Upstairs Girls
Prostitution in the American West

by Michael Rutter

foreword by Phillip A. Snyder, PhD

published by Farcountry Press

  • Prostitutes make up one of the most engaging chapters in the story of the American West. Upstairs Girls opens a window on the lives of these women for hire.

    Historian Michael Rutter offers a thorough and fascinating history of prostitution in the West, detailing why women turned to this profession and what their lives were like. Chapters on the notorious madams, the tragic Chinese sex trade, occupational hazards, rowdy dancehall girls, and the efforts of the "Moral Purity Movement" supplement the heart-breaking and sometimes humorous profiles of some of the most infamous women in history.

232 pages, 6'' x 9'", 31 b/w photos, 8 illustrations, index, glossary, 48 softcovers per case, perfect bound

ISBN 10: 1560373571
ISBN 13: 9781560373575


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Upstairs Girls
Prostitution in the American West

"Men on the frontier were lonely and starved for female companionship. It wasn't uncommon in the far reaches of the West for soldiers, miners, mountain men, or cowboys to hold all-male dances on Friday or Saturday nights. Half the men would pin a white piece of cloth or handkerchief to their left arms and be the girls. During the next dance, they would switch genders so the other men could lead. Occasionally, men would put on hoop skirts or hoop skirt frames to give the occasion some sort of verisimilitude.

A dance with a pretty woman was a highly valued experience on the frontier. From the demand sprung the supply: enter dancehalls and women who danced for money.

In the West there were essentially three types of dancers for hire: saloon girls, dancehall girls, and hurdy gurdy girls."

-from Chapter Seven: The Dancing Girls

Michael Rutter align= Michael Rutter has authored or co-authored nearly 40 books and 600 articles for magazines and newspapers. He was awarded the Ben Franklin Award for Outdoor Writing and the Rocky Mountain Book Publishers Association Award. Michael teaches advanced writing at Brigham Young University. He is also a Christa McAuliffe Fellow.

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