Stripping in Time: A History of Erotic Dancing

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9780044409687: Stripping in Time: A History of Erotic Dancing
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From Victorian London and Paris to modern Cairo, where Islamic fundamentalist puritanism threatens the belly dance, Jarrett explores erotic dance and its cultures. In so doing, she lends ecdysiasts and their fans a veneer of respectability without sacrificing a certain lush luridness. And certainly, the historical illustrations (oddly, the cover photo is the most revealing of them) offer possible titillation for the desperate sort who seek smut in the library (do they also shop for lumber at the deli?). But Jarrett's focus is on the interplay of society, censorship, and a form of dance as old as public entertainment itself. Particularly interesting is the fairly lengthy consideration of Anita Berber, dancer, morphine addict, and flamboyant bisexual, whose "naked dances" scandalized Berlin and Vienna in the 1920s. Hauntingly remindful of Nijinsky, Berber actually essayed outre realms of public sexuality at which Madonna only limply paws. The three photos of Berber and her paramour, Sebastian Droste, are nearly reason enough to acquire this satisfying and impressive popular cultural history. Mike Tribby

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