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G-Strings and Sympathy: Strip Club Regulars and Male Desire Paperback – December 5, 2002

3.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Among the recent plethora of books by and about strippers (e.g., Toni Bentley's Sisters of Salome, Lily Burana's Strip City, and Elisabeth Eaves's Bare), Frank's work, an obvious doctoral dissertation, stands out in that she uses anthropological tools to analyze the male customers' experience while working as a stripper herself. Her research is sound-she works in a variety of clubs to get a full picture of the experience-and she documents her research exhaustively, with 25 pages of footnotes and a 14-page bibliography, in addition to extensive verbatim quotes from her subjects. Unfortunately, this rigorous approach has robbed her thesis of its inherent bathos and humanity, resulting in a tedious, laborious read weighed down with academic jargon. She also includes some of her own fiction, which does not enhance the reading pleasure. Her conclusions are not enlightening: although it upsets their wives and girlfriends, men continue to frequent strip clubs. One question she does not address is economics: how do middle- and working-class men justify spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars a night at these clubs? Of appeal exclusively to a handful of academics, this work is not recommended.
Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., NJ
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

G-Strings and Sympathy effortlessly merges the personal with the polemical, the scholarly with the serendipitous, and the earthy with the esoteric. Informed, intelligent, yet always accessible, Katherine Frank’s writing sheds a piercing beam of light on the shadowy realm of exotic dance.”—Lily Burana, author of Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America


“I am not aware of any comparable book on the sex industry that draws so insightfully both on the author’s personal experience and on scintillating analyses drawn from contemporary cultural theory. Katherine Frank’s book is highly intelligent, original, illuminating, extremely readable, and, to say the least, brave.”—Anne McClintock, author of Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (December 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822329727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822329725
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While this is obviously adapted from academic material, Frank uses her experience as an exotic dancer to dig into the question of why men frequent strip clubs.
I'll grant that, superficially, this is a darned easy question to answer.
Still, one of the real strengths of the book is that Frank was able to see past her academic preconceptions and discover an emotional terrain that was not what she anticipated. The standard feminist analysis (male power and domination of women) didn't shed much light on male motivation. She considers a range of possible agendas, from the obvious to the esoteric, and never settles on a trite or doctrinaire analysis.
The book keeps feeling like its on the verge of a profound insight but it never seems to find it. Frankly, even though the author wasn't trying to focus on the women who work as exotic dancers, it was fascinating to learn the tricks and scripts used to create the illusion of intimacy and authenticity.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are buying this book to be aroused, you will be dissapointed. If you are buying it like a novel, you will be dissapointed. What this book really is, is a repackaging of a doctoral dissertation for the curious masses. What are you curious about? Well, how the "customer" of the gentlemen's club thinks, why he thinks it, and what it means. This book is not about the dancers or what they think, it is about the customers. It is a very well researched, fully annotated and footnoted and referenced. This is a research paper, a long one. The author took the subject matter seriously and spent a few years working the clubs she wrote about. Mind you, this was not homoerotic fantasy she was living. This was serious research. She did not hide the fact she was doing scientific research, taking notes, doing structured and semistructured interviews etc. This is a dense piece, full of interesting information and written more like a research dissertation than a book. So expect rather monotone, dense, bland reading, but expect lots of interesting intelligence on the world of its subject matter, with solid reference support.

Final words. Now that I have warned you that this is not novel or erotic book (so look elswhere if that is what you are looking for, it was NOT what I was looking for), you may then put on your PhD psychologist/sociologist hat on and find some fault with the research methods employed. And well you should. There is bias and quasi-experimental method design and variant sample selection including straight up convenience sampling (which is just fine when used properly). But the thing is that is, it is still a book and not dissertation so I can't really get carried away can I?

This book is notable most for the perspective it takes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beneath the academic jargon and obfuscation in this book, there's a lot to like. The problem, however, is that jargon and obfuscation compose most of the book, making it hard to understand the many interesting insights that emerge from Frank's first person accounts.

Take this as an example: Frank cites David Harvey saying that "Spatial and temporal practices can thus 'appear as "realized myth" and so become an essential ideological ingredient to social reproduction'" (58–59), which essentially means that the things people do and when people do them form culture. But that would be too easy to understand to be a valid academic formulation, when we can use words like "practices" and "ideological" in place of "culture" and "cultural." Frank also seems surprised, or faux surprised, that different strip clubs specialize in different things.

The obvious gets its due: "All of the men I interviewed noted that the interactive nature of the encounters they had at strip clubs was a significant pleasurable part of the experience." If it wasn't pleasurable they presumably wouldn't go. Each problem on its own is minor. Taken together, they make the book not really worth reading—or, to use its own language, "interrogating."
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Format: Paperback
An interesting ethnography.....A good counter to all of the focus on strippers - why not study the customers for a change? I appreciated the fact that the author was not trying to be overly positive or negative about strip clubs or the men who go to them, but trying to understand why the customers were drawn to them in the first place. This isn't another "tell all" book about someone's experiences as a dancer, but still gives an insider's observations.
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Dr. Kate Frank sheds light on a much mis-understood subculture and and economy. More college text book than exciting prose, it should be (and probably is) required reading for anyone studying sexology or sex workers. Very interesting.
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I've read a number of books dealing with this genre, but this was (by far) the most dry. It is extremely clinical, and reads more like a doctoral dissertation than a book. That's not to say that there weren't some interesting points made in the book, but you REALLY had to dig through the anthro jargon.
Franks cites other source a lot -- more than any other book I've read. Nearly every paragrah refers to an exterior source. I found this a little distracting.
Overall, I'm not sorry I read the book, but be prepared -- it does not wisk you along -- you really have to fight to glean Frank's points.
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