Susannah Breslin inspires strong reactions. Three times I have mentioned her to friends and received a variation on this response: “She’s mean.” We don’t even agree about her at Tits and Sass! Since I’m prone to being wrongly interpreted as mean at times, I feel a kinship with her. Full disclosure: Breslin employed me as a freelancer during her time at another site.
Right now she’s writing the Pink Slipped blog at Forbes.com and is chronicling her work writing a story about the economics of strip clubs in a series called “How Your Journalism Sausage Gets Made”. She started this series back in April, and picks it up again today with an interview with a dancer named Cash. This series is geared towards journalists and is a detailed look at the work of reporting a story; being cockblocked by those who control access, finding alternate sources of information and means of entry, allowing what the story actually is to reveal itself to you instead of going in trying to prove the one you’ve already written.
One way—and possibly the biggest—journalists get sex work wrong is by neglecting its economics and focusing on the social factors. Missing the money is missing the point! If there wasn’t any money involved, it wouldn’t be sex work. It would just be sex. Of course, there’s no accurate way to report on the income of individual dancers. Most dancers either exaggerate or lowball their income or don’t track it to begin with, so even “honest” self-reporting isn’t going to reflect actual income. And clubowners are unlikely to report actual income, although in Texas, the tax revenues from sales of alcoholic beverages are a matter of public record, so these can be used to arrive at a rough estimate of what kind of drink volume a club is doing. If Breslin actually gets some hard data out of this series, I’ll be delighted.