Carnival Strippers

Carnival Strippers
October 14, 2019 expos

Carnival Strippers

Susan Meiselas


From 1972 to 1975, Susan Meiselas spent her summers photographing and interviewing women who performed striptease for itinerant carnivals throughout New England. She portrayed the dancers on stage and off, photographing their public performances as well as their private lives. She also taped interviews with them, their boyfriends, the show managers, and customers. Through these testimonies, she gives them a voice, presenting their words alongside their portraits and reportage. Her subjects offered a variety of perspectives on sex within the context of poverty, class and society at large. Meiselas explored a multi-dimensional male perspective, presenting a patchwork of views other than a stereotypical macho position. As she concentrates her work on women, Meiselas discovers that the lack of access to an independent income appears to have led many of the carnival’s strippers into the job. Meiselas’s Carnival Strippers brings to the fore differing views on women, sex, society, and class, exploring the sometimes hard-to-define line between independence and exploitation.


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