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Strip Club

Strip Club: Gender, Power, and Sex Work

Kim Price-Glynn
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 277
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  • Book Info
    Strip Club
    Book Description:

    In Strip Club, Kim Price-Glynn takes us behind the scenes at a rundown club where women strip out of economic need, a place where strippers' stories are not glamorous or liberating, but emotionally demanding and physically exhausting. Strip Club reveals the intimate working lives of not just the women up on stage, but also the patrons and other workers who make the place run: the owner-manager, bartenders, dejays, doormen, bouncers, housemoms, and cocktail waitresses.Price-Glynn spent fourteen months at The Lion's Den working as a cocktail waitress, and her uncommonly deep access reveals a conflict-ridden workplace, similar to any other workplace, one where gender inequalities are reproduced through the everyday interactions of customers and workers. Taking a novel approach to this controversial and often misunderstood industry, Price-Glynn draws a fascinating portrait of life and work inside the strip club.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6853-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction: A Typical Shift
    (pp. 1-24)

    As a sociologist interested in gender, I chose to study The Lion’s Den for many reasons; chief among them was access. Beyond this practical consideration, The Lion’s Den offered me a chance to write about something new—an ethnographic case study of a highly gendered organization, the strip club. By participating, observing, and interviewing, I examined the entire cast of club workers, strippers, and patrons, as well as the space itself, to explore issues of gender, power, and sex work. With regular access and approval from the club’s owner-manager, Steve, I conducted my research openly. Over a fourteen-month period spanning...

  6. 1 Studying Strip Club Work: Context and Perspective
    (pp. 25-46)

    Working as a cocktail waitress, I felt like Gloria Steinem going undercover as a Playboy bunny—I was playing hostess in the ultimate male playground.¹ I understood the drudgery and physical labor associated with waitressing, even before reading Steinem’s famous firsthand account. Less than two months on the job, I wrote in my field notes that I left work “pickled with cigarette smoke, sticky from alcohol and Windex, and physically and mentally exhausted.” Remembering drink orders and patrons’ names alongside research questions and observations fully consumed my mind. My body ached from walking, lifting, bending, and carrying. Beyond the physical...

  7. 2 “Keeping the Dancers in Check”: The Gendered Organization of Stripping in The Lion’s Den
    (pp. 47-66)

    Nothing has mainstreamed stripping quite like theGirls Gone WildDVD series (1998–). These multimillion-dollar documentary-style films have a reality feel, though they are often staged. They present countless young, thin, mostly white women (and now men, too) who strip off their clothes. Reporter Claire Hoffman followed front man Joe Francis and his crew to a Chicago “shoot” on the back of theGirls Gone Wildtour bus with 18-year-old Jannel Szyszka: “Following a cameraman’s instructions, [Szyszka] shows her breasts and says, ‘Girls Gone Wild.’ She seems shy but willing. She smiles. The unseen cameraman asks her to take...

  8. 3 “It’s a Nice Place to Hide, and It’s Safe”: The Making of Masculinities in The Lion’s Den
    (pp. 67-100)

    After working for several days in the club, I realized patrons requested more than drink orders and conversation from cocktail waitresses. On one particular night, a white plumber in his mid-fifties named Glen approached me. Glen was an infrequent customer in the club, but he knew how the place worked. Men made requests, and, most often, women obliged. That is why my interaction with Glen was puzzling and finally frustrating to him. After ordering his drink, Glen asked me how much I charged to flash my breasts. I replied, “I don’t flash.” He smirked: “Everyone has her price.” I smiled...

  9. 4 Tradeoffs and Troubles: Managing Stripping Labor
    (pp. 101-142)

    Before studying The Lion’s Den, I interviewed dozens of strippers about their work. Without exception, all of them worked under difficult conditions. Rundown clubs are commonplace in the stripping industry.¹ Erin, a stripper in her mid twenties, described developing a red rash on her knees while working in one such club. The rash, she later learned, was ringworm that she and other dancers contracted from the club’s carpet. Disgusted, a group of dancers got together and collectively demanded the owner clean or pull up the carpet. In response, the club asked the entire group of dancers to leave. The club’s...

  10. 5 Dollar Dances and Stage Dances: Strippers and Economic Exploitation
    (pp. 143-164)

    In the spring of 2002, Steve hired traveling strippers through a small company called Vixens to fill empty shifts. Evangelina explained, “I think especially because this club hasn’t been doing that well, so they got [the traveling] girls in from [a nearby state], and a lot of the [house] girls got mad.” Fiona’s frustration, as a traveling stripper, was palpable:

    I don’t pay much attention to the club. I’m not there working for the club. I’m working for myself. As far as I’m concerned, the club is privileged to have me here working for them or here entertaining—what their...

  11. Postscript: The Lion’s Den, 2005–2006
    (pp. 165-198)

    Throughout my participant observation, Steve, the club’s ownermanager, was increasingly frustrated with his work. In February of 2003, Steve sold The Lion’s Den to Players, a rival area club. After more than a decade in the business, he called it quits and began to work in a totally different field. Many of the workers he employed also left. In an email dialogue with Steve in early 2003, I learned that only two of the people whom I had interviewed or worked with continued employment with Players. Under new ownership, the club transformed in several other ways. Though still called The...

  12. Appendix 1: Researching The Lion’s Den
    (pp. 199-208)
  13. Appendix 2: Participant Descriptions of Life and Work
    (pp. 209-230)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 231-242)
  15. References
    (pp. 243-254)
  16. Index
    (pp. 255-262)
  17. About the Author
    (pp. 263-263)