About this project
What would you do if your workplace engaged in illegal labor practices that violated your rights as a worker?
Would you adapt to it, fight it, or quit?
License to Pimp is a feature documentary about the choices that three San Francisco strippers make as their workplaces engage in illegal labor practices. Strip clubs refuse to pay strippers even minimum wages & actually charge them for the privilege to work. I worked in half of San Francisco’s strip clubs during the 1990s and witnessed how co-workers felt economically pressured to engage in prostitution to make their quotas to avoid being fired. Now as a filmmaker, I uncover current working conditions & try to find out how strip clubs are able to operate outside the law.
- What would you do to keep your job? 16 year old LOLA begins stripping after learning her mother has cancer & needs treatment. When her club increases their fees to $200, Lola can no longer just lapdance. As co-workers prostitute to make their fees, Lola must decide how far she’ll push her own sexual boundaries to keep her job. Lola’s story will be animated to protect her identity. Click HERE to watch a scene from Lola's story in Update #2: What Would You Do To Keep Your Job?
- What would you do to change the system? DAISY ANARCHY goes public about the strip clubs’ illegal activities & demands that the city enforce the laws to uphold workers’ rights. One agency drafts legislation to end the club violations. But a battle ensues as strip clubs & most surprisingly the strippers themselves rally in support of the illegal conditions. Click HERE to watch a film excerpt from Daisy's story (Update #4: What Would You Do To Stay In Control?).
- What would you do to stay in control? MARIKO PASSION quits stripping as the work becomes increasingly sexual. After filing wage complaints against former employers, she can no longer strip in San Francisco. She relocates to Los Angeles and teaches high school while moonlighting for an escort agency. Because the agency takes a 60% of the booking fees, Mariko goes solo. Can she work independently & safely and keep all of her earnings? Click HERE to watch film excerpts from Mariko's (Update #3: What Would You Do To Stay In Control?).
Each woman makes distinctly different decisions yet our collective journeys are woven into one story of strippers negotiating our labor rights within the sex industry.
WHY I’M MAKING THIS DOCUMENTARY:
During the years I stripped, I witnessed management become increasingly greedy as they took more & more of the dancers' tips. Clubs required between $150-$600 per shift per dancer. As women prostituted to pay the strip club pimps, I felt the emotional toll it took on all of us. I am in support of decriminalizing prostitution so that consensual adults can work free from arrest, stigma, + violence. However, if one feels pressured to engage in prostitution to keep her job, that's not sex positive. That's sexual labor that is exploited.
As stripping increasingly gains acceptance within popular culture, more and more women & teenage girls enter this industry and are unaware of their rights & workplace realities. This is why License to Pimp needs to be made & seen.
WHY IS THIS DOCUMENTARY IS IMPORTANT?
This documentary shows how each of the featured women approach various labor violations. The irony is that strippers are in fact entitled to the same labor protections as the average American worker—the laws just aren't enforced. This documentary isn’t about the morality of doing sex work, but follows the paths of women trying to remain within the sex industry on their own terms. Through each worker's situation, License to Pimp offers tangible ways that sex workers try to better this industry so it’s consensual, safer, fair, legal, & less violent.
FUNDING GOAL: $30,000 or nothing.
I’ve been fortunate enough to find talented filmmakers & interns who’ve worked for free or barely anything to get this documentary shot. But this isn't sustainable. Maintaining hi-quality production values & content requires bringing on an experienced crew. We need $30,000 to complete a Rough Cut of License to Pimp. If we miss our $30,000 goal by even a single dollar, we get NOTHING. ZIP. ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. $00,000. So it’s ALL or NOTHING.
USE OF FUNDS:
With $30,000, we can complete a Rough Cut of License to Pimp with each of the women’s journeys laid out.
- We'll review 400 hours of footage and find gems that illustrate each character’s path.
- We’ll experiment with story structure by interweaving Lola, Mariko, Daisy, & my journeys to tell a compelling, unique story.
Lola participated in the film on the condition that her identity wasn't revealed. Her extensive interviews will come to life through animation. We will re-appropriate the visual style of erotic Latino comic books (aka porno-novellas or “historiettas”) and re-tell Lola’s story within a feminist context.
- We’ll complete the storyboards for Lola’s animation.
- The character designer will hand draw the art for Lola’s animation, which will be scanned & be prepped to be animated.
- Using Lola’s actual interviews as the basis for her story, we’ll work with voice actors & replace Lola’s audio.
- The animation crew will then take the artwork & use their magic to create the animatics, which is essentially a mock up of how Lola’s story will play out in screen time.
- It’ll include the dialogue & audio FX.
Successfully raising $30,000 means that our creative team can be…well creative. Instead of fundraising, we can focus on crafting the best possible story.
Make a difference & be part of getting
the Stories of Sex Workers seen & heard!
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