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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)
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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.