Magazine article Newsweek

Sassy but Classy

Magazine article Newsweek

Sassy but Classy

Article excerpt

SHAKE THOSE POMPOMS: Cheerleaders have graced the sports sidelines for decades, but they were never quite a national obsession before the underdressed Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders arrived in the 1970s. Suzanne Mitchell was the saucy squad's director from 1976 to 1989.

During a lull in the action of Super Bowl X in Miami, one of the cameras caught one of the girls. So she winked. She had her hands on her hips, with her pompoms. After that Super Bowl, I got more calls than you can shake a stick at. NBC, ABC, all the networks. I had agents calling me left and right. They wanted the girls popping out of cakes. They wanted them to entertain at parties--any kind. For the next six months, all I did was say no. I wouldn't let them do anything. I had all of my rules, all of my regulations, which were very strict. I had a reputation for being very bitchy. I wouldn't let them appear anywhere where there was any alcohol because we were dealing with an image. We were dealing with Texas. We were dealing with Coach [Tom] Landry. We were dealing with [general manager and president] Tex Schramm. We were dealing with look-don't-touch Southern women. Tex wanted sexy ladies out there, but he wanted them, above all, to be classy.

My premise was that the waist was the sexiest part of the body. Everybody always said to me, "You choose nothing but big-chested girls," which was nothing but a baldfaced lie. Big-chested girls usually had trouble dancing, and these girls do hour-long musical shows. The uniform only accentuated and made things look a little bit more than they were. I used to tell the girls, "First, you have to get their attention."

But we never appealed to everybody. Some people didn't like these girls. The Bible Belters used to write me all the time saying that I was a purveyor of women, that I was misusing the youth. And I would usually write them back, and say, "OK, what were you doing last Christmas Eve? …

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