Friday is Valentine’s Day, that special day wherein we celebrate patriarchal norms and reinforce insulting gender stereotypes with rampant consumerism.
Valentine’s Day is one of the those special “off” days that happen every-so-often in the strip club. Working the night of one these off days is never business-as-usual—it’s usually, business-as-oh-my-God-did-that-just-happen. The day of Cupid falls on a Friday this year, and there’s going to be a full moon.
One of the great perks of stripping is the opportunity to make your own playlists for the stage. And soliciting others’ opinions on what they think strippers should dance to is a great icebreaker. But some of my Twitter friends have balked at my requests, claiming ignorance of what makes a good stripper set (clue: a good stripper). For them I present these examples of great setlists I was given by four people who hadn’t met me in person. They all instinctively followed these guidelines: maintain genre consistency, don’t pick songs that are too slow, too fast, or have weird time signatures, and think about your stripper.
A friend sent me this video last week, rightly pegging it as relevant to my interests. The song is “The Way Out” by Porcelain Raft, the performing name of multi-instrumentalist Mauro Remiddi. It is expansive and atmospheric electronic pop that might be a little too downbeat for a packed club but, as in the video, a perfect track for a quiet afternoon shift. The video stars a very capable pole dancer, employs an elegant one-shot format, and has a subdued mood. It’s more Exotica than Showgirls. Its events threatened to upset me, but the story has a satisfyingly dark conclusion. I reached out to director Michael Lawrence to ask him about his process. Watch the video and read our Q&A below.
Songwriters seem to love sex workers, no matter how little they may actually know about us. And on a superficial level, we seem like pretty good song material. We’re sexual, illegal, naughty, and easy to desire and pity at the same time. You want to protect us from the dirty men who pay us for sex, yet you secretly still kind of want it for yourself (see “Roxanne,” below).
Hookers provide instant layers of emotional complexity. Throw one in your song, and viola: an edgy, sexy hit single, depressing and tantalizing all at once. (If you find the hooker-heroine of your song isn’t pitiful enough, just add drugs and that should balance things out.) Charlotte and I sifted through some sex worker songs and rated them, 1-10 based on how obnoxious or pleasing they are to hear if you’re an actual sex worker.
We’d love to hear from readers too, on what songs make you smile or cringe. Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Alt-weeklies are always willing to run a strip club feature, using this reliably entertaining subject matter as clickbait. They’ll do stories about labor issues, the food they serve, current legal challenges, and the music they play (yes, that’s me). This year, a couple of alt-weekly strip club stories stuck with me for covering a phenomenon I haven’t personally encountered: Strip clubs serving as live music venues in Miami and Los Angeles.
In the days of Gypsy Rose Lee, striptease was backed by a live band because it was a theatrical performance. Burlesque houses had a house band, not a DJ, to supply the music. As burlesque turned to stripping and theaters to clubs, DJs and jukeboxes became the soundtrack of striptease. It’s a simpler, cheaper way to supply music for a constant parade of dancers on multiple stages.