The Waitresses was one of the first performance art groups to
emerge from the Los Angeles Woman's Building. Founded in 1977 by Jerri Allyn and Anne
Gauldin, the group used their collective experiences working as waitresses to explore
feminist issues such as sex discrimination and wage inequality in the food service industry.
Materials in the collection document the performances produced by the group from 1976 to
1985, as well as American Dining: A Working Woman's Movement,
a performance produced by Jerri Allyn from 1986 to 1989. Materials also relate to a 25th
anniversary re-staging of five performances in 2007, as well as other exhibitions and
publications about The Waitresses after 1985. The collection consists of performance notes,
scripts, costumes, photographs, press clippings, props and ephemera, research files related
to social issues in the food service industry, and audiovisual recordings related to various
performances and exhibitions.
The Waitresses was a performance art group founded by Jerri Allyn and Anne Gauldin in 1977
while they were students at the Feminist Studio Workshop (FSW), a program of the Los Angeles
Woman's Building. Drawing from their experiences working as waitresses, they created
performance art related to the issues of sex discrimination, stereotyping, and wage
inequality. The group staged their first performance, the seven-day Ready to Order? (1978) which took place at various restaurants in the Venice
neighborhood of Los Angeles and intended to educate customers who may not have been aware of
labor issues in the food service industry. The group eventually grew to include fourteen
members, including Elizabeth Canelake, Anne Mavor, Anita Green, Chutney Gunderson, and
Denise Yarfitz, who wore waitress uniforms and adapted personas such as "Wonder Waitress"
and the multi-breasted "Great Goddess Diana," in various performances produced in
restaurants, conferences, and other unconventional settings. The Waitresses stopped
performing in 1985, but Jerri Allyn continued creating performance art related to the issues
surrounding waitressing in the performance series American Dining: A
Working Woman's Movement, from 1986 to 1989.
61 Linear Feet
(56 boxes, 2 flatfile folders, 22 videocassettes, 19
audiocassettes, 10 audiotape reels, 15 videodiscs, and 3 audio discs. Computer media: 6.3
GB [41 files], and 6 unprocessed compact discs)
Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.
Open for use by qualified researchers. Some items are unavailable pending conservation.
Born-digital content will be made available on-site only, through the digital preservation
repository. Born-digital content and audiovisual materials are unavailable until
reformatted. Contact reference for reformatting.