Longtime readers are aware that hot flashes at 2 AM often oblige spinster aunts to engage in feverish channel-flipping. Last night, in the grip this plague, I encountered on PBS a riveting episode of “American Experience,” which series documentarizes and dramatizes the lives of iconic figures in American history. The subject of last night’s re-run was that Gay Nineties sweetheart of the Wild West, sharpshooter Annie Oakley.
The talking heads interviewed for “American Experience” were unanimous: Annie Oakley was awesome because even though she performed — shooting cigars out of people’s mouths and splitting playing cards in half at 30 paces — covered head to toe in buckskin, she was still one sexay laday!
Annie Oakley managed to combine both demureness and voluptuousness in her costume… She never showed any skin. Her ankles were never bare. But her costumes were form-fitting. She wore leggings under short skirts, so people could see the shape of her legs as she ran out into the arena… She was, in that sense, appealing to the best instincts in the men in her audience, men who were attracted to her sexuality while still not having to feel guilty about being attracted, because at the same time she was ladylike and she was demure… ” –[Paul Fees, American Experience website (originally misattributed to Joy Kasson, oops)]
It’s a good thing “American Experience” is on the case, guarding against the chance that sweaty midnight spinster aunts might accidentally think of Annie Oakley in terms other than that of dudely boners.