Susan Meiselas spent her summers photographing and interviewing women who performed striptease for small town carnivals in New England, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. As she followed the girl shows from town to town, she portrayed the dancers on stage and off, photographing their public performances as well as their private lives. She also taped interviews with the dancers, their boyfriends, the show managers, and paying customers. Meiselas’ frank description of the lives of these women brought a hidden world to public attention.
Produced during the early years of the women’s movement, Carnival Strippers reflects the struggle for identity and self-esteem that characterized a complex era of change.
The Art of Burlesque: SHOW, by Henry Horenstein (b. 1947)
“To me, modern burlesque performers embody so many traits of true artists. They are creative and driven and determined to serve up their vision of the world in song, dance, humor and narrative. They like being different from everyone else. In fact, they wear that difference with pride. Their style and method of delivery make burlesque popular art—not so much for the elite ‘Art in America’ crowd, but that doesn’t make it any less artful. Living on the margins, the best of today’s burlesque artists have a signature vision, strong in message and execution. To paraphrase folksinger Mayne Smith, ‘You might not like their style, boys, but you will know who they are’” — Henry Horenstein