Tuesday, August 2, 2016
The demise of an early 20th century commercial building on East 105th Street in Cleveland revealed the tattered but colorful remnants of a large poster advertising the appearance at the Empire Theater on Huron Rd. of the Mutual Burlesque company. Mutual evolved from the Columbia Amusement Co., founded in 1915 by Samuel Scribner and I. H. Herk as a "clean" burlesque circuit (or "wheel"). At the same time, Scribner and Herk founded the American Burlesque Association (a.k.a. the American Wheel), featuring stronger fare, including dancers bumping and grinding and blue humor. In 1922, the partners had a falling out, and Scribner created the Mutual Wheel to replace the now-defunct American Wheel. Falling revenues led Scribner to allow bare-breast tableaux in the shows, as well as the removal of dancers' tights.
The Empire Theater in Cleveland, at 750 Huron Road, was demolished around 1925, which gives us a good idea of just how old this signage is — nearly a century!