Hubba Hubba, You’re Fired!

Professor Addison/Shimmy

Shamrocks, tiny top hats, burlesque.  What’s not to love?

John F. Kennedy University isn’t feeling it.  This past summer, the University fired one of its assistant professors because of her performances in a burlesque show called “Hubba Hubba Revue.”  Dr. Sheila Addison, who performed under the name Professor Shimmy, performed in the burlesque skits the entire three years the University employed her.

The University, though, felt that the performances violated her contract, which prohibited her from participating in acts “that would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule on the university.”  The termination letter noted that because Professor Addison’s performances were posted on YouTube, her “conduct ha[d]become widely known.”  And had “seriously impaired [her] credibility with students and …severely impacted [her] effectiveness as a teacher.”  [Source]

If Professor Addison had appeared in the Christina Aquilera and Cher movie called Burlesque, then one might understand the school’s point.  However,  JFK is a ttt and lucky to have national attention.  JFK, by the way, was one of the last schools in the nation to have parapsychology department.  Siouxsie thinks parapsychology is pretty cool.  But, it is hard to argue that a school that was at the forefront of parapsychology could be embarrassed or disgraced by a psychology professor dancing the hoochie coo.

Professor Addison’s performance in a burlesque show is no big deal. There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about burlesque. Siouxsie for one actually started attending a particular yoga class because the teacher claims to be a burlesque performer. For heathen’s sake, the musical Gypsy — based on the life of burlesque artist Gypsy Rose Lee — is performed by high school students all over the country every single year.

For good reason, Professor Addison is fighting back.

Last week, she filed a federal lawsuit accusing the University of sex discrimination.  Professor Addison claims that her burlesque performance provided political and social commentary on gender, sexuality, and body-image stereotypes.  In other words, the skits challenge typical views about what and who is hot.  She alleges that the University’s decision to fire her was motivated by her failure to conform to gender stereotypes in her performances.

In one skit, for example, she performed “with a classically trained male ballet dancer. He is dressed as a snow fairy and she as the abominable snowman . . . . As they remove nearly all of their clothes, their gender identities are revealed to be the opposite of what they first seemed.”  [source]

All that is really interesting, but the better part of the sex discrimination case is that Dr. Addison actually has a comparator. According to complaint, the University did not discipline a male professor who also performed partially nude in a play.  Even better, the complaint alleges that unlike Professor Addison, the male professor publicized his show on campus and invited students and colleagues to attend.  If this is true, it looks bad for the university.

That’s the sex discrimination claim.  The complaint also includes breach of contract claims and a slew of others.

Siouxsie hopes Professor Shimmy keeps shaking her money maker until JFK pays up.

A copy of the complaint can be found at this link.

Bonus video:

Yikes . . . The above-referenced box-office bomb is something that would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule.

Source:  Inside Higher Ed via Metafilter

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~ by siouxsielaw on March 18, 2011.

11 Responses to “Hubba Hubba, You’re Fired!”

  1. This is child-frighteningly bigoted. Shimmy/Prof. Addison have every right to enjoy community arts as much as the next person. And, the built-in comparable is just absolutely brutal for JFKU. This one should quickly, quietly be settled.

    Great post.

    Vive Burlesque!

  2. [...] * Did you know that university professors could get fired for appearing in burlesque shows? [Siouxsie Law] [...]

  3. I feel bad for the Professor. I wonder if Dita Von Tease will called as an expert witness. That would be amazing.

  4. This is disturbing. No one should have to sacrifice their right to creative self-expression and participation in the arts just to keep a job. Especially in academe, where schools supposedly care about academic freedom and supporting professors’ right to free speech. This is why I list the fact that I’m a belly dancer on resumes. I figure any employer that wouldn’t hire me because of that is an employer I wouldn’t want to work for anyway.

    What a vague standard: “that would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule on the university.” Perhaps who ever brought this lawsuit should be fired for doing just that.

  5. Maybe they canned her because she looks awful in green? Hopefully she from California as I hate to see her try to get airport security in that get up: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2011/03/14/why-going-through-airport-security-is-still-better-than-being-muslim-in-america/

  6. The claim that acts in the Hubba Hubba Review makes social and political commentary is actually rather solid. This is not just really good burlesque, this is often very *smart* burlesque. Check them out at http://www.hubbahubbarevue.com/

    Disclaimer: while I am not connected to or employed by the Hubba Hubba Review, I am a fan.

  7. [...] So, back in law school, I wrote a paper on the legal concerns faced by burlesque troops and performers. It was hardly an exhaustive review – it didn’t even cover obscenity, because I figured that was an obvious issue and I wanted to use the room for things that aren’t usually considered, like visas for visiting performers and such. I also missed, to my great chagrin, this case out of California about a university professor – a doctor of psychology – who was terminated for participating in a burlesque show. [...]

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