Spectacular Striptease: Performing the Sexual and Racial Other in Vancouver, B.C., 1945-1975
Abstract

This article explores the postwar performance of striptease in Vancouver, British Columbia, and sheds new light on received understandings of exotic dancing's "golden age," which flourished until the mid-1970s. Specifically, the racialization of the industry is charted using the hierarchically structured geography of the city's nightlife—West End vs. East End—as a frame through which to analyze archival documents and interviews. Inequalities structuring the business of bump and grind unsettle notions of stripteasers as a homogeneous category, while simultaneously revealing the diversity within dancers' experiences of stigmatization and their strategies of resistance. The article discusses the ways in which white women and women of color were differentially located within local and transnational circuits of erotic entertainment. That striptease staged the performance of not only sexual but also racial Otherness prompts a comparison of the prestige and profitability of white headliners with the resilient stereotypes and limited marketability that constrained dancers of color. An approach that probes the intersections of gender and sexuality with race and class captures the complexities of this industry and the rich histories of the business insiders, especially the erotic dancers, who gave it life.