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Sally Rand in 1933: Unfair to Nudism! (NSFW)

  |   Art, History, Video   |   1 Comment

Last week I posted some photos by Seymour Snaer from 1939, a couple of which were of Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch from the Golden Gate International Exposition that took place on Treasure Island. Rand is worth a closer look, if you know what I mean. Take a peep after the jump…

Above is her “Bubble Dance,” which, along with her fan dance, is what she’s most well-known for. Even though there are a few editing cheats I think the video’s pretty amazing. Her dance has been imitated by many since, but, well, if you find any that you think are better than Rand’s, post them to the comments.

Here’s her fan dance:

She had premiered her larger act at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair (for which she was supposedly arrested multiple times even though she was wearing a full body suit, only giving the illusion of nudity). In ’36 she opened “The Music Box” burlesque hall in San Francisco in what is now the Great American Music Hall.

The most amazing part of the story is this photo of nudist protestors in Balboa Park, San Diego demonstrating against Sally for, I guess, making bad press for them.

Sally Rand Nudist Protestors
Photo courtesy of Calisphere

Indeed, she was quoted in Liberty Magazine in 1975 as saying, “I have no use for nudism. I don’t believe in cults of any kind.”

But not all the press about nudism was bad. From the San Francisco neighborhood paper, Polk Progress, commenting on the ’39 expo on Treasure Island:

One might gather from the snickering and naughty attitude toward the ‘flesh’ shows at the Exposition, that the success of the $50,000,000 enterprise hangs or fails upon the relative number of inches of epidermis displayed. Bringing stag shows out into the open in order that women may attend and feel devilish will pay good dividends, but the marvelous exhibitions of paintings and other displays will also attract a few. ((Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco))

Stepping back, I find it nearly unimaginable that an event such as a world’s fair, even in San Francisco, would today get away with the sort of nudity they accomplished in 1939; nearly as unimaginable is a media publication dismissing the outrage over the nudity.

Maybe those protestors were onto something!

Sally Rand's Nude Ranch
Image found here

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