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Elisabeth Eaves   Bare  
Elisabeth Eaves  
Read an Interview with Elisabeth Eaves

Read an Excerpt from Bare

Listen to Elisabeth Eaves read

 

Think of strip clubs and certain images spring forth: buxom neon silhouettes luring visitors through club doors; lecherous men skulking in the shadows; glittering women swinging from poles, batting Maybellined eyes at potential tippers. Strippers wear make-up, teeter in stilettos, and remove their clothes for money. What often gets lost in these images is that "stripper" is merely one facet of the woman who strips, just as "teacher," "writer," or any occupational title does not fully define the person it describes.

Elisabeth Eaves worked as a stripper at Seattle's well-known Lusty Lady peep show, an outpost of the San Francisco establishment that attempted to revolutionize the stripping industry by unionizing its employees. Unlike the stripper of media-inspired myth, Eaves made a conscious decision to enter the field and a conscious one to get out; never was she "stuck" dancing for financial reasons. A journalist with a master's degree in international affairs, Eaves has channeled her days and nights at the Lusty Lady into Bare, her enlightening and entertaining ruminations "On Women, Dancing, Sex, and Power."

I met Eaves at the apartment she was house-sitting on the eve of her first-ever live television appearance. She was nervous for the appearance, having averred throughout the book and later in our interview that she was much more confident airing her self-revelations on paper than in person. If this seems contradictory to her former profession it is; throughout Bare Eaves examines some of the many contradictions between the sex industry and the women who comprise it, many of whom consider themselves feminists. The reader can't help but reconsider who it is that's being exploited in strip clubs—the women on stage or the men who pay money for their illusory offerings.

In Bare, as in our conversation, Eaves articulates the societal assumptions that make strip clubs the profitable businesses that they are. Through anecdotes and interviews with some of the women she befriended while dancing, she offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Lusty Lady's inner sanctum, the dressing room, and into some of the many reasons that women become strippers. Bare is an insightful and compelling look at an industry that many of us deeply misunderstand.

—Laura Buchwald

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  Photo credit: Laura Buchwald

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