Beauty contests? How about burlesque?Hey, no one has dug out any of the beauty contest pics from the archives? There are tons of those.
What adds extra interest to the photos of the girls on the street is the location. The Lux was at 362 College Street (just west of Brunswick), which in 1960 was still solidly Jewish/Italian middle-class. Hard to think of that "live and let live attitude" existing today.Honey, why are you wearing your trench coat just to go to the bar?
Oh, um, it's a bit chilly today.
Of course. the main reason burlesque was tolerated was the assumption that burlesque performers would stay within a socially and legally defined limit. Public nudity in all forms was illegal, and public morality squads guaranteed this was the case. An exposed breast would land you in the Don in a heartbeat. it was a time of twirling tassels and pasties, shimmy belts and opera gloves. all that changed in the late sixties with the rise of ‘topless go-go dancing', and the invention of ‘stripping’ as we know it….Did they go any further (or less) clothing wise in those days? If not certainly tame as compared to today.
I suspect a lot of the sadness seems to come from the fact that theatres were places that represented freedom and fantasy; a refuge for the imagination, and a place to escape from the mundane, the difficult, and the drudgery of everyday life. To see one of these â€˜dream palacesâ€™ laid low by the wreckerâ€™s ball is heartbreaking because it represents the ultimate victory of an ugly or banal commercial â€˜realityâ€™ over the world of art and imaginationâ€¦Nothing seems sadder or more evocative of time passing by than the demolition of a theatre (thanks, deepend for the Princess shots). Back to La Swanson at the demolition of the Roxy in New York, taken for LIFE Magazine October 1960 (and the inspiration for Stephen Sondheim's musical "Follies"). Felt the same when the University and Odeon Carlton bit the dust:
There's a long tradition of portraying ruins in Western painting ("The Pleasure of Ruins" was the title of a book by Rose Macauley). Perhaps what's so poignant about Detroit is that it's all happened within our lifetime (not over centuries like in Rome) and that we have parents and grandparents who remember Detroit in its glory.On a total side noteâ€”and speaking of devastated monumental spaces, I took a trip to Detroit a few months ago and spent a while photographing their abandoned train station. It is also a very poignant remnant of a â€˜better timeâ€™â€¦.