Saturday, May 23, 2009

Live Nude Girls Unite!

A Springfield stripper announced on Masslive today that she's started a blog, MardiGrasClub, to talk about the injustices she sees being perpetrated against the MC employees.

From her second post:
50 dancers a day average $ 50 house fee = $2500 a day
$2500 a day x 7 days a week= $ 17,500
17,500 x 52 weeks a year= $ 910,000.00 per year
So Mardi Gras collects almost a million dollars a year in "house fees" from the Strippers .
That's not enough ? They have to extort $25 from each bartender and $ 200 a day from the dj's.
Clearly none of this is legal. Millions of dollars, all cash stolen from hard working people.
This is the second area blog that I know of about (the catch-all phrase) sex working. Marginalutilities' blog, The Virtues of Vice, brings a high level of consciousness to talking about her work as an escort and life in general.

But the Masked Avenger, the pseudonym our Springfield blogger is using, is focusing for the moment entirely on working conditions, and she's got a rough road ahead of her. Organizing any worker is hard; organizing strippers is harder.

" heart it's a movie about work, part of the rich tradition of labor documentaries that includes Barbara Kopple's "Harlan County, U.S.A.," and "American Dream." The idea of a strippers' union may seem farfetched, even laughable at first; the owners of the Lusty Lady and San Francisco's municipal authorities certainly thought so. But Ms. Query's film effectively makes the case that work, whatever you wear or don't wear when you're doing it, is still work.

The only successful campaign I know of became the subject of the documentary, Live Nude Girls Unite!

The dancers at the Lusty Lady have tuition to pay and children to raise, and the claims they make hardly seem extravagant: job security, paid sick days, a safe working environment. Before the organizing drive began, the film asserts, dancers were routinely fired and non- white dancers were routinely discriminated against. (At upscale lap- dancing clubs, working conditions are shown to be worse: the dancers must pay extortionate "stage fees" and work as independent contractors, without the protections afforded regular employees or the possibility of union protection.) New York Times

You can read the organizers' story in their own words at Live Nude Girls Unite.

And good luck, Masked Avenger. Check out the Exotic Dancers Alliance archives for some tips.


marginalutility said...

You're making me blush.
I'm going to do some research and see if I can find more resources for the Masked Avenger and her noble goal---I know there have been other attempts, some successful, to organize strippers besides The Lusty, most notably one led by Lily Burana, the author of _Strip City_, in Seattle.

Organizing strippers isn't inherently harder than organizing other workers, it's just that it's rarely done, and also, they're supposedly "free lance contracters" by law, which means they can be fired at the snap of a finger (besides meaning that they don't get benefits), so they're justifiably afraid of that.

masked avenger said...

The law is very clear. Money only flows in one direction, from the employer to the employee.

Mardi Gras takes advantage of the fact that many women in this industry may be reluctant to raise a wage-and-hour claim in the courts because of concerns about coming forward about the kind of profession in which they engage.

Exotic dancing is perfectly legal, perfectly respectable, and these people are just as entitled to protection of wage-and-hour laws as anyone else.They're just as protected as pizza delivery drivers, people who work at Starbucks or people who work at Wal-Mart.

The Masked Avenger