Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Committee Member

Deirdre Clemente

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Nelson

Third Committee Member

Greg Hise

Fourth Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Number of Pages

116

Abstract

In mid-twentieth century America, the practice of mixing – the required visibility of performers outside of their time on stage for an economic purpose – cut across the various genres of sexualized female labor, from showgirls to exotic dancers and the professional women who occupied the space between. Mixing required performers socialize with patrons, encouraging them to buy drinks and was expected of a wide variety of female professionals in the decades following the Second World War, including burlesque performers, gogo dancers, exotic dancers, and showgirls, hostesses, waitresses, and B-girls. Women’s bodies have historically been a part of a commercialized leisure culture based on socially acceptable misbehavior, which naturally led to morally-guided legislation that served to restrict labor opportunities for these women and further conflated their profession with prostitution. The study of mixing provides the opportunity to see more clearly the often-blurry lines between job requirements and job expectations, between implied sexual availability

and actual sex work, and between the various definitions of the performative labors of female entertainers.

This thesis demonstrates that mixing shaped both the labor of female performers and the narratives that surrounded their work. Due to its ubiquity in mid-twentieth century American entertainment, the practice of mixing is a valuable tool to contextualize the experience of a wide variety of female performers at an intersection of sexuality, labor, and gender studies. This work contributes to a growing body of scholarship that reevaluates prevailing narrative of sexual conservativeness in the decades prior to the Sexual Revolution and the professionalization of women’s labor. The requirement of female performers to mix changed the job of exotic dancers over

time, creating the economic model for the modern strip club industry.

Keywords

b drinking; entertainment; exotic dance; mixing; showgirl; womens labor

Disciplines

Labor Economics

Language

English

Available for download on Thursday, May 15, 2025


Share

COinS