WHEN NELL RETURNED TO THE breakroom, her waitress’ apron was full of money. Her coworkers, spotting the dollar bills, laughed. “Them ain’t tips,” said one waitress. “Them is dates, ain’t they, Nell?”
Nell displayed the cash to her friends. “Sure,” she said. “Be thankful for a dollar in these hard times!” Nell wasn’t the only waitress in the Chicago restaurant who found herself turning to some form of sex work, from casual dates in exchange for clothes or gifts, to sex acts in exchange for money. There was Marietta, who went on dates and engaged in other “unquotable” activities for tulips and candy, and Daisy, who beefed up her meager tips with sex acts under the table. But the sexualization wasn’t always so overt. As the women smoothed on their uniforms for another backbreaking shift, they knew a simple truth: If you want your tips, you’d better smile.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Cover Image: Vice squad interrogates women in Illinois, circa 1912. Public Domain.
Saying that porn is a contentious issue is like saying the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs was a space rock: It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t reveal the scope of the damage. From the “feminist sex wars” of the 1980s to current anti-porn crusaders, many have argued that filmed sex is inherently wrong, regardless of working conditions or whether performers consent.
Read more at The Horizontal. Featured Image: Heather Ford/Unsplash.
IT TOOK OFFICER MARGARET LEONARD three tries to get her hands on Eve Adams’ book of lesbian short stories. We don’t know what, exactly, the New York Police Department officer experienced when she first slunk undercover into Eve Adams’ Tearoom at 129 MacDougal Street. But it’s easy to imagine a group of artists gathered under gleaming electric lights on a hot June night, reciting poetry or discussing the latest performances in the Provincetown Playhouse next door. Leonard’s mission was simple: to “catch” Adams “in the act” of lesbianism, either by eliciting a romantic move or by finding evidence of obscenity. Lesbian Love, a book of short stories Adams had self-published and distributed among friends, was just the evidence Leonard needed to have the tearoom proprietor arrested.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Cover image: Loverna Journey, Unsplash.
SKIP MCKINNELL FOUND THE SLIM books in a Vancouver basement: stacks of field notes coated with salmon scales still stuck to the 100-year-old fiber with slime. Then affiliated with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, McKinnell had read about the notebooks, which allegedly contained extensive data about and samples from British Columbia’s salmon population from the first decades of the 20th century. But even after scouring collections from British Columbia all the way to Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Institute, McKinnell found the wrinkled pages elusive. That changed one day in 1996, when, at a colleagues’ suggestion, McKinnell searched the Pacific Salmon Commission’s Vancouver basement. There the notebooks were, overlooked but intact. When the notebooks were opened, papery fish scales sloughed off their brittle lined pages and fluttered like moth wings to the ground.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Cover image: BIBLIOARCHIVES/CC BY 2.0
WHEN FOOD BECAME SCARCE UNDER Taliban rule, Hoor got creative. Since the Mujahideen conflict, trade between neighbors had been periodically forbidden, rations were portioned out to the privileged, and even growing garden plots could be risky. But years of war had taught her how to find food for her family in a pinch. Hoor snuck groceries under her chadari, or veil, stretched poor-quality rice imported from Bangladesh into filling meals, and turned to the black market for meat.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: borosjuli, CC BY 2.0.
AT FIRST GLANCE, THE APUAN Alps of northwest Tuscany’s Carrara region are pure white. Alison Leitch first saw them from a train window when traveling through Italy in the early 1980s. From a distance, she writes, their dazzling tops looked like snow. Her seatmate told her otherwise: The blinding whiteness was actually marble dust, a powdery byproduct of the famous quarries that gash through the mountains. Then Leitch’s seatmate explained that the Apuan quarries were the source of another legendary tradition. “That’s where the anarchists live,” she said.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo credit: B. Gramulin, CC BY-SA 2.0
IT WAS THE MID 1600S, and Friar Sebastian Manriquea, a Portuguese priest who had come to visit the Mughal Court, wanted to witness a royal supper. It was a rare sight. The Mughal emperors, who ruled territory across the northern Indian subcontinent, usually didn’t dine with anyone but their wives and concubines. But on this day, Shah Jahan—the Mughal ruler who commissioned the Taj Mahal—would be dining with his wazir, advisor Asaf Khan.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo credit: Public domain.
Maybe it was his nice-guy image or the fact that Master of None was so endearing. Maybe it was because the scene of mounting sexual pressure “Grace” described was, unlike the outsized horror of the Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby allegations, so disturbingly familiar. Whatever it was, for women across the internet, the sexual assault accusations against Aziz Ansari, detailed on Babe.net in January 2018, hit close to home.
Read more at The Horizontal. Photo credit: David Shankbone CC BY 3.0
THERE ARE NO WAITRESSES AT Bloodroot restaurant. There’s no meat, either. When a small collective of women founded the Bridgeport, Connecticut, café and bookstore in 1977, they eliminated both meat and table service as part of a sweeping feminist vision.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: LES Library, Public Domain