strip clubs

We figured, with all the Harry Potter anniversary hullabaloo around people making sure they truly are a Gryffindor the way they like to picture themselves, why should your strip club be left out? (Josephine’s a Hufflepuff and Caty is a Ravenclaw, btw.) Is the most popular girl in your dressing room more of a Cho Chan or a Pansy Parkinson? Is the biggest earner a generous Cedric Diggory or a go-for-the-win Marcus Flynt? Does your bouncer resemble Nearly Headless Nick or The Bloody Baron? Is your club maybe located in a dungeon…? Discover the true character of your workplace by taking our handy dandy quiz below:

Feel free to discuss the wisdom of our Sorting Hat in the comments. 

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What’s the best place to make business? A ranking from worst to best. [READ MORE]

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Jacqueline Frances (Photo by Danielle Rafanan)

Jacqueline Frances has drawn attention and acclaim with her deceptively simple cartoons of everyday strip club doings.  The simplicity of her comics draws you in, and before you know it, you’re seeing men and masculinity from a sex workers’  view that few people can bring themselves to take on consciously. Frances toured last year with her baby-stripper memoir The Beaver Show, and is touring this year with her new project, Striptastic!, a comic book celebration of strippers.  She’s traveling the country for the next month and a half on the Sex Witch Tour.

Red: So, early on in Striptastic! you have a great illustration of a woman onstage saying she’s smashing patriarchy, and then you write a bit below that about how stripping is feminist and against patriarchy.

And I wanted to ask if you think it’s that simple, because there are later illustrations of “bad nights,” and one of a girl being groped where the caption is something like, “for every Instagram picture of a stripper with stacks, this is what she had to put up with” (which is WAY TOO REAL). These illustrations hint at a different reality, one where women/strippers don’t have all the power—or much power at all—and the work is a complex negotiations of boundaries with customers for cash and then with management for their respect (or for them to at least act like it) and with some management beggaring dancers before allowing them to leave after a slow night.

So, given these illustrations, I was wondering how you see stripping now, if you still see it as a patriarchy-smashing activity, or if it is in fact just another job with compromises like everything else, or if it can be both. Can it be patriarchy-smashing if the clubs are set up to profit men with as minimal benefit to the dancer as possible? Is a woman with low or no social capital being able to earn a living radical (I think it is!), but can that also co-exist with the fact that she’s able to make this living by working in a space that expressly centers men, male desires, and male conspicuous consumption of female energy, bodies, and services?

And is her work that benefits all these men, is that still smashing patriarchy?

Jacqueline Frances: No, it’s definitely not that simple. We exist within it and all have bills to pay. There are many ways to chip away at and/or smash the patriarchy, and I don’t believe there is one pure and simple way to do it.

Red: What’s your ideal outcome with the book? Are you trying to build stripper solidarity? What would you like to do with that, if that’s your goal? What are your visions?

Jacq: Yeah, I totally want to build stripper solidarity! Hmm, what was my goal with the book? I don’t know—the book kind of just happened organically, I started drawing and I knew that people were disappointed that The Beaver Show wasn’t illustrated—

Red: [laughing] Did you see the review—someone posted a review of The Beaver Show and it was clear they hadn’t even touched it, they describe it as a comic book and I was like, “Mmmm…”

Jacq: No, it’s not! But yeah, there are a lot of typos and it is a baby stripper memoir, it’s how you start. And so I was like, “I guess I should make a book of pictures!”

So I made it, and the survey made it not so much a book about me, more about other people. And I was talking to my mom today, [telling her that] I want it to feel like a yearbook, I want other strippers to open it up and relate to it and be happy about the positive memories and the strength they’ve discovered through stripping and sex work. I really want it to be an artifact for the women who’ve done the work, to celebrate their achievement. And I also want it to be educational for people who don’t do it, but that’s not my MO.

My MO is not teaching dudes, that’s all I do at work all day. I’ll offer some pearls of wisdom, or my zine, How not to be a dick in the strip club, which I just made available on Amazon again, but this is a gift for strippers.

…I’d love to usher in more women telling their stories. I know it’s not safe to come out, I know I have a ton of privilege that makes it safe—stripping is legal, I’m white, I’m educated—I have a lot of privilege that makes it easier to come out, so I want to use that. I want to start a dialogue. [READ MORE]

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Anyone who knows me will tell you I struggle with nuance.  Different people have different ways of expressing this: two of my friends describe me as a typical Capricorn, I’ve been called an “angry bumblebee,” “strident,” and “ideologically rigid” by some of my best friends.  They aren’t exaggerating! I’m capable of nuance, especially when talking about my own experiences, but when I see good things said about the sex industry without any mention of the bad, my internal alarm starts screeching.

Which makes me a really weird pick to review Jacqueline Frances’ (AKA Jacq the Stripper) celebration of strippers, Striptastic!, right?
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The late Shannon Williams. (Photo via the GoFundMe page for Williams’ memorial, courtesy of Kristina Dolgin)

Shannon Williams, co-chair of SWOP-USA,  St. James Infirmary volunteer and Whorespeak activist, died this week after unexpectedly being diagnosed with a brain tumor.  There is a fund for her three children here. Williams became briefly notorious after being arrested in 2003 for prostitution while working as a high school teacher in Berkeley. She was a sex worker activist for over twenty years, and helped found SWOP, the largest sex workers’ rights organization  in America.

A cop in Arkansas was recently fired after he blew the whistle by revealing his department had a policy of sleeping with sex workers, then arresting them.  We need rescue from who, now?

Sex workers and activists in Sonagachhi, India held a candlelit vigil to protest police and government inaction after an escort was strangled by a client earlier this month.

These are probably my favorite two articles yet about my lawsuit against Casa Diablo: In These Times amply covers the labor issue while Tits and Sass contributor Tara Burns gives it the most detailed coverage yet,  including discussion of the sexual harassment charges, over at Vice. Both work in a few good meat puns.

Lubunca, the sex worker argot of the queer red light spaces in Turkey is being adopted by another marginalized Turkish group that has long overlapped with the brothels and bathhouses: the mainstream LGBT community.  The trendiness of Lubunca with civilian LGBT people, however, is destroying its utility for queer and gay-for-pay sex workers.

In advance of the Super Bowl, the Arizona Republic published a story about how anti-trafficking organizations pushed for the use of  “sex trafficking” instead of “prostitution.” Our ol’ pal Dr. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, whom some of you may remember from her role as head of Project ROSE, the coercive Arizona State University social work school diversion program for sex workers, offers her two cents:

A victim should also be considered trafficked even if she is no longer actively controlled by someone, she said.

Instead, she said, women can be forced into prostitution by their life situation. She referred to it as ‘trafficked by circumstances.’

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