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Storyville Photos & Music (NSFW)

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On May 29th, Vintage Vivant will present an evening of Hot Jazz, sex and sin inspired by Storyville, vintage lingerie and secrets of the boudoir. Before we get to the eyecandy of inspiration posts, we present a little history lesson about New Orleans and it’s infamous Red Light District.
In the early 20th century, photographer E. J. Bellocq became known for his portraits of prostitutes of Storyville, which was the Red Light District of New Orleans from 1897 through 1917.

Between 1895 and

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1915, “blue books” were published in Storyville. These books were guides to prostitution for visitors to the district’s services including house descriptions, prices, particular services and the “stock” each house had to offer. The Storyville blue-books were inscribed with the motto: “Order of the Garter: Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense (Shame to Him Who Evil Thinks).”

At the turn of the century, prostitution was an even more unusual subject for photography than today, and the experience of being photographed was far different. At that time, it would have been a special occasion, a form of attention that required time and collaboration. In spite of the large, unwieldy 8 x 10 camera, Bellocq’s pictures appear natural, and the women seem open and trusting. There’s a nonthreatening presence with an unprecedented degree of empathy permeating his work, rather than the usual sense of someone in a power position objectifying his or her subject. Bellocq’s photos do not show prostitution as a reductive identity. - Nan GoldinThe birth of Jazz is often associated with Storyville, although it did not originate there – it was played all over town, but many people heard it there for the first time. The better Storyville establishments often hired a piano player or small bands to entertain clients. Jelly Roll Morton is one of the better-known piano players to come out of the Storyville district. In the brothels, he often sang smutty lyrics and it was at this time that he took the nickname “Jelly Roll” — slang for female genitalia.

Here are some videos of jazz musicians who made a name for themselves in Storyville:


King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band – Dippermouth Blues (Sugarfoot Stomp) 1923


Jelly Roll Morton – King Porter Stomp


It Should Be You – with Pops Foster on piano


Jimmie Noone – You Rascal you

On May 29th, Vintage Vivant welcomes pianist Reese Gray, who got his start playing New Orleans in his younger years.

Reese Gray plays “Tiger Rag” with the White Ghost Shivers in Berlin, 2009.

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05/10/2011 | Filed under music.

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