WHITE GIRL IN THE
THE ZIEGFELD FOLLIES
AND BUSBY BERKELEY'S
On June 23, 1942, six months after the United States entered World War II, the Bendix Aviation Corporation held a celebratory banquet at the prestigious Waldorf Astorial hotel in New York City to honor its president, Ernest K. Breech. Later heralded for saving the Ford Mo/ tor Corporation (he became chairman of the board in 1957), Breech was being honored for his role in the success of Bendix's aviation in/ struments, then being used in every wartime aircraft. The title for the night's entertainment—“The Invisible Screw”—was company short/ hand for its “insertion aviation instruments, accessories and controls, ” and the program featured the drummer Panama Francis and his swing band. The “Invisible Screw” was an umbrella term for five instruments then “serving with American fighting machines, ” each of which lent itself to sexual double entendres: the Stromberg Injection Carburetor, the Eclipse Direct-Cranking Starter, the Scintilla Aircraft Magneto, the Bendix Direct-Reading Compass, and the Pioneer Turn-and-Bank Indi/ cator. On the printed program, each was pictured in an inset box and appeared to serve an erotic function; for example, the coils of the mag/ netos were drawn as a pair of disembodied breasts. 1
The relationship of women and machines in Euro-American male erotic fantasy gets its full treatment in this program, dominated as it is by a graphic fantasy of clear skies filled with heavenly female bodies en/ joying sexual relations with “insertion aviation instruments, accessories and controls.” Eight goddess-sized naked women dominate the heavens as various mechanical phalluses make ready to pleasure them. One
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Publication information: Book title: Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African American Culture between the World Wars. Contributors: Joel Dinerstein - Author. Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press. Place of publication: Amherst, MA. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 182.
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