Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Politics of Lap Dancing

In semisolidarity with Anarchy:After reading David Steinberg's article ["Lap Victory," Sept. 8] and talking to sex workers in San Francisco, I want to clarify my position on the issues raised by the article.

First of all, although I may differ in specific issues with Daisy [Anarchy], there are some crucial issues in the clubs that were touched upon in the article but should be emphasized. In addition, I want to acknowledge Daisy for the work she has done in fighting exploitative working conditions.

The issues that concern me are ongoing: 1) reports of harassment and abuse by management, and 2) the growing monopoly of strip club ownership by a management group with a large number of complaints against them and repeated violations of labor regulations.

I have never worked in the clubs or in the private booths, so my expertise is limited. I emphasize that the dancers should be supported in an ongoing process to address working conditions in the clubs. Of course labor regulations should be enforced. (I don't understand how the club owners are still getting away with these violations -- that deserves an article and an investigation. These violations are more crucial than the contentious political strategies around private booths.) San Francisco should be aware that there are many women who have had very serious complaints about working conditions at the clubs, and these serious complaints are ongoing.

Regarding my comment that "Daisy wants to return stripping to the old days, but we can't roll back the clock on what has become part of the evolution of sex work in our culture," the present industry makes it almost impossible for someone who wants to avoid doing illegal sex acts to stay employed, so the evolution of sex work in our city has had serious consequences for many women. The criminalization and the stigma pit dancers against prostitutes, sex workers against each other. (In decriminalized contexts, dancers and prostitutes can work in the same club!) The worst solution to this situation is to give conditional license only to those working for these "notorious bosses," while the police are investigating, harassing, and arresting independent sex workers in this city.

The current situation in which the owners are exploiting workers in a number of ways is important to resist. In the '90s Daisy, along with Johanna Breyer, Dawn Passar, Hima B, and others in the Exotic Dancers Alliance, were courageous in that struggle. During the last few years, in the course of this work, there have been splits, disagreements about strategies, and personal disagreements. I have also been affected by these struggles, but I was alarmed when I found out that this article was published on the same day that Daisy's court challenge to the club owners commenced.

I strongly support Daisy in her suit. I hope that another 10 years does not have to pass before our city takes steps to support sex-industry workers in our efforts to promote justice within our own industries.

Carol Leigh

Editor's note: The timing of the article had nothing to do with Ms. Anarchy's lawsuit, of which theWeekly's editors had no knowledge.

A Stylish Compliment

Heller column:As I read your article ["Homeland Sinecurity," Matt Smith, Sept. 1], I was reminded of Joseph Heller's wonderful novel, Catch-22. I like your style. Thanks.

G.M. Penn
Savannah, Ga.

Warm Thoughts

About an incendiary band:I just wanted to say that I really liked the article you wrote on the Matches ["Fire Starters," Music, Sept. 1]. I've been a fan of theirs for about two years, and they're incredible. So thank you for writing such great things about them.

Danielle Adams


In his Sept. 8 Stage review, Michael Scott Moore wrote, "The Black Rider has never played in English before this current three-stop world tour." In fact, the November Theatre premiered the show in English in Edmonton, Canada, in 1998 and in New York City in 1999.

SF Weekly regrets the error.

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