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CAMERA NIGHT AT THE IVAR


COMING SOON
New & revised 2021 Edition
8 x10 Harcover, Image wrap, 90 pages

Featuring photographs by: Norman Breslow, Bill Dane, David Fahey, Anthony Friedkin, Michael Guske, Ryan Herz , Beth Herzhaft, Paul McDonough and others

Essays by Mike Kelly and Patricio Maya


The Ivar Theatre in Hollywood started life as a legitimate performance theater when it first opened in 1951. It later became a rock club. Performers through the years have included Lord Buckley, Lenny Bruce and many others. The Grateful Dead played there in 1966. The theatre changed hands frequently and by the 1970's it became a full-nudity strip joint - one of the last standing "Burlesk" houses in the United States.

The Ivar was lewd and notorious in its day. It was described by its patrons as "a chamber of desperation, a mausoleum for souls -- on and off the runway." Ross MacLean, one time stage manager and spotlight operator for two years, says "It's difficult to convey how bizarrely un-sexy and un-romantic the place was. A lot of the girls just danced around in street clothes, and took them off with about as much charm as someone undressing in a locker room."

Sunday and Tuesday evenings were camera nights, where for the cover charge the customers could take as many pictures as they liked. Each girl's show lasted twenty minutes; she was required to be fully undressed after five, and a minimum of five minutes was to be used with "floor work": moving about either seated or prone on the runway. If a customer put a dollar on the catwalk, the performer would give him an up-close and very personal view of her body.

At the time the club drew many now-notable photographers including Garry Winogrand (who, according to historian John Szarkowski, shot 150 rolls of film there) In allowing photographs to be taken inside the club, it gives us an incredible look at an audience of voyeurs, normally protected by the cover of darkness. In that split second of the camera's flash, we can see the men in the audience, their facial expressions, how they're sitting, where they're looking or not looking.

Camera Night at the Ivar is a record of its time. The show chronicles a post-burlesque era in Hollywood where aspiring dancers or would-be actresses needing a few dollars, expose their bodies- where many noted photographers recorded these naked moments. Limited to its time, historical, photographers photographing people watching people. These photos are as much about the relationship between the women on stage and the men in the audience as it is about the actual image and the photographers who took them

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Exhibition link