising trailers, the Wonder Woman movie is finally out. Not surprisingly, as it’s a film based on an active female protagonist (gasp!), it has drawn a mixed reaction.
If you want my thoughts, here they are. Whilst the finished product is a cut above the usual superhero fare, and it is ground breaking in that it is directed by a woman (gasp!), personally I think it still doesn’t live up to the historical promise of the Wonder Woman character, or the film’s own promotional expectations. It was ok, but it could have been so much better.
I had conversations with a number of people about the film and generally my friends think it’s great, particularly because they felt it had a strong feminist message. This got me thinking, I probably needed to think through why I was disappointed and maybe have a more in depth chat about Wonder Woman; a figure I know relatively little about.
So I’m just in the process of arranging said podcast and my guests will include Dr. Rayna Denison, editor of Super Heroes on World Screens and lecturer in film studies at UEA and Melanie Adams, Wonder Woman aficionado and pin-up artist. Continue reading →
Featured in my last couple of podcasts (podcasts #2 and #3) is the wonderful queerlesque performer Rubyyy Jones, who has recently won the ‘Most Innovative’ award at this year’s prestigous Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend event.
Rubyyy received this award for her hard-hitting, taboo-busting act PottymouthPrincess. This act is about sex discrimination, body image and sexual violence against women and was the last act ever performed at my regular Burlesque show, The Cat’s Pyjamas. I can tell you, sitting at the side of the stage, as she performed this act, and watching the women in the audience’s reaction – tears, anger, exhilaration, punching Continue reading →
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 →
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.
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 →