It’s one of those subjects inclined to arouse strong emotions. In Britain, burlesque had a revival during the 1930s and ‘40s. In London, theatrical reviews embraced tableaux vivant nudity in the form of The Windmill Theatre, with its motto “if it moves it’s rude!”
Famously, The Windmill never closed during the Blitz. Although that isn’t strictly true, it’s dancing girls and mildly erotic shows continued entertaining a mostly male audience throughout the War years and into the early 1960s. It was only with the advent of a harsher, more explicitly pornographic output, pioneered by Scouser Paul Raymond, that The Windmill stopped revolving.
In Wartime Britain The Windmill managed to evade the censorship of The Lord Chamberlain’s office. Vivian Van Damm was able to persuade Lord Cromer that to classify a living statue, motionless nude pose, as obscene, would mean the covering-up of many thousands of public monuments across the country. What was the difference between a living and a marble naked figurine, so long as neither moved? In consequence, Lord Cromer’s judicial ruling was ‘if it moves it’s rude!’
Other theatres sought to reproduce The Windmill’s success. As a result their Revudeville began to tour, to towns and cities, including Liverpool, as our show illustrates, with Miss Ira Jones and The Windmill Girl’s Fandango. Many of The Windmill girls, now in their seventies to nineties, speak fondly of the innocence of the shows, the wholesomeness of their back-stage lives and the female camaraderie, especially during the Blitz.