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Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America Hardcover – September 19, 2001
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Facing imminent marriage, Burana, a journalist who has written for the New York Times Book Review, the Village Voice and Spin, decides to make a yearlong "bachelorette odyssey" to revisit her former career as a stripper. She's exorcising some commitment panic, but also trying to reclaim some dignity for this devalued work. The sex trades may be the world's oldest professions, but where's their history, the "floozerati"? Burana wants to know. A self-proclaimed "sex-positive" feminist, she sees stripping as a choice, not just something women do because there's no other way to earn a buck. True, she herself first went to Peepland to make her rent money, but it also provided a "reprieve from rabid self-actualization" (e.g., studying and trying to get decent jobs). In her return to the "tiprail," she rediscovers the out-of-body high that sometimes graces strippers. But what does her fianc make of all this? And will she be seduced back to this gloriously exhibitionist career? Thankfully, there's a "catcher in the rye": Burana's enormous talents as a writer she has a good ear, a fine wit and an instinct for storytelling reveal another option, one that's perhaps not so different from her former mtier. Stripping means "reclaiming [her] sexuality in the public arena" which is exactly what this book does, too. Burana exposes herself with pride, style and a great sense of humor. (Sept.)Forecast: Hot. No handselling to the Moral Majority, but this will prove seductive to urban hipsters, especially after the planned media blitz: a nine-city tour, "Welcome to Strip City" events in New York and L.A., a national TV satellite tour and first serial in Talk magazine.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
No one gives strippers a chance except magazine writer turned autobiographer Burana, who just happens to have been one before her more "respectable" job came along. In this enthralling joy ride of a first book, Burana details the life of a stripper on the road, from the g-strings to the wigs. The book was born of the retired stripper's desire to confront her somewhat sketchy past head on. After laying out the necessary materials to be a fully functional stripper and taking a refresher class on pole dancing and other such duties, she is ready for the road. Through her nonjudgmental view, the reader becomes intimately connected to the life that Burana struggled to get away from for so long and is now squirming to get back into. Her own love of stripping or perhaps the power attached to it is easily conveyed in her gentle and honest prose; even the most conservative naysayer will be curious about this taboo job. If Burana is the class of the sex-worker industry, Sterry is the crass. This startlingly annoying memoir about a "renaissance" man's early foray into the prostitution scene of 1970 Los Angeles offers little in the way of decent prose. Not only is the writing sloppy and uninspired, it serves less to further the story and more to bolster his narcissistic view of himself. Although recounting the sexual escapades of a misspent youth has the potential to create an interesting read, this book falls short in the absence of an actual point. Sterry doesn't even try to feign a revelation, while his attempts to prove he can love without money just serve to reaffirm his shallowness. Maybe he should take some lessons from Burana in writing with heart rather than with sexual body parts. Rachel Collins, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Describing a trip to Wyoming, Burana met, fell in love with, and agreed to marry Randy, a local cowboy. Realizing that settling down was a permanent proposition, Burana set on a quest to examine and analyze the realm of stripping, which she had immersed herself in and consequently became quite well off up to this point in her life.The Lusty Lady Although this profession eventually caused emotional burn out, Burana became obsessed with examining the world of stripping by undertaking this farewell journey across America that would allow her to explore, digest, and allow her to say her farewell to a field she was determined never to return to. In this regard, "Strip City" is a fascinating account of Burana's final pilgrimage across the strip bars of the United States.
Why did Burana decide to take this cross country trip before marriage? Burana answers this by asking the reader the following: When a man get's engaged, his friends might throw him a bachelor party. They'll herd him off to a club to see strippers, or order them in, and raise a glass to the groom. One final night with the anti wife before wedding your wife-to-be, it's a time-honored way of saying, "Goodbye to all that". But what does a former stripper do when she's about to get married?"Some of My Best Friends Are Naked: Interviews With Seven Erotic Dancers Claiming that stripping around the country was an old fantasy of hers that had resurfaced, Burana called her coast to coast stripping trek "my own bachelorette odyssey". While insisting that there is much more touching in stripping now more than ever, she quipped about her return: "I used to be able to do the wild stuff, but in the time I've been away from dancing I've gotten in touch with my inner prude". Stripped: Twenty Years of Secrets from Inside the Strip Club
After five years out of the stripping game, Burana had become an accomplished writer, with spots in established papers such as the "New York Times Book Review," "GQ", "The Washington Post" and "The Village Voice". However, she wrote that she missed the bright lights and the showmanship, and even more startling, Burana wrote: "when I stopped (stripping), I charged right into a new life as a writer, and never took a long look back. I left a lot of loose ends dangling. I sleepwalked my way through stripping the first time. When I quit, I wanted out so badly and now the pull is just as strong to go back in. I need to go back in order to move on". "Strip City" eloquently describes this journey. I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles
There is much more to this book than Lily Burana's naked American tour. Prior to embarking on this journey, Burana writes: "If I'm to return to dancing, I want to be as good as I can-or at least better as I was. So, what does a woman do when she wants to improve and expand herself in an area of study? She goes to school. Stripper school". I thought Lily Burana was making this up to enrich her story, until I googled "The Pure Talent School of Dance" in Clearwater, Florida, which turned out to actually exist as America's only stripper school in existence. For $750 and one week, Burana was intensively schooled in dance instruction, how to be a "stripper star", stripper costuming and stripper music selection, stripper pole techniques and stripper stage presence.The Stripper's Guide to Looking Great Naked Furthermore, intensive training in different dances, e.g. dancing at bachelor parties, stage dancing in clubs, table dancing, and lap/couch/bed dancing is vividly described. Although an interesting description of Burana's reeducation is told here, she boldly wrote that under no circumstances would she partake in the last three types.
There are other little pearls about the stripping profession Burana revealed. She met men in strip clubs who propositioned her constantly. These men, usually with wedding rings on, would tell her that they would put her up in an apartment, arrange it so she would not have to work anymore and be supported if she would "be with them".Ditch That Jerk : Dealing With Men Who Control and Hurt Women She writes her private thoughts, while without restraint accepting bundles of cash from one particular customer, the following: "Hmmm, interesting! I have no intention of taking him up on his offer, but he doesn't have to know that. Now I want to see how far I can push this. It's hard to work up sympathy for a self-professed serial cheat. I feel almost vindicated taking him for all he's worth."
What is Lily Burana's opinion on why some men visit strip clubs? Her explanation is as follows: "I suspect the fascination is a testosterone thing. I recall reading an interview with a female to male transsexual who said that once she started taking the male hormones, she understood what men got out of looking at skin magazines. For the first time, she said, the pictures came alive as s/he looked at them". Throughout the book Burana calls strip club going men "marks" and that her theme in this profession was "take the money and run", she qualified her thoughts with the following comment: "Maybe the intense visual stimulation is a male province. I'm sure I would enjoy a woman table dancing for me, but not enough to drop a hundred bucks to have her do it again and again". Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery Burana also claims that another leading lure for men to go to strip clubs is the "mystery" of the stripper. In explaining the "mystery", Burana wrote: "the fact that you can't definitely state what makes one woman stand out from the next. That some tiny part of every dancer's soul spills out when she performs, whether she means it to or not. That you can see a woman totally nude before you, and there's still so much about her that you don't and can't know."
Why did Lily Burana quit stripping permanently? Her main reason, she wrote was that she learned to dislike and distrust men. In writing what stripping ended up feeling like, Burana wrote: "Walking the bar, moving from guy to guy, shimmying or winking or tugging at my thong to get him to give me a dollar, begging with my body is precisely what it feels like".Sometimes, when Burana wasn't seeing tips coming fast enough, she would ask her customers questions like: "What are you doing here? "Is that a wedding ring" Why aren't you home with your wife." Never Satisfied: How & Why Men Cheat Although Burana admitted that if an economic emergency occurred, she would return to stripping in a flash, she wrote a chilling lament of the cold callous side of this life. Burana asserted: "Stripping takes out of me things I didn't even realize I had. The near-nudity isn't the problem, or the physical vulnerability, or the working well outside the margins of acceptable female behavior. It's the damn neediness:Angry men scowling at me like they can buy me for a dollar, lonely men professing love after a ten minute chat, confused and desperate men convinced that if only they could get a girl to do they ask, however outlandish, things will somehow be better". Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor
In reading "Strip City" it put me inside the mind set of a dancer and let me see through the eyes of the participant herself, a vicarious experience of a point of view I never knew existed. When a man goes to a strip bar, he is duped into thinking that the dancers are in love with him, with emotionally desirous women leering at him. Dispelling this, Burana thought anything but this. Explaining this, she wrote: "I had one focus-making money. I made myself slick and efficient. Anything else that crossed my mind seemed superfluous, almost irrelevant. If something disturbed me, or touched me too deeply, I would push it away or float up into the ozone of my own head and keep right on going". "Strip "City" is truly a psychological unpeeling of the mind set of a stripper and what goes on inside those clubs, told with colorful anecdotes, an incredible vocabulary and mental imagery unique to Lily Burana's persona. A very worthwhile read!
Burana has a style of writing that is at once brutally honest and achingly delicate. She can describe a filthy hotel room in revealing detail and also lay bare her soul in all its conflicted layers of exhilaration, weariness, and intellect.
The plot is developed in such a way that the journey does not become one endless trek in a g-string, with each club blurring into the next. To avoid this, Burana inserts flashbacks of her former work as a stripper. These flashbacks serve not only to pace the plot of the book but also to give the reader more insight as to what such an intelligent, progressive woman was ever doing in such a career. Burana presents herself honestly at all her personal highs and lows, yet still manages to be humble and real rather than indignant and defensive.
From cover to cover, Strip City is an extremely well-written and engaging chronicle. Burana tells a story of a world that most people know little of, but she does it honestly, exposing the bad right along with the good. This book is the touching story of one woman coming to terms with herself. And as for the book's authenticity and honesty when dealing with the industry of stripping, I suppose only a stripper herself could judge that. And I just have.
Lily Burana documents her time going from club to club across the US, commenting on herself, other dancers, management, and the opposition. She shows maturity and intellect in dealing with problems she comes across. In addition, she shows that yes, you can be a stripper and have a happy married life.
About two thirds throught he book i was asked what it was like and in about half a second i made the snap assessment that this book is like one of Bill Bryson's travel logs - but the trip is one that Bryson could never make. I still think this is a fair take.