Sherry Lee Short
The dynamics of rural strip clubs
in the American Upper Midwest,
and the community response
I asked the then president of [the] bank … what he thought about Teddy's having
dancers … He said I would have to be crazy if I didn't: 'You have to make hay while
the sun shines'.1
—Teddy Bellmore, co-owner of Teddy's strip bar in Wahpeton, North Dakota
Across the country, in both urban and rural areas, the stripping industry is rapidly expanding. Forty new clubs have opened each year since 1986.2 The growth of the stripping industry parallels the expansion of other industries and businesses profiting from the economic and political status of women and children. It parallels the growth of internet pornography, Hooters restaurants,3 and Howard Stern-style radio and television.4 The increased patronage of the stripping industry also reflects the American cultural tolerance for social inequality and the growing popular resistance to feminism and other avenues for achieving equity.
Many of the new strip clubs are the so-called gentlemen's clubs that are located in metropolitan areas. Many of these clubs cater to businessmen who may spend upwards to $2000 a night on drinks, food, and private contact dances. Through website advertising, promotional advertising in mainstream press, and listings with chambers of commerce, such 'upscale' clubs have con-
1 Statement made at Wahpeton City Council meeting, August 5,1996. Videotape recording
of the meeting on file at the Women's Network of the Red River Valley, Moorhead,
2 Estimates vary regarding the number of new clubs that open each year. According to the
ABC News program, 20/20, 250 clubs opening between 1987 and 1997 (see Stossel, 'A
Day at the Office'. ABC News. 20/20. September 26, 1997). According to Working
Woman magazine, 300 clubs opened during the six-year period between 1986 and 1992
(see 'The New Old-Boys Clubs'. Working Woman. August 1992, p. 18).
3 Hooters is a national American chain restaurant. 'Hooters' is American slang for 'breasts'.
The restaurants hire only young, female waitresses. The uniforms are mini-shorts and tight
T-shirts with 'Hooters' written across the chest.
4 The Howard Stern Show is a popular raunchy, liberal radio and television broadcast.