The Strippers’ Co-Operative

August 22nd, 2014

Las Vegas bills itself as ‘Sin City’, home of sex, drugs, and seedy glamour, with one of the world’s highest concentrations of strip clubs (interestingly, Prague in the Czech Republic has perhaps the highest density of male strippers in the world, due to factors such as its popularity as a destination for gay tourists throughout the European Union and cross over from the thriving Czech gay porn industry). Holding a considerably staider reputation is Seattle, known largely inside of the United States of America for its inclement weather and else where for its titular role in the nineteen ninety three rom com starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. However, Seattle is also the home of the first strip club in the United States of America to have successfully unionised. The Lusty Lady is the name of a strip club that was established in Seattle in the nineteen seventies, at first by two business men who also opened a strip club of the same name in the arguable capital of northern California, San Francisco.
Rather than a strip club, at first the clubs were peep show venues showing erotic films only: it was only in the year nineteen eighty three that female strippers were added to the line up of the two clubs. Live strip shows were conducted on both a main stage and in individual peep show booths for clients who paid an additional amount. At first, the strip club’s main claim to fame was its humorous and frequently varied external signage. In nineteen ninety seven, however, various workers’ grievances led to the women working there forming the first work place union for strippers in Central Coast workers in the United States of America. The main two catalysts for industrial action was the discriminatory adverse treatment of the African American women working at the club by the management, and the strip club management’s decision to equip some of the peep show booths with one way glass, which allowed the clients to see through but not the women working to see their clients, raising the concern that clients may be video taping or taking photographs of performances.
The industrial dispute culminated with the Sydney male strippers working at the strip club forming the Exotic Dancer’s Union, which affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organisations, the pre eminent union peak body in the United States of America. Following the success of this unionisation campaign, the women working at the strip club were able to negotiate an industrial agreement that provided workers at the strip club with an hourly wage of twenty seven dollars per hour. In 2003, the original management of the club attempted to close it down, bur the workers at the strip club organised it in to a worker’s co operative, in which form it continued to operate for another ten years. A male stripper is also often among the more fun and popular hen’s party ideas.

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