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Bare: On Women, Dancing, Sex, and Power Hardcover – October 15, 2002
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
The term "feminist stripper" may be ironic, but it's "not an oxymoron," journalist Eaves explains, as she looks back on her own experiences working naked. In 1996, Eaves was in serious debt, dreaming of graduate school but unable to make house payments with her boyfriend, whom she no longer wanted to marry. She could keep working temp jobs or try stripping, which she knew paid more, although she didn't know what to think about it. Had these women "found a sort of freedom" she lacked? Peep show dancing was a revelation; it gave her control, as it was her body that had the power to give men the sexual release they desperately craved. While this sexual power was "exhilarating," it left Eaves somewhat "disappointed," confirming some of her low expectations of men. Given that most of the male (and a few female) lovers of the various strippers in this book found it impossible not to resent their partner's work, relationship strains emerge as one of the few real hazards of this apparently lucrative occupation. True, Eaves draws mostly on the experience of working at Seattle's Lusty Lady, a women-run business with better politics than the average sleazy strip joint, but her point remains: if stripping is a dangerous occupation for women, it's not the customers who're the threat, it's what it does to a woman's head. Eaves manages to avoid moralizing in favor of reportage, and despite the title's ominous promise, keeps the philosophizing to a minimum. BOMC, QPB, Venus and Inbook alternate selections.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* In her absorbing book, Eaves goes behind the scenes of the lucrative stripping business to examine the motivations, thoughts, and lives of the women who work in it and the men who patronize it. Much of Eaves' research is firsthand--she worked as a stripper at a Seattle strip joint called the Lusty Lady. While there, she examines both her own attitudes toward stripping and those of the women around her. Contrary to popular belief, not all strippers are "damaged" or man-haters; many are there out of curiosity or because they need the money. And it's good money--many strippers make more in one evening than some people do in an entire week at a more conventional job. The Lusty Lady is a peep show, but Eaves also interviews her coworkers, as well as women who work private parties and give lap dances. Eaves pushes herself, trying, at different times, both a private customer booth (with glass separating stripper and customer) and lap dancing, pushing her own limits. Eaves displays both a level of candid introspection rarely seen and a curiosity that she goes to great lengths to quench, leading to an utterly engrossing, accessible, and informative study. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Were I again teaching a course on Gender and Communication, I would be tempted to assign this book as an informative read, both from the perspective of one who's "been there, done that" and also as an example of interesting and meaningful ethnography.
The author leaves that, and other many questions unanswered. With her high degree of self-awareness (pretty evident in the narrative) the reader is left unfulfilled. Whatever insights we have into her life come across as "teasers", we catch a glimpse, but do not get the whole story. But that again, is the underlying mindset required of - and fostered by - her job.
Eaves' voice comes across as curiously flat and detached. It is almost as if she is watching herself physically and psychologically from an out-of-the body vantage point. This provokes my curiosity. Does one need to be detached from the sordid aspects of this job all the while faking intimacy, in order to withstand this kind of life?
The best aspect of her book is her astute take on the complex web of sexual interaction between men and women. She points out the furtiveness and the hypocrisy life as either purveyor or supplier of erotic arts entails. She ruminates on the seemingly insatiable male apetite for women's bodies and even after all the experience she has had, still cannot come to grips with this facet of the male psyche. And she lays out the complex dance of deceit both men and women carry out in the exchange of delusion for currency.
At age 25 she has signicant school debt, a mortgage with a guy she doesn't want to be with and no skills that she can get paid for other then secretary which she does not like and sales, which she does not like. She shares she has had boyfriends Alex and Erik, 2 years.
So, she applies at a club (peep show) called the Lusty lady where multiple dancers are naked except for footwear on a stage and customers sit in little booths behind one-way mirrors or glass and put quarters in a slot to keep the shade open. She shares how the dancers names work. We get to see what goes on in the employee locker room, interesting.
She shares how they offer a private pleasures booth where customers can play act with dancers over a microphone-'Girl in a box' Tells what guys say to her, they could be lieing.
At one point a fellow dancer tries to put the move on her and she is offended.
Once a year they have 'Play Day' where customers can come up on stage and see the locker room, a percent of the $ for that day goes to charity, one time they gave it to a battered women's shelter.
Has an affair with Matt.
Some dancers do bachelor parties and we get a vivid description of what goes on there, use of some drugs and then there is the occasional hidden camera.
She has a relationship with Paul in London.
She decides to return to Seattle and dance, at a different club, so she gets $420 in supplies (clothing) as she had always been nude.
She talks about how guys want to see 'more', then she want to do/see more by trying out differnet types of clubs, at some the dancer has to patrol the place asking for personal dnaces, that wears her out. (Waaa) she has to get two liscenses, $27 each.
She also does some modeling, but doesn't want to do explicit, being nude is one thing, a moment in time, a picture, thats forever. (Hmmm)
She discuses her fellow dancers, their loves and behaviors, one fellow dancer questions how people earning $10 an hour can have any self-respect earning so little each day. Yeah, and she gets paid to be nude.
The author finally just gets out. She returns to her orgin one final time to see where she had been, a gal encourages her to dance there, she said she already did. Some of this sometimes sounds like she had to write it as a project to evaluate herself.