Burlesque, spanking and all that jazz

27Jun12

Fabulous FannySally Rand Nude RanchSally Rand Nude RanchSally Rand Nude RanchSally RandRecently, a convoluted journey through interwar years in search of spanking history in cultures as diverse as flappers, college girls and the theatre, has thrown up several random snippets.

For instance, following up a chance spanking reference on a recent TV documentary about the theatre in England and the sometimes rather rugged accommodation performers had to endure, an anecdote about a rather maternal landlady who might have spanked her younger charges emerged. No details were available on this but after some digging there was enough for the post the other day on spanking landladies.

An American connection on the same theme led to an anecdote associated with jazz clubs and flappers.

It seems that the mother of one young budding artist took in several of her daughter’s friends; spanking them whenever they broke house rules or were even ‘a minute late’ home from the theatre.

Again, while there were no further details on this, there was a reference to a husband and wife act that pretended to be father and daughter. Apparently their act included a clapper stick and a spanking scene.

A search for this act, perhaps known as the Vaughns, revealed nothing further, but on the way a whole tradition of burlesque spanking was uncovered that although largely lost to us now, did feed into several more enduring acts, pictures and movies, including the Singing Hill, the Cowcatcher’s Daughter, Betty Page and the Fabulous Fanny (pictured above).

Another curio was Sally Rand and her nude ranch. The Sally Rand Ranch was to be found in the Gayway of the 1939 Treasure Island World’s Fair. As you can see from the pictures above it was quite daring for the time and although there is no evidence of spanking in the act in these pictures, her act does fit neatly into the Cowcatcher’s Daughter tradition.

Sally Rand was no dumb beauty. On requiring a 60cm balloon for her act and finding no technology for it, she funded the research for it. However, even dancing inside a transparent balloon was too much for some.

During the California Pacific Exposition in San Diego during the winter of 1935-36, she was attacked by the crowd who threw pebbles as she danced on stage. Unphased, she retreated and despite injuries replaced the balloons with fans and carried on with her act.

Sally and the rest are just some of the racy entertainment which has been quite literally airbrushed out of history. Who knows what might turn up next.

Another curious find tomorrow.



2 Responses to “Burlesque, spanking and all that jazz”

  1. 1 Old Tom

    A fascinating article which shows how much times and attitudes have changed.

  2. 2 Michael Gray

    Yes indeed a lovely article. “Cowcatcher’s Daughter” is perhaps more Harlequinade than Burlesque but it certainly has that wonderful 1930s feel centred around a riotously misbehaving cowgirl needing, and getting, her bottom spanked.


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