Blast From the Past

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When Exotic Dance Costumes Were Actually Costumes

When I came across (on tumblr) this old photo of a proud stripper, showing off her turquoise fringe satin jacket and the matching chaps that bare her French-cut tan lines, I had to know where and who it came from. These days, Rhonda B-Chaparro, aka Odd Artist, works more with melting and painting found plastic objects, but she used to have a business sewing exotic dance costumes.

Blast From the Past: “Miss Temptation”

“Miss Temptation” is a short story that Kurt Vonnegut originally wrote for the Saturday Evening Post in 1956. You can find it in Welcome to the Monkey House. I read the anthology in high school, but this piece really resonated with me the second time around, oh, twelve years later.

It’s about a soldier who has just returned from serving his country in the Forgotten War. Corporal Fuller has never done well with women, which he credits to his not being good looking or rich enough, and not simply because he’s a jerk. He tells off a beautiful young aspiring actress named Susanna, publicly humiliating her, because he doesn’t like the way she “makes” him feel. He had never met this woman before, yet she incited such a strong reaction that he yelled at her and spent the rest of his day moping and snapping at his mother.

Klute (1971)

You guys, this was my first time seeing Klute and I am totally sold on it. I was into it pretty much from the first few seconds because I am one of those people who decides whether they will like a film based on the colors and whether they feel “good” to me or not. I’ve been having a green moment of late, and there is so much green in that opening scene! There seems to have been (from what I have gleaned from interior design books from the 70’s) a lot of that happening, the garden in the house thing. It reminded me of this post at Desire To Inspire. I love it. If I didn’t kill plants I’d start a garden!

But I do.

So let’s get into this film, shall we?

DuBarry Was a Lady (1943)

Du Barry Was A Lady (1943)

This film! Gene Kelly, Red Skelton, and Lucille Ball (who is a most epic redhead in color, I have to say) star in this musical where a hat check boy busts his head and dreams he is Louis XV, and Lucy is his Madame Du Barry. Sex work is, obviously, never mentioned. I mean, this film was made in 1943 y’all, I’d be expecting quite a lot if I needed them to say she was what she was. But. BUT. Anyone who knows their Ho-story knows that Madame Du Barry was a Courtesan. Courtesans fucked for cash . . . among other things, obviously.

Blast From The Past: Striptease (1996)

Until several days ago, Striptease was a glaring oversight in my otherwise comprehensive history of sex work film viewing. I thought I should rectify that problem in light of my grousing about Demi Moore’s ham-handed anti-trafficking efforts, so I did. Sort-of. (Halfway through, I had to turn it off. It is unwatchably, un-fun-ly bad.)

Here are the highlights of what I saw before then. They should tell you everything you need to know: