Ross, B. and K. Greenwell. 2005. “Spectacular Striptease: Performing the Sexual and Racial Other in Vancouver, B.C., 1945-1975.”

Ross, Becki and Kim Greenwell. 2005. “Spectacular Striptease: Performing the Sexual and Racial Other in Vancouver, B.C., 1945-1975. Journal of Women’s History 17(1): 137-164.

Racialization of exotic dancing in response to nightlife geographies of 1970s BC. Notes difference of location of white and women of color within global/local erotic industries.  Striptease as a highly competitive industry, with women of color presented here as a foil to high economic and social status of white entertainers which prompted performance of racial, sexual others. White headliners framed within labels of glamour, sex appeal – slim, young, heterosexy-  while women of color presented as novelties – capitalizing on tropes of physical form (buttocks), exoticism, primitiveness, brazeness – earning less money, less status within circuit, less access to prestigious clubs, often performing in clubs owned by men of color — if appearing at all (exclusion from participation) Historical precedent of white dancers performance exoticism through “racial Otherness in ways that avoided the indelible stigma of non-whiteness in a [primarily White city experiencing influx of immigration-based demographic changes]” (139) — especially as clubs and acts catered to racialized connections of “exotic adventure, intrigue, vice, and immorality” (144) — the same conditions that are fostered at festivals.

History of White women impersonating the Other in carnival and circuses, booming from imperialist fantasies of the 19th century – although White women were encouraged to take on very popular representations of South Asian, Arabian, Egyptian, or Hawaiian fantasies, billed as “imports” – Black women were discouraged from trying to pass or perform as White. Reinforces notion that whiteness was innocent, untouched by commodified sexualities of non-Whites, foreigners. Differentiates “glamour” and “good girls” from those repudiated for similar industry involvement, removing motherhood from the narrative of their lives, separating white bourgeois femininity from the industry.

“White striptease dancers, including those who donned blackface or manipulated other non-white tropes, could take on the symbols and signifiers of the racial Other as erotic spectacle or play up the pageantry of white glamour. Indeed, they were not indelibly stigmatized by their skin color as Black dancers and Asian dancers were” (157).


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