Bare: On Women, Dancing, Sex, and Power

Bare: On Women, Dancing, Sex, and Power

Elisabeth Eaves

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0375412336

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


It began when she was a teenager with an awareness of her body and the reaction other people had to it. It continued with the realization that women’s bodies often gave them a strange power over men. As an adult, it became a fascination with professional sex workers, leading to a plunge into their world. And when Elisabeth Eaves left the world of peep shows and private dancers for the more socially acceptable career of international journalism, she found she could not put that fascination behind her. Her experiences had left her with too many questions and too few answers. So she returned to the world she had left behind. Now, in this candid and insightful book, she recounts her firsthand experience of stripping and gives us a new understanding of women’s sexuality and contemporary sexual mores.

Bare follows the author and her fellow dancers through Seattle strip clubs and bachelor parties, exploring in riveting detail Eaves’s own motivations and behavior, as well as those of her coworkers, as they make their way through the sometimes exhilarating, often disturbing world of stripping. Grounded in an understanding of the intricate dynamics of exchanging sexual services for money, Eaves’s narrative examines the ways in which the work affects the women: how they negotiate the slippery boundaries between their jobs and their “real” lives; how their personal relationships are altered; how they reconcile themselves—or don’t—to the stereotypes that surround their profession; whether the work is exploitative or empowering or both.

In its unstinting honesty, Bare demands that we take a closer look at the way sexuality is viewed in our culture; what, if anything, constitutes “normal” desire; the ethics of swapping money—or anything else—for sex; and how women and men navigate the perilous contradictions and double standards that make up today’s socio-sexual conventions. The stories Eaves tells—outrageous, funny, sad, and deeply affecting—provide an engrossing and unforgettable look at a group of women who have a lot to reveal, not only about one of America’s largest and most taboo industries, but about the restrictions, joys, and hypocrisies of the world in which we all live.

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portable backdrops, and lighting equipment. Neither he nor Abby had arrived, and while I waited I looked through a stack of hundreds of large black-and-white prints. They mostly showed nude or seminude women, and occasional male-female couples. In many of them he had draped the bodies with richly textured fabric or had used water and light to make the skin look luminous. I thought some were superb and some overly soft and dreamy. The women were not professional models—they had small breasts, or

remembered that I didn’t have to, and stopped midturn. “You think you get to tell a naked lady what to do for a quarter?” Georgia asked a man in the corner booth. The company of the other dancers, and Georgia’s levity, put me at ease. For a while I became so absorbed in watching the other women that the men seemed incidental. I watched Sasha kiss a customer through the window, both of them touching the cold glass with their lips in a bizarre facsimile of affection. That proximity looked

curious but unaroused, commenting to each other about the women’s looks. I wasn’t as taken as I had been on my visit to the Marble Arch, maybe because the audience was so small, or because of the groping customer. But I was still transfixed while I watched Obsidian and the brunette, both skilled dancers, perform onstage. I still had the sense that they were free of something I was stuck with. Despite my visit to the “modeling” agency, I hadn’t shaken the idea that maybe I could be one of them. I

Delilah Leila—Part III A Note About the Author A Note from the Author To preserve anonymity, some names and identifying details have been changed. Acknowledgments I would like to thank Samuel G. Freedman, Betsy Lerner, Peter Gethers, and Leyla Aker for helping to shape this book. I am especially grateful to all the women and men who appear in these pages. Many of them opened their lives to me and trusted that I would tell their stories fairly, which I have tried to do. And

you look like you have,” Venus said. Kim felt good. And sexy. Some of that fuck-you confidence she had witnessed on Playday welled up inside of her. The show directors assigned her a locker right next to the door to the hallway, which she quickly dubbed the suicide locker. If she was standing in front of it and someone opened the door too fast, she got squashed. On the plus side, she didn’t have to share it. Kim felt that she didn’t want a typical girl’s name, the kind that made up about 70

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