There’s a scene in which under-the-weather-feeling, anti-heroine protagonist Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) describes the way she feels as “shit city.” Afternoon Delight, directed by Jill Soloway, is shit city. This film screamed “rescue project” from the very start. Rachel is a bored, restless, wealthy, vaguely hipster stay-at-home mom living with her husband and young son in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Her contemporaries are mostly other jobless, Jewish, “hip” housewives who spend their time doing volunteer work, if only to thoroughly document it on social media; organizing play dates amongst their elementary school-aged children, and running something called “Craftacular.” Thing is, Rachel doesn’t like this life and she doesn’t like these women. She wanted to be a war journalist. In a scene near the end she wails, “I was so bored I could have died!!!!” One of this film’s only saving graces is the fact that her therapist is Jane Lynch, whose character is truly the only “delight” Afternoon Delight has to offer.
After platform heels and baby wipes, the most essential item in my work bag is my iPod. You just can’t depend on strip club DJs to have what you want to hear. Some of them are voracious consumers and producers of music with a catholic knowledge, and some of them don’t know “Bad Romance” from “Bad Reputation.” Right now I work with more of the latter than the former, so I always bring my own music.
It’s like a fun game to find new tracks, and while I’m not a very solid hit predictor (why is everyone dancing to the Black Eyed Peas when that awesome Big Boi record came out last year?), some clubs have reputations as just that—little focus groups of dancers and customers. In December, All Things Considered ran a short segment on the Atlanta practice of using strip clubs as a testing ground for tracks. Billboard found the subject worthy of a cover story back in 2006, and anecdotally, I can remember hearing musicians in Memphis and Detroit talking about this practice in the late 90s. It makes a lot of sense for the strip club to be a track’s first stop because it’s a place where you can directly observe the crowd, the ladies, and the sound on club speakers.
I was outed the other day as a stripper. I tracked down everyone involved in the gossip chain, found the weak link (who sent me an apology letter), and then asked one of the recipients of this hot morsel of Big News in a Small Town out to coffee. She told me she was surprised that I was nude dancing but she didn’t really care; she thought it was kinda neat and had I read Candy Girl? I would love it, she told me. It’s all about a cool girl stripper. I hadn’t read it but I’ve heard a smattering of talk in the sex worker scene about it. So I decided to read it, seeing as how, as my Small Town friend demonstrated, it’s the modern touchstone to answer every civilian girl’s fantastical question: “What’s it like to be a stripper?”
Here on Tits and Sass there’s general disagreement on the quality of this book. Kat likes it. Catherine doesn’t. So it’s kind of appropriate that I’m writing the review because I generally like 93 percent of the book and abhor 7 percent so deeply, I want to scream at Diablo Cody, “Are you fucking serious?!!”
Let’s start with the good.
Watching portrayals of sex workers in film and television can be a pretty rough proposition. With the notable exception of “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” (which eventually veered off into some wacky territory of its own) there haven’t been many media depictions of sex workers where we aren’t treated as punchlines or murdered. (Or both, as jokes about hurting and killing prostitutes seem to be prime cannon fodder for network powerhouses like Chuck Lorre and Tina Fey.) It can be a downright depressing experience for a lonely ho looking for a little on-screen validation, so while Blue certainly has its flaws, it is perhaps the closest any scripted series has ever come to treating our lives and our stories with due respect.
Blue tells the story of Blue (neé Francine) a 29 year-old mother moonlighting as an escort to support her teenage son, Josh. (I found it somewhat odd that Blue uses her hooker name in her personal life as well, but to each their own, I suppose.) Blue works a day job at an accounting firm so as not to raise anyone’s suspicions, and has a close relationship with her free-lovin’ Mother (Kathleen Quinlan). The show frames Blue as a woman caught between the burgeoning sexual awakening of her teenage son and the sexual re-awakening of her mother, a single woman in her 50s. Both her son and her mother are content to “give it away,” reveling in sex for its own sake, while Blue is often shown to be the “voice of reason” of sorts, using her sexuality to provide for her family, not simply for her own pleasure.
Free from the constraints of network and cable television, the web series has been long touted as the next big thing in entertainment: Content intended for distribution online can be cheaply produced and avoid the ratings system entirely. Without time slots to fill, they can also range in length from feature films to a series of vignettes. Such is the format for Blue, 12 six-to-eight-minute episodes directed by Rodrigo Garcia in a collection of stories about women on the WIGS YouTube channel.
Blue (Julia Stiles) is a young, single mother of a highly gifted 13-year-old son, Josh (Uriah Shelton). She also works a bland office job during the day—but that’s not all. For a few hours a week, Blue—get this—turns tricks for an escort agency in order to make ends meet! Clearly, that, in and of itself, is enough to carry a story, so go on, YouTube viewers! Proceed to be riveted by these edgy topics, filled with flat performances, static characters, and painfully awkward dialogue.