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The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre (Gender in Performance) Hardcover – July 27, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0415100786 ISBN-10: 041510078X

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Product Details

  • Series: Gender in Performance
  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (July 27, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041510078X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415100786
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.5 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,366,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The research behind this substantial work is exceptionally impressive. It spans ancient times to modern ones, exploring cross-dressing and drag culture in theater and performance practice, with related references to art and world traditions. Senelick (drama, Tufts Univ.) presents hundreds of examples that dissect the subject with its various underlying myths, meanings, and customs, studying the historical significance and sexual implications of each. From the Greeks and Shakespeare to the lineage of female impersonators to the more current M. Butterfly, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Barry Humphries's most popular Dame Edna Everage, Senelick studies so many facets of the topic that many readers will be startled by its enormity. Despite such eye-catching chapter/section titles as "Skirting Christ," "Stages of Sodomy," "Putting on the Drag," and "Queens of Clubs," as well as the provocative nature of the subject matter itself, this is definitely a serious scholarly work with all of the trimmings and should be of prime interest to large academic, theater, and entertainment history collections.DCarol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


The Changing Room is the first major history of cross-dressing in theater. Award-winning theater historian and critic, Laurence Senelick, synthesizes a vast array of material from archival reserach and a lifetime of theater-going to provide a monumental record of cross-dressing on the stage. With 100 rare photographs, The Changing Room offers a voyeuristic vision of a lifestyle watched by many, but lived by few, and a compulsively readable, authoritative account of the theater at its most sexual.
Senelick...has written a work whose comprehensiveness, depth, and originality are only hinted at in the catchy title..
Choice, April 2001

Senelick's strong opinions, his focus on performace as fundamentally erotic, make the book absorbing and provocative..
Choice, April 2001

...every serious scholar will want this book and every library collection in the field must own it..
Choice, April 2001

Hard-bitten libertarians and libertines alike will delight in this encyclopedic work from respected scholar of all things stagy and gay, Laurence Senelick. This is a book that doesn't make a demand for tolerance, just common sense. His prose [is] always droll and incisive. [A] superb piece of research..

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By bob black on September 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Laurence Senelick's The Changing Room is an entertaining and well-written exploration of the "inherent sexuality of all performance, the ability of the live theatre to construct gender variants unencountered anywhere else, and an abiding 'queerness' in the most authentic types of theatre...."
Scholars will mine the rich lode of material found in the text and the footnotes. Less exacting readers, including this reviewer, will find the book a curious admixture of fascinating, funny, and illuminating. I am still smiling at Senelick's description of the untimely passage of Bert Savoy, an entertainer with whom i was not familiar: "Rumour ran that he had exclaimed 'Mercy, ain't Miss God cutting up something awful!' just before he was struck by lightning.
The book is illustrated by numerous photographs which are equally interesting.
The Changing Room's greatest accomplishment is to synthesize many centuries of material in a manner which places our contemporary experience in perspective. I ordered the book to read about an entertainer who particularly intrigues me. I ended up spending the weekend reading the whole book. It is without any reservation that I heartily recommend The Changing Room to all readers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have used this book for four college papers now, including my senior thesis. It is well researched, well illustrated, and fairly easy to read. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the history of drag and theatre.
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5 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Drag performances tend to be funny and light. Of course, studying gender and studying gender in relation to theatre warrants a "heavier" reading of such performances..... But STILL, this book is as fat as a binder and is as dense as a computer manual.... Nothing you could read from cover to cover -- and I think that this would have been a lot more fun.
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