In 1953, Bettie Page posed for a guide to striptease entitled “This is as far as you can go,” in the Christmas issue of Carnival magazine.
Carnival was “a magazine of excitement” and Bettie P. was photographed to help its readers understand the laws pertaining to what they could or could not see, or rather what a stripper could or could not show when it came to stripping. Seven states permitted striptease, each with its own code, though there was often considerable leeway over what was permitted in a strip show depending on local ordinances.
In America striptease can be traced as far back as the carnivals that traveled across country. The earliest striptease star was Charmion, who had a famous “dis-robing” act from around 1896 in which she stripped on a trapeze. This was later filmed by Thomas Edison in 1901—see below.
Here’s Bettie Page’s seven state guide for strip-teasers—“This is as far as you can go.”
You’ve got to be covered from thigh to shoulders, but you don’t have to use a horse blanket. To strippers, knowledge of local ordinances is vital.
Coverage must resemble bra and panties whenever possible. What happens in the heat of summer is fun, too.
Texans are not notably fastidious about their dress, but they want their daughters to cover at least six inches around the hips. Visiting girls are encouraged to maintain the same lively standards.
California is where little girls go to be big movie stars. Some of them wind up in strip alley, where they can remove everything but bra and panties. The Breen Office doesn’t care.
Illinois means Chicago, and Chicago means let ‘er rip. Limit in Chicago depends on the club owners’ discretion. Chicago club owners’ are hardly noted for discretion. Generally speaking, strippers find that climate of opinion, rather than local ordinances set the tone. In most cases strip laws forbid indecent exposure. Definition of indecency will depend on police chiefs.
…in New York
Who’s mayor counts a lot. In ’41 bumps had to be sideways, and the girls could uncover only one breast for eight bars of music. Now the girls might as well stay home, which is where many patrons are.
New Orleans is noted for its gay French market, and its Old World charm. It is also noted for what you can see on stage, which has a kind of charm, too. No further comments is needed, or forthcoming.
Thomas Edison filmed a performance by one of America’s earliest practitioners of the striptease Charmion for his short film Trapeze Disrobing Act in 1901.