Monday, May 7, 2012

The Lusty Lady and Me

Just to make things clear: The Lusty Lady is NOT closing. Well, at least not immediately. If you've been following Lusty Lady workers on the interwebs the past few weeks you'll certainly have sensed something has been up. While I don't believe I have the right to go into great depth into our business details or specific emotional roller coasters, I would like to explain where I lay.

For generations of dancers and support staff workers the Lusty Lady theater has been a beacon of sexual, feminist, and political progressiveness and fluidity and the jumping point for other ventures. It's where I learned to love my curvy body, started to really figure out my sexual identity, strengthened my administration and communal action skills, discovered alternative relationship models, and found my voice as a real person with real agency. My, and other's, complete immersion into 1033 Kearny Steet has resulted in the most wonderful, stressful, infuriating, and rewarding months and years of our lives, none of which any of us are ever willing or hoping to suppress or forget.

Over the past few weeks a giant schism has formed within the cooperative regarding the future of our historic and beloved business, which is resulting in a wave of workers, including myself, walking away. I want it to be known that the Lusties leaving the Lady are NOT walking away from it's rich memory of camaraderie and perseverance during cooperization or landmark status of being the only unionized sex work business' within the United States, but simply from a disintegrating system and hostile working environment within a failing business model.

In this long process of decline feelings on both sides have been deeply hurt and the weight of financial and sweat equity is heavy upon us all, I would like to note that I wish those who are choosing to continue with the Lusty Lady theater and the Looking Glass collective much love, luck and happiness. While I can sadly no longer claim to be a peepshow princess Sandy Bottoms will continue to sing highly of The Lusty Lady theater.

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Afterward:

Since posting my "The Lusty Lady and Me" entry two days ago there seems to be a flurry of misunderstanding. While for some the polarity of the vote did create an antagonistic schism, from which some, not all, people reacted aggressively towards one another, giving implied and amplified meaning in their actions. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I voted how I did because that vote seemed the safer route for me, not because I was against anything or anyone. While I have decided as an individual, not as part of a group of dissenters, to leave the co-op and the Lusty Lady business, it is not for lack of solidarity with those who have chosen to stay and who have stepped up or out of contempt for my fellow Lusties. With law school on the horizon and other jobs and projects taking larger chunks of my life I  simply do not have the time or the endurance to be physically in the thick of it, but from afar I have my fingers crossed for those who have chosen to rally and step up.

If you would like to learn more about the status of the world's only unionized and cooperatively-owned peepshow or donate to it's fundraising campaign please click here: LL Fundraiser page 

4 comments:

  1. Jordan cherrybombMay 7, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Beautiful written.

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  2. thanks for your words, lovely lady, miss you.
    ~billie

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  3. It's a tough lesson that certain Utopian ideals may not be practicable in a world that doesn't necessarily run on on the karma program. With pure entertainment (i.e., about pleasure and wish fulfillment, not necessarily learning or personal evolution) such as that provided by the LL, the mood is light, and politics must take a back seat to whatever business formula provides the customer with an optimized entertainment experience. I suspected that once the LL was unionized, the pitiless success agenda of the former management would give way to self management of a much more dignified and rewarding kind (from the standpoint of decency and compassion), but which might produce a less effective entertainment experience for customers. As a long-time customer, I noticed that there was less turnover (a good thing in most industries). But in the LL's case, it meant that unpopular dancers stayed around longer, some popular dancers sometimes stayed on after losing their spark and inspiration, and some fraction of the new hires seemed chosen more for the sake of their social cache with other staff than for their ability to fascinate customers. These likely effects of unionization may have compromised the effectiveness of the organization as a whole--certainly much more than competition with other clubs or 'free internet porn'. For really, there's nothing like the LL if you are sex-positive, feminist-positive, and like things neither strictly amateur, nor with too much of the stripper's stereotypical show-biz affectation.

    No doubt that as a labor studies graduate, you are aware that there are a number of exceptions to standard labor practices that are the entitlement of the 'entertainment' industries. If a stage play has a Native-American character, then for the producers to pass over Caucasian actors, even if more talented, in favor of Native-American actors is not a legal foul. In unionizing, it seems the LL sought to bypass some of the draconian realities of maximizing the casting aspect of entertainment in favor of a mutually-respectful, 'equal-opportunity' professional environment. It's a pity that it seems for now, having it all may not be possible. In a capitalist society, every business always comes to a moment(s) in which choices must be made that conflict with our humanitarian ideals. Maybe that's a clue about what's wrong with capitalism, but that's a topic for another time. The unionizing of the LL seemed like an experiment that may have been doomed to fail of its own well-meaning naivete. It might work for organizations of other types, but for the highly competitive field of 'entertainment' that relies on the whim of customer's pleasures and the priority of keeping them returning, you probably need an uncompromizing, svengaliesque character somewhere in the wings making unpleasant direction and casting calls. That's my impression from the outside. I don't presume to know more about your business than any of your committee members.

    In the end, it would seem to have been a pity to sell the LL for such a low price, but if the risk was to go underwater with a business model that is too utopian to survive the real world, then when the sale was voted down, you seem to have done the right thing to walk away. I am one of your fans, and you should know that you are missed. I wish you well.

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