Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Wed 31 Oct 01 12:09
Actually I am somewhat serious about a line of books by Barbie Faust.
Lily Burana (burana) Thu 1 Nov 01 09:55
<scribbled by burana Thu 1 Nov 01 09:57>
Lily Burana (burana) Thu 1 Nov 01 10:02
Sorry, scribbled due to typos. Oh, the possibilities! It would be an interesting exercise for *every* writer to contemplate what story their alter-ego might write. I suppose Barbie Faust might turn into a sort of Florence Nightengale for the soul, and really get at the heart of why women strip, and why men are there. She'd hear their confessions, tend to their psychic wounds and set them on the path to happiness. Not all strip club patrons or dancers are there as "hurt birds," but there's enough subcutaneous misery out there that a glitzy dame with a good ear and powers of divination could keep herself very busy. Pretentious? Probably. But well-intentioned. If I started with the premise that every girl or guy in the place is there because they are looking for something, something that they may be ill-advised to seek in a strip joint, and work outward from there, it would be a very gripping exercise in documenting longing, need, ambition and hope. Strip clubs are all about strategic exposure and contact-through-restraint. Imagine approaching every man or woman in the place and asking, "So...what's stopping you?" What answers might be offered?
the System Works (dgault) Thu 1 Nov 01 12:53
Ms B, this is a difficult question for me to phrase, but what the hell. A day or so ago you answered someone's question about dealing with your imaginary stripping daughter with "didn't the book scare you off?" Were you mostly serious with that response? My main impression of strip clubs and the adult biz, which is limited to San Francisco in the 70s, was that it was a lot rowdier and more damaged than the clubs you describe, which are of course more recent. So things seemed a lot less scary than how I remember them. Broadway clubs aren't exactly top of the line though. I guess things have changed, I hope they have. The women I know today from that era, those who have survived that is, are not happy campers. Drug use was widespread, and to say it was tolerated by management would be an ironic understatement. I loved the book by the way. If stripping is an analogy for anything, then I think you caught and described that analogy or metaphor in a wonderful way.
Lily Burana (burana) Thu 1 Nov 01 15:48
Caeyell asks what was the hardest part of the book to write. Well, I suppose it wasn't any particular section (though the lawsuit part was tough, and I'd considered leaving it out. Though, in retrospect, i wonder what I was afraid of, exactly.) The hardest part was the getting past the stripping--ie, the business of strategic showing and teasing, and really *stripping down*, emotionally. The business of stripping, on either side of tip rail, is all about little bits of real self peeking in and out, then being hidden from view. Tease and suggest, hunt and peck, come-closer, but-not-too-close. There's the quick flash of reality--the body, the soul, the heart--in a largely artificial environment. But you can't do that when you write. Not if you don't want to be called out as a fraud or a con. I had to do what I never had to do on stage: SHOW UP. 100%. Be forthcoming about what I liked, even though there are things 'good girls' aren't supposed to like; talk about what I hated, even though I was afraid of the guilt that comes from hating things but doing them, or exposing yourself to them, anyway; and describing situations that might offend, even at cost to my own illusions about myself. Of course, that said, one inevitably gets some flak for being evasive for simply not portraying stripping the way that the reader wants or expects, but hey, I had the experience I had, and wrote about it honestly, and I can't do much more than that. Are there things I wish now that I'd spent more time on, or looked at more closely? Oh yeah, sure.
Lily Burana (burana) Thu 1 Nov 01 15:58
(dgault) writes: Were you mostly serious with that response? My main impression of strip clubs and the adult biz, which is limited to San Francisco in the 70s, was that it was a lot rowdier and more damaged than the clubs you describe, which are of course more recent. So things seemed a lot less scary than how I remember them. Broadway clubs aren't exactly top of the line though. ********************* I know that the wild wooly side of stripping still goes strong, in some places. But I'd venture that it *is* quite different now than it was in the 1970s. For better or worse, the business is much more a) visible and b) corporate. And I'm sure that my own disinterest in drugs affords me a 'cleaner' point of view. If girls are cramming into the manager's office to get high, I'll never see it. I did see some drug use, which I acknowledged in my book in a couple places, as well as hearing about the Bad Old Days of Times Square in the 70s-early 80s. Peoples' experience in and perspective on the sex industry is so varied, it makes Rashomon look like a one-note aria. It changes from customer to dancer, from dancer to dancer, and within the same dancer at different points in her life/career. By contrast to you, DG, most of the women I knew in the business, way back when, are still around and OK-ish. We've all got our scars to show, and yes, we did lose a few far too soon, but on average, the greater number of us are just puttering along, living our respective, average lives of quiet desperation--some quiter, some more desperate, than others. But we're around, and if not better for having been strippers, at least we're done with it.
the System Works (dgault) Thu 1 Nov 01 19:40
Thanks. It was too many drugs that did the damage to the people I'm thinking about, too many at too young an age.
Casey Ellis (caseyell) Thu 1 Nov 01 23:06
Lily, near the end of STRIP CITY you write: "I'm starting to think that closure is a lie. And if closure isn't a lie, then it's definitely something that resists appearing on demand." In the months since you wrote those lines --months in which you've read from the book, been interviewed about the book, thought about the book and the journey it chronicled--have you moved any nearer to a sense of closure?
Lily Burana (burana) Fri 2 Nov 01 08:12
No. And I don't presume that I will. I think there are just some things in life that leave an indelible mark, and this is one of them. My guess is that because stripping taps largely into the subconscious--it entails survival instinct and self-protective instinct and sex and secrecy and a whole mess of murky feelings (both good and bad)--it stays lodged, forever and vivid, somethere in the depths of one's mind. Occasionally things that I'd forgotten about surface, and things that once had primacy in my daily thoughts have submarined. But I've talked to women who stripped 5 years ago, and 50 years ago, and their memories are incredibly sharp and pervasive. What changes about your life stays changed, even if you're not doing the work. Just because you're not on the front lines any more doesn't mean you're no longer a soldier in your own mind. I think it may have less significance in my life and thoughts as I age awway from it, but I think a sense of "closure", of relief and done-ness, is a ways off. The interviews I did with women who stopped dancing years ago leads me to this conclusion. I keep thinking about it as if it were a riddle to be solved, but maybe it's just a stretch of my life that I don't need to figure out so much as decidedly walk away from, a little more every day.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 2 Nov 01 17:01
Well, speaking of closure, I'm sorry to see that your officially scheduled time in Inkwell.vue is up, Lily. That doesn't mean I'm shooing you (or caseyell) out the door, of course. If you can stick around longer, that'd be great. But I did want to thank you for joining us here, it's been such a fascinating discussion. And thanks to you too, Casey, for such excellent and thoughtful questions.
Casey Ellis (caseyell) Fri 2 Nov 01 17:16
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 2 Nov 01 21:33
Yes, this has been great. Please continue to make yourselves at home!
Lily Burana (burana) Sat 3 Nov 01 15:39
thank you all, as well. it's been fun!
pooning tang; tanging the poon (viv) Sun 2 Dec 01 08:15
Heard Lily's interview with Diana Nyad this morning on the Savvy Traveler. The site's not yet updated, but should be within the week. http://savvy.mpr.org/ Wonderful stuff, Lily.
Lily Burana (burana) Sun 2 Dec 01 15:45
thank you! she's a wonderful host--very beguiling and curious. plus, i got to record it in Carnegie Studios, above Carnegie Hall, which was a thrill, I'll admit!
pooning tang; tanging the poon (viv) Sun 2 Dec 01 16:32
I'm glad to hear you say that about Diana, I miss Rudy Maxxa but am glad you found her urious/curious--a fine attribute in an interviewer. You deserve the beguile, Lily.
Scott Underwood (esau) Wed 5 Dec 01 11:25
In today's Onion, on the left-hand sidebar: Barnes & Noble Creates Stripper/Prostitute Memoir Section with a picture that shows the top of "Strip City," as well as "Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl," "Sex Work," and some others. I laughed, anyway.
Lily Burana (burana) Wed 5 Dec 01 16:02
me, too. and I'll be Tracy did, as well!
obi-wan ken (noebie) Mon 20 Oct 03 09:55
picked up the book this yesterday at b & n and couldn't put it down...very cool
I'm with you in Rockland! (noebie) Fri 24 Oct 03 09:28
really liked the sections about the burlesque-era stars been looking for a comprehensive history of stripping for some time -- this whets my appetite further what i like best about this book is how straightforward it is...no proselytizing...no sugar coating either very honest and, uh...this seems odd but it's the word that comes to mind -- wholesome
Craig S. Thom (craigthom) Fri 24 Oct 03 19:41
You should visit the Burlesque Hall of Fame out in the desert northeast of LA. It's run by Dixie Evans (mentioned in the first message of this topic, and the museum is doubtless where the meeting happened). I now hVE autographed pictures of burlesque performers on my wall (Dixie's, signed on demand, and Sally Rand, signed in bulk when she visited the museum). The museum is full of photos and props and other souvenirs, and the personal tour by Dixie is worth the drive.
I'm with you in Rockland! (noebie) Sat 25 Oct 03 08:07
i did some research on the web a year or so ago and ran across info on the place -- if i'm ever west i'll be sure to make the stop
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