COSTUMES.ORG -- THE COSTUMER'S MANIFESTO WIKI

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Fashion Shows, Strip Shows and BeautyPageants:
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Fashion Shows, Strip Shows and Beauty Pageants: The Theatre of The Feminine Ideal
 
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The Theatre of The Feminine Ideal
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TARA MAGINNIS
 
TARA MAGINNIS
  
Chapter I: Introduction  
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Chapter I: Introduction , part b
  
Fashion shows, strip shows and beauty pageants would at first glance appear to be three radically different forms of performance sharing only one obvious similarity: their focus on women. However, despite their obvious differences, these three genres of performance do in fact share an astonishing number of additional similarities, so many in fact, that they can reasonably be argued to be merely three variations on a single form of theatre--"the theatre of the feminine ideal."
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Each of these seven aspects illustrate striking similarities between performances that are generally claimed to be totally dissimilar to each other. These similarities indicate the presence of some strong linking factor among beauty pageants, strip shows and fashion shows. It is the contention of this study that there is a common goal in all three performance areas. The elevation of the performer from an ordinary person into a depersonalized conceptual ideal is the chief linking factor, and these three genres of performance are, in fact, merely variations on a broader theme which shall be called "The Theatre of the Feminine Ideal."
  
In all three genres the emphasis is on the concept of femininity. The majority of performers in burlesque strip shows, beauty pageants and fashion shows are women. Beauty pageants traditionally have a male Master of Ceremonies and sometimes also include a male singer as entertainment, or a group of military men as walking set pieces (i.e. "escorts"), but the body of the performance is dominated by the female contestants who sing, dance, play musical instruments, parade in assorted attire, answer questions, and even make speeches.
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The runway is a major element in this type of performance because it helps to support the performer in appearing to the audience as an ideal, the costumes are used in order to give shape to the particular ideal chosen, and the performers are silent on the runway because this helps to de-emphasize their individual personalities and better meld them into an abstract role of an ideal female image. All of these characteristics, common to each genre, support the overall goal of elevating the performer into the figurant of an ideal. It is for this reason that the label "the theatre of the feminine ideal" has been applied to all three. At this point, it would be desirable to explain a few terms as used in this work: The term "ideal" must be understood to be used with two meanings in this work, one signifying an archetype of a person who is "an ideal or perfection of kind; existing as a perfect exemplar," and the other as a mere conceptual image "existing in fancy or imagination only." As most often used, "ideal" is meant to signify both simultaneously: an imaginary or impossible image of human perfection personified.
  
Fashion shows also are generally female-dominated, although before World War I John Wannamaker introduced male models into fashion shows in New York with "the simultaneous entry of a masculine and feminine model" in a show of Poiret designs. However, except in all-male fashion shows (a rarity), most fashion shows include more women on stage than men, if they include men at all. The longest running series of touring benefit fashion shows, the Ebony Fashion Fair (founded in 1958) included only one man in its shows until 1967, and presently has eleven female models and a female commentator, as compared to only two male models. This ratio of female to male models is fairly typical.
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Burlesque for the purposes of this study will usually be taken to refer to the American burlesque theatre of the period between World Wars I and II, not the literary or dramatic burlesques which were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This is an artificial distinction since there was no clean break from "old-time burlesque" to "modern burlesque," just a gradual change from a leg-and-jiggle show with a satirical dramatic script to a leg-and-jiggle show with lewd comic skits featuring "bathroom humor." Some old quotations in this work may use the spelling burlesk. Burlesque or burlesk of the Twenties through Forties could best be described as a variety show which consisted largely of chorus numbers, strip acts, and comic "bits."
  
In addition, male models in shows are often used merely as walking set pieces for the female models to play to or lean on in attractive poses:
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A stripper is the term commonly used to describe a woman who takes off her clothing in some sort of artistic manner while on stage. The act of a stripper doing so is called a strip act. A strip teaser is a stripper who does a strip act very slowly, and often demurely, building suspense as she removes garments. This kind of strip act is called a strip tease. An exotic dancer is a term used since the Fifties to describe both strippers and women who dance either wholly or partially nude. A strip show is a show composed largely or wholly of strip acts.
  
Then slowly, descending from the ceiling, three lovely models are lowered, posed on flower-covered perches in exciting, flowing gowns of Hawaiian prints. Smiling prettily, each model steps from her perch into the arms of three handsome male models in matching tunic shirts who place leis around their necks before they begin their routined walk down the runway.
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Strippers quoted in this study may make use of several pieces of occupational argot, which Skipper and McCaghy in "Stripteasing: A Sex-Oriented Occupation" define as follows:
  
The men in this scene are clearly equal in importance to the hanging flowered perches. Even their matching shirts identify them as mere reflections of the women and their clothes. It is rather amazing that the use of male models as mere objects or fashion accessories in fashion shows hasn't ever received criticism for demeaning men.
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degenerates-male exhibitionists and masturbators in the audience, bird-female genitalia, flashing-lowering of the G-string so that the pubic area is displayed, floor work-that portion of a strippers performance done sitting, kneeling or lying on the floor, holding their own-men masturbating in the audience, and a strong act-a show with a high degree of overt sexual content.
  
Old burlesque shows of the Twenties and Thirties used men as comics and singers but they became increasingly outnumbered by the strippers and female chorus until in the late forties and early fifties the men disappeared altogether. As early as 1937, when Geoffrey Gorer was writing his Hot Strip Tease; And Other Notes on American Culture, cheap burlesque houses had very few men, even as comics;
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A G-string is a narrow strip of fabric held up with small straps, glue or dental floss, that covers (barely) the female genitalia. It is supposedly named after the narrowest string on a violin.
  
The number of the comedians who are exclusively male, varies between two and six; In the burlesque shows women are to be seen, men to be heard.
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Pageantry in the context of this work is a noun covering the whole world and concept of beauty and talent pageants. It is commonly used as such by the small army of semi-fanatical supporters of pageants who take part in them as contestants, judges, producers and audience members. A beauty pageant is a contest wherein at least part of the official judging of the contestants is based on their personal appearance.
  
In addition to the obvious emphasis on female performers in fashion, strip and beauty shows, there also are seven other similarities that connect these genres: All three genres typically use a form of runway stage. A runway stage is a stage which has one or more raised runways (platforms) extending out from the main stage into the audience seating area. In most cases, this means that the stage is a T-shaped area with audience members on either side of the bottom prong of the T. However, some runway stages also are I- shaped, U-shaped, TT-shaped, and Y-shaped as well.
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A beauty queen is a winner of any beauty contest, no matter how minor. So, for example, the Miss America Pageant is a contest between 50 beauty queens who won contests at the state level for the purpose of crowning one of them a beauty queen at the national level.
  
Fashion shows employed runways in their staging many years prior to burlesque strip shows and beauty pageants. As early as 1911 the modern-style formal fashion show took place on the kind of raised runway stages commonly used for present day fashion shows:
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Mannequin is the archaic name for what is now called a fashion model. It was in use almost exclusively until 1920 when the term model began to replace it.
  
Crowds are thronging the Emporium during the fashion show to watch the handsome living model who displays all manner of pretty gowns and hats...a platform about 30 feet long has been erected, separated from the throng by wide white
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The interrelationship between fashion shows, strip shows and beauty pageants, has never been the topic of serious study. The omission, it may be surmised, has been merely an oversight, since burlesque theatre has been the object of sociological scrutiny since the Thirties in works such as Burlesque as a Cultural Phenomenon (1937), Striptease: The Vanished Art of Burlesque (1938), and Hot Strip Tease: And Other Notes on American Culture (1937). Further, beauty pageants have been examined by feminist scholars since the Eighties; and fashion shows, while they have not been studied historically with the attention they deserve, have had their staging dissected from a purely technical standpoint, since the first runway modeling manuals were written in the Sixties.The lack of writing on this topic appears to be the result of the fact that no one has thought to connect the data from these three forms of theatre to create a synthesis. It is not because fashion shows, strip shows, and beauty pageants were regarded as too unimportant to write about. It would therefore be valuable to review the literature which relates to these three forms of theatre individually, as well as any literature which relates to runway staging:
  
ribbons extending from potted bay trees placed at
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Burlesque as a Cultural Phenomenon has been studied since David Dressler first analyzed the supposedly corrupting nature of burlesque on youth in his 1937 book of that title. (Dressler was a juvenile officer and social worker.) According to Ann Corio, "the Queen of Burlesque":
  
each corner.To this the model comes in one dainty costume or another, walks slowly up and down for 10 or 15 minutes and then retires to put on another gown.
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"Scholars who should be spending their academic hours poring over equations or philosophy have battled instead over the origin of this entertainment--and spent hours looking at the pictures."
  
Fashion shows were the first to encourage audience participation--in the form of sales--by the use of the runway. Burlesque theaters followed in 1917 with the insertion of the first runway in the Minsky's National Winter Garden theatre, and the Miss America Pageant brought runways to pageants with their move indoors to Convention Hall in 1940.
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Corio's statement is something of an exaggeration, however, since scholarly studies of burlesque have definitely been in the minority. The most comprehensive work of a serious nature is Irving Zeidman's The American Burlesque Show (1967) which does very definitively trace the origin of the strip tease back to 19th Century precedents, as well as providing a very detailed history of early American burlesque. In covering so much time, however, the eras of the Thirties and Forties are given short shrift; and no connection is made between strip shows and other forms of theatre used to idealize the female.
  
The featured performers, strippers, models, and beauty contestants, rarely, if ever, speak, and they are even less likely to speak on the runway. In burlesque strip shows not only were women given only very minor, often silent, roles in the comic scenes, but while doing strip acts they usually did not speak. The typical strip of the Thirties required only a passing acquaintance with singing ability:
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Other scholars since Zeidman have studied parts of burlesque as dissertation topics, focusing on areas only indirectly related to the topic of this study. Joseph LeRoy Lesser's Top Banana Joey Fay: The Evolution of a Burlesque Comedian (1987), Joel Harvey's American Burlesque as Reflected Through the Career of Kitty Madison 1916-1930 (1980) and Patricia Sandburg Conner's Steve Mills and the Twentieth Century American Burlesque Show: A Backstage History and Perspective (1979) all are studies that focus on very particular aspects of burlesque performance. Strip Shows in Britain have also been described as part of Erotic Theatre (1978) by John Elsom, who hypothesized that strip tease would not die out (as Marshall McLuhan said it would when nudity had become acceptable as entertainment) because stripping was part of an erotic signal system in which lovers indicate their acceptance of each other, and was not simple undressing.
  
While the orchestra plays some well-known but fairly out-of-date song she makes her way to a microphone at the front of the stage, grasps it, and goes through the motions of singing. She is nearly or quite inaudible and we cannot distinguish words or tune; But since she is not there to sing it is of little importance...This prelude passed, the serious portion of Miss Glory's performance commences.
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More common (and oddly, more useful for raw information) are the popular works of the "Racy Memoir" and "Naughty Picture" variety. For example, H.M. Alexander in Striptease: The Art of Burlesque (1938) gives the most detailed description of a burlesque performance and its audience's behavior to be found in any work, but much of the book is simply devoted to backstage gossip of the private lives of strippers accompanied by clear black and white photos of strippers in various stages of undress.Equally filled with interesting information and gossipy superfluities are Morton Minsky's Minsky's Burlesque (1986) and Bernard Sobel's Burleycue: An Underground History of Burlesque (1931). There are many more works like these (far too numerous to mention), all providing intriguing and useful data along with gossip, but none of these works focuses more than passing attention on the staging of strip shows, or comparisons with other forms of theatre.
  
"Miss Glory" then proceeds to strip down to a rhinestone G-string to moderate applause. Modern strippers do not even pretend to sing since their strip acts are typically done to a pre-recorded vocal rendering of a popular tune like Bad Girls or The Lady In Red. The prevalence of silent stripping is best illustrated by the fuss that was made over strippers like Blaze Starr and Gypsy Rose Lee who could manage to be articulate while undressing: Even Morton Minsky seemed amazed that a stripper could talk and undress at the same time:
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The Miss America Beauty Pageant, the seminal modern beauty pageant upon which most presently existing pageants are based, has had its history documented in great detail in Frank Deford's There She Is (1971). Deford's book is not only an amusing work that gives countless details of pageant history but it contains many points of analysis about the significance of pageant rituals. Deford, however never makes the connection between pageants as promoters of "ideal" women, and the similarity of strip and fashion shows. Beauty pageants are also one of the topics covered in Lois W. Banner's 1983 feminist study, American Beauty, where she discusses the obvious truth that beauty pageants exist as an affirmation of the idea that it is acceptable to judge women on their appearance. Feminist author Susan Dworkin, discusses the social context of Bess Myerson's 1945 victory in Miss America 1945; Bess Myerson's Own Story (1987). The details of Myerson's reign are analyzed with an insightful historical perspective; however, again no connection is made with strip and fashion shows.
  
While other strippers were scared to death at the thought of speaking words of more than two syllables, Gypsy, in her expertise, let her erudite, insinuating chatter seduce the audience into a state of near-hypnosis.
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Just as important as the popular and scholarly works on beauty pageants are the many books written by the women who follow pageantry as a profession, hobby, or even something close to a religion. For example, The Beauty Pageant Manual: A Complete Training Guide (1987) by Marie Leazer Farris and Verna Meer Slade not only gives hundreds of purely practical tips for modern contestants wishing to win a beauty title, but also dwells at length upon the ideals and "improving" nature of pageantry on contestants:
  
In contrast, beauty pageant contestants are now expected to be able to speak both publicly and in one-on-one interview situations. However, contestants are required to exhibit these skills only minimally in the public performance of the competition. The majority of their on-stage time is given to displaying a talent (usually singing or dancing), participating in the show "production numbers," and, most importantly, silently parading in evening gown, swimsuit, and regional costumes. Usually it is only the semi-finalists who are called upon to talk on stage in a one minute "interview" with the Master of Ceremonies, and the finalists who are asked a single interview question where their answers are judged. All this speaking, singing, and dancing activity takes place on the stage proper, not on the runway, which is used only for silent parading in gowns, suits, etc.
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Pageant winners aren't always the most beautiful. They are the most well rounded. They are the girls who have worked on and perfected their appearance, attitude and the way they carry themselves. Pageants are good for all contestants because they usually motivate girls to improve themselves in many areas.
  
The runway is also used for the official perambulation of the old and new title holders. As if to underscore the silence of the women walking on the runway, the Master of Ceremonies usually recites pertinent facts about the contestants while they parade, and frequently sings a song in honor of the new winner, as she takes her first official walk down the runway. Since the electronic age, it is also traditional to play a recording of the farewell speech of the exiting title holder while she silently waves and walks down the runway for the last time. Depending on one's personal social prejudices, this either gives her grace and dignity, putting her womanhood on a pedestal, or silences, dehumanizes and objectifies her into an inoffensive "ideal." Actually, it does both, but the supporters and attackers of pageants generally don't grasp that their opinions are far from being mutually exclusive.
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Anna Stanley's The Crowning Touch: Preparing for Beauty
  
Naturally, in fashion shows the models generally do not talk, although there have been rare exceptions to this rule. For an example, when a group of actresses performed in a fashion show for the benefit of the Actors' Aid Fund in 1915:
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Pageant Competition (1989) and Barbara Peterson Burwell and Polly Peterson Bowle's Becoming a Beauty Queen: The Complete Guide (1987) are both works, similar to the Manual, which follow in a direct line from Jacque Mercer's How to Win a Beauty Contest (1960). All of these books, as well as too many others to mention, contain information about the mechanics of pageant production as well as the philosophy on which it is based. But none of these authors make the connection between the central focus of the ideal in beauty pageants, and the way strip and fashion shows similarly highlight idealized depictions of femininity. In these works, pageant staging is never compared with strip show staging. (Pageant enthusiasts feel they are on an altogether higher plane.) Fashion show staging is occasionally mentioned in these books, but only to offer a comparison of the differences between events such as pageant swimsuit competition and fashion show bathing suit modeling.
  
There was an attempt to speak lines written by Pierre de Lanux, but lines at a fashion exhibit should be seen and not heard, and after an act or so the players resorted largely to pantomime.
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In no survey history of fashion shows has there ever been an attempt to study the staging of shows from a theatrical standpoint. Surveys of fashion show history are few, short and lacking in scholarly analysis. The most complete books on fashion show production and history, Mary Ellen Diehl's How to Produce a Fashion Show (1976) and Kay Corinth's Fashion Showmanship (1970), both devote only a single chapter each to the history of fashion shows, and, naturally, do not provide any detailed analyses of the staging, or any kind of comparative analysis between fashion shows and strip and beauty shows.Showmanship merely gives hints of some of the past in its brief descriptions, offered without context or analysis:
  
Other benefit fashion shows at this time had story lines woven into the show, but most of these were pantomimed also. Between 1912 and the mid Seventies most fashion shows in America had a commentator, a person who either read or extemporized a commentary about the clothing being worn. The San Francisco Call reported in 1912:
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Another history-making trade fashion show took place in Chicago, in 1917. The presentation featured a new technique that was later used extensively in the 1960s--that of showing movie footage to set a background scene for live models. For example, the first scene, "The Dawn of 1917," opened with a view of snow on the screen, quickly dissolving into a "picture of daisies with a vision of the Orient in the background." The movie screen then lifted to reveal an Oriental setting.
  
Something new in the display of these models was the presence of a demonstrator, who told of the modes and materials of the gowns thus displayed. This addition of a person who told the audience the particulars of the gown, relieved the model of the necessity of speaking to the audience.
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Most of the information in Showmanship is similar to the above--interesting facts without any background, enough to interest the reader in the subject but not sufficient for an in-depth study of the subject.
  
During the Seventies the role of the commentator waned, but as late as 1976, in How to Produce a Fashion Show, a whole chapter was still devoted to commentators and commentary. The last section of the chapter, however, noted the change towards shows without commentary:
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How to Produce a Fashion Show (1976) provides very similar information in a similar format. Indeed, one suspects that the earlier book served as a model for the latter. Diehl, however, does attempt somewhat analytical statements about trends in shows at different times, but, in trying to cover over 100 years in one chapter, her analyses are cursory at best.
  
In the late fifties, Mary Quant staged an entire press show without commentary. This developed into a trend in the sixties, starting with the big press shows in major apparel markets and eventually filtering into local level presentations in smaller cities around the country. The technique is an effective one for communicating excitement, movement and drama--by bypassing words and relying on strong visual and emotional response for impact.
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By 1911, "living models" were used in the United States as a regular part of fashion promotions for retailers as well as manufacturers. However, from the reports, they seemed to be more akin to informal modeling than to a fashion parade. The runway show must have evolved rapidly from this because Women's Wear carried a report [on a 1912 convention that] featured two fashion shows daily on living models, with cards on stage indicating manufacturers' names--"No Lecturing." An orchestra rendered popular songs during the showing.
  
These shows are so effective that they have almost totally replaced shows with commentary. (The only major fashion show to routinely use a commentator today is the Ebony Fashion Show.) This trend, however, has not signaled a significant movement towards fashion models speaking for themselves on the runway. On the contrary, the whole point of this recent movement has been to rely "on strong visual images" and to do this by "bypassing words" altogether.
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Since neither of these books is intended to be a scholarly analysis of the history of fashion shows, these cursory analyses are perfectly understandable. The fact remains, however, that these two one-chapter synopses of fashion show history are the most in-depth studies so far written. As such, they are hopelessly insufficient for making a judgment about how fashion shows relate to strip shows and beauty pageants.Other books on fashion show production, such as Thelma Hunt Shirley's Success Guide to Exciting Fashion Shows (1978) or Bernie Lenz's The New Complete Book of Fashion Modeling (1969), have information on fashion show style over the last few decades. However, the styles described, and the advice given, far from showing a synthesized theoretical approach which might prove as true now was when the book was written, seem mired in the production styles of their times. For example, in Shirley's Success
  
The fashion commentator is now exclusively limited to television fashion programs like Style With Elsa Klench, and speaking models only perform in television commercials. The staged fashion show now is totally wordless, and any acting done by the models is in pantomime.
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Fashion is Drama Always think of fashion production as drama. Completely let go of the old idea of a model walking out on a runway, expressionless and pivoting as she shows new garments. That look, that approach is passe. Think Sensationalism Curtain opens on a bare stage with a large white screen on the back wall. Up front is a simple palm tree. Hawaiian music begins to fill the auditorium and on the large screen breathtaking photos of Hawaii are rear-projected as the audience begins to look with great anticipation to the wings for the models to appear..."Ladies and Gentlemen," says the commentator, "vacation and cruise fashions for your sun and fun holidays, by the talented and unpredictable (name of designer).
  
The runway performers are not only generally silent, they are also generally women. Except in the rare all-male fashion, strip, or beauty shows, which are merely imitations of female shows, only the female performers use the runway. For example, one never saw Bert Parks, a fashion commentator, or a burlesque comic on the runway. Only models, strippers, chorus girls, and beauty contestants use the runway. According to Morton Minsky, in burlesque the prima donnas who sang the operatic numbers, the tenor who did the interludes, and the straight man had nothing to do with the runway. Neither did the comics. Instead, the runway encouraged the prominence of the female dancers and their sexually oriented acts:
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What Shirley was unable to predict was that within less than 10 years of her writing, proscenium staging, projections, and commentators would be "passe" and the "old ideal of a model walking out on a runway, expressionless and pivoting" would be back in fashion, stronger than ever. As such, Shirley's book, and the many others like it, are of more use as artifacts of recent history than as analytical studies of fashion show production.
  
Once the runway was established, it led by natural steps to the growing dynasty of "exotic," "Oriental," or even "classical" dancers who wiggled, jiggled, and bumped in a way that was new to theatre goers. It was on a Minsky runway that New York first saw the tassel dance, originated by the immortal burlesque queen, Carrie Finnell.
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Runway staging in Japanese No drama has been touched upon in studies of Japanese theatre such as Noh: The Classical Theatre (1971) by Nakamura Yasuo, A History of Japanese Theatre I: Up to Noh and Kyogen (1971) by Inoura Yoshinobu, and Japanese No Plays (1954) by Toki Zemmaro, and the development of the Hanamichi Bridge of Kabuki Theatre (the closest counterpart to Western runways) is traced from its No antecedents in Earle Ernst's The Kabuki Theatre (1956). Nowhere in these works, however, is the use of Japanese-style runways or "bridges" connected with their Western theatre counterparts in burlesque, pageants or fashion shows.
  
Rowland Barber also noted that only the girls doing sexy material used the runway: "The runway was alien territory to Prima Donna and Tenor, who were rooted to the stage proper like the pillars of the proscenium."
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However, Leonard Cabell Pronko in Theatre East and West (1967) does discuss the Hanamichi Bridge as it relates to more typical forms of Western staging:
  
In beauty pageants usually only the Master of Ceremonies is male, although sometimes for production numbers or between-competition entertainments, male singers and dancers are used. Since these entertainments usually are provided only in televised pageants for the benefit of the home audience, they usually occur only on the stage proper, where it is easy to film them.
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The Hanamichi cannot be compared with Western forms of central staging, or with Western uses of the theatre aisles or even with the strategic placement of theatre seats for interaction among actors in different parts of the auditorium and/or stage, because the Hanamichi is always a platform related to, but set apart from, the stage. It does not put the actor on the same level as the spectator, thus destroying the actor's distance and glamour.
  
The Master of Ceremonies does not use the runway, despite some erroneous conceptions about his role. While speaking of the Miss America song, There She Is, Frank Deford noted in 1971 that:
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Conversely, it may be assumed that the raised runway staging of the fashion, strip, and beauty shows which is physically similar to the Hanamichi runway, augments the performers' glamour and distance, unlike these ground-level playing areas. The ground-level incursions into audience space practiced by many Western theaters in several forms of experimental staging were used instead to reach toward the audience on a human naturalistic level.
  
Many people are also under the impression that [Bert] Parks sings the song while crowning the new queen, dancing with her or escorting her down the runway, none of which he does.
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Despite the fact that no previous work has been focused on the theoretical interconnectedness of beauty pageants, fashion shows and burlesque strip shows, it should be possible to document this interconnection using the copious quantities of raw data which exist in areas related to this thesis.
 
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Deford also noted that while the runway was there for the beauty queen to walk down, she too was there chiefly to walk down the runway:
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Even the Pageant will acknowledge that the modern queen is functionally a display package, and that basically she is required to do nothing more than trigger the right response. Her mere ambulatory presence on a runway automatically obliges any dutiful audience to rise, reverently. It is both a symbolic and a critical reflex...From any point of view the scene is liturgical.
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In fashion shows, models are literally "display packages" for the clothes they sell. In fact, the original name for fashion models, mannequins, was taken from the name of shop window dummies, much as early typists were called typewriters. Models, (usually female), walk down the runway as part of the visual display of the clothes. Commentators, who naturally were not part of this visual package, were usually relegated to one side, often behind a lectern. The only men who walk down the runway are male models who are also display packages for clothing.
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In fashion modeling more than in any other area, the featured performers' costumes define their image and are an integral part of the performance. Models are there chiefly to give expression to the clothes; strippers in burlesque are on stage in order to publicly remove their clothing, and contestants in a beauty pageant are judged both on their choice of clothing and their appearance in it.
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Models as they wear different dresses and show different designers' "concepts", are expected to alter their walk, expression, and gestures accordingly:
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A bathing suit calls for a livelier, more sprightly walk and expression than does an evening gown or a mink stole. A negligee may call for anything, from maidenly innocence to complete sophistication, but the showing technique for any negligee would always differ from that used for teatime ensembles or town wear...it is a matter of refining her approach until she walks, looks and gestures in accordance with the costume she is showing.
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Beauty contestants are given similar instructions in order to change "personality" with their clothes:
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A good exercise in evening gown characterization is to pretend you are Princess Margaret being presented at court; like Margaret, you are almost, but not quite a queen. The princess character is lovely, regal, her walk slower, her smile soft and not so broad as in a bathing suit. Aim for a mood of dignity, elegance, and just a touch of humility. The characterization in bathing suit should be bubbles. Walk with a brisk pace. Think of the drum majorette who leads the parade. Your personality should never be sexy, but lively, exuberant and peppy.
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Beauty contestants, however, are not models and can choose the clothing they wear in competition. As a result, contestants are judged not only on how well they look in clothes, but on the clothing they choose. The 1990 Judges Committee Manual for Miss America Preliminary Pageants includes notes in the swimsuit and evening gown judging that indicate that dress is a criterion in judging the contestant:
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Value your first impression; Consider the contestant's total look, and note that the gown and the woman should complement each other.
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Training books for pageant contestants also emphasize the importance of suitable dress as part of the presentation of each contestant. While Anna Stanley in The Crowning Touch (1989) speaks generally of "good taste" in dress, offering advice only on suitable colors and unsuitable sexy styles, The Beauty Pageant Manual (1987) gets down to specifics--for instance, shoes:
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*Evening Gown--Shoes should be pumps dyed to match. Contestants still occasionally wear evening sandals with their gowns, sometimes with dressy trim (rhinestones). Anything other than a pump is much more difficult to walk and turn in, and you will almost always sacrifice a better walk with a shoe other than a pump.
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The author goes on for half a page more on the virtues and problems of dyed to match satin pumps. Other clothing items receive similar detailed attention in this book and in others written for pageant enthusiasts.While pageant officials (and successful contestants) downplay the role of effective clothing in selecting a queen, most contestants and their trainers take pageant clothing very seriously. Swimsuits built exclusively for pageant competition are produced by several companies in styles that squeeze, truss up, or flatten down any body area that a contestant feels is in need of alteration.
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While people assume that clothing is unimportant to a stripper's art, it is an obvious prerequisite to stripping that the stripper should begin with a costume on, before taking one off. As in many forms of theatrical endeavor, people don't consider where these costumes come from or who designs them. What is unusual in the case of strippers as performers is that, like clowns, most often it is they who design their own costumes, and, unlike clowns, strippers are generally expected to come up with new costumes regularly for each new act. Consequently, strippers often make their own costumes in order to save money and so have to be fairly proficient in the skills of a stage costumer.
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The stripper's costume is generally there, not only to take off, but also to create an image for the stripper in the act she is performing. The costume provides the context, the fantasy-image of the girl, and without specific fantasy costumes, a series of strippers would be simply a series of indistinguishable undressing female bodies. The variety of costumes that strippers presently use to convey fantasy images is best illustrated in the 1986 documentary film Stripper, where strippers are shown to have chosen costumes that depict a bride, a rhinestone cowgirl, a fashionable reader of Cosmopolitan, an etherial Loie Fuller butterfly, a "flashdancer," a woman covered with stuffed hands, a futuristic "space suit" with metal breast cups, a race car driver, an American Indian complete with full headdress, a whip-wielding dominatrix, a fire-eating vampire who enters in a prop coffin, and a little girl with a Teddy bear, writhing on a "Teddy bear skin" rug. The fantasy aspect of these costumes is what establishes the context of the performance. For example, Sara Costa's costume of a blue chiffon butterfly cape establishes her character as a representation of ethereal idealized sex which silences her audience in awe; while Danyel's costume with spiked collar, studded leather garments and spike heeled, thigh-high boots made her use of a stage-blood soaked whip seem so depraved that an audience composed predominantly of other strippers gasped in shock at her act. Strippers of the Thirties and Forties also often used elaborate costumes, frequently with very gimmicky themes. The song in the musical Gypsy, "You've Got To Have A Gimmick" was not an exaggeration in a time when strippers had costumes that included live doves (which fluttered from body part to body part showing areas of exposed flesh), or a giant sequin-covered "padlock" on a "chastity belt", or strategically-placed domino masks, or a fringed drum majorette costume with tassels on the breast, or a feathered costume which was removed by trained parrots, or a girl graduate with cap, diploma and backless graduation gown, as well as the usual balloon dancers who popped their costumes into nudity. Gypsy Rose Lee specialized in wicked black silk stockings, lace panties, and red garters, while Ann Corio often went for à la naturel South Sea princess and Indian maiden exotic ensembles.
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Strippers' acts naturally follow in the steps the costumes lead. For example, the previously mentioned cowgirl outfit included a prop hobby horse which the stripper "rode" suggestively while imitating the gestures of rodeo riders; while the girl in the bondage and discipline costume lashed at the stage and herself while crawling on her knees in a submissive manner. Both sets of gestures would be unintelligible and senseless without the costume establishing the context of the act. Strippers' costumes not only provide a functional ensemble for practical removal, but a functional ideal of female beauty that is "sexualized" by the revelation of nudity.While the wearer is symbolicly sexualized by removing her clothing, she first must be defined in terms of some kind of idealized female sexual figure in order for this act to be of any significance. This is why most costumes now are less gimmick-oriented and instead portray an archetype of female beauty such as a cheerleader, a dominatrix, or a bride.
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Naturally strippers themselves have become one of these archetypes, as have fashion models and beauty queens, because all three forms of performance are seen as a display of exceptional female beauty of one sort or another. Lois W. Banner in American Beauty notes that the traditional beauty pageant helps to affirm that the pursuit of beauty is woman's proper role, by judging women on their physical appearance:
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Although the contest rhetoric, the composition of the [Miss America] Parade, and the festival setting were all attempts to make a display of women's bodies respectable, they did not overshadow the fact that the contestants were being judged on how they looked in bathing suits. Even when later pageants added talent divisions and gave college scholarships as prizes, the review of the contestants in bathing suits was still the most important part of the competition.
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While pageant enthusiasts discount the role of physical beauty as the overriding feature of most "beauty pageants" they still claim to be searching for beauty of a higher kind which they describe as "inner beauty";
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In order to be a WHOLE beautiful person, you must have this special gift of inner beauty. You have heard the expression, "Beauty is as beauty does." Basically, this means how well we relate or conduct ourselves in relationships with other people.
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In loving others, be patient and kind to them, don't be jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty, selfish or rude. Love for others will not demand its own way. It will not be irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges. It rejoices in the truth.
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As may be inferred from the Biblical source of these paraphrases, "inner beauty" in beauty pageants has often been equated with born-again religious fervor. Besides which, for all the emphasis on spiritual beauty, contestants are rarely successful winners without good looks to back up their "inner" beauty.
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Fashion models and strippers are not generally idealized in terms of spiritual inner beauty, but rather admired for their physical beauty exclusively (although the types of physical beauty are different for each form). Naturally, this widespread emphasis on physical beauty is perceived as demeaning to women so, all three forms are periodically attacked by feminists for objectifying women.
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Strangely, the form that most tries to distance itself from the image of mindless physical beauty, the so-called "beauty pageant," is the form most ardently attacked by feminists. An entire organization called Media Watch was formed originally in order to protest the Miss California Beauty Pageant; although now Media Watch fights all media images of women it finds derogatory. Media Watch is headed by Ann Simonton, a former beauty queen, fashion model, and Sports Illustrated cover girl, who now believes that beauty pageants exploit and degrade women:
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Do Beauty pageants Have Value In Today's Society?
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No. While judging women according to their physical attributes is an almost universal pastime, it is hardly a "harmless" one. Judging women distances them. This leads to sexual harassment and contributes to an environment where women are not safe. Society loses with the "losers" because we live with a narrow beauty standard that defines 90 percent of the women as "rejects."
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The image of the fashion model has also received feminist criticism. Even as early as 1970 Kathrin Perutz in Beyond the Looking Glass: America's Beauty Culture saw that the image of models was that of a commercially malleable object:
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Models are beautiful objects, publicly owned. Though they have been invested with personality--which seems to mean they have some gimmick--models are not generally desired as women. They are ornaments, idolized in a country where gift wrapping can be called an "art." Models with their blank faces are totally manipulatable. Their function is as close to nothing as one can get and still make money: They just stand there, admired for their masks.The set pose, the blank face, the dead eyes of a model become the mirror held up by many young Americans.
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Strip shows are also held in little esteem by feminist critics. The Take Back the Night movement of the Seventies began with a protest march through San Francisco's Broadway district, the home of the City's strip scene; and Women Against Pornography routinely offers anti-pornography tours of New York's Times Square's strip and porn district as part of WAP's campaign to get it shut down.
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Finally, all three forms involve much of the audience in the acting out of an inner fantasy. Helen Fraser in Assignment in Modeling (1950) insists, "The art in retail modeling consists in making the customer see herself as she would like to look." Lucy Duff-Gordon, the couturiere Lucille, believed that "It is themselves they are watching really, and when the lights are lowered to a rosy glow, and soft music is played and the mannequins parade, there is not a woman in the audience...who is not seeing herself as those slim, beautiful girls look in the clothes they are offering her."
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Poet Hart Crane described a night at the "National Winter Garden" watching strippers as a fantasy sex experience used as a prelude to lovemaking with someone else:
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Outspoken buttocks in pink beads
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Invite the necessary cloudy clinch
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Of bandy eyes...no extra mufflings here:
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The world's one flagrant, sweating cinch.
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And while legs waken salads in the brain
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You pick your blonde out neatly through the smoke.
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Always you wait for someone else though, always--
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(then rush the nearest exit through the smoke.)
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Beauty pageants also appeal to the fantasy life of the audience by elevating an "ordinary" person to celebrity status and adorning her with the accoutrements of a fairy tale princess--crown, scepter, glittering gown, title, and the royal carriage of a parade float--as Jane O'Reilly admitted in an article in T.V. Guide titled, "I Can Scarcely Bear To Watch, But I Do." She continues to be fascinated by the Miss America contest, even though she dislikes it; "While I never wanted to be Miss America, honesty forces me to admit that somewhere deep inside me stirs a yearning to ride on top of a float covered with paper flowers. Especially if I could wear sequins."
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The fantasy aspect of audience identification with the winner explains why the majority of modern beauty pageant viewers are women, despite the common perception that such contests are geared mainly to appeal to men who want to see girls in swimsuits. While it is possible that some of the audience members, both male and female, at a beauty pageant are thinking erotic thoughts (another kind of fantasy), the majority of the women are probably imagining themselves as the winner.
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Revision as of 01:36, 23 January 2014

chapter 1b

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Fashion Shows, Strip Shows and Beauty Pageants: The Theatre of The Feminine Ideal

by

TARA MAGINNIS

Chapter I: Introduction , part b

Each of these seven aspects illustrate striking similarities between performances that are generally claimed to be totally dissimilar to each other. These similarities indicate the presence of some strong linking factor among beauty pageants, strip shows and fashion shows. It is the contention of this study that there is a common goal in all three performance areas. The elevation of the performer from an ordinary person into a depersonalized conceptual ideal is the chief linking factor, and these three genres of performance are, in fact, merely variations on a broader theme which shall be called "The Theatre of the Feminine Ideal."

The runway is a major element in this type of performance because it helps to support the performer in appearing to the audience as an ideal, the costumes are used in order to give shape to the particular ideal chosen, and the performers are silent on the runway because this helps to de-emphasize their individual personalities and better meld them into an abstract role of an ideal female image. All of these characteristics, common to each genre, support the overall goal of elevating the performer into the figurant of an ideal. It is for this reason that the label "the theatre of the feminine ideal" has been applied to all three. At this point, it would be desirable to explain a few terms as used in this work: The term "ideal" must be understood to be used with two meanings in this work, one signifying an archetype of a person who is "an ideal or perfection of kind; existing as a perfect exemplar," and the other as a mere conceptual image "existing in fancy or imagination only." As most often used, "ideal" is meant to signify both simultaneously: an imaginary or impossible image of human perfection personified.

Burlesque for the purposes of this study will usually be taken to refer to the American burlesque theatre of the period between World Wars I and II, not the literary or dramatic burlesques which were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This is an artificial distinction since there was no clean break from "old-time burlesque" to "modern burlesque," just a gradual change from a leg-and-jiggle show with a satirical dramatic script to a leg-and-jiggle show with lewd comic skits featuring "bathroom humor." Some old quotations in this work may use the spelling burlesk. Burlesque or burlesk of the Twenties through Forties could best be described as a variety show which consisted largely of chorus numbers, strip acts, and comic "bits."

A stripper is the term commonly used to describe a woman who takes off her clothing in some sort of artistic manner while on stage. The act of a stripper doing so is called a strip act. A strip teaser is a stripper who does a strip act very slowly, and often demurely, building suspense as she removes garments. This kind of strip act is called a strip tease. An exotic dancer is a term used since the Fifties to describe both strippers and women who dance either wholly or partially nude. A strip show is a show composed largely or wholly of strip acts.

Strippers quoted in this study may make use of several pieces of occupational argot, which Skipper and McCaghy in "Stripteasing: A Sex-Oriented Occupation" define as follows:

degenerates-male exhibitionists and masturbators in the audience, bird-female genitalia, flashing-lowering of the G-string so that the pubic area is displayed, floor work-that portion of a strippers performance done sitting, kneeling or lying on the floor, holding their own-men masturbating in the audience, and a strong act-a show with a high degree of overt sexual content.

A G-string is a narrow strip of fabric held up with small straps, glue or dental floss, that covers (barely) the female genitalia. It is supposedly named after the narrowest string on a violin.

Pageantry in the context of this work is a noun covering the whole world and concept of beauty and talent pageants. It is commonly used as such by the small army of semi-fanatical supporters of pageants who take part in them as contestants, judges, producers and audience members. A beauty pageant is a contest wherein at least part of the official judging of the contestants is based on their personal appearance.

A beauty queen is a winner of any beauty contest, no matter how minor. So, for example, the Miss America Pageant is a contest between 50 beauty queens who won contests at the state level for the purpose of crowning one of them a beauty queen at the national level.

Mannequin is the archaic name for what is now called a fashion model. It was in use almost exclusively until 1920 when the term model began to replace it.

The interrelationship between fashion shows, strip shows and beauty pageants, has never been the topic of serious study. The omission, it may be surmised, has been merely an oversight, since burlesque theatre has been the object of sociological scrutiny since the Thirties in works such as Burlesque as a Cultural Phenomenon (1937), Striptease: The Vanished Art of Burlesque (1938), and Hot Strip Tease: And Other Notes on American Culture (1937). Further, beauty pageants have been examined by feminist scholars since the Eighties; and fashion shows, while they have not been studied historically with the attention they deserve, have had their staging dissected from a purely technical standpoint, since the first runway modeling manuals were written in the Sixties.The lack of writing on this topic appears to be the result of the fact that no one has thought to connect the data from these three forms of theatre to create a synthesis. It is not because fashion shows, strip shows, and beauty pageants were regarded as too unimportant to write about. It would therefore be valuable to review the literature which relates to these three forms of theatre individually, as well as any literature which relates to runway staging:

Burlesque as a Cultural Phenomenon has been studied since David Dressler first analyzed the supposedly corrupting nature of burlesque on youth in his 1937 book of that title. (Dressler was a juvenile officer and social worker.) According to Ann Corio, "the Queen of Burlesque":

"Scholars who should be spending their academic hours poring over equations or philosophy have battled instead over the origin of this entertainment--and spent hours looking at the pictures."

Corio's statement is something of an exaggeration, however, since scholarly studies of burlesque have definitely been in the minority. The most comprehensive work of a serious nature is Irving Zeidman's The American Burlesque Show (1967) which does very definitively trace the origin of the strip tease back to 19th Century precedents, as well as providing a very detailed history of early American burlesque. In covering so much time, however, the eras of the Thirties and Forties are given short shrift; and no connection is made between strip shows and other forms of theatre used to idealize the female.

Other scholars since Zeidman have studied parts of burlesque as dissertation topics, focusing on areas only indirectly related to the topic of this study. Joseph LeRoy Lesser's Top Banana Joey Fay: The Evolution of a Burlesque Comedian (1987), Joel Harvey's American Burlesque as Reflected Through the Career of Kitty Madison 1916-1930 (1980) and Patricia Sandburg Conner's Steve Mills and the Twentieth Century American Burlesque Show: A Backstage History and Perspective (1979) all are studies that focus on very particular aspects of burlesque performance. Strip Shows in Britain have also been described as part of Erotic Theatre (1978) by John Elsom, who hypothesized that strip tease would not die out (as Marshall McLuhan said it would when nudity had become acceptable as entertainment) because stripping was part of an erotic signal system in which lovers indicate their acceptance of each other, and was not simple undressing.

More common (and oddly, more useful for raw information) are the popular works of the "Racy Memoir" and "Naughty Picture" variety. For example, H.M. Alexander in Striptease: The Art of Burlesque (1938) gives the most detailed description of a burlesque performance and its audience's behavior to be found in any work, but much of the book is simply devoted to backstage gossip of the private lives of strippers accompanied by clear black and white photos of strippers in various stages of undress.Equally filled with interesting information and gossipy superfluities are Morton Minsky's Minsky's Burlesque (1986) and Bernard Sobel's Burleycue: An Underground History of Burlesque (1931). There are many more works like these (far too numerous to mention), all providing intriguing and useful data along with gossip, but none of these works focuses more than passing attention on the staging of strip shows, or comparisons with other forms of theatre.

The Miss America Beauty Pageant, the seminal modern beauty pageant upon which most presently existing pageants are based, has had its history documented in great detail in Frank Deford's There She Is (1971). Deford's book is not only an amusing work that gives countless details of pageant history but it contains many points of analysis about the significance of pageant rituals. Deford, however never makes the connection between pageants as promoters of "ideal" women, and the similarity of strip and fashion shows. Beauty pageants are also one of the topics covered in Lois W. Banner's 1983 feminist study, American Beauty, where she discusses the obvious truth that beauty pageants exist as an affirmation of the idea that it is acceptable to judge women on their appearance. Feminist author Susan Dworkin, discusses the social context of Bess Myerson's 1945 victory in Miss America 1945; Bess Myerson's Own Story (1987). The details of Myerson's reign are analyzed with an insightful historical perspective; however, again no connection is made with strip and fashion shows.

Just as important as the popular and scholarly works on beauty pageants are the many books written by the women who follow pageantry as a profession, hobby, or even something close to a religion. For example, The Beauty Pageant Manual: A Complete Training Guide (1987) by Marie Leazer Farris and Verna Meer Slade not only gives hundreds of purely practical tips for modern contestants wishing to win a beauty title, but also dwells at length upon the ideals and "improving" nature of pageantry on contestants:

Pageant winners aren't always the most beautiful. They are the most well rounded. They are the girls who have worked on and perfected their appearance, attitude and the way they carry themselves. Pageants are good for all contestants because they usually motivate girls to improve themselves in many areas.

Anna Stanley's The Crowning Touch: Preparing for Beauty

Pageant Competition (1989) and Barbara Peterson Burwell and Polly Peterson Bowle's Becoming a Beauty Queen: The Complete Guide (1987) are both works, similar to the Manual, which follow in a direct line from Jacque Mercer's How to Win a Beauty Contest (1960). All of these books, as well as too many others to mention, contain information about the mechanics of pageant production as well as the philosophy on which it is based. But none of these authors make the connection between the central focus of the ideal in beauty pageants, and the way strip and fashion shows similarly highlight idealized depictions of femininity. In these works, pageant staging is never compared with strip show staging. (Pageant enthusiasts feel they are on an altogether higher plane.) Fashion show staging is occasionally mentioned in these books, but only to offer a comparison of the differences between events such as pageant swimsuit competition and fashion show bathing suit modeling.

In no survey history of fashion shows has there ever been an attempt to study the staging of shows from a theatrical standpoint. Surveys of fashion show history are few, short and lacking in scholarly analysis. The most complete books on fashion show production and history, Mary Ellen Diehl's How to Produce a Fashion Show (1976) and Kay Corinth's Fashion Showmanship (1970), both devote only a single chapter each to the history of fashion shows, and, naturally, do not provide any detailed analyses of the staging, or any kind of comparative analysis between fashion shows and strip and beauty shows.Showmanship merely gives hints of some of the past in its brief descriptions, offered without context or analysis:

Another history-making trade fashion show took place in Chicago, in 1917. The presentation featured a new technique that was later used extensively in the 1960s--that of showing movie footage to set a background scene for live models. For example, the first scene, "The Dawn of 1917," opened with a view of snow on the screen, quickly dissolving into a "picture of daisies with a vision of the Orient in the background." The movie screen then lifted to reveal an Oriental setting.

Most of the information in Showmanship is similar to the above--interesting facts without any background, enough to interest the reader in the subject but not sufficient for an in-depth study of the subject.

How to Produce a Fashion Show (1976) provides very similar information in a similar format. Indeed, one suspects that the earlier book served as a model for the latter. Diehl, however, does attempt somewhat analytical statements about trends in shows at different times, but, in trying to cover over 100 years in one chapter, her analyses are cursory at best.

By 1911, "living models" were used in the United States as a regular part of fashion promotions for retailers as well as manufacturers. However, from the reports, they seemed to be more akin to informal modeling than to a fashion parade. The runway show must have evolved rapidly from this because Women's Wear carried a report [on a 1912 convention that] featured two fashion shows daily on living models, with cards on stage indicating manufacturers' names--"No Lecturing." An orchestra rendered popular songs during the showing.

Since neither of these books is intended to be a scholarly analysis of the history of fashion shows, these cursory analyses are perfectly understandable. The fact remains, however, that these two one-chapter synopses of fashion show history are the most in-depth studies so far written. As such, they are hopelessly insufficient for making a judgment about how fashion shows relate to strip shows and beauty pageants.Other books on fashion show production, such as Thelma Hunt Shirley's Success Guide to Exciting Fashion Shows (1978) or Bernie Lenz's The New Complete Book of Fashion Modeling (1969), have information on fashion show style over the last few decades. However, the styles described, and the advice given, far from showing a synthesized theoretical approach which might prove as true now was when the book was written, seem mired in the production styles of their times. For example, in Shirley's Success

Fashion is Drama Always think of fashion production as drama. Completely let go of the old idea of a model walking out on a runway, expressionless and pivoting as she shows new garments. That look, that approach is passe. Think Sensationalism Curtain opens on a bare stage with a large white screen on the back wall. Up front is a simple palm tree. Hawaiian music begins to fill the auditorium and on the large screen breathtaking photos of Hawaii are rear-projected as the audience begins to look with great anticipation to the wings for the models to appear..."Ladies and Gentlemen," says the commentator, "vacation and cruise fashions for your sun and fun holidays, by the talented and unpredictable (name of designer).

What Shirley was unable to predict was that within less than 10 years of her writing, proscenium staging, projections, and commentators would be "passe" and the "old ideal of a model walking out on a runway, expressionless and pivoting" would be back in fashion, stronger than ever. As such, Shirley's book, and the many others like it, are of more use as artifacts of recent history than as analytical studies of fashion show production.

Runway staging in Japanese No drama has been touched upon in studies of Japanese theatre such as Noh: The Classical Theatre (1971) by Nakamura Yasuo, A History of Japanese Theatre I: Up to Noh and Kyogen (1971) by Inoura Yoshinobu, and Japanese No Plays (1954) by Toki Zemmaro, and the development of the Hanamichi Bridge of Kabuki Theatre (the closest counterpart to Western runways) is traced from its No antecedents in Earle Ernst's The Kabuki Theatre (1956). Nowhere in these works, however, is the use of Japanese-style runways or "bridges" connected with their Western theatre counterparts in burlesque, pageants or fashion shows.

However, Leonard Cabell Pronko in Theatre East and West (1967) does discuss the Hanamichi Bridge as it relates to more typical forms of Western staging:

The Hanamichi cannot be compared with Western forms of central staging, or with Western uses of the theatre aisles or even with the strategic placement of theatre seats for interaction among actors in different parts of the auditorium and/or stage, because the Hanamichi is always a platform related to, but set apart from, the stage. It does not put the actor on the same level as the spectator, thus destroying the actor's distance and glamour.

Conversely, it may be assumed that the raised runway staging of the fashion, strip, and beauty shows which is physically similar to the Hanamichi runway, augments the performers' glamour and distance, unlike these ground-level playing areas. The ground-level incursions into audience space practiced by many Western theaters in several forms of experimental staging were used instead to reach toward the audience on a human naturalistic level.

Despite the fact that no previous work has been focused on the theoretical interconnectedness of beauty pageants, fashion shows and burlesque strip shows, it should be possible to document this interconnection using the copious quantities of raw data which exist in areas related to this thesis.

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