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Seattle's Strippers Entertain Post-Club-Shutdown Options

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A whole bunch of women in Seattle have become, or are about to become, freshly unemployed. On May 5, the Feds permanently shuttered four local strip clubs owned by the Colacurcio family. That, combined with the imminent closure of downtown peep show the Lusty Lady, means that several hundred women who've been making a living getting naked will soon have to find other work.

I've heard lots of people applauding the end of those businesses. Granted, neither the Lusty nor the Colacurcios offered a perfect form of long-term employment. But I wonder if any of the anti-sex-work people considered what exactly those women were going to do to support themselves? I asked them about their plans.

For the girls in the windows, their answers reflect that while paychecks from the Lusty Lady were higher than what one would earn as a barista or a retail clerk, they were always part-time wages.

Pepper Anne: "Keep working the four other jobs I have!"

Sasha: "I'm an aerialist and aerial instructor—my plans are to teach more and do more performing gigs. I don't plan on dancing in Seattle because the rest of the strip clubs are sleazy. I'd do internet work and take the occasional trip to Portland to dance. I do feel after 10 years at the Lady, I'm ready to do something different. But I have mastered a specific skill set and don't want it to go to waste."

Victoria: "I plan to pursue work in the sex and entertainment industries, though it's hardly worth it to work in a Washington strip club—the laws make success nearly impossible here. I might be forced to dust off my graduate degree and get a 'clothed' job. Perish the thought."

The club girls, whose sole income is usually from dancing, have a different view. Most of the women I talked to said something along the lines of "I'll try dancing at the other strip clubs, but there's going to be such a flood of new girls that it'll be difficult to make any money."

Jazmine: "I'm considering leaving my son with his grandma for the summer and going to Alaska to dance, or maybe to Las Vegas. After that, I just don't know."

Desiree: "Another girl and I are going to form an escort team and do shows only in high-end hotels and at bachelor parties." ("Escort team" apparently means two women who only see clients together, not separately.)

Sera: "I am going to apply for [non-nude] jobs, but I'll probably have to drop out of school. A friend of mine does sensual massage, and I could stay in school if I did that, but I'm afraid if I get busted then I won't be able to get a job after I graduate."

So, yeah, big thanks for protecting women from those exploitive jobs. Got any spare change? recommended

 

Comments (27) RSS

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1
I had kind of hoped that the May 5th closures would have altered the plans for the Lady.
Posted by Bo Peep on May 19, 2010 at 11:34 AM · Report this
2
I'm kind of disappointed in this article. Matisse, you could've done so much more with it. More reporting perhaps?
Posted by lgavin on May 20, 2010 at 6:22 AM · Report this
3
Yep. Leave it to the moral majority to morally put more people on the street. Legalize prostitution and get it over with. Then, when people want to relieve themselves of their lust, they can do so in a clean, safe and appropriate environment. Strip clubs are, and always have been, the last bastion of legal soft-core prostitution in our sexually fucked up society.
Posted by paulus22 on May 20, 2010 at 8:45 AM · Report this
Brunobär 4

I maybe naive, living far away in a country where prostitution is legal, but I would assume that if you close a significant number of such businesses, the demand does not disappear over night. Either the remaining businesses should see a massive increase in traffic, requiring them to hire more dancers, or new clubs should open up soon.
As I said, I don't know the legal problems of opening a strip club in Seattle, so maybe it's not that easy, but I hope for those women that their prospects are not all that grim...
Posted by Brunobär on May 20, 2010 at 9:43 AM · Report this
5
Let's follow Matisse's line faulty line of reasoning to a logical conclusion: drug runners, arms dealers, child prostitution ring etc. etc. (insert your illegal business here, you think these club owners got shut down because they were LEGAL? please... ) gets busted; people, some of them "innocent" get put out of work. what's a hand wringer to do? Matisse is usually better than this.
Posted by olderwithmoreinsurance on May 20, 2010 at 2:01 PM · Report this
6
I like that the girls from The Lusty Lady seemed normal, intelligent, and had not only plans for after the club closed but other skills. The girls from the other clubs are going to become prostitutes, possibly abandoning their children to do so.

That's probably partly why The Lusty Lady is such a Seattle institution.
Posted by Price on May 21, 2010 at 12:48 AM · Report this
7
@4

Not naive, unaware.

The challenge to adult business is not on the demand side, but the supply side. I'm not sure about Portland, but where I'm from (Southeast US), many cities make opening such an establishment as difficult and expensive as possible within the limits of the law. Also, the enterprise typically meets with substantial resistance from their neighbors. (Thus, clubs here are usually located in warehouse districts and poor areas, away from commercial and residential areas, and the affluent.)

It's like any confiscatory tax; despite willing supply and willing demand, the transaction is still prohibitively costly.
Posted by woof on May 21, 2010 at 3:31 AM · Report this
8
Maybe they could try webcamming ? At a place like this ?

http://www.myfreecams.com/enter.php?baf=…

A lot of the models there used to work at strip clubs. At least here they could do what they were doing from the privacy of their own home without having to worry about being groped or assaulted.
Posted by helpastripper on May 21, 2010 at 6:15 AM · Report this
9
"So, yeah, big thanks for protecting women from those exploitive jobs. Got any spare change?"

Sorry, Matisse, but this is just going from one exploitative job to another. You really aren't making any kind of point about the acceptability of stripping or women showing off their bodies for money. I don't think even you know what you're trying to say here, honestly.
Posted by LKinsey on May 21, 2010 at 3:18 PM · Report this
10
Hey, paulus22, how about we make more of an effort to come to terms with the fact that we need to have a less fucked-up attitude about women's bodies and sexuality? Making them both for rent will never be healthy. How about we just stop kidding ourselves about this. And how about we stop distracting ourselves from the need to do this with debates like "We need to legalize prostitution to save us all from the pimps." Because when the product itself is absurd, (women as a commodity) the legality of it doesn't matter.
Posted by mj1212 on May 21, 2010 at 3:26 PM · Report this
11
@10:

"Women as a commodity" is not a product of "fucked up" attitudes about women's bodies; it's a product of biology and free enterprise.

Men are hornier and less picky than women, so women can demand more from men in exchange for sex than the other way around. This is a cross-cultural phenomenon. You don't have to like it, but you should acknowledge it.

Our "fucked up attitude" is manifested not in men buying sex from women, but in our hypocritically punishing these women.

Posted by kungfujew on May 21, 2010 at 4:00 PM · Report this
12
"we need to have a less fucked-up attitude about women's bodies and sexuality"

Yes, you certainly do. For starters, you could jettison the notion that a woman's body is more sacred than her mind, specifically the parts of her mind responsible for decision making and value selecting.

"Making them both for rent will never be healthy"

If you're going to prevent women from utilizing their physical bodies in the performance of labor then you'll leave them with precious few employment options. Telepathy and telekinesis are just not skill sets our education system adequately provides.
Posted by Limonada on May 21, 2010 at 10:22 PM · Report this
13
Limonada-- I guess you have to simplify the argument to an extent where you don't have to take on the larger issues. As to your first point: Prostitution is driven by a view of women's sexuality being a luxury good. A prostitute has a choice, but unfortunately other women caught up in that image do not.

As to our second: well, I know that's a favorite argument of prostitution proponents, but many women get kind of outraged at men haggling with them for oral when they are mistaken for a prostitute. They don't tend to get so outraged when they are mistaken for being bartenders. (yes, speaking from personal experience here.) So if you feel the need to stick to these tired cliche arguments, by all means, keep going.
Posted by mj1212 on May 22, 2010 at 12:05 PM · Report this
14
@kungfujew: Yeah, I agree, but does that mean we should perpetuate an environment that actively encourages it? What would happen if we turn our energy away from trying to justify the reasons, and into the alternatives i.e. bringing down the hypersexualizing of women a bit and creating an environment where it's safer for women to be sexual? If that were to happen, just maybe, more women would want to have more sex, and men wouldn't have to be buying it.
Posted by mj1212 on May 22, 2010 at 12:11 PM · Report this
15
@14:

"does that mean we should perpetuate an environment that actively encourages it?"

What is the "it" that you are referring to? If the "it" is prostitution; then no, I don't think we should actively encourage "it", any more than we should actively encourage smoking pot. However, deciding not waste police and court resources on such activity is not the same as actively encouraging them; it's just a decision which would be fiscally responsible and morally honest.

If the "it" you are referring to is the fact that men are more hungry and visually oriented when it comes to sex than women are; I don't think we are actively encouraging this so much as simply being aware of it, while only some of us actually profit financially from it.

"What would happen if we turn our energy away from trying to justify the reasons"

Where did I try to justify anything here? Observing something and justifying it are not the same thing.

"and into the alternatives i.e. bringing down the hypersexualizing of women a bit"

How do you propose doing this? We're essentially talking about making men less horny (not going to happen) or somehow "teaching" men to express their horniness in different ways. Would you prefer more abstinence? More masturbation (if so, would this masturbation have to happen without porn in order to fit your scheme)? If we elected you sex czar, what would be the specifics of your plan?

"and creating an environment where it's safer for women to be sexual?"

So you think a society in which women are less sexualized will necessarily be a society in which it will be safer for women to be sexual? What are you basing this on? Actual facts about societies where women are less sexualized (see Muslim Arab countries), or just your own personal feelings of lack of safety in a society in which women are sexualized?

"If that were to happen, just maybe, more women would want to have more sex and men wouldn't have to be buying it."

A woman who walks into a bar can probably have sex with 90% of the guys in the bar that same night if she wants to. The reverse is not true of a guy walking into a bar (unless he is a celebrity or of similar high status). This is not because the women in the bar don't feel safe being sexual (yes, it's true for some women at the bar, but not most- and the women who really don't feel safe being sexual are less likely to be at the bar in the first place). It is because women all over the world, regardless of their comfort level with their sexuality, are choosier than men about whom they have sex with.

If I am choosier about what I eat than another person, this does not necessarily mean that they are more comfortable with food than me.
More...
Posted by kungfujew on May 22, 2010 at 12:55 PM · Report this
16
@kungfujew: by perpetuating "it" I mean to perpetuate this same ages-old view of women's sexuality being a sought-after commodity. That encompasses prostitution, stripping. Do you really think that we are better off putting energy into debating about things like legalizing prostitution, closing down strip joints, or are we better off putting these efforts perhaps into educating people about having a view of women's sexuality that is more about their personal enjoyment of it, rather than using it to pay the rent? (or whatever other options you may have in mind?)
Posted by mj1212 on May 22, 2010 at 2:00 PM · Report this
17
@kungfujew: sorry, I didn't click "more" on your comment when I responded. I think you are mistaken about women who aren't feeling comfortable sexually would not be at a bar. Whether or not that's true, it's beside the point. The culture we live in makes being a woman who is sexual a dangerous thing ANYWHERE you go, you have to admit that. (Look at all the times women are still called "sluts," etc) As to Arab countries, you are mistaken. Women's sexuality is VERY lucrative, that's why it has to be hidden- so men can "deal with it."

No, we're not talking about "making men less horny." We're talking about making women's sexuality less of a thing to be purchased, about seeing it as something to be respected as being owned by women. A woman who is stripping is not "being sexual." She is using her sexuality to pay the rent. Men are paying her to do this. Do you really think that's a healthy attitude to have about sex?
Posted by mj1212 on May 22, 2010 at 2:09 PM · Report this
18
Sorry, just one other thing that is very important to look at . Watch the documentary "Live Nude Girls Unite!" You'll see mom-and-pop peep show operations fare just as badly as far as exploiting their workers as big-time strip joints. (allegedly, just watch the doc.) Anti-union. Not giving hours to minorities because blond white women pull in more cash. Pressuring workers to not ask for raises because they are getting too old to strip, etc.
Posted by mj1212 on May 22, 2010 at 2:24 PM · Report this
19
@16:

"by perpetuating 'it' I mean to perpetuate this same ages-old view of women's sexuality being a sought-after commodity. That encompasses prostitution, stripping."

OK, but you are not addresses the extent to which, if any, this view is formed by the way men are hard-wired. You are talking about it like it's completely socially constructed; like shaking hands or bowing to greet someone.

"Do you really think that we are better off putting energy into debating about things like legalizing prostitution, closing down strip joints"

Well, it takes two to tango. I was responding to you, remember?

"or are we better off putting these efforts perhaps into educating people about having a view of women's sexuality that is more about their personal enjoyment of it"

You are being very vague here. Once again, if we elected you sex czar, what exactly would you do to accomplish this goal?

It is true that prostitutes usually don't enjoy having sex with customers, but this fact is not an incentive for most johns. They aren't going to prostitutes in order to have sex with a woman who is not enjoying the sex; they go to prostitutes because it is an easy way to get laid.

Posted by kungfujew on May 22, 2010 at 3:01 PM · Report this
20
"The culture we live in makes being a woman who is sexual a dangerous thing ANYWHERE you go, you have to admit that."

First, the dangers surrounding sexuality are not all cultural. Men are bigger and stronger than women, so the risk of rape is rooted largely in biology.

Second, as prostitutes are generally safer where prostitution is legal, the risks to prostitutes in the U.S. is due to our pretending not to permit the sexualization of women, not the fact that we actually do permit it.

"As to Arab countries, you are mistaken. Women's sexuality is VERY lucrative, that's why it has to be hidden- so men can 'deal with it.'"

My point was that women are not necessarily better off in societies which discourage the overt sexualization of women. The fact that prostitution exists in Arab Muslim countries only bolsters this point- unless you are taking the position that women are as overtly sexualized in these countries as they are in the U.S.

"No, we're not talking about 'making men less horny.'"

OK, but what exactly do you propose to do about those millions of horny guys willing to pay a woman for sex?

"We're talking about making women's sexuality less of a thing to be purchased, about seeing it as something to be respected as being owned by women."

OK, so you think a woman should own her sexuality, but you also think the government should be able to tell her that she can't sell the very thing she owns? If you're not allowed to sell something, then you don't really own it. (Arguably, we don't really "own" our body parts, since we can't sell them legally, so you may have some kind of point here, it's just not well-explained.)

"A woman who is stripping is not 'being sexual.'"

No, a woman stripping is not doing something which YOU find sexy. There are plenty of people who are sexually aroused by a woman stripping- your disapproval of this arousal does not mean that it does not exist. I don't find skinny women sexy, but I won't deny that a skinny woman stripping is doing something sexual. That's because I'm not trying to impose my standards of what is sexy on others.

"She is using her sexuality to pay the rent."

You're really contradicting yourself here. If a person is using their sexuality (regardless of the motive), then they are "being sexual." By your logic, a sniper who does not enjoy his job is not really firing a gun when he goes to work.

"Men are paying her to do this. Do you really think that's a healthy attitude to have about sex?"

No, that's why I don't go to prostitutes (well, that and also I don't think I could get hard with a prostitute because I would be scared, but that's another story) and why I would not want my daughter to be a prostitute.

There are all sorts of unhealthy attitudes about all sorts of things in our society. It's fine to wish these attitudes were different, but keep two things in mind:
1) Don't criminalize conduct unless the net result of the criminalization is positive; particularly with regard to the most vulnerable people involved;
2) If you are talking about "changing attitudes" in the abstract, you sound a lot more credible if you have some sort of specific ideas, too.
More...
Posted by kungfujew on May 22, 2010 at 3:42 PM · Report this
21
#20 Prostitutes that make the grade for licensing are safer. Those that don't get licenses (minors, drug users, those with STDs) stay in the black market. Legalizing prostitution and supporting stripping does nothing to make all women safer, because it legitimizes the idea that it's fine to look at women's sexuality and bodies as a commodity.

Arab Muslim countries have the same backwards attitude about women as that in Western countries. They only employ different methods of dealing with it. Neither are healthy.

What do I propose to alleviate this? What I said before: concentrate efforts less on legalizing and legitimizing these ways of looking at women. Education. As I said in my post above about the Lusty Lady, it will never matter if you go to an "indie, progressive" venue or the standard strip joint. You will find the same problem driving the sex industry wherever you go. To refuse to legitimize it is a big step in the process. Women need to stop partaking in it. (Unfortunately I don't see men making much effort in the area because they don't have any negative incentive to.)And for people like Matisse, stop taking your eye off the ball. Saying that closing down strip joints is a big problem in women's welfare is like saying the Hindenburg has a few cracks in the paint, so let's repaint it.
Posted by mj1212 on May 22, 2010 at 5:19 PM · Report this
22
#20 as to my point about stripping "not being sexual," I meant that the stripper is not partaking in enjoying her sexuality (some do, but let's be honest, it's a paycheck for most women to take off their clothes for folks they wouldn't ordinarily come near.) That is why stripping, etc both embodies and supports an unhealthy view of sexuality. Not to mention that even women who make a specific choice NOT to strip or be prostitutes still get caught up in the effects of it. Men are always going to find women sexually attractive, thankfully, and vice versa. But sex is not the problem, it never has been. It's the context that we create for sex that is the problem. Because that context takes things to an extreme. THAT is something we can change, as I've said, but just opting out of the exploitation.
Posted by mj1212 on May 22, 2010 at 5:29 PM · Report this
23
I was in Seattle a couple of weeks ago. Did the touristy things including the "Underground tour" - perhaps 50% of the chat was on 19th century sewage systems, plus some 10% on Yukon era brothels - guess which was more entertaining?

One thing I noticed about Seattle - I saw the 'Lusty Lady' btw, - was the limited night life. Most cities have a red light area, eg Amsterdam, and London has Soho. Not that I trawl these areas, I'm just sayin'.

Before I travelled, a friend commented "You'll like Seattle, it's a nice town." I agree. The view from the Harbour View Cafe in Pike's Place Market, for example, is a delight. Not a City, though, there is something missing - but perhaps that's the way Seattle's people want it. Just bear in mind that in the year 2110AD the tourists might have to hear a lot more about Seattle's plumbing, for lack of other interesting things to talk about.



Posted by rd.olivaw on May 23, 2010 at 5:56 AM · Report this
24
"Prostitutes that make the grade for licensing are safer. Those that don't get licenses (minors, drug users, those with STDs) stay in the black market."

OK, so when prostitution is legal, only some prostitutes are safer, but when it is illegal, no prostitutes are safer. You are now making an argument for legalizing prostitution; assuming that safety of prostitutes matters to you.

"Legalizing prostitution and supporting stripping does nothing to make all women safer, because it legitimizes the idea that it's fine to look at women's sexuality and bodies as a commodity."

I think we are at a chicken-and-egg argument here. I think that the fact that women's sexuality is a commodity leads to prostitution and stripping, but you think that prostitution and stripping somehow cause women's sexuality to be a commodity.

"Arab Muslim countries have the same backwards attitude about women as that in Western countries."

Well, it's my fault for lumping them all together in the first place, so I can't be too critical of you for stating this fallacy. There is variation in the sexism of Arab Muslim countries. Dubai, for example, is far more liberal in this area than its neighbors.

Limiting this discussion to only the more sexist Arab Muslim countries, though: Would you or any remotely feminist woman you know ever wish for the U.S. to treat women the same way most Arab Muslim countries do? No? Didn't think so. Stop exaggerating. It doesn't help your cause. Women have it better in the U.S.

"They only employ different methods of dealing with it."

That's like saying that grounding a kid and hitting a kid are just "different methods" of the same attitude toward parenting.

"What do I propose to alleviate this? What I said before: concentrate efforts less on legalizing and legitimizing these ways of looking at women. Education."

You did not answer my question. What type of "education" are you talking about? Education in general? Educated men go to prostitutes and strippers. Educated women are probably less likely to become prostitutes, but many still do.

Or are you talking more specifically about "education" regarding the evils of stripping and prostitution? If so, would this be part of high school curriculum? A general education requirement on the college level? Ad campaigns on TV, radio and billboards that discourage people from going to prostitutes and strippers? Do you really think this would have any effect on the sex-work industry? Would you use tax dollars to pay for it?

"As I said in my post above about the Lusty Lady, it will never matter if you go to an 'indie, progressive' venue or the standard strip joint.You will find the same problem driving the sex industry wherever you go."

Yes, you find people doing things that you do not approve of. Where else are people consensually doing things you do not approve of? And would you use "education" to discourage those things, as well?

"To refuse to legitimize it is a big step in the process."

Do you have any evidence for this? Last time I checked, women in western Europe have the highest standard of living that women have ever enjoyed anywhere in human history, and those countries have pretty liberal attitudes towards sex work. Aren't you really just using the overall well being of women as a smokescreen for your own personal tastes?

"Women need to stop partaking in it."

OK, and if female sex workers have a problem with some of the activities you consent to, should they get to tell you not to do those things, or is this a power reserved only for a select few?

"(Unfortunately I don't see men making much effort in the area because they don't have any negative incentive to.)"

OK, now we're agreeing on something. This is no small obstacle to your plan.

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Posted by kungfujew on May 23, 2010 at 1:43 PM · Report this
25
"as to my point about stripping 'not being sexual,' I meant that the stripper is not partaking in enjoying her sexuality (some do, but let's be honest, it's a paycheck for most women to take off their clothes for folks they wouldn't ordinarily come near.)"

I would also guess that few strippers or prostitutes enjoy their work as much as their clients enjoy it. The same can be said of waitresses or many other types of workers. So do you have a problem in general with women doing work that they do not enjoy, or does it only bother you when the work involves stripping or prostitution?

"Not to mention that even women who make a specific choice NOT to strip or be prostitutes still get caught up in the effects of it."

Again, it seems you are saying that women are better off in general in societies that frown more on stripping and prostitution. Do you have any evidence for this? And please do not just go around in the same circle by reiterating: "Women are made unsafe by the legitimization of the commodification of female sexuality." This is not evidence, it a conclusion- one which you have yet to back up.

"Men are always going to find women sexually attractive, thankfully, and vice versa."

No, it's not vice-versa. Men are much more willing to pay women for sex than women are willing to pay men for sex. This is only partly due to socialization and primarily due to biology (males are less picky about whom they have sex with and want sex more frequently); which is why prostitution is a cross-cultural phenomenon. This is not an "attitude", it is a market force driven by an imbalance in a very basic, animalistic desire.

"But sex is not the problem, it never has been. It's the context that we create for sex that is the problem."

"We" did not "create" the "context" wherein men are less picky than women about whom they have sex with and want sex more frequently.

We have created a context where lots of women turn to stripping prostitution because they don't have any better options, but banning sex work has never done anything to attack this root problem.

"THAT is something we can change, as I've said, [by] just opting out of the exploitation."

Just "opting out"? I thought you were talking about more drastic measures. People are already opting out; don't we need to do something about the millions that are opting in? Or are we just to tell them they should opt out?

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Posted by kungfujew on May 23, 2010 at 2:10 PM · Report this
br@d 26
I love kungfujew, is all I'm saying.
Posted by br@d on May 26, 2010 at 8:42 AM · Report this
27
what will they do?

Perhaps follow this business model:

http://www.polefitnessseattle.com/index.…

featuring this entirely classy fitness logo:

http://www.polefitnessseattle.com/upload…
Posted by JulietteF on May 26, 2010 at 8:06 PM · Report this

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