What would you do if the strip club you worked@ became a brothel?Adapt, fight or quit?This film follows 3 strippers facing this dilemma Read more
This project was successfully funded on July 18, 2012.
Huffington Post: LOOK: 10-Year-Old Girl's Shocking Stripper Fantasy
Hima B.'s reason for including 10-Yr Old Arielle's Stripper Schedule as a Kickstarter Update:
I included Arielle's 10-yr old fantasy stripper schedule to show stripping has entered pop culture as an acceptable form of sex work. Yes--I got permission from her 26-yr old self to publicly post this! Arielle is 1 of many girls who wannabe strippers because they imagine it's a sex-positive way to express their sexuality. I DON'T CONDONE MINORS DOING SEX WORK. But I stripped alongside teens who left dysfunctional families + who worked in the strip clubs because they needed to be financially independent.
Most people are unaware of strip club labor realities. Specifically, most strippers (+ wannabes) don't know that they must pay $100s to work + it's illegal. Or that paying fees often results in economic pressure to prostitute. Most strip clubs front as strip clubs + actually operate as illegal brothels. They're not into decriminalizing prostitution so workers have rights. They're just interested in mega profits generated from exploiting workers' sexual labor. If workers + wannabe strippers were aware, they could decide whether to prostitute + whether they're comfortable with strip clubs acting as their pimps.
In my film License to Pimp, Lola begins stripping as a 16 yr old to pay for her mom's chemo treatment (she's hired by a manager who knows she's under-aged). She consents to lapdance but discovers she must prostitute to pay her stage fees to avoid being fired. At the time I met Lola, she was a 26 year old + was no longer stripping. She agreed to tell her story on the condition that she remain anonymous because she was worried of strip club backlash.
The stories in License to Pimp show why sex workers (the women + girls working in this industry) need labor rights so they aren't exploited.
Huffington Post article (7/12/12):
The Huffington Post writer: Robin Wilkey
Posted: 07/12/2012 9:12 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- While working on a film about the lives of sex workers, a San Francisco documentarian received a shocking letter from a colleague's 10-year-old niece: a schedule of the girl's fantasy life as a stripper.
Filmmaker Hima B. was in the midst of filming her first documentary about the sex industry when she received the young girl's note.
It included the following fascinating and horrifying schedule (misspellings included):
1. Go to the stripping company for sex. 2. Go to the strippers joint to stripp. 3. Go to a appointment for a birthday. 4. Take a shower and eat with my other stripping friends. 5. Show Hima [the filmmaker] my stripping moves. 6. See Bonnie, cuss her out, moon her, get in the taxi and flip her off. 7. Go home and eat a dick for supper. A dick is a hot dog for reals.
"At first I was really freaked out," Hima told The Huffington Post. "Arielle [the young girl] was sometimes around our film school because her aunt was also in the program, and she must have caught a glimpse of my movie."
But concerned readers shouldn't panic just yet: Arielle is now a 26-year-old woman working towards a career in law enforcement.
The incident occurred in 1995, but Hima recently posted the letter publicly to draw attention to misconceptions about stripping--a subject she focuses heavily on in her new film, "License to Pimp."
"I posted it now because I think a lot of young women have developed a glorified image of stripping," she said. "Strippers are glamorized in music videos, movies, Playboy. The models in those images are seen as being beautiful, making lots of money and having fun."
According to Hima, such images might be sending the wrong message.
"All girls, even young girls, want to feel sexy; the desire to be appreciated for your beauty is a natural one," she said. "But I think it's important that women know what they're getting into."
In "License to Pimp," Hima, a former stripper herself, shines a light on the corruption that has developed in the strip club industry, focusing specifically on the rise of prostitution due to skyrocketing stage fees.
"I worked in nearly half of the clubs in San Francisco in the '90s," she said. "And in that time I saw them change from legitimate strip clubs to essentially brothels."
During the 1990s, strip clubs began enforcing said fees, requiring dancers to pay their managers nightly in order to work.
"At first the fee was $5 and then $25, which was okay," Hima recalled. "But then it jumped to $200 a night. It immediately resulted in women practicing prostitution in order to pay those fees, and the clubs went right along with it, installing private rooms everywhere."
Now, according to Hima, clubs charge dancers anywhere from $150 to $600 a night, just to dance on their stages. And while many dancers are opposed to practicing prostitution, some are left with little choice when the end of the night nears and a stage fee has not been met.
"It creates a terrible situation for dancers," said Hima. "To have to choose between making enough money to continue working and not having your sexual boundaries violated."
With her new film, still in the fundraising stages, Hima hopes to increase pressure for regulation in the strip club industry.
"I am certainly not an abolitionist for strip clubs, and I hope that's not the message viewers take away from the film," she explained. "But strip clubs are legal and should thus be regulated like any other business. Women should be able to work at clubs without having their boundaries violated."
And about young Arielle's stripper fantasy?
"I'm glad that didn't play out," she said.