Into the Canvas World of Bump and Grind
A. W. Stencell
Girls! Girls! Girls! The carnivals, the girls, and the scams — a journey back through time to the glory years of traveling adult entertainment. Many of these photos have never been seen before, and no one has published a book exclusively devoted to the women (and men) who performed in Girl Shows. Picture yourself at a carnival in the 1950s. It’s summer, and after you wander through the midway, you head towards the sideshow area. There, on stage in front of huge banners, is Tirza — The Wine Bath Girl. A crowd has already gathered, and the talker is describing the pleasures to be found inside, but only after you’ve bought your ticket. “See the beautiful Tirza, in the altogether, taking a full bath — in wine!”
Interested? Unfortunately, you can’t attend these Girl Shows anymore. The last performances occurred in the mid-1970s. But you can see 200 photos from 1900 onwards in A.W. Stencell’s book about this cultural phenomenon. And you can read about their European origins, their American developments, their heyday after World War II, and their ultimate demise in the face of men's magazines, strip clubs, and x-rated videos.
A.W. Stencell (born of normal parents) owned and operated his own circus for 19 years. Always an avid collector, he has found thousands of photos and illustrations of circuses, and interviewed hundreds of ex-carnival people.