chelsea g. summers

At the tender age of thirty, chelsea g. summers became a stripper. Now she is a writer. Her stuff has been published in Penthouse and GQ in the US, New Woman and Scarlet Magazine in the UK, in anthologies edited by Susie Bright, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Tristan Taormino, and on the web at Filthy Gorgeous Things, among others. You can read her lissome prose on her blog, pretty dumb things, and keep abreast of her mental detritus on her Twitter account.

There is a peculiar claustrophobic glory to working in a strip club. The walls hug. The beat of the music holds you in its grasp that is by turns steely and auto-tuned, fuzzy with distortion, jangly with teenage optimism, and tired with oversaturation. The air breathes recycled. The lights flash with epileptic precision. The girls rotate on stage, so many painted ponies. The voice of the DJ booms intermittent like a hawking God, reminding you to tip your bartenders and waitresses. It’s a closed loop, and yet the strip club’s very Möbius nature gives the whole experience a kind of comfort. It may be claustrophobic, but it may also be the only kind of closeness some strip club denizens get.

There are many things about a strip club that George Griffith’s film From the Head portrays accurately, but perhaps the most compelling is the claustrophobia. And yet, one person’s claustrophobia is another’s intimacy, and everything about this film treads the metonymic line between the two states. As the film’s punning title suggests, Griffith set his film in a bathroom. Griffith, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, plays Shoes, a bathroom attendant in an unnamed strip club. He stands sentinel at the washbasin, part conman, part sage, part poet and part priest, and listens as the strip club’s patrons spew their innards, drop their fierce deuces and generally share their secrets. And it’s also one of the few evocations of strip clubs that centers not on the women dancing but on the men watching (Susannah Breslin’s blog of letters from men who go to strip clubs is the other).  [READ MORE]

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In a post-Mike Daisey age, you can’t help but approach a monologuist with a certain skepticism. There’s truth and then there’s truthiness, and in between rests a heaving sea of what-the-hell-edness. Part Time Prostitute, a one-woman show that claims to be the “autobiographical tale of a part-time prostitute,” appears to be fairly on the level, if somewhat so bed-sheet seamless that it strains at least an emotional level of credulity.

Indeed, this Lucy Johnson written-and-directed production of Part Time Prostitute, based on the experiences of Anita F. Mann and featuring Rachel Rouge, features exactly the kind of prostitute you’d want to visit were you to find yourself a lonely man in New Zealand in the market for a good romp at a mid-price brothel. She’s warm, effusive, bright, compassionate, funny and saucy. She seems to genuinely enjoy her work. She presents herself as a thoroughly modern professional part-time prostitute, and that’s all very heartening and often quite entertaining. She reminds you to take your dress off over your head, the better to display your temporarily high, tight, firm body.

She sets up a convincing narrative of a woman who is not only an adventurer in physical culture (the show is accompanied by slides; several at the beginning show her in various exotic, faintly dangerous locales doing exotic, faintly dangerous things like butchering a sheep in Ethiopia and doing something else adventurous in Somalia) but who is also a committed documentarian. She loves numbers. And she loves experiences. It doesn’t take much abstraction to create an entirely plausible narrative wherein a malcontent financial type working in a wig company would draw a straight line between these two points and come up with “prostitute.” I don’t doubt veracity. [READ MORE]


When the play in question is called Stripper Lesbians, one might assume that there will be strippers who are also lesbians. An astute reader is also likely to surmise that the subtext is going to center on labels. Neither assumption is incorrect when applied to the play Stripper Lesbians, directed by Jeff Woodbridge, currently running as part of the Frigid Festival in New York City. It is about strippers who are lesbians and the major dramatic (or possibly comedic) arc makes great swooping circles around the issue with labeling.

The center of this play, written by Kate Foster, teeters uneasily on a love triangle—at its vertex sits the androgynously named Evan (Amanda Berry). Her ex-boyfriend DJ (Joe Beaudin) and her current girlfriend Aisha (Samantha Cooper) serve as the two base angles. Because this play is also about labels, these three characters are also “the academic,” “the heterosexual male,” and the “stripper-lesbian.” There is, therefore, some truth in advertising.

Evan’s writing a thesis (presumably in women’s studies, indistinctly a senior or masters thesis) on strippers. At the behest of the symbolically named DJ, then her boyfriend, Evan takes a job at Wildlands, the local strip club. There she meets Aisha, whom she first studies for her thesis and with whom she later gets Sapphic. It’s the old “Girl-Meets-Girl,” “Girl-Dumps-Boy,” “Girls-Dance-For-Cash-Using-Vaguely-Pina-Baush-Inspired-Choreography-In-The-Most-Improbable-Strip-Club-Ever-Brought-To-The-Stage” story. You know how it goes. [READ MORE]


In March 2005 I started a blog. My first post was about my new hideously expensive purse, but my blog, pretty dumb things, quickly became a blog with—not necessarily of—sex. I wrote a lot, posting five or six times a week, often but not always, narrating something sexual. At the height of its popularity, my blog brought in somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 visitors a day. Which is a dizzying number for a one-woman show of neuroses, orgasms, butt sex, blowjobs, pop culture, occasional snark and/or whimsy, and tales of when I was a stripper. My writing got noticed, and I got paid to write for various magazines and anthologies, got interviewed by Susie Bright, and got semi-pseudo-famous, in short, for my sexytime writing. [READ MORE]