Working Girls

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2018-10-07
  • Publisher: Glitterati Inc
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What started out as a simple trip to a postcard fair turned into a lifelong investigation for author Robert Flynn Johnson. Captivated by the beauty and originality of a group of nineteenth-century photographs of women, he had to know more.

Now, nearly a decade after his first encounter with the images, Johnson has uncovered more than two hundred vintage photographs of women who lived and worked at a brothel in Reading, Pennsylvania, circa 1892. Taken by commercial photographer William Goldman, the photographs paint a full picture of the environment that the women inhabited—from inside the brothel, posing artistically for the camera, to their off-duty routines, such as reading, smoking, and bathing. Never-before published and taken two decades before the famous E. J. Bellocq photographs of prostitutes in Storyville in New Orleans circa 1913, these beautifully produced photographs are only now seeing the light of day.

Johnson uses these photographs to detail their aesthetic, historical, and sociological importance in the history of photography, examining them alongside paintings and photographs by such artists as Degas, Picasso, Atget, and more. Accompanied by essays from Professor Ruth Rosen and Dennita Sewell that provide an insightful historical overview of these images in context of the period in which they were taken and a preface from famed burlesque dancer Dita von Teese, this volume provides a personal visual record of lives of these women while also offering a deeper understanding of the Working Girls that existed more than 120 years ago.

Author Biography

Robert Flynn Johnson?is a curator emeritus, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. His books include?The Face in the Lens: Anonymous Photographs, Anonymous: Enigmatic Images from Unknown Photographers, and?Being Human.? His book published in 1998, Plant Kingdoms: The Photographs of Charles Jones was named one of the best photography books of the year and was also a historical photography book. He is widely acknowledged internationally as a leader in this segment of the photography world. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Ruth Rosen, a professor emerita at the University of California, Davis, teaches history and public policy at UC Berkeley. She is the editor of The Maimie Papers and author of Prostitution in America. She is a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and editorial writer and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. A cofounder and senior fellow of the Longview Institute, she writes for a wide variety of magazines and journals, including TomDispatch.com, The History News Network, TomPaine.com, The American Prospect, Dissent, The Nation, AlterNet.org, and is a regular contributor to the online political Web site Talking Points Memo Café. She lives in San Francisco, California.

Dita Von Teese is the brightest star in burlesque since Gypsy Rose Lee. As style icon and muse to artists, designers, and photographers, she has appeared on magazine covers and runways for Jean Paul Gaultier, Moschino, and Giambattista Valli, and is the performer of choice for Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, and Louis Vuitton. Her DIY beauty ethos and entrepreneurial ventures—designing award-winning perfumes, lingerie, gloves, and clothes, and as directing producer on her touring stage extravaganzas—have established her as a role model to women. Her books include the bestseller Burlesque and the Art of the Teese/Fetish and the Art of the Teese and Dita: Stripteese. Dita and her feline, Aleister, live under the gaze of the star-viewing Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.

Dennita Sewell has been Curator of Fashion Design at Phoenix Art Museum since January 2000. She received her MFA in Design from the Yale School of Drama and BA in Textile and Apparel Management from the University of Missouri. Prior to Phoenix, Sewell was Collections Manager at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. At Phoenix Art Museum she has organized exhibitions on topics ranging from motorcycle jackets to contemporary designers drawn from the Museum's comprehensive collection, international fashion houses and private collections. Her exhibition catalogues include Way Haute West, Garden of Eden, Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorokko Style and Fashion Independent: The Original Style of Ann Bonfoey Taylor. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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