Rachel Shteir is Associate Professor and Head of the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism Program at the Theatre School of DePaul University.
"A distinctly American diversion that flourished from the Jazz Age to the era of the Sexual Revolution," striptease emerges as closer kin to vaudeville than pornography in this engaging if sometimes overly detailed survey. Shteir, head of the department of dramaturgy and dramatic criticism at DePaul University, offers fascinating details about stripper subculture, past and present, and includes numerous photographs of and quotes from stripping's famous practitioners, such as Gypsy Rose Lee. Readers will learn about "horizontal cootching" and fan dances; the use of trained animals in acts at the 1939 World's Fair ("doves peel her," wrote a Variety columnist of stripper Rosita Royce); the conflicts between big-name strippers and their "cheap" burlesque counterparts; the 1962 federal crackdown on organized crime that dealt a grave blow to striptease. Shteir reaches, throughout, for a larger cultural meaning in the girlie show, and the paradox of stripping's possibilities-it offered women a shot at independence but required them to sell themselves as spectacle to do it-is familiar but still intriguing. The gender politics and cultural theory she employs as analytical tools may limit her audience to those already well versed in such ideas, but Shteir's discussions of the ways that striptease informed American culture and her careful descriptions of the women and their milieu are bright moments. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Even though Shteir is a fully-fledged academic her writing style is elegant, vivid and mercifully free of jargon... There is a wealth of marvellous biographical detail here." Christopher Hart, Sunday Times "gloriously seedy" Marybeth Hamilton, The Independent 'excellent story...that is lively, sympathetic and spangled with detail.' 'The cast of characters uncovered by Shteir is a full and entertaining one' 'Shteir has produced the definitive history' Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Daily Telegraph