Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: Live Nude Girls Unite!

In honor of Labor Day, and this badass movie, I'm going review Live Nude Girls Unite!

In the 1990s, San Francisco's Lusty Lady Lounge was widely regarded as a feminist strip club. Compared to other clubs where dancers had to pay stage fees and had unsafe working conditions, the dancers at the Lusty Lady were in much better shape. However, the working conditions were not perfect, and a racial privileging system initiated a petition to create equal opportunities for the club's dancers of color. When the dancers realize that some men are bringing covert video cameras into the club to secretly tape them, they take up their complaints to the management and then to the Service Employees International Union. Then the dancers decide to unionize, and the film is about their struggles against the "feminist" management of the Lusty Lady to create a contract that worked for everyone and provided better working conditions.

The film focuses on dancer and comedian Julia Query, who is the daughter of a prominent feminist activist. While Julia is working to unionize the strippers, her mother, Dr. Joyce Wallace is working across the country in New York to bring awareness to prostitutes with AIDS. She feels that women in the sex industry enter it out of desperation, while her daughter has drastically different opinions. Eventually Julia has to tell her mother about her job and her unionization efforts when they are both invited to speak at the same conference.

What I really like about this documentary is the normalizing factor. Sex work is and should be included in the "service industry" heading, and I think for a lot of people, watching a movie about educated, normal, hard-working women who are unionizing their workplace... which happens to be a strip club will help show that sex work is not something that has to be inherently exploitative or anti-woman. The Lusty Lady was the first unionized strip club, and their story has inspired other sex workers across the country to unionize as well. And this is what Labor Day is about!


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