Book review: Kilgore Rangerettes
Don't expect posed glamour in O. Rufus Lovetto's coffee table tome about the famous Kilgore College drill team.
O. Rufus Lovetto
Long before the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders made Texas synonymous with high kicks on a football field, the famous Kilgore Rangerettes were serving as global ambassadors for the Lone Star state.
The world's first precision dance drill team was created in 1939 by the dean of Kilgore College to attract female students and keep fans in their seats during halftime. The Rangerettes have been on the cover of such magazines as Life, Newsweek, and Esquire and are now the subject of a unique photo book by nationally acclaimed photographer O. Rufus Lovett.
Kilgore Rangerettes is a weighty coffee table tome with 127 duotone photos — but don't expect posed glamour. Focusing mainly on candid and behind-the-scenes photos rather than performance shots, Lovett favors idiosyncratic artistic images that will captivate longtime fans of the Rangerettes, while perplexing anyone not familiar with their history.
Much is made of "Rangerette culture" in the book's introduction by Texas writer Katy Vine and in the brief foreword by noted photographer Elliott Erwitt — who produced the Rangerettes documentary Beauty Knows No Pain, which offers a lighthearted look at making the team. However, additional text that further puts this culture in context and illuminates the rich heritage of the Rangerettes might have helped newcomers to better appreciate Kilgore's most famous export.