Drawing on interviews with a breadth of different showgirls, from shows in Paris, Las Vegas, Berlin, and Los Angeles, as well as her own artworks and those by other contemporary and historical artists, this book examines the experiences of showgirls and those who watch them, to challenge the narrowness of representations and discussions around what has been termed ‘sexualisation’ and ‘the gaze’. An account of the experience of being ‘looked at’, the book raises questions of how the showgirl is represented, the nature of the pleasure that she elicits and the suspicion that surrounds it, and what this means for feminism and the act of looking.
An embodied articulation of a new politics of looking, Viewing Pleasure and Being a Showgirl engages with the idea (reinforced by feminist critique) that images of women are linked to selling and that women’s bodies have been commodified in capitalist culture, raising the question of whether this enables particular bodies – those of glamorous women on display – to become scapegoats for our deeper anxieties about consumerism.
Table of Contents
1. How Do They Look?
2. How Do I Look?: How Do I Feel as I Watch Showgirls?
3. How Do I Look?: Doing Showgirl
Conclusion: Showgirl Manifesto
Appendix: Showgirl Lexicon
Alison J. Carr is a contemporary art lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, UK, and an associate lecturer in the Fine Art and Media & Communication departments at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. She is an artist and writer whose works have been exhibited and performed in Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham, London, Berlin, Giverny, Los Angeles, and Indiana.