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What I Wore to Work

Opening Date: Sep 21, 2023

Closing Date: Oct 26, 2023

What I Wore to Work Show Site Icon

Playing @

Laurie Beechman Theatre

At The West Bank Cafe 407 West 42nd Street New York City, NY 10036

View theatre details
Burlesque star, activist and and historian Jo Weldon explores the intersection of fashion and sex work in the New York premiere of What I Wore to Work, An Illustrated Memoir of Dressing to Undress. Prohibition-era New York City harlots, the hetaraie of ancient Greece, the brothel queens of 19th-century New Orleans, the courtesans of 16th century Venice and many others in the sex work industry throughout history set trends in art, literature, politics, etiquette and shoes. Yves St Laurent rocked the fashion world in 1971 when he based a line on the style of bad girls of the 1940s. Many of the world’s most celebrated designers, including Versace, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, have all acknowledged their inspirations from the world’s most notorious profession. Even Barbie, who has been dressed as every worker from a dog walker to an astronaut, has her high heels firmly rooted in harlotry.

Jo Weldon’s fascination with the sex industry was aroused long before she started working in it. As an adolescent queer in an oppressively conservative environment, she was drawn to images and lore of erotic laborers. Even though these stories were often intended to discourage impressionable young women from entering the industry, Jo was attracted to their independence, outlaw energy, resistance to sexual shame and, above all, their style. In What I Wore to Work, An Illustrated Memoir of Dressing to Undress, find out what happened when this self-described “Fashion Whore-storian” followed the stiletto footsteps of her heroes into an underworld both more mundane and intriguing than expected and discovered that the costumes and clothing worn in the industry—by strippers, escorts, streetwalkers and dominatrices—were informed by conflicting desires: their own, their employers’, their clients’ and the law’s.

Jo’s histories of her “work clothes”—and the vivid and insightful dressing room conversations she shared with her peers about the why of what they wore—explore not only her own life in the sex industry, but the lineage of the items themselves and their influence on the larger world. Her stories about learning how to keep her costumes in line with local blue laws or the tan line craze of the 80s or shopping for thigh-high boots pre-internet reveal as much about how women are expected to present themselves as they do about the realities of sex work. Part illustrated lecture, part memoir, this show touches upon sex worker style iconography in literature, film and news media and reveals how sex workers have co-opted oppressive symbols as symbols of identity and resistance. Ultimately, Jo uncovers how sex workers are at the root of fashion itself.
Show Notes

Show Notes: Please note that there is also a $25 food/drink minimum at all performances at this venue.

Performance Schedule:



Jo Weldon

Written by

Jo Weldon

TDF Tickets Offers:

TDF member tickets:

Not currently available for this show

Listed atTKTS


Full-price tickets

$25 - $39


Directions Subway

Subway: A,C,E to 42nd Street N,R,Q,W,1,2,3,7,S to Times Square

Assisted Listening System

None available Audibility rarely an issue

Directions Bus

M11 M42 M34A-SBS


The elevator is located at 400 West 43rd street, it is the Manhattan Plaza apartment building elevator. You will need to call 212 695 6909 to advise the theatre you are coming and need elevator access, take the elevator to the basement and Beechman staff will be waiting to escort you in


The Laurie Beechman Theatre is located beneath the West Bank Cafe, at 407 West 42nd street corner of Ninth avenue and 42nd street in Manhattan. You need to enter the West Bank Cafe, travel through the main dining room towards the back and then go down the stairs.


Laurie Beechman Theatre is all table seating. Once you have purchased your ticket that is also your table reservation.


None on premises

Water Fountain

None on premises

Wheelchair Info

Venue is wheelchair accessible Call 212 695 6909

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Public Transportation

Subway Icon

By Subway:

Subway: A,C,E to 42nd Street N,R,Q,W,1,2,3,7,S to Times Square

Bus Icon

By Bus:

M11 M42 M34A-SBS