Girl shows probably started in the Harems and Orgies of ancient Babylon and Cairo, thousands of years ago.

 

Carnival type girl shows started with "Little Egypt" a belly "Cooch" dancer who worked for Delegation in a show "Streets Of Cairo" at the Columbian Worlds Exposition in Chicago. 1893-1894.

 

Originally burlesque was a type of comedy theatre in which the plays etc. were parodies. Well into the thirties when the more exotic and then strip tease came along, and the skits were plots with much double ontronde.

 

The original carnival girl shows were vaudeville style revues with large casts and orchestras. Then added were posing shows where near nude tableaus were presented, representing classical paintings. Oriental shows presented belly "Cooch" dancers. Hawaiian shows with sexy hula dances, and Rhumba shows with the hip swinging Latin dances, etc.

 

In the thirties the smaller girl shows were seen on the midways and they became bolder to what ever extent the law allowed. The "girl shows" could only work with carnivals that had a "Legal Adjuster" i.e.: fixer. By the late 1970s it was about all over. The fixers could no longer square the fuzz. By then every town that they used to square for girl shows and mainly the flat store had become fixable for local drug dealers who could pay off in much more
serious largess than a carnival. The locals didn't want to take a chance of public outcry, that might put the finger on the fuzz. People might wonder why any 12 year old kid in a bad neighborhood could point out the local drug dealers, while the fuzz couldn't find them.????

 

That is why the carnival and circus biz got so Sunday School. Not because they no longer wanted girl shows, flat stores etc. In the late 40s, early 50's there were over 100 girl shows in the carnival industry. Some fairs that were fixed solid would have as many as eight
or more girl shows lined up one after another. Assisting in the girl shows decline also were the local girl clubs springing up in hundreds of towns, Some of these local operations were fixed so solid that if a carnival girl show came to town the fuzz wouldn't let them work as strong as the local operator, at the behest of the local who didn't want the competition. Now at the end of 2007, I do not believe there has been a carnival or circus that has had a
girl show in many years. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE GIRLS?? THEY ARE NOW WORKING IN THE CLUBS EARNING MUCH MORE THAN THE EQUIVALENT OF THEIR EARNINGS IN OUTDOOR SHOW BUSINESS without the discomfort of weather.

 

PS None of those shows had glass dancers, et. That was not the part of the economy the fellows were lookin at. Girl shows (not the revues) were for admittance to men only.


Outdoor show business was more fun in those days.

 

Cordially, Ward Hall PPS.


I highly recommend "Girl Show" by Al Stencil;. it is accurate. For the history prior to girl shows, I recommend "A Pictorial History Of The American Carnival" by Joe McKennon.

 


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