Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture” as Want to Read:
Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  76 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Burlesque was a cultural threat, Allen argues, because it inverted the "normal" world of middle-class social relations and transgressed norms of "proper" feminine behavior and appearance. Initially playing to respectable middle-class audiences, burlesque was quickly relegated to the shadow-world of working-class male leisure. In this process the burlesque performer "lost" ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published May 27th 1991 by University of North Carolina Press (first published March 1st 1982)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Horrible Prettiness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Horrible Prettiness

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 09, 2016 Bruce rated it really liked it
What is considered art for the elite becomes sinful when performed for the masses. This book shows how one's position in society determines ones' views of entertainment. Burlesque started out with predominately women performers. As in Elizabethan theater all parts were played by a single gender, only in burlesques women took on male roles as well as female. Fun was verbally and physically poked at various political and cultural figures by the women. As time passed men began taking over and women ...more
Oct 02, 2007 elizabeth rated it really liked it
i'm writing a paper about stripping.
Stevi Costa
Jul 05, 2010 Stevi Costa rated it really liked it
Shelves: exam-reading
This book is an excellent cultural history of burlesque that utilizes a cultural/reception studies critical stance to examine the changes in burlesque theatre from it's American debut in 1869 through the turn of the century.

If Allen's work can be said to be lacking anything, it would be a lack of analysis of how burlesque evolved in the 20th century. His final chapter takes this up briefly, but with enough detail to explain why burlesque from the 1920s-40s has become our "cultural imaginary of b
Oct 28, 2007 Rachel rated it really liked it
All right, so I read this for my dissertation, which means it doesn't really count. BUT it was pretty good, although I wish he would've talked more about what they actually did onstage (you know, the boobies), along with all the interesting socio-cultural crap.
Jeanne T.
Sep 13, 2008 Jeanne T. rated it really liked it
Wanna read heady theory about the history of and theories about burlesque (with none of the fun?). This book is it. The grandpappy of heady theories about burlesque, this book is a must-read for would-be theorists. And that's about it.
Dec 30, 2008 Christine marked it as to-read
You might ask when I might stop reading about the burlesque. And apparently the burlesque theory. And just get onstage and let the boobies out.

And I ask myself the same thing.
Anni rated it it was amazing
Jan 05, 2012
Chip rated it liked it
Sep 28, 2011
Patrick Salkeld
Patrick Salkeld rated it really liked it
Sep 24, 2015
Becky Alice
Becky Alice rated it really liked it
May 28, 2015
Lola Montgomery
Lola Montgomery rated it it was amazing
Mar 07, 2015
Jay Eisenberg
Jay Eisenberg rated it it was amazing
Jul 04, 2015
Rita rated it liked it
Mar 04, 2012
Eleonora rated it it was amazing
Apr 07, 2015
Troy rated it liked it
Jan 11, 2009
Mer rated it really liked it
Apr 19, 2007
Christine P.
Christine P. rated it did not like it
Jul 22, 2014
Swetank Gupta
Swetank Gupta rated it really liked it
Mar 10, 2015
Rooks rated it really liked it
Mar 06, 2007
Margaret Henry
Margaret Henry rated it liked it
Nov 15, 2013
Jemma Riot
Jemma Riot rated it liked it
May 17, 2013
Caitlyn Zimmer
Caitlyn Zimmer rated it it was amazing
Nov 29, 2014
Robin Dougherty
Robin Dougherty rated it it was amazing
Jun 14, 2011
Marg rated it really liked it
Jan 27, 2013
Patty Templeton
Patty Templeton rated it liked it
Sep 06, 2014
Jana Byars
Jana Byars rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2016
Jeff rated it it was ok
Feb 21, 2016
Liz Wollman
Liz Wollman rated it it was amazing
Feb 21, 2009
Geoffrey Kabaservice
Geoffrey Kabaservice rated it really liked it
Dec 30, 2013
Bernice rated it it was ok
Dec 20, 2012
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens
  • Burlesque and the Art of the Teese / Fetish and the Art of the Teese
  • Gurlesque: The New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics
  • The Burlesque Handbook
  • Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America
  • No Applause--Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous
  • The Grand Guignol
  • Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940
  • Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class
  • Sideshow U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination
  • Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District
  • Gypsy: Memoirs of America's Most Celebrated Stripper
  • Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917
  • The Great American Pin-Up
  • From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
  • Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man: The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America
  • Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader
  • Inside the Mouse: Work and Play at Disney World

Share This Book