documentaries

Bobby explaining club rules (c) Six Island Productions

Bobby explaining club rules (c) Six Island Productions

In one of this film’s first scenes, a manager tells a stripper “I’m fining you $20 because I’m so pissed at you,” while handing her a $40 payment for a shift. She tells him she was scheduled for one shift, she showed up for it and he couldn’t “fine her” or withhold her pay. “I can do whatever I want,” he says. 90 seconds in, and I already have a grudge against the people running this strip club.

Director Shawney Cohen tells us that The Manor, which opened the 2013 Hot Docs film festival in Toronto, is not a documentary about the titular strip club—it is about his family. Shawney’s parents bought the Manor, a combination strip club/downmarket residential hotel in Ontario, when he was a child, and now it’s run as a family business with their two adult sons. The film is more mystifying than revealing, as it cites connections between family disorder, dysfunction and the running of a strip club which are never really clarified. [READ MORE]

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image from License to Pimp Kickstarter

What would you do if the strip club you worked at became a brothel? That’s the question Hima B. asks in License to Pimp, the feature documentary she is currently raising funds to complete. The controversial premise is that, by charging house fees, strip club are essentially pimping out the dancers, leaving them little choice but to become prostitutes in order to pay the house and make some money for themselves. License to Pimp follows the stories of three San Francisco dancers as they negotiate the changes in their workplaces and respond in three very different ways. 

I was excited to hear about Hima’s film, but I also had some tough questions for her. Although she and I have many things in common—we’re both former strippers who share a hatred of house fees, and we’ve both been fired from clubs for trying to fight labor violations—we haven’t always seen eye to eye. So I figured it was time we sat down and had a proper conversation.

I agree with you that house fees add a huge economic incentive for dancers to turn to prostitution, but there has always been an overlap between stripping and prostitution. The premise that house fees “turned strip clubs into brothels” doesn’t take into account the dancers who would be working as prostitutes anyway. I also think the idea that dancers shouldn’t be “doing extras” in strip clubs is unrealistic, and it prioritizes the needs of the more privileged women in the industry—those who can afford not to turn to prostitution.

I think we disagree on that matter. I started working in 1992, and for the first three years you’d hear about dancers who were prostitutes, but they would leave with the customers instead of having sex in the club. Then the stage fees started going up. At first it was pretty gradual—the fees went from $5 to $25 over about five months. It went from being fully clothed lap dancing where they can’t touch your boobs to, OK, they can touch your boobs, to, now you can get fully naked. And then the stage fees spiked. I distinctly remember it went from $25 to $200 in one day at the Market Street Cinema, and when that happened it was no longer about lap dances. It became survival of the fittest. [READ MORE]

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The Stop the Arrests movement is calling for a moratorium on prostitution arrests in London throughout the 2012 Olympics.

Meanwhile there’s manufactured prostitution hysteria in the Ukraine preceding the Euro soccer championship.

Laura Agustín links to studies that have disproven the myth that trafficking spikes around major sporting events.

NYPD cop by day, stripper by night Steve Stanulis wrote and is starring in an Off-Broadway play about male strippers.

Meet the Fokkens, a documentary about Amsterdam’s 69-year-old prostitute twin sisters Louise and Martine, will debut at the Film Forum festival in New York this summer.

Do Wall Street workers really spend a billion dollars a year in strip clubs and nightclubs?

Instructors of Las Vegas’ Stripper 101 class have filed suit for invasion of privacy, claiming they weren’t told about surveillance cameras installed in their changing areas and classroom.

A woman accused of performing illegal buttocks enhancements using silicone and Krazy Glue (it is believed at least one recipient died) will be tried in Philadelphia for aggravated assault and practicing medicine without a license.

Famed Houston strip club Treasures is the target of a lawsuit by the city, which is suing to close the club as a public nuisance.

Dancers at the Crazy Horse in Paris are back on duty after striking last week.

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