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Carnival Strippers Hardcover – September 2, 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Steidl; 2 Revised edition (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3882439548
  • ISBN-13: 978-3882439540
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #882,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Carnival Strippers" is a photographic documentary of the carnival strip shows that flourished in county fairs in small-town New England through the late 1970s. The book consists of photographs of the strippers, the managers, callers, and barkers who run the shows, and their customers, or "marks".
The book first appeared in 1976 and his long been out-of-print. The photographer, Susan Meiselas, was at the time a young woman just out of graduate school. She spent the summers of 1972 -- 1975 following the carnivals and in getting to know the women to photograph them and their environs. She at first offered her photographs and interviews to various feminist publications who turned them down.
Meiselas subsequently went on to a distinguished career as a documentary photographer working extensively in Central America and Kurdistan. In 1992, Meiselas was named a MacArthur fellow.
"Carnival Strippers" received attention upon its initial publication for its frank, but nonjudgmental portrayal of its tawdry subject. The book was made into two plays before it, like the carnival strip shows themselves disappeared from attention. Then, in 2000, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City featured a retrospective of the photographs. The Whitney Museum published this second edition of "Carnival Strippers" in 2003 with Sylvia Wolf, curator of photography at the Museum contributing an essay. Deidre English of the Graduate School of Photojournalism at the University of California at Berkeley has also written an essay for the book.
In the 2003 edition, 16 new photographs are added from Meiselas's source materials and 13 photographs that appeared in the 1976 edition are deleted, making a total of 76 photographs in the book. The new edition is also rearranged from the initial text.
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Format: Hardcover
Frankly this book is incredible. I'm a carnival performer and history buff and in my opinion it's always been a tragedy that carnivals of yesteryear are remembered now almost entirely for the sideshows. Rides, games, spook houses and sex were all part of the classic carnival allure; this book is dedicated to the latter and portrays the Girlshow at it's best and most real.

Most impressive to me was the fact the author says almost nothing of her own opinions or ideas regarding the girls, the talkers or the lifestyle. Instead the reader is simply treated to the text of her interviews and therefore only the ideas of the people who performed and in some cases the people that watched.

As performer I was especially pleased to read in it's entirety an original Girlshow "talk" or "bally" at the front of the book, and I love the unabashed and often casual photos taken back stage, all of witch give one an insiders sense of what it must have been like in the glory days.
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Format: Hardcover
As a small kid, I was always fascinated by the carnival strippers and the forbidden world behind the platform. Finally, these pictures outline what that world was like for those women who danced. No, the pictures aren't pretty, but realistic and honest. I came away from these pics with more respect for the kind of work that these ladies did. The world of the carnival stripper is gone, but these wonderful and gritty pictures allow us one more intimate look at an all but forgotten time period.
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Format: Hardcover
I remember the carnivals, but I was too young for the side-shows (some of them, anyway), and the book, with very good pictures, is an outstanding coverage of the genre. The book includes interviews with performers and patrons, to give you the flavor of the world you are reading about.
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Format: Hardcover
Robin Friedman's review of the 2003 revised edition of Susan Meiselas photographic documentary of "Carnival Strippers" is comprehensive, thoughtful and engaging. No wonder Robin is one of Amazon's star reviewers. Even so, to fully appreciate Meiselas' extraordinary accomplishment you must confront the book on its own terms. Here's how she suggests that you go about it:

"Any book allows it reader to distance himself. The curtain closing on the girl show stage is replaced by the page turning over. Like the show, the book represents coexistent aspects of a phenomenon, one which horrifies,one which honors. If the viewer is appalled [as I was] by what follows, that reaction is not so difference from the alienation of those who participate in the shows." From the forward of the 1976 edition which appeared while the shows were still a part of the American carnival scene."

End note: The 2003 Whitney Museum exhibition of the Meiselas photographs and its publication of this thoughtful revision of the original 1976 edition is a credit to all concerned. Both the original cloth bound and paperback editions as well as the three editions of the Whitney reissue are available. For example, see the listings on Addall.com where the prices range from $30.00 for a fair copy of the first edition paperback to nearly $2000 for a signed first edition. Take your pick.
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