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That’s Not A Facial!

How nice of 19 Action News of Cleveland, Ohio to illegally videotape the dancers at four Cleveland strip clubs. I hope a wannabe Joey Greco crossed with The Leprechaun (pole dancing in geriatric shoes and a suit) doesn’t ever film me doing the “upside-down praying mantis.”

While we’re on the subject of terminology, I’m pretty sure there are technically no facials in the video. The so-called “facial” might more accurately be described as “motorboating.” It’s not like the dancer female-ejaculated onto the guy’s face from the stage. And the girl who “appears to be totally naked and grinding her customer” isn’t actually grinding him. He would need to have a 12-inch erection for there to be any contact between her crotch and his. Not to mention the plot inconsistency with the snow at the end? (Yes, I’m sure you were distracted by Leprechaun chest bumping us too, but look at the ground!) Worst. “Exposé.” Ever.

Bogus Research: Stop Forwarding That Story About How Ovulating Strippers Make More Money

Sex work seems to invite entertaining, original economic research. Wouldn’t it be interesting to quantify the change in income for a women who change careers to begin stripping? Or how much money dancers pay out to clubs? What do they do for the local economy? What kind of sales techniques are most effective for strippers? What marketing is effective for escorts in different markets and income brackets? What is the elasticity of demand for sex work?*

The first time I heard about the “Ovulating Strippers Make More Money!” study, I thought, “oh, that’s interesting! I wonder what they learned. So many strippers must have been studied.” But NO. Here’s the story: Two researchers at UNM in Albuquerque studied dancers for two months. They studied 18 dancers. In one club, in one city. For two cycles. There are so so many things to ask here. For instance, did ovulation coincide with the Pit hosting an NCAA tournament round? Since all the dancers were in one club, did they all work together often enough to have their cycles sync up, and did this perhaps amplify any effects ovulation or menstruation would have had?

The Worst Sex Work Headlines of 2014

image via Library of Congress

From Belle Knox to working the World Cup, the headline writers of the world’s publications had cause to write many headlines about sex work. In chronological order, we bring you the worst ten of the bunch, each gross, reductive, and hateful in its own special way.

I Begged For Change To Stay Out Of The Sex Industry,” XOJane, Feb. 6 2014

XOJane’s “It Happened To Me” feature is generally offensive (“It Happened To Me: I Had First World Problems”) but this edition might take the cake. A lot of bad things happened to this woman while she was impoverished, but her equivocation over whether or not to become a high end escort after watching Secret Diary Of A Call Girl wasn’t one of them.

Welcome Home, Daddy, I’m A Porn Star!” The Daily Mail, Mar. 10 2014

We know the Daily Fail isn’t exactly known for its rigorous journalism, and they are in the business of aggregation, so it’s not surprising that they had the single worst headline about Belle Knox.

Sex Workers Are Excited For The World Cup Because They Think It Will Make Them Rich,” The Atlantic, Apr. 15 2014

Sex workers are realists, and painting Brazilian workers as naive dreamers with Pretty Woman fantasies featuring dollar wielding American white knight clients does them a grave disservice.

Why Do So Many Leftists Want Sex Work to Be the New Normal?” The Nation, Apr. 21 2014

It’s news to us that SO MANY leftists want that, but it would seem that wanting rights for all workers should be a part of any decent politics. Katha Pollitt really goes in on the “the sex workers we hear from are all too privileged to be credible!” theme here, not realizing that her example of a New Inquiry-contributing, grad-school attending sex worker has a story that doesn’t back up her thesis.

Tech-Savvy Prostitutes Trade Pimps for Web Pages,” NBCNews.com, Jul. 11 2014

It’s a story straight out of 2007: Sex workers use the internet to advertise!

You’re Not Not Funny: The Onion’s Ten Funniest Stripper Stories

screenshot composite from The Onion
screenshot composite from The Onion

The Onion posted a story last Wednesday headlined “Stripper Thinks Customer Flirting With Her.” You can get the gist of it from the headline; it is funny for the first, most obvious reason, but also because it’s a little true and sometimes strippers do think customers see them as human. While increasingly vicious as its satire becomes reality at a depressing pace, The Onion is more often than not gentle towards strippers. While we normally have more unfunny shit anti-stripper humor to rant about than not, we also enjoy pointing out examples of stripper and strip club-based humor that don’t rely completely on dehumanizing or mocking us. I’m sorry to kill all the funny by talking about it, but to crib from a Flann O’Brien quote I just read in a discussion of satire, we’ll chance it. For once, it’s nice to read humor about strippers that doesn’t joke about us as dead bodies, talk about our deadbeat boyfriends, or play on our assumed lack of parental supervision.

The main trick The Onion utilizes is taking an accepted stripper artifice and running with it to an absurd literal conclusion. This contrasts with their mode of treating a non-event as a news story; for instance, Stripper In Dressing Room Ignores Girl Crying On Cell Phone or Stripper Who Said “No, I Don’t Have Any Body Spray” Was Lying would fit the format of their office stories, but they’re too strip club-specific to work for a broader audience as workplace jokes. The writers instead must deal with stereotypes in the same way they deal with those of athletes (“Pro Athlete Lauded For Being Decent Human Being”). As I looked through their stripper story archives, I was pleasantly surprised to realize their stripper jokes relied more on absurd literalism than mockery.* Here are the ten best of the bunch.

Misérable Politics: Why Anne Hathaway Should Go-Away

Image from LesMeanGirls
Image from LesMeanGirls

In last year’s Les Miserables, a movie with a lot of famous people in it that will probably win some Oscars, Anne Hathaway plays Fantine, a single mother struggling to provide for her child. Fantine turns to prostitution in a moment of ultimate desperation, having already sold her hair and teeth—I know I’m not the only hooker whose first response to that was “Wrong order, girl”, but whatever—and she and the audience feel very sad. Then she’s saved, and we feel happy, but then she dies of tuberculosis, and we are sad again. At least she’s not a hooker now though. Phew!

No one is more concerned about Hathaway’s Fantine, however, than Hathaway herself, as evidenced by her various comments during the lead-up to the film’s release. One of the most circulated quotes has Hathaway outlining her research “into the lives of sex slaves, which are just unspeakably harrowing,” and her attempts to “honor” the experiences of women who are “forced to sell sex”:

 I came to the realization that I had been thinking about Fantine as someone who lived in the past, but she doesn’t. She’s living in New York City right now, probably less than a block away.  This injustice exists in our world.  So every day that I was her, I just thought ‘This isn’t an invention. This isn’t me acting. This is me honoring that this pain lives in this world.’ I hope that in all our lifetimes, we see it end.”