During my research into Shanghai's nightlife industries in the 1920s-30s, I came across plenty of materials describing nudity in the cabarets. Some of these were likely exaggerated. However, by the wartime era, anything went and certainly there were plenty of what the press and authorities described as "obscene" performances, which tarnished the reputation of the city government. The Shanghai Municipal Police were engaged in a constant battle to tame the city's cabarets and stages and prevent nudity, but it was difficult to police the "badlands" in the western district since it lay outside settlement boundaries. I might post more materials on this subject later, but for now here's a window into this issue. As you can see, Mayor Chen Kung-po (Chen Gongbo) who replaced Mayor Fu Siao-en (Fu Xiaoan) as the "puppet" mayor of occupied Shanghai after he was found hacked to death in his home in 1940, was not the first to take a stance against the vice cultures of the badlands.
Nude Shows Springing up in Shanghai Badlands District
(The China Weekly Review Oct. 14 1939)
The "Badlands," notorious gambling house and narcotics-den area in the western section of Shanghai, has added the nude show to other forms of vice which have prevailed in the section since the Japanese invasion and the creation of the puppet Ta Tao municipal administration.
According to advertisements in the local Chinese papers there were at least three shows where Chinese actresses appeared without the adornment--or encumbrance--of clothing last Saturday night. One exhibition, held in an abandoned silk filiature on Edinburgh Road, a short distance from Yu Yuen Road, included as the last number on the program, an exhibition of four Chinese women standing nude upon a rough wooden platform which served as a stage. The women had previously appeared in other numbers on the program, one a maypole dance, in which they were fully clothed. The audience consisted of about 150 male Chinese and a few foreigners who had ventured into the area to see the show. Admission fee was 80 cents. Aside from the nude shows in the Badlands, it was reported that a movie house in Hongkew was exhibiting erotic and obscene pictures, for which an admission of $5 was charged.
In an interview which appeared in The Shanghai Evening Post on Saturday, Oct. 7, Fu Siao-en, puppet mayor of the local Ta Tao municipality, declared that gambling houses and other vice establishments "which came into existence before he took office" were steadily diminishing in number. He admitted, however, that those which had closed had done so because of poor business. In reference to the vice situation, Mayor Fu declared, "I will do my best to stop it all--especially gambling .. measures are already in effect to curtail vice activities... The Shanghai Special Municipality held no interest, nor received any monetary 'compensation' from gambling or other vice establishments."
The action of the U.S. Marine and Naval authorities in placing the Yu Yuen Road bingo joints, cabarets and bars “out of bounds” has had a detrimental effect on the attendance at these places, but did not affect the gambling houses and opium-smoking joints which are located on the north side of Yu Yuen Road and adjoining streets.