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 →
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 email@example.com Continue reading →
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.
In this podcast, I talk to Heidi Bang Tidy and Lady Wildflower, co-producers of the award-winning Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival. We discuss the politics of burlesque, the history of the festival and this year’s round table discussion I Am Woman, Hear Me Phwoar featuring Myself, Dr Claire Nally and Dr Jacki Willson (and others tbc) on the Sunday of this year’s festival. I also discuss my broader research and engagement project in more detail.
Me outside The Windmill circa 2010 and a selection of Windmill programmes
For those who aren’t familiar, The Windmill Theatre is a little variety theatre nestled in the heart of Soho, just off Shaftesbury Avenue. It is famous for its nude tableau and fan dancing, its careful negotiation of the respectable middlebrow and for giving first breaks to some of British variety’s most celebrated performers. However the theatre is probably best remembered for its steadfast determination to remain open through the compulsory closure of all London theatres and throughout the Blitz, to provide patriotic, upbeat entertainment for war weary troops and civilians. It was and still is, a British institution. Continue reading →
Today was a good day. I spent the evening with my work colleagues and we headed on to Prof Ian Hunter’s book launch for his latest book Cult Film as a Guide to Life where the brave amongst us enjoyed a screening of John Waters’ notorious 1972 cult classic Pink Flamingos. But prior to this I’d had some rather exciting news.
I am thrilled to say that despite tight competition, I found out that I won just over £600 worth of #DMUlocal/#DMUengage funding to cover the cost the exciting Windmill Girls public engagement project I have now entitled #TheyNeverClothed: A Peep at the Women of the Windmill Theatre!
This money certainly will help in terms of covering the cost of putting the actual exhibition together and being able to pay for other aspects of the project and its dissemination.
I was relieved, excited and I must say, rather embarrassed when I discovered I had won, as I found out second-hand, as I had other commitments and couldn’t attend the ceremony! What a lovely surprise though!
I guess it is time to knuckle down and do some proper organising then!