As we prepare for the “Tatas For Libraries” EveryLibrary benefit show, we’ve gotten some inquisitive folks asking why a burlesque show to benefit libraries? There are many reasons, with the most obvious one being that both burlesque shows and libraries are awesome. But burlesque dancers and librarians have something else in common: they both are willing to put everything on the line to fight for their convictions.
Lets look at two iconic individuals: Lydia Thompson and Zoia Horn
While the origins of burlesque in America are hard to pin down, one of the most commonly cited examples is the British performer Lydia Thompson and her troop of British Blondes. In September of 1868, Thompson had her American debut performance. Her show included risqué clothing, cross dressing, and satire. The show was in direct violation of current social norms applied to women, which included a “female role bounded by kitchen and nursery, overlaid with piety and purity, and crowned by subservience.” Thompson’s show caused an anti-burlesque hysteria which came to a head in 1870, when the Blondes came to Chicago and were met with a scathing and malicious attack in The Chicago Tribune, calling them whores and recommending that they be driven from the city. True to form, Thompson refused to act the lady and was arrested and fined for inflicting violence against the writer of the story. She literally whipped the fellow with a horse whip. Of course, violence should never be condoned, but the media was trying to silence a woman who was turning the patriarchy on its head, and since no one came to her aid, Thompson defended herself.
Let’s fast forward a century: In 1972 Zoia Horn became the first librarian ever jailed as a matter of conscience by refusing to testify against antiwar activists accused of a bizarre terrorist plot. She spent 20 days in jail for refusing to give information about her library patrons to the FBI and then subsequently refusing to testify before a grand jury. She believed that libraries were the foundation of democracy and that “People couldn’t make intelligent decisions about how to govern themselves and make choices regarding social and political and economic issues unless they had the information.”
Where Thompson acted out, Horn did nothing. Both were incredibly brave.
And now is your opportunity to support both — brave artists and brave librarians! Saturday, September 20th, at 8:00pm at the Norse Hall in Portland, OR, Tart Cabaret will Present ‘Tatas for Libraries” a variety show with music, comedy poetry readings and traditional burlesque performers! Tickets support EveryLibrary, the first national PAC for libraries. EveryLibrary is an organization that helps secure funding for libraries at the ballot box and believes that ny library campaign anywhere should matter to every library everywhere.
Pre-sale tickets are $20 and get preferred seating and a free ticket for the door prize. Buy your tickets here!!