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Back to Vol.1 No.23 16 March 1940

Band Wagon Vol.1 No.23 16 March 1940 0009

Band Wagon Vol.1 No.23 16 March 1940 0009

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Band Wagon takes a cross cut of opinion in show business on the advisability of the presentation of strip'tease on the stage, and “Mr. Aye” and “Mr. Noe” cCebate the issue.




An Independent Weekly Newspaper

gTRIP tease has spread from the night club to the West End stage—from the West End stage to the suburban and provincial music hall.

It has been the subject of attacks in the national press.

Has strip tease entertainment value ? Do the British public want nudity?

In this, the progressive performers’ paper, we must face not only the moral issue but the effect of this trend to nudity on the entertainment industry.

Here, therefore, in this symposium we present the pros and cons of the case.

i rT'HE news spotlight once y -T again focusses on the

entertainment world’s latest craze—the frank presentation of the female form for the delectation of theatre and niterie addicts.

Current popularity of stage and cabaret nudism has galvanised prudish busvbodies into frenzied action, with the result that a number of surreptitious moves have been made by the “ antis ” to bring official disapproval down on these displays of anatomical pulchritude.

T ime was when the Mrs. Grundy adherents would voice their outraged feelings by means of letters to the national press, pulpit attacks and other such open warfare.

Now. however, the killjoymongers are more subtle. A gentle hint dropped to officialdom is the modern Grundy technique, and the first that is known of any objections to scantily-clad chorines is, perhaps, a short news item in the papers to the effect that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner is keeping an eye on alleged nudity in night haunts.

Questions asked on this matter by Members of Parliament in the House of Commons often betray the whispers of interested prudes, who have “ put in the poison ” by a discreei note to their particular elected representative.

If the trend in favour of artistic feminine disrobing had any vicious tendencies none could object to the silent campaign of the dissenters, but the fact is that in the wide majority of cases nude showmanship is completely harmless.

The chorus girl who stands in the spotlight without benefit of wardrobe is just as likely to be a completely moral young woman, out to earn a living, as her toe-lapping contemporary who



appears with brassiere and frilly skirts in the same entertainment.

For many years the Paris show world has had a virtual monopoly of this “ female-form-divine ” business, superbly artistic presentations, figuring largely in the programmes of the Folies Bergère, Casino, Palace and other theatres, as (Continued on page 11)

♦ + ♦

A CT managers are Save— complaining of

•3«^» the increasing diffi-

culty in selling talented girl vocalists and dancers.

By direct question or by inference, bookers evince an interest* only in the amount of apparel girls will divest during the progress of their acts.

This situation has become aggravated since the outbreak of war, which was regarded in certain circles as a signal to disregard accepted ideas of decency. Already public opinion has revolted against the growing number of “artists” who employ a variety of devices to remove some semblance of crudity from their efforts to reveal the human form.

Devoid of subtlety

Not the least annoyed by this unfortunate turn of. events are legitimate variety artists, who depend for their

livelihood on routines which necessitate years of preparation and experience.

Very little claim to artistry can be

made for many acts of the “ strip ” variety. Most of them are so completely devoid of subtlety that they fail to

achieve their blatant object.

If, however, dictators of entertainment are convinced of the box-office value of the human form, it would be interesting to know why their presentations are confined to the female sex alone.

If for the sake of argument we defend such presentations on the grounds of artistic merit, it is generally agreed that the well-developed male body is more beautiful than that of the female.

Moreover, the fact that the woman is

Inez Torode presents a series of Living Pictures in the touring production of “ Black and Blue.” Landseer took this picture of her “ Love Locked Out ” from the auditorium.

the instigator of most purchases is an elementary principle of salesmanship, so that managers might be well advised to consider the box-office possibilities of a male “ strip-tease.”

An increasing number of broadminded people condemn the average “ strip-tease ” act as being indecent. Experienced entertainment executives look with apprehension on the increasing trend towards nudity in stage and cabaret.

The fact that these nude presentations have achieved greater popularity since the outbreak of war is a reflection on the morals of our fighting forces. These men were a few months ago decent middle-class civilians.

They spent their leisure hours pursuing normal recreations and visiting entertainments of the family type. Does the fact that they now wear uniform mean that their outlook has become suddenly distorted ?

Misguided managements whc compete with each other in an effort to secure the services of the various exponents of this vulgar exhibitionism will find to their cost that the entertainment value of such presentations is grossly overrated.

Peggy Rawlings (Mrs. “Stinker” Murdoch), who will appear in “ Come Out To Play! ”, the nqw song - dance - and - comedy show coming to the Phoenix Theatre on March 19th (Tuesday).


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# Miss Pamela Saxby : I have had

\ several offers of variety dates but I I would never take my cabaret act on to the halls as it stands. 1 do not think that the variety stage is the place for complete strip tease and if I ever do play variety 1 shall modify my turn to make it acceptable to family audiences.

Mr. Bert A/.a : Personally I’m very glad to see that the authorities are waking up and taking notice of this strip tease craze.

Strip tease is all very well in the right atmosphere, such as certain Parisian type iheatres in the West End. One does not expect to see them at almost every variety theatre and music hall in the country.

Some of the stars whom I have the honour to represent, such as Gracie Fields, Stanley Holloway and Duggie Wakefield, definitely attract the family audience and I am sure they would never forgive me if I were to book a strip act for their road shows.


Join in the argument

My motlo has always been “ Keep the Party Clean.”

Mr. Leonard Urry : Strip tease is dying of its own unoriginality. I see very little reason to help keep it alive on the variety stage where it has been, after all, but a passing craze.

Mr. Jack Roberton : The public has shown quite unmistakably that it wants strip tease and it is my job to give the public what it wants. That 1 am justified is proved by the handsome returns coming in from my shows. But my strip acts have all been licensed by (he Lord Chamberlain and they are presented in such an attractive way that nobody could take offence at them.

Mr. Will Hay, Junr.: Speaking as

an artist who has suffered by being placed on the same bill as a strip tease

act, I can say that 1 firmly believe that such displays should have no place on a stage which caters to a family audience. Cabaret, with its more sophisticated audiences, is the right place for them.

Mr. Albert Whelan : The public pays its money to be entertained, not to have its women-folk insulted.

A Man in the Street: I wouldn’t take my wife and family to see any variety show in which a strip tease was featured—but I might go twice myself to make up for it.

Mr. Val Parnell : (G.T.C. and Moss Empires.) From now on, all strip tease acts will be banned from our circuits. This does not apply to certain artistic presentations which are attractively produced and presented and does not affect any of our West End productions. which cannot be classed as strip tease.