Strip Club: Gender, Power, and Sex Work

Strip Club: Gender, Power, and Sex Work

Strip Club: Gender, Power, and Sex Work

Strip Club: Gender, Power, and Sex Work


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.


My introduction to the Lion’s Den, a strip club featuring female nude performers for primarily male patrons, came during the spring of 2001 when I applied for and landed a job as a cocktail waitress.

I entered the Lion’s Den through the front door for the first (and last) time. I would never again use this entrance designed for patrons because I was, on my very first visit, to become an employee of the club. As an employee, I parked with the other workers and used the side entrance, often propped open with a black vinyl banquet chair. the employee entrance was backstage and led to the beer coolers, owner-manager’s office, strippers’ dressing rooms, and hallway leading to the bar and main room of the club. Empty beer boxes and trash were often scattered on the cement floor and sometimes all the way to the nearby dumpster. While I was not surprised to see the backstage areas in disarray—they are not designed for patrons to see, after all—I expected the front entrance to put on a better show. Despite my limited time in the front entryway, the space made an indelible impression. I noticed chipped and worn flat black paint on the walls dotted with tape and other remnants of old posters and advertisements. the charcoal gray carpet was worn to the threads and flattened down in places by large blobs of what looked like tar or blackened chewing gum. Once inside the club, a large windowless door shut out the daylight that made the entryway visible.

As darkness enveloped me, I stepped a few feet inside and approached a small counter to speak with Frank, the club’s daytime doorman and bouncer (research participants’ demographics are outlined in appendix 1 and appendix 2). a white man in his mid-fifties with thick, curly, salt and pepper hair, Frank was brawny from years of weightlifting, a passion he shared with anyone who would listen. Since I arrived for my interview before the evening shift (which began at 7:00), I saw Frank just before he left for the day. With a warm grin, Frank said, “How can I help you?” I explained that I had an interview with Steve, the club’s owner-manager, for a cocktail waitressing position. Full of energy, Frank said, “Come on in” and motioned me around the . . .

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