Weird Universe

Censorship, Bluenoses, Taboos, Prohibitions and Other Cultural No-No's

Guardian of Morals

Louis Croteau (seated, holding the magazine) was Secretary of the New England Watch and Ward Society, which was initially known as the New England Society for the Suppression of Vice. It was this society's self-appointed job to identify and root out filth wherever it reared its ugly head. These were the folks responsible for getting Lady Chatterly's Lover banned.

During the 1930s, the focus of the Society shifted to burlesque shows. A Washington Times article (reviewing the book Banned in Boston) notes:

The downtown entertainment district, including the Old Howard, one of the most celebrated burlesque palaces of the city, became the society’s glittering new target. Watch and Ward investigators diligently made weekly visits to various shows, documenting each shimmying and grinding performance in detailed reports.

It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

In the picture above, taken in 1943, Croteau critically eyes a Varga girl illustration in Esquire magazine, as the attorney for the magazine looks over his shoulder. Surprisingly, Croteau testified on behalf of Esquire, arguing that the magazine was decent fare. Perhaps all the burlesque shows he had sat through had, by then, made him more appreciative of a little skin.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Feb 25, 2014 | Comments (18)
Category: Censorship, Bluenoses, Taboos, Prohibitions and Other Cultural No-No's
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