This article reconstructs queer popular culture as a way of exploring media production studies as a trans history project. It argues that queer and trans insights into gender are indispensible to feminist media studies. The article looks at The Ugliest Girl in Town series (ABC, 1968–69), a satire amplifying a purported real-life fad in flat chests, short haircuts, and mod wigs, to restore texture to the everyday landscape of popular entertainment. Approaching camp as a genderqueer practice, the article presents the program as one of many indications of simultaneously queer and trans representation in the new media moment of the late 1960s. Behind-the-scenes visions of excavated archival research inform an analysis of the series as a feminist text over and against its trans misogyny, which evaluates and ranks women based on their looks, bodies, and appearance while excessively sexualizing and even more stringently appraising, policing, and punishing trans women, women perceived to be trans, and oppositional forms of femininity. The program captures both the means of gender regulation and detachment from it, the experience of gender embodiment, and the promise of presenting and being perceived as many genders. Ugly is an awful word in the way it is usually wielded, but it can be reclaimed. Examining this rarely cited and often misconstrued Screen Gems series helps to demonstrate a more equitable distribution of creative credit for queer trans content across the television industry and the subcultures it commodified in the 1960s.

The Ugliest Girl in Town (ABC, 1968–69) announces its queer trans content with an ironic title. This weekly episodic series rewrites ugly as attractive and casts boy as girl. Its attention to taste, perception, and norms stands out as queer and trans in light of an industry-wide trend toward camp. A fictionalized version of swinging late-1960s London is the setting, imagined as one of many epicenters of mod fashion.1 The show is high concept, and the premise is plot intensive.2 Julie Renfield (Patricia Brake), a British actress filming a gorilla pic in Hollywood, meets Timothy Blair (Peter Kastner), a stylish Los Angeleno who runs errands for Harper Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, taking lunch orders in a spiffily lined three-piece suit. On their first date, Tim3 acts like a big shot for laughs and tips the waitstaff with his wristwatch. Julie executes an expert three-point turn in the Laurel Canyon hills and makes the first move. Sequential zooms in and out from three different locations break conventional continuity editing patterns to signal the intensity of their kiss.4 Timothy is about to borrow money (in ongoing parody of the male provider role) for another date with Julie from his roommate and sibling, fashion photographer Gene (Gary Marshal), when Gene by chance overexposes commissioned film he shot for a feature on youth culture. Gene asks Timothy to re-create a profiled flower child in a reshoot in exchange for the twenty dollars he would have given to Tim anyway. Taking time to remember the amateur model, Gene describes this “beautiful kook”5 without using many gendered pronouns. The “character” makes the whole series, tying everything together like Citizen Kane's “Rosebud” or the rug in The Big Lebowski. Tim happily models for the replacement prints. In a musical montage of the shoot, the protagonist sports beads, fur, tassels, and a wig.

Before the punch line, more backstory. First, the photos cross the Atlantic, and David Courtney (Nicholas Parsons), of Courtney Modeling Agency, decides to make Tim the next big fashion sensation, in the tradition of Jean Shrimpton. Courtney, a stock Englishman type, proper yet lascivious and expectantly fey, reads the model as female and starts throwing money at the siblings. They head east, taking their chances through airport security, with Tim presenting as Timmy (a name Gene chooses), a takeoff on the persona that emerged during the photo shoot and the type of model whom Courtney and Sally Whittaker (Rose Alba), the editor of Glance magazine, might be expecting, or not. The last name? “She dropped it for publicity reasons.” Publicity work, a focus of the program from the earliest planning stages, begins immediately, on an airport runway, where Timmy encounters Julie, kisses her for the camera, and learns that they are booked for a photo shoot together the next day. Julie promptly recognizes her lover, and the pair scamper to the park loo. As Gene quips, “Isn't that the put-on to end all put-ons?”

This article orchestrates its own put-on, addressing Girl as a feminist text over and against its trans misogyny. I whittle the title down to one word to undercut the impact of this misogyny, which evaluates and ranks women based ontheir looks, bodies, and appearance while hyper sexualizing and even more stringently appraising, policing, and punishing trans women, women perceived to be trans, and oppositional forms of femininity.6Ugly is an awful word in the way it is usually wielded, but it, like queer, slut, and other slurs, can be reclaimed.7Girl caps off this reclamation with a feel-good, advertiser-friendly theme song.8 A carefree melody lessens the sting, recontextualizing the term ugly and insisting upon Timmy's charm. Timmy's clothes “are setting the pace.” She has a “fabulous face.” The catchy tune assures viewers, “You don't have to be a Mia [Farrow] or Sophia [Loren].” Boys can be girls, too, then.

Figure 1.

Timmie today, 2014.

Figure 1.

Timmie today, 2014.

The program went into production in April 1968 and debuted in September 1968. ABC canceled it with twenty episodes in the can. As it continued airing, into January 1969, there was an opportunity to watch knowing the show was officially over.

Girl's put-on was already metafictional. The premise amplified purported real-life fads in flat chests, short haircuts, and mod wigs. Girl parodied a plethora of popular reports anxiously debating the merits of the physique that the British model Twiggy made famous.9 Ambiguous in terms of artistic legitimacy, Twiggy was an “international merchandising triumph” and a flashpoint in taste wars around compulsory differentiation and gender and sexual spectrums.10 In a Chicago Tribune review of Twiggy and Justin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968), a book discussing the model and manager as a duo, Reed College anthropology professor Gail Kelly writes, “In an age of manufactured mass memorabilia, the March 1967 arrival of Twiggy in America may serve as the very pattern for the creation and marketing of the pseudo-event.”11 “Pseudo-event” implies pseudo-person. In response to the widespread mockery of Twiggy's body, the denial of authenticity to nonnormative self-presentation, and the dismissal of the importance of the mod phenomenon in the press, Timmy-flat rivals Twiggy-flat as a fashion statement within Girl's diegesis. In reality, a relatively small chest was rarely recognized as a viable alternative to—much less as an improvement upon—the curvy look of stars, such as Dagmar, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, and Mamie Van Doren, who were associated with 1950s revisions of media taboos through attention to bigger breasts.12

Girl is one of many indications of simultaneously queer and trans representation in the new media moment of the late 1960s. At the same time, queer trans representation is a routine facet of television programming connected to the industry's history. The participation of many people of different genders and sexualities contributes to queer trans textual dynamics. Camp is key to this process. It exceeds individual intention and agency. Camp is not, in any simple or straightforward way, a product of specific people's gender identities and sexual orientations. It is a feminist practice that, as Ann Pellegrini puts it, “produces identification, collapses opposition, and reduces distance.”13 Since discovering Girl, I have been working through production documents and paratexts to understand Timmy as queer and trans as opposed to queer because they are trans.14 I would like to see people—especially historiographers—understand the importance of this distinction.

To this end, my article uses the queer reconstruction of popular culture to explore media production studies as a trans history project. My analysis restores texture to the everyday landscape of entertainment media in the years leading up to Girl's broadcast in 1968. I use this series, which is barely known, to demonstrate a more equitable distribution of creative credit for queer trans content across the industry and the subcultures it commodified in the 1960s. I invoke Timothy as a gender outlaw in order to show readers who may not be familiar with queer trans culture or queer and trans studies how complicated the topic of queer gender is and how indispensible queer and trans insights can be to feminist media studies.

With Girl, ABC tapped the genderqueer current of diverse 1960s subcultures. In an ironic turn of events, the major Hollywood studios were investing in television following a drop in revenue from theater ownership and film distribution. Girl was tentpole kitsch from an established content provider. It sparked the production and consumption of ancillary pop objects within a televisual landscape oriented toward constant novelty on supermarket shelves. The property can be traced to various intertexts concerned with looks, accents, assimilation, and upward mobility, such as My Fair Lady (1964). The production lore around Girl tellingly cites Twiggy as inspiration, not artist-model Donyale Luna, Warhol superstar Mario Montez, or electro-folk sensation Norma Tanega. I do not have space here for detailed commentary on race, ethnicity, colonialism, and migration, but an interrogation of the affirmation of whiteness, in conjunction with class privilege, is constant. The culture industries, seemingly collectively, branded Twiggy “the Cockney kid,” raising issues of urban geography, everyday prejudice, and collective identity. In the United States, Twiggy satire occasioned displaced conversations about everything from sit-ins and psychedelic drugs to John Birch and Jim Crow.

My rendition of Girl centers a feminist perspective on archives. Various behind-the-scenes visions inform my analysis. I reconstruct these visions through queer and trans interpretations of print culture in order to emphasize that Girl is a product of the work of many people. Sitcoms follow a process designed to maximize potential appeal to different markets. In television's characteristic mode of polysemic address, Girl captures both the means of gender regulation and detachment from it. The history of the program provides a snapshot of the experience of gender embodiment and the promise of presenting and being perceived as many genders.

Figure 2.

Girl characters.

Figure 2.

Girl characters.

Queer Trans TV circa 1968

Girl is a complicated text, and writing about it as both queer and trans is a complicated endeavor.15 Regarded as a turkey, an inferior product, Girl is rarely mentioned by media historians and yet also is regularly misreported.16 The show's very premise conflicted with basic social mores. Screen Gems, the production company, worked with Yardley's of London, a health and beauty aids company, and the ad agency Young & Rubicam. In particular, people at Screen Gems, a trendsetting subsidiary of Columbia Pictures,17 were compelled to negotiate cis norms and encouraged to think about gender variance in pursuit of a successful series. Scholars usually presume that sitcom producers are the proponents of ideological beliefs, but the makers of Girl resisted as well as purveyed heterosexism. As they attempted to make Girl appealing to a broad set of viewers, they faced pressure to simplify women and femininity, roughen Tim's masculinity, and dampen the chemistry between Timmy and Julie.

Critics noted the program's trans content during Girl's original run. Robert Goldsborough reported in his “TV Today” column that “in the reshuffling of Thursday night program times, the guillotine … falls on … that trailblazing, laugh-a-minute series that chronicled the trials and tribulations of a, at least in appearance, transvestite.”18 Despite such commentary, which was both straightforward and suggestive, the discourse of homosexuality dominated references to gender variance. Girl's producers confronted this discourse at press conferences and in interviews. They negotiated gender and sexual norms using euphemism, subtlety, and intertextual reference.19 It was a time of transformation, Gavin Butt notes, in “the terms of the cultural field through which homosexuality is habitually lived and understood,” a rearrangement of cultural notions constructing bodies, embodiment, and meaning following the pansy craze of the 1920s and the “transformation in the semiotics of queerness” that Steven Cohan charts from the 1930s and 1940s.20 Such discursive changes contributed to possibilities in self-conception for trans people, as scholars such as Joanne Meyerowitz have detailed.21 The ephemeral records that preserve this extensive and uneven transformation showcase the kind of queer gender that Jay Prosser argues queer scholars have a history of violently appropriating from the trans subjects whom they obscure.22

Trans history deserves more recognition. Jack Halberstam describes the “paradoxical … but necessary” project of producing transgender history in In a Queer Time and Place, a book that advocates writing trans histories based on material records that preserve “only a bare trace of a life lived in defiance of gender norms.”23 Such traces have a history of being commandeered for the purposes of queer theory, as Prosser demonstrates in “Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of Sex.” Prosser argues that the widely influential Butler and Sedgwick schools of queer theory have relied on “the figure of transgender” as a liminal icon perpetually crossing “both the boundaries between gender, sex, and sexuality and the boundary that structures each as a binary category.”24 As Prosser explains, queer criticism often negates trans agency as it appropriates trans dynamics for a queer charge, profiting conceptually, in terms of queer cachet, from gender crossing, ambiguity, and nonconformity. Julia Serano has called specifically for an end to commentary equating “transgender” with gender transgression. She directs our efforts to “the intersection of multiple forms of gender-based prejudice,” such as prejudice against femaleness, femininity, and feminization.25 Texts such as Girl can help us to devise new methods for attending to queer gender without undercutting trans possibilities, including for “visible transsexuals” of the kind Sandy Stone outlines in “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto.”26

Girl's camp mode of production is evident across drafts of proposals, outlines, story ideas, and scripts and in records documenting meetings, conversations, audience testing, advertising, merchandising, publicity, and cultural commentary. The creative process of sitcom production is difficult to reconstruct, and “bare traces” of it, to use Halberstam's phrase about lives lived in gender defiance, are preserved in official archives. Queer questions of authorship abound. Many people contributed to Girl. Many changes simultaneously normalized the program and cultivated camp.

Screen Gems collaborated with Yardley's, Young & Rubicam, ABC, and others, including ASI Entertainment, a Screen Gems offshoot specializing in audience testing. The executive producer of the program was Harry Ackerman, a vice president of West Coast operations at Screen Gems from 1953 until 1973. Ackerman worked on Girl as a pet project during a career high, one of many. After contributing to series including I Love Lucy (CBS, 1951–57), Our Miss Brooks (CBS, 1952–56), Bewitched (ABC, 1964–72), and Gidget (ABC, 1965–66), Ackerman championed Girl through its production process. After snatching up a pitch from writer, creator, and coproducer Robert Kaufman, who had written for The Betty Hutton Show (CBS, 1959–60) and the first Bob Newhart Show (NBC, 1961–62), Ackerman debated Girl's structure with Bernard Slade, the author of Same Time, Next Year (1975) and Romantic Comedy (1979), who went on to create The Partridge Family (ABC, 1970–74).27 Jerry Davis, a writer and producer who had just finished Bewitched and That Girl (ABC, 1966–71) and would go on to make Funny Face (CBS, 1971) and The Odd Couple (ABC, 1970–75), went to London to manage the production.28 Davis, who called Ackerman every Friday night in May 1968, instructed the crew to move the camera more often and in more creative ways.29 Multiplicity and experimentation were everywhere in the new media landscape of the late 1960s. Many of the style markers of oppositional subcultures had been quickly commodified, raising questions about the politics of representation. ABC was distinguishing itself from competitors CBS and NBC by “seeking ways to keep pace with the sexual revolution.”30 Screen Gems, a classic Hollywood independent, was pushing the envelope, leveraging the success it had brought to NBC with The Monkees (1966–68), one of the more notorious sitcom put-ons at that point, about a made-for-TV band that included some cast members who were just learning to play their instruments. Girl was up Ackerman's alley and fit the Screen Gems brand of sitcoms, which came with the powerful alibi that they were just for kids. Twiggy's paparazzi-attended landing at New York City's JFK Airport in 1967, a camp version of the so-called British invasion of 1964, was met with exhaustive fanfare in formats ranging from color photography and cultural criticism to TV specials and satire.31 Julie Byrne published articles about Twiggy in the Los Angeles Times on April 9, 25, and 28.32 Much-publicized “merchandisers of the mod look” mass-produced the model's body type, along with her working-class vernacular and disregard for gender conventions, in the form of new fashion icons and consumer products.33

All of this audiovisual stimulation was source material for sitcoms at Screen Gems, especially for Girl, a camp satire immersed in the genderqueer style of late-1960s mod culture. Ackerman recounted an anecdote about the series’ conception by Robert Kaufman to reporters at a Mexico City press junket. Tom Donnelly, one of many cultural intermediaries who contributed to the Girl text, narrated Ackerman's account of Kaufman's eureka moment for Washington Daily News readers.34 Kaufman was suffering from insomnia when he noticed a picture of Twiggy on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, a magazine that New York Times critic Russell Baker likened to “poor man's LSD” because it presented “portraits of a life so outrageously chic, so gay, so fey, so exclusive that ten minutes’ exposure to it often produces a fatal giddiness.”35 At the time, media scholar Marshall McLuhan, a public intellectual working the college circuit, theorized Twiggy as, variously, an x-ray, an icon, a form of abstract art, and a performance artist in the tradition of Mae West, another “visual pun,” who was not performing conventional femininity but rather “was impersonating a female impersonator.”36 Ackerman's files include popular commentary on West, a camp artist whom Pamela Robertson Wojcik calls a “deliberate anachronism.”37

Research of this kind is a telling reminder of how efficiently U.S. media industries absorb into their products anonymous street-level queer and trans culture reaching across time and national borders. Ackerman collected print features on celebrity fashion, including news about the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, a gay publicity man credited with orchestrating the longhair look associated with the Beatles’ prominence.38 Included in the background research for Girl was “The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture,” a special issue of Time featuring people with varied gender presentations, homemade clothes, and elaborate costuming. In the space of mainstream print publications, clothing continued to differentiate, but not always reliably so according to gender.39 From the New York Times Magazine came “The ‘Hashbury’ Is the Capital of the Hippies,” an article by new journalism pioneer Hunter S. Thompson emphasizing the wholesale social separatism of the Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco. In this feature, representation inseparably queer and trans appears as a self-evident part of the counterculture's community food, housing, consciousness-raising, and art projects. A clipping from Look, “The Future of Sex,” cowritten by McLuhan and correspondent George B. Leonard, begins with an anecdote about gender perception from Michael Murphy, a cofounder of the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, and the claim that “members of the younger generation are making it clear—in dress and music, deeds and words—just how unequivocally they reject their elders’ sexual world.” The article concludes, “The future holds out infinite variety, diversity…. The search for a new sexuality is a search for a new selfhood, a new way of relating. This search already is well under way. What it turns up will surprise us all.”40

Girl incorporated countercultural source material of this sort through a camp mode, taking, as Steven Cohan puts it, “queer pleasure in perceiving if not causing category dissonance.”41 Publicity documents characterize the program's protagonist as a sitcom heroine akin to Samantha Stevens (Elizabeth Montgomery, Bewitched) and Sister Bertrill (Sally Field, The Flying Nun), feminist icons who—in two other ABC–Screen Gems series, at that time in their fifth and second seasons, respectively—were loved despite, and precisely for, regularly defying convention and socially sanctioned natural law.42 Timmy's superpowers were witty sexual innuendo; chutzpah emblematized by curly red hair, vinyl miniskirts, and signature knee-high black leather boots: a style evocative of liberation-era subcultures and the special knowledge—especially of sexual dynamics—that comes with living not as female or as male, or as female and male consecutively, but as someone beyond that distinction.

Camp evidence of nonbinary gender was increasingly common in media culture. In a 1965 Chicago Tribune “Thru the Looking Glass” column, Eleanor Nangle relays a report from an informant in New York City with “a sharp eye for all fashion foibles and facts”: someone on Fifth Avenue, who was otherwise “well-dressed,” wore gloves “with holes cut out from the first joint to the knuckle” in order to show off several oversize rings. Nangle classifies this as “very high ‘camp,’” explaining that the word “once had disreputable connotations but is now firmly entranced in slangy circles to describe what the sophisticated originals find amusing and the provincials might rate unnerving.”43

Infiltrating Production Studies

ABC gave Girl the former Batman time slot, a gateway to the Thursday-evening prime-time schedule as well as a gateway to weekend programming. The network placed Girl at 7:30 pm, opposite a new Blondie adaptation on CBS featuring Jim Backus and Bryan O'Byrne. Daniel Boone, an hourlong program, began at the same time on NBC. The former hour of ABC's Flintstones in the 1963 and 1964 seasons, the time slot was campy, kid-friendly, innuendo-laden, merchandise-friendly period pop tailored to stoking demand for color TV amid network consolidation.44 Producers styled Girl for the queer crowd. As one of many trends in gender variance, the series brought to prime time and to people's fingertips a story of gender experimentation.45

How was the comic timing? How countercultural were the tie-ins, product placements, publicity events, and press coverage? Television was in some ways in sync with mod culture, and the ambiguity of the connection itself resonates as camp. Music critic Lillian Roxon reported in late 1969 that the “ruffled, flowery Carnaby Street look” and “the military look”—two of Timmy's proto-glam looks deemed acceptable for prime-time network television—were “definitely out … because the old people took them up.”46 Was Girl a symptom of this appropriation or a snide commentary on it? While a Twiggy clothing line could be turned around in two months, television production had to work within the strict cycles the networks had standardized for prime-time series programming, debuting new shows every fall followed by midseason replacements in the new year. On which side of the genderqueer trend, in constant fashion, was Los Angeles Times critic Cynthia Lowry in calling Twiggy a “1967 phenomenon” in January 1968?47 Weren't queerer things to come?

As they adapted recent history for the small screen, workers preoccupied by comedy clashed with company producers invested in Girl primarily as a medium for advertising. Young & Rubicam, Girl's sponsors, exercised its influence mostly through indirect communication, acting as consultants to network executives and requesting revisions based on story outlines and scripts, amid waning influence within the standard network-sponsor setup. Sitcoms were in constant development. Writers, script doctors, copy editors, designers, directors, and performers refined Girl’s aesthetics and storytelling techniques as they drafted documents, prepared to shoot episodes, and circulated publicity. Girl's mod signature, too, adapted across stages of conception, casting, marketing, and production. At all times, Girl's workers negotiated pressures to sideline Timmy—to make her a token or a prop. Timmy, however, remained central. The network, ad agencies, publicity scouts, sponsors, and various marketing arms involved negotiated the limits of acceptable content, merchandising, and design. ABC used the ad agencies as leverage in development discussions with Screen Gems.

Transphobia, cissexism, and heterosexism shaped the production process. In-house documents detailing ABC execs’ ideas about Girl suggest that while the network was excited about the market for such products and the prospect of tapping into other emerging markets, which they thought they could reach through a vaguely antiestablishment ethos, programmers would continue to develop content according to dominant conventions. As time went on, ABC argued that Tim should detest Timmy, be seen as Timmy infrequently, and be motivated to appear as Timmy for the sole reason of being near Julie. The network instituted firm guidelines requiring the show's writers to stick to a more conservative model. They based many of these policies on audience research. Surveying target viewers who brought their own ideas of hippie and mod culture to the table, Screen Gems used pointed questions to gauge its success in selling the Timmy character. Polling three sets of adult viewers on consecutive days, then children, and then teens, the company's audience testing outfit, ASI Entertainment, found that “many viewers did not like the idea of a man dressed as a girl.”48 This limited imagination negates the reality of trans lives.

ASI emphasized viewer complaints about wardrobe. A sample of teenage viewers “generally felt that Timmy should wear ‘hippie’ rather than mod attire.”49 This category of viewer was an emerging target market, especially for ABC. Overall, the polled viewers responded favorably to hippie fashion, particularly its genderqueer elements, and less favorably to mod looks, but Girl's producers had already decided to distance their characters from hippie aesthetics in favor of what they described as “high fashion mod.” As ASI put it, “Some viewers questioned Timmy's change from hippie to mod,”50 a change described in terms of a transition to clothing understood, within the mainstream, as more visibly gendered. In the context of white middle-class hetero-masculine norms, femininity stands out. In an outline Kaufman submitted for the series, in contrast, Tim immediately turns to mod fashion. After Gene (here Jean, a roommate of no family relation) overexposes the photos of the “wild looking wierdo [sic]” who writes “blank verse poetry, love prayers, [and] whacky philosophy,” Tim “flings open the closet and slips on a super mod jacket and black outfit Jean's sister bought last year when she was visiting from Des Moines and then didn't have the guts to take home to Mother and the P.T.A.”51 Another idea was for the modeling session to feature the clothes Tim usually wore. In that version, Courtney and Whittaker would perceive Tim as female based on everyday attire, not on Tim's imitation of someone with a different sensibility. In the final premise, Tim cannot usually pass as a hippie but rather plays hippie for a day.

Economic constraints produced a shadow text with a queerer wardrobe, including “the high black leather boots of Motorcycle Cop Jack Davis.”52 Camp proceeds from programmers’ mandate to protect advertiser dollars by reining in eccentricity. The consumer landscape that cultivates queer gender is generally inhospitable to it. Even during the height of the unisex movement, manufacturers labeled dress as men's or women's.53 Queer gender remains at the foundation of Girl, though, just as it remained a source of celebrity and high and low fashion revenue in 1968. When Tim requests a shorter wig for the shoot in the pilot episode, Gene brushes off Tim's concerns about not looking like a guy. Supposed secondary sex characteristics such as hair, the character implies, are artificial, unreliable, and not of primary concern.

ASI received detailed feedback on the pilot episode from people categorized as adults, teens, and children. This audience study highlights an outsourcing of labor within the product-testing rubric. “Most felt Timmy would be funnier in hippie dress where sex is not easily distinguished” than in mod outfits. This data provided a readymade strategy for countering “negative comments … deal[ing] with the ‘high fashion’ clothing worn by Timmy,” but it was not picked up. Although demographic research seemed to call for the original “longhair” premise that Kaufman had pitched (whether in terms of a “Beatle wig” or a moptop protagonist), ABC preferred the mod style. Censors were as concerned with hippie hallmarks as with crossdressing. The network warned Screen Gems to distance the show from dropout culture and avoid “emasculating” Tim.54

Following audience testing, the mechanisms of mass sitcom production directed executives to invest in transphobia and cissexism. According to ASI, “Because many viewers did not like the idea of a man dressed as a girl, many felt that Timmy should feel more conflict and reluctance to don the Timmy attire.”55 According to the people processing the test audience survey, “A number of viewers felt it would be more realistic if Tim would have circumstances that made it necessary for him to be Timmy and was thus forced into the role.”56 ABC could have pulled the series based on potential viewers’ problems with the basic concept. Instead, after initial audience testing, the network reconceived Girl as a show in which Timmy would appear “only when essential to the story and necessary and natural to the development of a plotline.”57

Although ABC had allowed Screen Gems to trumpet Timmy as the show's protagonist and as Kastner's starring role in advance publicity—which described Girl as an answer to the question “What if Twiggy is really a boy?”—executives quickly demanded that Timmy appear less often and only as a last resort. The network's Standards and Practices department screened scripts according to the presumption that, for their target markets, charisma required gender conformity. Martin Starger wrote to Screen Gems just over a month before the series premier to reiterate the network's “understanding of future … episodes: use Kastner “‘less as Timmy (the girl) and more … as Tim.’”58 However, backstage norms for naming and gendering characters could be screwy. In the manner of Starger's memo, an earlier letter from one Screen Gems exec to another attempted to “confirm [an] understanding” that even those two parties did not seem to have shared. Ironically, Jerry Hyams, in trying to smooth relations between ABC and Screen Gems, complicated things by referring to Timmy as “a very virile young man,” writing, “We will endeavor to insert into as many … scripts as possible a feeling of warmth and a true love affair between Timmy and Julie … while Timmy is playing himself.”59

The network was set on rescripting the series, but Screen Gems had already devised its ensemble, assembled a cast, and commissioned a brand of mod psychedelia tied to gender rebellion and the rejection of any obvious distinction between boys and girls. In spite of ABC's resistance, producers continued to conceive of romance on the modeling circuit as Girl's main situation. The mod wardrobe remained prominent. At a loss as to how to perpetuate the series without Timmy—or with Tim on some bad trip about Timmy, the other option offered—the people on the ground at Screen Gems ignored ABC's instructions. The network may have already considered Girl a loss at that point anyway.

One site of compromise was the use of first-person monologue sequences shot in direct address. In the prototype for these monologues, the protagonist disaffiliates from the margins, identifying as “no intellectual” and also as “not a grown up Holden Caulfield” (even though a likeness to the Catcher in the Rye rebel drew producers to Kastner).60 Tim “digs” his “square” and “establishment oriented” parents, just like he “digs … life [and] girls.” As if accused, he denies being “detached, alienated, angry, or turned off,” announcing, “The Haight Ashbury drop-out syndrome bores me to tears.”61 Yet, even while referring to the act of dropping out of straight society as if it were a disease, Tim nonetheless highlights Northern California's capital of gender freedom and queer life. This moment, in which the protagonist badmouths dropping out, is also a moment of free publicity for the counterculture and a possible tip for potentially trans viewers, like the Time articles that drew people West.

While appropriating the counterculture in producing Girl, Screen Gems came up against cis and hetero norms, including through pressure, evident in Aniko Bodroghkozy's account of 1960s TV, to depict the social mores and political stances of beats, hippies, and drop-outs as ridiculous.62 Free love seldom appeared in any favorable light in news programming, and many sitcom projects inspired by the counterculture remained dormant into the 1970s. At the same time, ABC enthusiastically backed Girl. During its initial pitch, the Girl concept reportedly “made a tremendous impression” on executives who, at a 1968 ABC managers’ meeting—a forum designed to pinpoint a property's fundamental appeal while seriously considering even the most potentially minor drawbacks—gave the project a standing ovation.63 Clearly, many producers were drawn to the queer and trans representation that defined Girl. Still, Kaufman reports having been laughed out of offices before he reached Ackerman. What was so unruly about this concept?

Trans Textuality

Material records documenting the assimilation of Girl's aesthetics and the program's queer trans backstory record the gender multiplicity within mod pop culture. In the mid-1960s, street styles evolved rapidly. Queer gender was an indelible aspect of the popular landscape. Girl combined established narrative formulas and topical humor. The production company drew on the classics of what Chris Straayer calls “temporary transvestite film,” in which protagonists “uses cross-dressing temporarily for purpose of necessary disguise.”64Girl stays true to established tropes. Producers routinely marshaled excuses in justification of Timmy and her continued modeling career. These included Julie's job, Tim's relative poverty, and a gambling debt Gene racks up when they first arrive in London.

At the same time, the details of the program undermined coercion and economics as motivating forces and the whole idea of disguise. In the episodic sitcom context, Girl adds a trans dimension to what Lynne Joyrich has theorized as the “peculiar logic of knowing (or not knowing) sexuality” in sitcoms, a logic already enmeshed with definitional uncertainty around gender distinction.65 As Sedgwick writes, in the domain of sexuality, “residues, markers, tracks, signs referring to that diacritical frontier between genders are everywhere, as well, internal to and determinative of the experience of gender.”66

As part of the TV industry's routine production process, Girl rendered the instability of identity broadly appealing. In the climax of the fast-paced montage sequence that follows the opening monologue of later episodes, the agent Courtney announces, “I want that girl.” What does Courtney mean? Quick cuts, slow zooms, eye-catching visual effects, and a range of new wave techniques glamourize knowing and not knowing along with a host of subcultural sensibilities, women characters, and queer trans practices. Transitions, travel scenes, and music video sequences of photo shoots offer glimpses of lived culture that might include trans people.

Trans modes of recognition proliferate in the social context of the series’ storyworld. With the multiplicity of Tim's gender, the text cultivates, in a contemporary context, a camp attitude toward dominant gender perceptions. Tim is accepted as a trans person by savvy friends as well as by incidental characters. As part of the situation, queer gender emerges through images, in sequences that canvass onlookers for reactions. In Girl, extras represent fringe communities and visually articulate questions of gender perception, identity construction, and social norms. One noteworthy segment in the pilot episode is a quick scene at a mod nightspot filled with frilly and flowery extras dancing with Brake and Kastner. The final cut of the scene presents Julie and Tim equitably, but not entirely similarly, constructing a view on the proceedings that triangulates the perspective of the characters to foreground Julie's gaze at Tim, who go-go dances in a cage suspended above Julie and at a distance.

Fashion is key to these dynamics. Timmy's new style is represented as campy mod, in contrast to the classic preppy professional look, which remains safely within the brown, black, blue, maroon, tan, and sometimes green color schemes orchestrated to type Tim as a “very masculine young man.”67 As part of its mod sensibility, Girl shows the ambiguous responses of other characters to Timmy and her wardrobe. Behavior within the storyworld indicates shifts in gender perception that accompany the production of new gender possibilities. Encounters with some characters suggest a discerned “secret” while others suggest that Tim's self-identity is public knowledge, not something to objectify through exposure. Timmy is just another high femme making the London scene among a range of “Frankly Beautiful New Young Gentlemen.”68 A mix of reactions on the part of a wide range of characters creates the sense of a queer reception context in which many people are in on camp performance. At times it seems that many people within the diegesis may be aware that the hottest female model is the flattest because she is short on estrogen, and that they consider this exciting or unremarkable, as opposed to some kind of problem.

Kastner's and Ackerman's commentary at the Mexico City press conference articulates trans subjectivity through camp banter. While deflecting insinuations about sexual deviance, Kastner jokes with reporters about plots in which “some very short-sighted garbage men fall in love with me.”69 The actor's flip comments about working-class men denaturalizes the “opposite-sex” presumption of sexual object choice within hetero norms. It draws attention to the importance of perception in constituting and revising norms. In interviews, Ackerman maintains that Timmy's flirtations with men are not “homosexual,” a position productive of trans possibilities (in that sexual attraction transpires apart from gender assignment).70 Kastner, in focusing on the importance of playing Timmy as “frenetic” rather than “limp,” emphasizes personal energy in excess of gender and sex distinctions. The introduction of a limp/frenetic dichotomy allows Kastner to reference his own identity: “I'm really not naturally too limp. I have no limpness to bring to the role. The way I play it, I'm always fixing my hair and fooling with my face, in a nervous way.”71 Ackerman's defense (“there isn't going to be anything offensive, you can believe me”) and Kastner's commentary on gender presentation drew attention to perception, a camp trademark.

Publicity, for this show about publicity, highlights the camp notion of everyday life as art. Kastner's appearances to promote Girl, in particular, recall Mark Booth's description of camp as theatricality within the everyday.72 Regurgitating Screen Gems’ first line of defense against accusations of impropriety related to the queer trans content of the series, Kastner tells reporters, “This guy doesn't want to dress as a girl, he's got to.”73 This line could have been authored in a publicity office. While it ostensibly refers to the diegetic factors motivating Tim's modeling career, the line also resonates in terms of trans identity.

Queer gender permeates the print documents different writers used to generate the series’ audio-visual storyworld. A series of press releases peppered with snappy dialogue and cultural references evocative of London locations report that Kastner is “masquerading” around London “as Timmy,” in a context where the “masquerade” has as much to do with camp practices of seeing and being seen as it does with cis norms and trans misogyny. One publicity announcement introduces a bookmaker character (reminiscent of the old world ethnicity that continued to serve derivative racial stereotypes in television sitcoms, including Girl) as it describes how Timmy, out and about in London, was confused with two people for whom only names are given: Hermione Gingold and Phyllis Diller:

There were some square looks from the crowd at Wimbledon dog track this week when a sharp looking red head bowled into the enclosure. “Is that Phyllis Diller, Hermione Gingold or something off the moon?” said a bookmaker.74

This publicity passage, produced by people at Townshend, Bryer, & Associates, suggests that frenetic girl energy is attractive from multiple viewing positions. As part of the trademark aesthetic of the series, Timmy's mod identity was an alibi for gender and sexual transgression. Writers consistently drew attention to male dominance, sexual harassment, the malleability of gender presentation, and possibilities for transgender perception within a field of celebrity, romance, and fashion referents.

The textual dynamics that emerge within Girl's industrial context offer insight into the possibilities of queer trans representations within standardized TV formats. In a general sense, Girl offers a backstage view of what life was like in a climate where a person's style and their ability to move and shake within the media industries superseded gender difference, or where flouting gender conventions could help your social climbing. Theorizing the roles of Screen Gems’ unwitting producers of genderqueer TV culture shows that queer trans possibilities are coextensive with feminism. As the foundational feminist media histories of scholars such as Patricia Mellencamp and Julie D'Acci show, women characters in sitcoms were complicatedly pushed to the margins and increasingly sexualized in the 1960s.75Girl's women had access to public space, despite backlash, and scored a slot on the Thursday-night TV schedule. Overall, agency was drastically skewed toward white men and middle-class masculinity, but Girl's attention to mod masculinity occasioned feminine excess. Author Burt Hirschfeld's novelization of Girl makes the camp queer trans sensibility of the Timmy franchise obvious within the assimilation.76 One character tells another she would “glare like a piece of chipped glass in a tray of diamonds.”77Girl built camp momentum through merchandising and advertising (e.g., the tie-in book) in the months leading up to its debut. Trans genderqueer textual moments continued even after ABC began adamantly bifurcating Timmy from Tim, insisting that Girl was a story in which “Tim … does everything he can to keep [Timmy] as little a part of his life as possible.”78 In terms of the backstage plot, tensions built toward a stalemate: the network demanded that Screen Gems write Timmy out of the series. The producers kept her in the picture. Ackerman described the series’ cancellation as a “tragedy of sorts” based on scheduling factors and market research, or what he called “the odd fact that—if one believes the Nielsen studies—about sixty or seventy per cent of the audience never even tuned in to see what we were all about.”79 Had the public spoken? Had Ackerman, who had just that season broken a record in landing three prime-time series—Girl, The Flying Nun, and Bewitched— back to back on one night (Thursday), in fact “flipped his wig,” as Ackerman said “Madison Avenue” said he had when they first fielded the Girl pitch?80 One might tell such a story, in deference to those history makers Ackerman referred to, in a compendium of new pitch synopses, as “the people in New York.”81

Instead, I use the written record to recount a version of history in which transgender practices are mad as in mod and mad as in power movements, but are not maliciously construed as crazy in order to reinforce the class distinctions of white cis privilege. Ackerman's reference to “Madison Avenue”'s square reaction to Girl implicates management within the Screen Gems office as well as executives and researchers at the sponsors, networks, and advertisers. Ackerman could be reactionary. It was Yardley's of London that was reported to “control 95 per cent of the teen-age market with their cosmetics and other products.”82 It was Marvin Korman, vice president in charge of the East Coast Advertising and Public Relations Division at Screen Gems, who clamped down on a scene with “the girl … and Patricia Brake” because “the entire [‘13-second I.D.’] spot revolves around … kissing Patricia.”83 In a classic institutional move of displacing concern for a set of others imagined to reject wholesome lesbian love and the corrupting influence of gender variance, Korman declared, “By itself, it can be very misleading and might give some people the wrong idea and a queasy feeling about the show.”84 Naming it without addressing the real issues, Korman censored Girl's queer trans representation, committing the company to diminishing Timmy on the dotted line.


From the perspective of the present, Girl undercuts all attempts to assign progressive value to a television sitcom. It also undercuts its own participation in tenacious regimes of hetero and cis normativity. The UCLA sweatshirt Timothy wears briefly for a camp moment in the series’ pilot episode identifies the specificity of the production culture from which Girl emerges. In the manner of this insider's nod to the inescapability of the media-military-industrial complex, Girl mobilizes a camp treatment of gender norms across individual episodes, promotions, and publicity materials. Gender and sexual nonconformity are par for the course in sitcom production and promotion. In this case, the documented work it took to get the Girl project off the ground overflows with ambiguous references to potentially compelling historical actors such as Nigel Terry, Jacques D. Belasco, Tommy Dawson, Miss Millie Gusse, Renée Valente, Justin de Villeneuve, Timm (or Jimm?) Rummell, Burton D. Metcalfe, Donna Brainard, Jacqui Brandwynne, Lil Firestone, Barry Lategan, Jean Shrimpton, and Twiggy.

All might seem incidental within the reams of paperwork produced as part of collaboration and conflict among Screen Gems, ABC, Yardley's, a sponsor, and the program's advertising client, Young & Rubicam (where Ackerman had worked in radio broadcasting from 1936 to 1948, before moving, while at CBS, to Southern California at the height of television expansion). The details of production and the always unfinished work of compiling a textured picture of the broad reach of televised queer gender in the late 1960s supply a reservoir of camp resonance to Girl as a historicized sitcom text. Meaningfully so with respect to trans history, the program created camp fashion across racial, ethnic, and national borders amid queer mainstreaming. Through conventional sitcom practices, Screen Gems documented queer culture in the course of manufacturing comedy.

Typically, mod culture involved apparent conformity: passing as straight from nine to five. Hippies might have worked, too, but changed clothes. The mod lifestyle called for multivalent looks that could transcend taste distinctions. Girl showcases the other side of mod fashion, the far-out, confrontational version. Overtly feminine, this was camp fashion: stagey, colorful, patterned, frilly, graphic, clashing, and sometimes retro, reflective, or electronic. Carnaby Street, fashion, and the scene appear on the front page of Girl's advance publicity program as signifiers of camp style, a synthesis of and “post-” gesture toward deconstructed mod and hippie sensibilities. The instability within definitions of subcultures aids in the crossings that constitute queer trans culture.

Sitcoms include content that the vast majority of viewers may not notice or understand. Sitcom camp helps establish a trans TV archive. It helps instigate ethical attention to the unpredictable interlacing of queer and trans culture over time. Disciplinary paradigms typically construe 1960s sitcoms as square, yet they circulated queer and trans content and queer and trans interpretive contexts through the established performance traditions of popular entertainment.

Camp suffused the television schedules in the late 1960s through queer attention to production, consumption, and showbiz history in both longstanding sitcoms such as Bewitched and short-lived “failures” such as Girl. Despite censorship, network economics allowed the subtly absurd character-driven storyworlds of sitcoms to incubate queer, genderqueer, and transgender representation. With capitalist competition and countercultural influences encouraging textual experimentation, camp TV contributed to the success of local stations, the network structure, and the overall consumer culture that the national pastime of TV fortified in an era of protest. Analyzing programs such as Girl alongside the history of their production and their historical context shows resistance to social convention and facility with social conventions in the service of resistance to be a principal link between the television industry and the queer and trans cultures forged in the postwar period.

Girl manufactured the mass interchange of multiple forms of gender and a brand of gender and sexual defiance now commonly presumed to link queer and trans culture. Girl shows that mod culture is another related link. Fashion journalist Marylin Bender wrote, in her 1968 book The Beautiful People, about the envelope-pushing dress of the day (which she dubbed “the Mod revolt”): “Today the alienated hippie spits in the eye of the world and then [s]he is invited to help launch a department store promotion.”85Girl reversed this situation, using department store promotions to stage rebellion. In 1968, Timmy visited Yardley's cosmetics counters on a “Beauty Bash” tour,86 took viewers to London through the domestic medium of TV, and then nearly vanished.



Mod is an elusive slang term, as are its sometimes synonyms camp, queer, Pop, kitsch, cockney, crazy, and mad. See Sasha Torres, “The Caped Crusader of Camp: Pop, Camp, and the Batman Television Series,” in Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject, ed. Fabio Cleto (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999); and Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (New York: Routledge, 2002 [1979]).


The Ugliest Girl in Town, pilot, ABC, September 26, 1968; archival version viewed at UCLA Film and Television Archive.


Assuming a general familiarity with shifts in spoken and written derivations of names, my account here works against the alignment of names and gender through convention. Tim is a third term, short for Timmy and Timothy. I alternately feminize, masculinize, and neutralize these three names in order to explicate the composite character's queer gender.


This type of camerawork and editing, indicative of new wave and independent cinema aesthetics, reflects a single-camera setup.


“Beautiful kook” is slang for a free spirit, i.e., one who is appealingly queer.


Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007).


Patrick Califia, Macho Sluts (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009 [1988]).


Credited to Helen Miller and Howard Greenfield, with music by George Romanis and music and sound effects by Sunset Editorial, the song is sung by the Will-O-Bees and, according to Wikipedia, was also composed by Shorty Rogers.


Considered talent, Twiggy also worked as an agent, pairing Mary Hopkin with the Beatles at Apple Records after catching one of Hopkin's television appearances.


Daily Express, February 23, 1966; Jack Gould, “TV: Camera on Twiggy,” New York Times, April 28, 1967, 83. U.S. press coverage of Twiggy fixates on accent, vernacular, and the label cockney, which has been associated with Londoners, vulgarity, and “an immoralist's delight in low sensuality” since the nineteenth century. Jeffrey N. Cox, “Cockney Cosmopolitanism,” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 32, no. 3 (2010): 245.


Gail Kelly, “A Great Leap Forward in America's March toward Fantasyland,” Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1968, Q4.


Monroe remarked upon this situation: “The trouble with censors is they worry if a girl has cleavage. They should worry if she hasn't any.” Monroe quoted in The Poster Book of Movie Greats (New York: Mayflower Books, 1981), 44.


Ann Pellegrini, “After Sontag: Future Notes on Camp,” in A Companion to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies, eds. George E. Haggerty and Molly McGarry (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007), 175.


They is a third-person singular pronoun gaining common usage.


Diction makes a difference. Names can be meaningful or not. I reproduce the queer character of the text through genderqueer revision practices that affirm coexisting binary and nonbinary trans* frameworks. Focusing on insights gained from historicizing details in nonnormative contexts, I counter the culture-industry mechanisms that assimilate queer gender and undermine trans agency. Using the scant available records on the series, I develop Girl as if the property were still in process, actively trans feminizing the text in concert with queer labor onscreen and off.


Billy Ingram's post about Girl on his blog TVParty!, a repository of camp TV, describes “a series where the main character was running around in really bad drag” and misreports that Gene “dressed Timothy up in Hippie chick garb” for the photo shoot. Ingram, “Ugliest Girl in Town,” TVParty!: Classic TV and Pop Culture, May 22, 2013, (accessed December 14, 2014). Rick Mitz's 1983 reference volume The Great TV Sitcom Book lists Girl alongside “Felix Unger [Tony Randall's Odd Couple character], Charles Nelson Reilly, [and] Paul Lynde” in describing one of sixty-seven stock sitcom characters: “sex-change artists.” Mitz, The Great TV Sitcom Book (New York: Perigee Books, 1983), 13. Joe Saltzman's 1979 Los Angeles Times article “TV Viewers’ Choice: The Pick of the Worst,” reports that Girl was “the series most frequently mentioned” by television fans. The piece, a follow-up to one that “discussed the worst TV from the vantage point of the creators,” highlights the “differing views” and “incredible memories” of audiences. Saltzman allows Girl antifan Ferris Kaplan of Van Nuys, California, to proffer the show's premise: “Hollywood talent agent Tim Blair is approached by his photographer-brother Gene to pose as a girl.” Kaplan quoted in Saltzman, “TV Viewers’ Choice: The Pick of the Worst,” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1979, N4. To be clear, Tim does not pose as a girl for the pictures; queer gender is not always related to and is never reducible to gender transition; one person's sense of “bad drag” is someone else's lived reality; and not everyone segregates clothing.


Jeb H. Perry, Screen Gems: A History of Columbia Pictures Television from Cohn to Coke, 1948–1983 (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991).


Robert Goldsborough, “New Year Brings Beating of Drums from TV Networks,” Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1968, D15.


On Cold War discourses of gender and sexual deviance, see John D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940–1970 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998 [1983]); Andrea Friedman, “The Smearing of Joe McCarthy: The Lavender Scare, Gossip, and Cold War Politics,” American Quarterly 57, no. 4 (2005): 1105–29; David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004); John Loughery, The Other Side of Silence: Men's Lives and Gay Identities: A Twentieth-Century History (New York: Henry Holt, 1998); Rodger Streitmatter, Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay and Lesbian Press in America (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1995); and Jennifer Terry, “‘Momism’ and the Making of Treasonous Homosexuals,” in “Bad” Mothers: The Politics of Blame in Twentieth-Century America, eds. Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky (New York: New York University Press, 1998), 169–90.


Gavin Butt, Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World, 1948–1963 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 14–15; Steven Cohan, “Queering the Deal: On the Road with Hope and Crosby,” in Outtakes: Essays on Queer Theory and Film, ed. Ellis Hanson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999), 41.


Joanne Meyerowitz, How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002).


Jay Prosser, Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998).


Jack Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York: New York University Press, 2005), 56.


Jay Prosser, “Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of Sex,” in The Transgender Studies Reader, eds. Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle (New York: Routledge, 2006), 258.


Serano, Whipping Girl, 3.


Sandy Stone, “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” in Bodyguards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity, eds. Julia Epstein and Kristina Straub (New York: Routledge, 1991), 280–304. See also “postposttranssexual” in Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, nos. 1–2 (2014): 3.


Interoffice communication from Bernard Slade to Harry Ackerman, “Suggestions for Re-Write,” September 26, 1967, Harry Ackerman papers, 04876, American Heritage Center (hereafter AHC), Laramie, Wyoming.


Screen Gems booked a soundstage at Shepperton Studios in Surrey and also shot on location in the streets of London. Other producers include Jackie Cooper, Lloyd Burns, Norman Kurland, Jerry Bernstein, and Chuck Fries, assistants, ASI employees, Jim McGinn at Young & Rubicam, and workers in the Department of Broadcast Standards and Practices for ABC's Western Division, including Leonard Goldbert, Marcia Barrett, and Willis Grant.


Interoffice communication from Jerry Davis to Harry Ackerman, May 17, 1968, Ackerman papers, AHC.


Elana Levine, Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 5.


Jack Gould, “TV: Camera on Twiggy,” New York Times, April 28, 1967, 83. According to Gould, “Whatever the opinions … there's no gainsaying that [Twiggy] is a … triumph.”


Julie Byrne, “How Fashion Twiggy Is Bent to Friend and Foe,” Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1967, N1; Byrne, “Angeltown Looks at Twiggy, Sees a Mini-Slendered Thing,” Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1967, D1; Byrne, “ABC Eyes Twiggy Uproar,” Los Angeles Times, April 28, 1967, E23.


Lynn Lilliston, “Merchandisers of the Mod Look,” Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1967, O1.


Tom Donnelly, “Mod as They Come,” Washington Daily News, undated, from Mexico City.


Russell Baker, “Adieu, Old Mr. Muscles,” New York Times, April 13, 1965, 36. Baker's “Observer” column appeared in syndication nationally.


McLuhan quoted in Burt Prelutsky, “McLuhan's Message,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1967, 10. See also John Leo, “McLuhan's Message Leaves New Class Perplexed,” New York Times, September 19, 1967, 34.


Ackerman papers, Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Guilty Pleasures: Feminist Camp from Mae West to Madonna (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), 27.


Ackerman papers, Dartmouth.


Ackerman papers, Box 46, Folder 9, AHC.


Hunter S. Thompson, “The ‘Hashbury’ Is the Capital of the Hippies,” New York Times Magazine, May 14, 1967; Marshall McLuhan and George B. Leonard, “The Future of Sex,” Look, July 25, 1967, 56, 61.


Steven Cohan, Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural Value, and the MGM Musical (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 18.


“The ABC Television Network Presents The Ugliest Girl in Town, a Half-Hour Series from Screen Gems,” Ackerman papers, AHC.


Eleanor Nangle, “Thru the Looking Glass: Won't Go for New Curl Trends,” Chicago Tribune, April 12, 1965, B3.


Avi Santo, “Batman versus The Green Hornet: The Merchandisable TV Text and the Paradox of Licensing in the Classical Network Era,” Cinema Journal 49, no. 2 (2010): 63–85.


See Thomas Frank's discussion of Madison Avenue psychedelia in Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).


Roxon quoted in Judy Klemesrud, “Rock Fans Play Fashion Game, Too,” New York Times, December 26, 1969, 24.


Cynthia Lowry, “Looking Back,” Los Angeles Times, January 3, 1968, D13.


“ASI In-Depth Test Results, Confidential,” American Broadcasting Corporation interdepartmental correspondence from Marcia Barrett to Leonard Goldbert, April 18, 1968, Ackerman papers, AHC.






Kaufman, “Outline: The Ugliest Girl in Town,” received July 26, 1967, Ackerman papers, AHC.




Like mod, and in concert with mod, unisex was also arguably, and alternately, a short-lived, laughable, and sustainable term.


Memo from Marcia Barrett to Leonard Goldbert, Ackerman papers, AHC.


“Initial Production Meeting,” Ackerman papers, AHC.


“ASI In-Depth Test Results,” Ackerman papers, AHC.


Memo from Martin Starger to Donald R. Boyle, August 8, 1968, Ackerman papers, AHC.




Interoffice communication from Jerry Hyams to Jackie Cooper, April 22, 1968, Ackerman papers, AHC.


“The Ugliest Girl in Town,” March 19, 1968, Ackerman papers, AHC.




Aniko Bodroghkozy, Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001).


Memo from Marvin Korman to Harry Ackerman, Ackerman papers, Box 46, Folder 1, AHC.


Chris Straayer, Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies: Sexual Re-Orientation in Film and Video (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 42.


Lynne Joyrich, “Epistemology of the Console,” Critical Inquiry 27 (2001): 444.


Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 32.


Kaufman, “The Ugliest Girl in Town,” 5, Ackerman papers, AHC.


Baker, “Adieu, Old Mr. Muscles,” 36.


Kastner quoted in Bob Tweedell, “Producer Has Three in Row,” Denver Post, July 30, 1968, 55.


Ackerman quoted in ibid.


Kastner quoted in ibid.


Mark Booth, “Campe-toi!: On the Origins and Definitions of Camp,” in Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject: A Reader, ed. Fabio Cleto (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), 69.


Kastner quoted in Ackerman papers, AHC.


Townshend, Bryer, & Associates, news release, May 29, 1968, Ackerman papers, AHC.


Patricia Mellencamp, “Situation Comedy, Feminism and Freud: Discourses of Gracie and Lucy,” in Feminist Television Criticism: A Reader, eds. Charlotte Brundson, Julie D'Acci, and Lynn Spigel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 60–73; Julie D'Acci, “Nobody's Woman?: Honey West and the New Sexuality,” in The Revolution Wasn't Televised: Sixties Television and Social Conflict, eds. Lynn Spigel and Michael Curtin (New York: Routledge, 1997), 73–94.


Television tie-in collection, Cornell University, Popular Library 60-2340, ca. 1968 (1st), Cornell University Library Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Collection 8001, 1945–99.


Ibid. In the decades that followed, Hirschfeld published paperback books with such titles as Fire Island (1971), Provincetown (1977), Key West (1980), and Return to Fire Island (1984).


“Initial Production Meeting,” Ackerman papers, AHC.


Memo from Harry Ackerman to Ted Key, August 13, 1968, Ackerman papers, AHC.


Ackerman quoted in Donnelly, “Mod as They Come.”


Interoffice communication from Harry Ackerman to Steve Blauner, “Current Projects,” June 14, 1967, 7. Ackerman papers, Dartmouth, ML-81, Box 3, Folder 22.


Ackerman quoted in Donnelly, “Mod as They Come.”


Memo from Marvin Korman to Don Foley, vice president, Advertising and Promotion, ABC-TV, August 8, 1968, Ackerman papers, AHC.




Marylin Bender, The Beautiful People (New York: Dell, 1968), 6.


Ackerman papers, AHC. Timmy also helped plug a limited-edition line of Toyota sports cars with last-minute, whimsical Girl-themed detailing.