If you work in a strip club, you’ve seen your share of drunk female customers who think every night is amateur night. Sometimes they just try to give their dates a lapdance, and sometimes they jump on stage for an awkward spin around the pole. Clubs handle this in wildly varying ways, from wholehearted encouragement in places where dancers pull them up on stage from the tip rail to booting them out of the door at the earliest onset of Pay Attention to ME Syndrome.
I am excited to see more and more gentlemen’s club/exotic dancers taking this business seriously enough to take matters into their own hands. I think for far too long those of us in the adult entertainment industry have gotten engulfed in the socially acceptable invalidation of stripping as actual work, so that we’ve allowed ourselves to neglect so many of the labor violations, discrimination, and downright illegal actions by management, patrons, and staff that just couldn’t fly in other legal businesses.
I remember seeing dancers getting sexually and physically assaulted by patrons, while the bouncers employed because our naked bodies afforded them that job would do absolutely NOTHING. I recall one time a patron ejaculated on my ass as I gave him a standing lap dance at the bar. I went to the bouncer on duty at the time. He shrugged his shoulders and dismissed me.
The male staff who were employed by the club as stage managers or bouncers were also known to sexually violate us. Although they were employed by the same space we all occupied at the same damn time, they felt they were entitled to free feels and who knows what else from the dancers. If it was a nice day, they’d just insult you for even working in such a grimy industry.
Then there was the highway robbery in fees the club would charge the dancers who were coming in there to work—i.e., bring the establishment business. When I was in the game in the 90s, house fees were only just being implemented. They went from $5 to $20 in what seemed a matter of weeks.
Public perception often shapes law and policy, and vice versa. Without legal precedent or social acceptance we become prey to shoddy business practices.
I was 17 years old when I entered the clubs. I started with Al’s Mr. Wedge in the Bronx. It was the club I worked at exclusively then for a few reasons: Another club, The Goat, was closed by the time I got in the game. And besides, the legendary talk around this club sounded as if it was just too much for my bougie ass. For some reason, I just didn’t like Golden Lady, because its size and structure intimidated me.
And all my attempts at auditioning at clubs like Sue’s Rendezvous and whatever the name of the juice bar near Dyre Ave proved fruitless. I was too dark.
I recall once I went into Sue’s with a friend of mine, this mixed chic by the name of Jackie. Tall, light skinned, sorta looking like a young Mariah Carey, she was half White and Black. I went into Sue’s with her with the confidence that I would be allowed to dance in another club and increase my chances of making money. Young and naive, it didn’t dawn on me that when they told me Jackie could audition and I couldn’t it was the result of discrimination against my complexion.
Jackie ended up working at the high-end clubs in the city. Me and my Black ass had to keep it gutter and stay where they were not too picky.
I want people to stop being surprised that racism, colorism, and other biases against womxn (and Black people/or anyone with “dark” skin) exist. Determining who is worthy of making a living can be as superficial as how far from Whiteness they appear to be.
When the play in question is called Stripper Lesbians, one might assume that there will be strippers who are also lesbians. An astute reader is also likely to surmise that the subtext is going to center on labels. Neither assumption is incorrect when applied to the play Stripper Lesbians, directed by Jeff Woodbridge, currently running as part of the Frigid Festival in New York City. It is about strippers who are lesbians and the major dramatic (or possibly comedic) arc makes great swooping circles around the issue with labeling.
The center of this play, written by Kate Foster, teeters uneasily on a love triangle—at its vertex sits the androgynously named Evan (Amanda Berry). Her ex-boyfriend DJ (Joe Beaudin) and her current girlfriend Aisha (Samantha Cooper) serve as the two base angles. Because this play is also about labels, these three characters are also “the academic,” “the heterosexual male,” and the “stripper-lesbian.” There is, therefore, some truth in advertising.
Evan’s writing a thesis (presumably in women’s studies, indistinctly a senior or masters thesis) on strippers. At the behest of the symbolically named DJ, then her boyfriend, Evan takes a job at Wildlands, the local strip club. There she meets Aisha, whom she first studies for her thesis and with whom she later gets Sapphic. It’s the old “Girl-Meets-Girl,” “Girl-Dumps-Boy,” “Girls-Dance-For-Cash-Using-Vaguely-Pina-Baush-Inspired-Choreography-In-The-Most-Improbable-Strip-Club-Ever-Brought-To-The-Stage” story. You know how it goes.
Played in strip clubs more than AC/DC, Kid Rock, and Prince combined, the songs of Lords of Acid are a peeler staple. I’m not a particular fan, but a new Lords of Acid record is definitely stripper news.
That being said, I have very little desire to search out any of the tracks here, so. Maybe I’ll hear it later? In the meantime, I’m in Austin for the South by Southwest interactive, film and music conferences, and will certainly update if I discover any amazing new music for work. I look forward to seeing current work faves Das Racist, Ellie Goulding, Liturgy (kidding! I wish) and others.
You gotta admire the hustle all over this video. It’s not easy being in hip hop in Portland, Oregon! Filmed at Exotica International, this track gives shout outs to Texas titties, Alabama asses, Florida faces, and Oregon … manners! They are polite in the 503. It’s produced by Terrell Brandon. Pretty damn Portland.