The Case of the Sexy Jewess: Dance, Gender and Jewish Joke-work in US Pop Culture

ISBN : 9780190624200

Hannah Schwadron
216 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Amidst the growing forums of kinky Jews, orthodox drag queens, and Jewish geisha girls, we find today's sexy Jewess in a host of reflexive plays with sexed-up self-display. A social phantasm with real legs, she moves boldly between neo-burlesque striptease, comedy television, ballet movies, and progressive porn to construct the 21st Century Jewish American woman through charisma and comic craft, in-your-face antics, and offensive charm. Her image redresses longstanding stereotypes of the hag, the Jewish mother, and Jewish American princess that have demeaned the Jewish woman as overly demanding, inappropriate, and unattractive across the 20th century, even as Jews assimilated into the American mainstream. But why does sexy work to update tropes of the Jewish woman? And how does sex link to humor in order for this update to work? Entangling questions of sexiness to race, gender, and class, The Case of the Sexy Jewess frames an embodied joke-work genre that is most often, but not always meant to be funny. In a contemporary period after the thrusts of assimilation and women's liberation movements, performances usher in new versions of old scripts with ranging consequences. At the core is the recuperative performance of identity through impersonation, and the question of its radical or conservative potential. Appropriating, re-appropriating, and mis-appropriating identity material within and beyond their midst, Sexy Jewess artists play up the failed logic of representation by mocking identity categories altogether. They act as comic chameleons, morphing between margin and center in countless number of charged caricatures. Embodying ethnic and gender positions as always already on the edge while ever more in the middle, contemporary Jewish female performers extend a comic tradition in new contexts, mobilizing progressive discourses from positions of newfound race and gender privilege.


Acknowledgements ; Introduction; The Case of the Sexy Jewess; Repetition with a Difference and the Joke Body; Expressive Confessions of a Face Like That; All in a Look; The Corporeal Turn for New Jewish Studies Identity Acts and Impersonations; Jewish Joke-Work and the Doubled Female Subject; The Queer Play of Self-Display; Methods and Materials; Notes; Chapter 1; Nice Girls Gone Blue: Neo-Burlesque Nostalgia and the Downwardly Mobile; Rockette Fantasies and the Menorah Horah; Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad and Ordering Chinese On Christmas Eve; Polyester Feminism and the Stakes of Self-Display; Sexy Spirit and the Do-It-Yourself Scheme; Conclusion; Notes; Chapter 2; Hello, Gorgeous and the Historical Lens: How Funny Girls Became Sexy; Fanny Brice, Barbra Streisand, and the Joke of the Jewish Swan; Sophie Tucker, Betty Boop, and the Bawdy Body Blacking Up; Party Albums, Postwar Ambitions, and the Jewish American Princess; Sexy Jews and Leggy Moves: Bunnies, Babes, and Mermaid Maneuvers; Conclusion; Notes; Chapter 3; Comic Glory (and Guilt): The Appropriative License of Jewish Female Comedy; Sandra Bernhard and the I/You Other; Race, Sex, and the Sarah Silverman Effect; Broad City's Bad Girls Getting Bi In-Between; Conclusion; Notes; Chapter 4; Black Swan, White Nose: Jewish Horror and Ballet Birds By Any Other Name; Synopsis and Setup: Thriller Ballet and Jewish Swans All Sexed Up; Facing the Jewish Female Monster; Jewish Swans, Queer Contexts; Lesbian Sex and Swan Sin: Thrills Fit to Forget; Swan Queen Kills Herself, Saves Ballet?; The Funny Thing About Horror: Moving Across Genres; Conclusion; Notes; Chapter 5; Punk Porn Princess Joanna Angel and the Rise of Jewess Raunch; From the Porn Wars to Post-feminism; Piggish Authority and Sexual Commodification; At Home in Burning Angel and Joanna's Jewish Roots; Blow Up Joanna and the Jewish Doppelganger; Heeb Magazine and the Jewish Cutting Edge; The Game of Interracial Porn and Joanna's Phallic Check Mate; Conclusion; Notes; Conclusion; At the Edge and In Your Face; Notes; Bibliography; Index


Hannah Schwadron is Assistant Professor in the School of Dance at Florida State University