Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West
By Michael Rutter
Upstairs Girls demystifies the stereotype of the “hooker with a heart of gold” so popularized by film and media in the twentieth century. We’ve all seen the western movies showing the fancy dance hall girls, but that necessarily wasn’t always the case.
Author and historian Michael Rutter brings forth historical documentation describing and explaining the real truth of the prostitution profession in the Wild West. Broken into three parts, Rutter details the truth behind the varied levels of prostitution, as well as the Dance Hall Girls and the Purity Movement as correlations to prostitution, and finishes with biographies of popular western prostitutes. Rutter explains how women found themselves in the situation of choosing the “Sisterhood,” as well as the different classifications of prostitution in the old west. Not every woman was able to work her way into a fancy brothel with beautiful dresses and fine furnishings, and Rutter illustrates all conditions, no matter how horrific, including the Chinese sex trade so often overlooked by popular media.
In addition to learning about the history of prostitution in the Wild West, enjoy biographies of many famous wild women, from Calamity Jane to Fannie Silks to Ah Toy. Read about your favorites, and discover new women to admire. Many rose to positions of significant power from their wits alone, like Ah Toy. Ah was put into the Chinese sex trade as a young woman, but using her sharp mind, she fought her way to the best position of power a woman could, even in the face of Chinese persecution. She even took cases to court, a rarity even for prestigious white women of her time! Read Ah Toy’s story in this fun book, and many more!
Check out Upstairs Girls and other great books about the Wild West today!