“Why are you, with your impeccable credentials, studying nude dancing?” The question was asked by newspaper reporters to anthropologist, educator, writer and dance critic Judith Lynne Hanna when she did her field work on striptease clubs (also called exotic dance cabarets or gentlemen’s clubs). “I am an anthropologist,” Hanna bluntly explained. “Anthropologists study human behavior.” Hanna has been an expert court witness in cases related to freedom of speech and exotic dance in the United States, and in “Ethnography Challenges False Mythology” she analyzes how localities try to regulate striptease clubs out of business. We are proud to say that Hanna is co-editing the “Hoochy Coochy Dancing and Fantasy Love”-section of American Ethnography, in which we have gathered a handful of, dare we say, “sin-sational” stuff.
ILLUSTRATION COURTESY OF COOP
Photographer Juliana Beasley worked eight years as a professional nude dancer, using her camera to document the clubs she worked in, her co-workers, and the customers. Here are some of her photos.
Sociologist Danielle Egan also worked as a striptease dancer and wrote about it. Here is an excerpt from her book Dancing for Dollars and Paying for Love.
Anthropologist Katherine Frank has written a beautiful book, G-Strings and Sympathy, analyzing the “regulars” (patrons who regularly visit a club to see a particular dancer) in the clubs she worked in as a stripper. We have a chapter from the book for you, “Searching for Escape.”
Patsy Holden writes about the history of the Waltz and Swing, both once considered “a nuisance and the downfall of American society.”