Last week I was so furious perusing my Netflix suggestions, as none of them came even CLOSE to passing the Bechdel test. I'm bored of movies that only feature women portraying wives. SO BORED. AND ALSO ANGRY.
So you could not imagine the SQUEAL OF DELIGHT when someone on the internet alerted me to the fact that there was a LESBIAN STRIPPER MOVIE.
Ohmyfuckinggod. That's ME. People call ME a lesbian (as much as I loathe the word 'lesbian', I do not object when people refer to me as one... my old blog, after all, was www.thesapphicstripper.com). And if you're new here, yes, I am a stripper. A proud and happy one since 2010.
I was SO FUCKING STOKED.
It's a movie! Made by women! (Lesbian women?!?! I think so?) HOLY SHIT IT'S A DREAM COME TRUE.
So I slipped under the covers, carefully arranged my jar of Nutella on my nightstand, flipped open my laptop, and pressed PLAY.
I always reviewed movies that depict strippers. I would address where I, as a stripper, found them relatable and realistic, and where they completely missed the mark. Showgirls, Striptease, Flashdance, Dancing at the Blue Iguana... The Night Porter (there's a hot strip scene and I love me some Charlotte Rampling). I've seen them all. The last stripper-depiction I wrote was more of a rant (and deservedly so). If there's a stripper movie I've missed, please tell me so I can promptly include it in my VERDICT series.
I didn't watch the trailer (I feel like that ruins the surprise) so I just got out my legal pad and jumped right in for what I was hoping to be a radical feminist realization of a life and career I choose and love.
I'm familiar with Natalia Leite and Alexandra Roxo as they made a docu-series for VICE back in 2014. I watched it, and it bummed be the fuck out but I didn't say anything publicly because I don't like to shit on other women who are making their own media. It's hard enough as it is. The series was called Life as a Truck-Stop Stripper, although I think a more apt name for it should have been Slumming on a Hipster Road Trip to New Mexico Paid for by VICE (PS We Tried Stripping).
I felt mocked while I was watching it.
I didn't shit on it then but after two seconds in to Bare I decided it was time. Because this movie is a 90-minute dump on me and my stripper sisterhood. And when you shit on my family, I will pick it up and throw it back at you.
It starts off with - you guessed it - drugs.
(Spoiler alert: Paz de la Huerta is a drug-dealing pimp!)
Then she says this:
I'll say this: Dianna Agron is becoming a really strong actress. Her awful fake-cry attempts from her Glee days are but a distant memory as she plays Sarah.
Then oh look all the strippers are hanging out and doing drugs again:
Dianna Agron's character only works when she's high, she falls in love with Paz and they fuck on Peyote, Dianna is ashamed as fuck when her piece of shit boyfriend finds out. Dianna collapses between two eighteen wheeler trucks, sobbing:
Then she gets arrested for cocaine possession!
And it all ends with stealing the end from Showgirls.
As I watched it, my stomach ached from just such a shitty depiction of a life that I know, that I live, that I love. Strippers work tirelessly to undo all the shitty stereotypes and to have two hipster journalists/artists come along and set my crew back five fucking years hurts my feelings. It infuriates me.
Bare does pass the Bechdel test. Paz and Dianna are talented actresses.
As far as stripper movies go, it's trite. As far as sex work depictions go, it's part of the problem.
If you're a civilian, SIT THE FUCK DOWN. The story of strippers has been told by you so many times and look where it's got us. A week of slumming on VICE's dime does not make you part of our club. This movie could have been made at any Brooklyn bar (where I live, where the director lives or lived at the time of Every Woman). The story is about a bored girl who is "seduced by a world of drugs and danger." The stripping has so fucking little to do with the plot. You used strippers in your movie like men use women to sell everything else: to catch the eye, to get the ratings, to reduce us to the sum of our parts. To contribute to the patriarchal narrative that a woman who uses her body as she pleases is shameful.
STRIPPERS. SEX WORKERS. Get at me. Let's talk about this. Tell me how this movie made you feel (you can watch it on Netflix). Tell me about the kind of stripper movie you want to see because goddamit I'm going to make it.