Western Author

REVIEWS
TEXAS BAD GIRLS

 

 

 

Cowboys & Indians
Magazine
Volume 9, Number 3
June 2001

Bookstall Section
Page 115

Richard W. Slatta, Staff Writer

Cover Graphic
above is link to
Cowboys&Indians
Magazine

TEXAS BAD GIRLS: HUSSIES, HARLOTS AND HORSE THIEVES
By J. Lee Butts
Republic of Texas Press * $17.95

     Women in the West have long been subjected to a wide range of stereotypes.  We have images ranging from gentle tamers and saintly schoolmarms to wild, wild women.  Jimmy Lee Butts transports us back to the lives and times of 15 Texas women of the latter type.
     Some of the names in this book are familiar outlaws from long ago -- Belle Star, the Bandit Queen; Etta Place of the Wild Bunch; and Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde.  We also hear from more recent bad girls, including ill-fated rocker Janis Joplin and Karla Faye Tucker, executed for murder on February 24, 2000.  However, Butts does not just rehash familiar facts about familiar names.  He introduces us to lesser-known figures, including Chipita Rodriguez (the first woman legally hanged in Texas), Sally Skull (who smuggled arms from Mexico for the Confederacy), and a bevy of others.
     Butts is not arguing, of course, that these women are in any way typical of the Lone Star State.  However, he recognized the power and appeal of his "sometimes humorous, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes deeply sad and affecting set of biographies."  Like their male outlaw counterparts, these Texas bad girls continue to fascinate.  Butts brings their colorful lives to us in engaging, readable prose.

--Richard W. Slatta


Western Writers of America
Roundup Magazine
Volume VIII, Number 4
April 2001

Western Books in Review
Doris R. Meredith, Editor

Butts, J. Lee. Texas Bad Girls: Hussies, Harlots, and Horse Thieves. Republic of Texas Press, pap., $17.95 ISBN 1-55622-833-3

I confess that I could not resist a book with such a title, not the least because the cover copy promised stories of floozies. Depending on your age you may or may not have heard your mother refer to someone as a floozie.

Your mother, like mine, may not have defined the term, but she didn't have to. One understood that a floozie had difficulty keeping her buttons buttoned and her behavior suitable to a Sunday School party.  A floozie wasn't evil, but she was a bad girl, one that mothers warned their sons to avoid, and their daughters not to behave in similar manner.

Among the killers, prostitutes, thieves, gamblers, bank robbers, and whorehouse madams in this book, there seems to be one floozie: Adah Isaacs Menken.  She is featured in a chapter called "Nekkid, Nekkid, Nekkid!" And Adah did seem to enjoy "nekkidness" to a degree that rivals modern day centerfolds.  She had in the author's words, "footlights in her eyes..." and went through several husbands, legal and otherwise, in search domestic and professional happiness.  Her opportunity knocked in 1861 when she starred in Mezeppa: or The Wild Horse of Tartary. Adah "brought the whole new interpretation to the role.  Through a combination of careful lighting, a flesh-toned set of skin hugging silk tights, and a careful draped piece of diaphanous cloth, Adah Isaacs Menken appeared to be totally, absolutely, and beyond any shadow of a doubt, nekkid, nekkid."  The author states that Adah became... "the highest paid actress in the world." No doubt.

Among the other featured players in the book are such well-known figures as Bonnie Parker, Belle Starr and Etta Place, as well as much lesser known but equally disreputable ladies as Beulah Morose, a "friend" of John Wesley Hardin, and Sarah Bowman, featured in a chapter entitled "Texas's Biggest Harlot," and at six feet, two inches tall and weighing in at over 200 pounds, she earns the title.  Perhaps the most famous madam in Texas is Mrs. Swine, who is responsible for the establishment of the oldest continually operating whorehouse in Texas or anywhere else: the famous Chicken Ranch of La Grange.  The Chicken Ranch existed for more than 130 years, until August 1, 1973, when a "meddlin' busybody from a Houston TV station who feigned shock and amazement ...ran a week-long expose on Miss Edna and the girls... ."

J. Lee Butts presents a humorous, accurate, and very entertaining story of Texas Bad Girls.

Irving Morning News
A Dallas Morning News Community Newspaper
Thursday, November 30, 2000

By Barrie Page Hill
Staff Writer

This article is a profile of Jimmy Butts and his writings. It is not a book review of Texas Bad Girls. The artcle is very informative and entertaining. The complete article, as it appeared in print, can be found at the Dallas Morning News archives website:  http://archive.dallasnews.com. The writer, Barry Page Hill, can be contacted at the Dallas Morning News through email: bhill@dallasnews.com or by phone at: 817- 695-0483.

Republic Of Texas Press
Wordware Publishing

JUST RELEASED
-Press Release-
October 2000

Texas Bad Girls:
Hussies, Harlots, and Horse Thieves
J. Lee Butts

Sometimes humorous, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes deeply sad and moving - such are the biographies of fifteen Texas bad girls.  Husband killers, run-of-the-mill murderers, whorehouse madams, prostitutes, gamblers, bank robbers, floozies - each contributes immeasurably to a rowdy, ribald history that dates from the state's earliest settlers to yesterday's biggest news story.  These bad girls of Texas prance across the pages of this book in a seamless parade of behavior so far outside the realm of common convention that their places in history were virtually guaranteed even while they lived.  These stories are written as though a friend was telling you an interesting tale about someone he once knew.

 

 

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