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Flesh for Fantasy: Producing and Consuming Exotic Dance

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With a recent burst of feature films, documentaries, and books on strippers, the business of exotic dancing is hotter than ever. Over the last decade there has been a steadily expanding interest in exotic dance, from its role as an "art form" to its benefits as a means of exercise. While the breadth of discussion generated on this topic has expanded, the fundamental debate With a recent burst of feature films, documentaries, and books on strippers, the business of exotic dancing is hotter than ever. Over the last decade there has been a steadily expanding interest in exotic dance, from its role as an "art form" to its benefits as a means of exercise. While the breadth of discussion generated on this topic has expanded, the fundamental debate remains the same: are female strippers empowering themselves or allowing themselves to be exploited? With her follow-up to Jane Sexes It Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire, M. Lisa Johnson moves beyond the old debates and gives the reader a glimpse of what exotic dancing is like through the eyes of the stripper. The essays in Flesh for Fantasy cover everything from workplace policies and conditions, legal restrictions, customer behavior, and the struggle to overcome the stereotypes associated with the profession.


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With a recent burst of feature films, documentaries, and books on strippers, the business of exotic dancing is hotter than ever. Over the last decade there has been a steadily expanding interest in exotic dance, from its role as an "art form" to its benefits as a means of exercise. While the breadth of discussion generated on this topic has expanded, the fundamental debate With a recent burst of feature films, documentaries, and books on strippers, the business of exotic dancing is hotter than ever. Over the last decade there has been a steadily expanding interest in exotic dance, from its role as an "art form" to its benefits as a means of exercise. While the breadth of discussion generated on this topic has expanded, the fundamental debate remains the same: are female strippers empowering themselves or allowing themselves to be exploited? With her follow-up to Jane Sexes It Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire, M. Lisa Johnson moves beyond the old debates and gives the reader a glimpse of what exotic dancing is like through the eyes of the stripper. The essays in Flesh for Fantasy cover everything from workplace policies and conditions, legal restrictions, customer behavior, and the struggle to overcome the stereotypes associated with the profession.

30 review for Flesh for Fantasy: Producing and Consuming Exotic Dance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    In much the same way that gays and lesbians have seized and accepted the word "queer" as a way of deflating its hateful power, feminists of the third wave have taken hold of the profession of stripping in a positive way--taking our perception of stripping and other sex industry work away from the realm of patriarchal exploitation and victimization and asking us to consider the validity of stripping from the POV of its practitioners and even its observers; to make us think about stripping as a mi In much the same way that gays and lesbians have seized and accepted the word "queer" as a way of deflating its hateful power, feminists of the third wave have taken hold of the profession of stripping in a positive way--taking our perception of stripping and other sex industry work away from the realm of patriarchal exploitation and victimization and asking us to consider the validity of stripping from the POV of its practitioners and even its observers; to make us think about stripping as a microcosm of the confusing boundaries and judgments that abound in society over acceptable sexuality as well as about the nature of power, gender and class relations. Sorry, I know that's a mouthful, and even at that it barely scratches the surface of what's going on in this book, which is, as far as I can tell, the best extant all-round examination of stripping: what it is, what it means, how it works, what the attitudes and perceptions of its producers and consumers are, how it fits into feminist and social theories and more. Despite the book's academic provenance, it makes a conscious effort to steer clear of stultifying academic prose style, and succeeds for the most part. The essays cover a lot of ground. There are even three chapters authored by male customers. The book strives greatly for diverse opinions and POVs and struggles mightily at times to eschew negative judgments of both strippers and customers. That its diplomatic traipsing through evident contradictions does not always thoroughly persuade is not a sign of failure; it's a sign of a mature stage in the debate (in discussing seemingly opposing moral perspectives on sex work, one of the authors makes a piquant, spot-on equation of liberal guilt with Catholic guilt, for instance). Life and the nature of power and social relations are complex things, not easily wrestled into the limiting straitjacket of dogma. The book's authors avoid set-in-stone pronouncements, which is all to the good in a society which is rife with hard-headed certainty. This book and a first-person memoir, such as Lily Burana's Strip City (which I recently read, enjoyed and reviewed favorably), are probably all you'll need to read to have a very well-rounded grounding in the particulars and the inherent issues of the stripping trade, and to come to a more humane understanding of those who ply it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I'm so impressed with this book. It's a relief to read women acknowledge the joys of stripping without insisting that sex work is what any self-respecting sex positivist should be doing. The writers draw heavily on their own narratives as strippers or strip club customers. Perhaps because this collection is so grounded in lived, marginalized experiences (as opposed to privileged, liberal bubbles or pure intellectual musing), it avoids a lot of the inward-spiraling theorizing so frequent in simil I'm so impressed with this book. It's a relief to read women acknowledge the joys of stripping without insisting that sex work is what any self-respecting sex positivist should be doing. The writers draw heavily on their own narratives as strippers or strip club customers. Perhaps because this collection is so grounded in lived, marginalized experiences (as opposed to privileged, liberal bubbles or pure intellectual musing), it avoids a lot of the inward-spiraling theorizing so frequent in similar work. It's a very easy and sometimes fascinating read. Two things that I responded strongly to: 1) the inclusion of men's perspectives as regular customers, more complicated and touching than I ever would have expected; and 2) the general concession that sexual/economic dynamics are really, really complicated. No simple "sex work is degrading" or "sex work is empowering" outlook will ever be adequate. I realize that this idea is not new, but somehow Flesh for Fantasy drives the point home better than others I have read. Instead of dizzying ourselves trying to unravel the strange realities of eroticism, feminists are best served by fighting stigmatization around alternative sexualities (sex workers and their customers included), and letting individuals navigate their way without pressure to adhere to (or deviate from) culturally accepted norms. Highly recommended for anyone interested in sex. And who isn't interested in sex?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne T.

    This is an excellent short collection of short essays about the problematics and theories around of consuming and producing exotic dance. It was not too hard of a read (I read it on the beach this summer) and it had a lot of good things to say. Good for the thinking-woman's-burlesque-dancer or stripper. This is an excellent short collection of short essays about the problematics and theories around of consuming and producing exotic dance. It was not too hard of a read (I read it on the beach this summer) and it had a lot of good things to say. Good for the thinking-woman's-burlesque-dancer or stripper.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Celeste Thayer

    Like many anthologies, I didn't read all of the stories. However, there were many good and a few excellent stories - being well written and engaging. The points of view leaned heavily towards the feminist anthropology (etc.) graduate student who used to strip, but there are other points of view represented - some from the customer, some not so stringently feminist, some girls who didn't strip to pay for grad school but danced for other reasons, etc. Like many anthologies, I didn't read all of the stories. However, there were many good and a few excellent stories - being well written and engaging. The points of view leaned heavily towards the feminist anthropology (etc.) graduate student who used to strip, but there are other points of view represented - some from the customer, some not so stringently feminist, some girls who didn't strip to pay for grad school but danced for other reasons, etc.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Nelson

    The standout essay, for me, is Jo Weldon's account of her days as a feature dancer. I must admit, I am partial to Jo, as she is one of my burlesque idols, but her writing is just as good as her dancing. If you have any interest in what it's like to be a stripper or a sex worker, this book will provide you with very honest details from women in the industry. The standout essay, for me, is Jo Weldon's account of her days as a feature dancer. I must admit, I am partial to Jo, as she is one of my burlesque idols, but her writing is just as good as her dancing. If you have any interest in what it's like to be a stripper or a sex worker, this book will provide you with very honest details from women in the industry.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This a collection of essays by third wave sex-positive feminists on the world and experiences of exotic dancing, mostly inhabited by stripping and peep-shows. One of the reasons why I really like this book, is because there are insightful essays written by men about their experiences. As a male, who straddles the fence between anti-porn and sex positivism I found this refreshing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Egan and her collaborators (this is a book of essays) are academics in English and anthropology departments who helped finance grad school by dancing in New Orleans clubs and stripping at bachelor parties while keeping a sharp feminist 2.0 eye on their customers, their bosses and themsleves.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heather Layton

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  11. 5 out of 5

    Johannes Wilson

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

  13. 4 out of 5

    Counterfuture

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christa

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Exotic Mechanica

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brodie Metcalfe

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Blackburn

  21. 4 out of 5

    Seymour Pallack

  22. 4 out of 5

    Riley

  23. 5 out of 5

    6655321

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia Strange

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roger Adams

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sheehan

  27. 4 out of 5

    svnh

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  30. 5 out of 5

    Felicia

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