Sunday Ads: Sin From Last Century

Written by on April 17, 2016 in Sunday Ads - No comments
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Zallah's Company was advertising burlesque shows at the Empire Theater in 1913 (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Zallah’s Company was advertising burlesque shows at the Empire Theater in 1913 (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Name of Business: The Empire Theater

Date of Ad: April 13, 1913

Date Established: 1892

Neighborhood: Downtown

Notable: Promising a bevy of pretty and sprightly girls, the star attraction, Zallah, featured her own company. A review from George Slaughter republished in the Indianapolis Freeman shortly before the engagement promised “the most meritorious and original show to ever be performed on the burlesque circuit.”A Cabaret Rehearsal” and “The Un-kissed Oriental” where the titles of the two musical reviews performed. Zallah was an Egyptian dancer who’s act catered to African American audiences.

Empire Theater Baist 1908

Empire Theater shown on 1908 Baist Map on Wabash between Delaware and Pennsylvania Streets (courtesy IUPUI Digital Archives)

Also of Note: The Empire Theater had a fitting location, located off of the main streets in a dark alley. Burlesque was considered a taboo form of entertainment a century ago. Despite showing motion pictures and vaudeville acts, the theater came under the scrutiny of the public eye by the 1920’s. Around 1930, the building was converted to a parking garage and remains standing today just west of Delaware Street. To read a detailed history of the Empire Theater, click here.

The Empire Theater as it appears today.

The Empire Theater as it appears today.

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About the Author

An avid runner who enjoys daily jaunts throughout Indy's historic neighborhoods, Jeff deeply appreciates the detail and workmanship of old architecture. So much so, that he lives downtown in a restored historic building. He also works downtown as a manager of a not-for-profit that promotes globalization throughout Central Indiana. In a past life, Jeff worked in the hospitality industry and may one day pen a book about the ridiculous things people do while staying in hotels. Stay tuned.

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