‘New Masses Anti-Obscenity Ball’ from The New Masses. Vol. 2 No. 5. March, 1927.
‘THE CENSORS HAVE SPOKEN: Clean up the stage! Get rid of Sex! The human figure as shown in the “art magazines” is obscene! The fig-leaf is a perversion of nature! Quick! Put the skirts on the piano legs!
THE PRUDES HAVE IT! Yielding to the overwhelming demand for PURITY, even at the expense of Art, the New Masses artists have abandoned their original plan of a SPRING FROLIC – which was to have been a Festival in honor of
PAN, THE UNCENSORED – and will give instead, the purest, demurest, God save-our-homest, most RE-spectable COSTUME PARTY ever held in New York. It will be known as the ANTI-OBSCENITY BALL Friday Evening, March 18th Webster Hall.
COME AS THE DRIVEN SNOW, or in a costume appropriate to the occasion. Here are some suggestions: DON’T RISK THE RISQUE- LIBERTY NOT LICENSE – PITY THE PURE WORKING GIRL -THE RAKE’S REMORSE -THE SMUT HOUND’S REVENGE – PRIG’S PROGRESS – THE CHILDREN’S HOUR – FARCE OF THE PHARISEES – CHILLED BY CHASTITY – VIRTUE’S VIRTUOSI – PROPS OF PROPRIETY – I AIN’T THAT KIND OF A GIRL – PASSION’S PASSOVER – NUDE’S NEMESIS –
In a word, we shall, with your help, celebrate everything that is clean and wholesome, every- thing moral, expurgated, unsophisticated, virginal and innocently virtuous.
Prize for the DEMUREST COSTUME! No Booby Prize! (This means you!) Official Flower: (You guessed it) THE LILY!
Are you crestfallen? Down hearted? Have you got THOSE PURITY BLUES? Come, then, and listen to our HARLEM JAZZ BAND. Irrepressible those fellows! Come, and LAFF IT OFF!
Tickets $1.50 in advance. $3.00 at the door.
‘NEW MASSES ANTI- OBSCENITY BALL’ from the Daily Worker. Vol. 4 No. 56. March 19, 1927.
John Roach Straton Is Not One of Them
Fifteen hundred reds, pinks and lily-white aesthetes made merry at the New Masses Anti-Obscenity Ball last night. Among those who participated in the demurity contest, gazed at the cockeyed paintings which graced the shaky balcony of Webster Hall and danced the black bottom to red hot music were NOT John Sumner of the Society for the Suppression of Vice or John Roach Straton of the Calvary Baptist Church. In an effort to make the ball as purse as John L. Lewis at a miners’ convention, the editors of the New Masses had invited Straton, Sumner and other saintly gentlemen to supervise it. They refused, and left Bill Gropper, Mike Gold and Art Young to pursue their innocent pleasures—-unsupervised.
The New Masses was the continuation of Workers Monthly which began publishing in 1924 as a merger of the ‘Liberator’, the Trade Union Educational League magazine ‘Labor Herald’, and Friends of Soviet Russia’s monthly ‘Soviet Russia Pictorial’ as an explicitly Communist Party publication, but drawing in a wide range of contributors and sympathizers. In 1927 Workers Monthly ceased and The New Masses began. A major left cultural magazine of the late 1920s and early 1940s, the early editors of The New Masses included Hugo Gellert, John F. Sloan, Max Eastman, Mike Gold, and Joseph Freeman. Writers included William Carlos Williams, Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Day, John Breecher, Langston Hughes, Eugene O’Neill, Rex Stout and Ernest Hemingway. Artists included Hugo Gellert, Stuart Davis, Boardman Robinson, Wanda Gag, William Gropper and Otto Soglow. Over time, the New Masses became narrower politically and the articles more commentary than comment. However, particularly in it first years, New Masses was the epitome of the era’s finest revolutionary cultural and artistic traditions.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/new-masses/1927/v02n05-mar-1927-New-Masses.pdf