Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 56–79 | Cite as

Exotic Dance Research: A Review of the Literature from 1970 to 2008

  • Stéphanie WahabEmail author
  • Lynda M. Baker
  • Julie M. Smith
  • Kristy Cooper
  • Kari Lerum
Original Paper


This article presents the process and findings of a review of the empirical research literature on exotic dance/dancers in the United States and Canada from 1970 to 2008. We present research methods represented in this sample, as well as the main purposes of these studies, the deployment of theory in exotic dance research, and the visibility of researcher subjectivities. Over time researchers have gradually moved from micro-level analysis with singular explanations toward multi-dimensional and contextual understandings of exotic dance/dancers. Contemporary researchers are less grounded in deviance, pathology, or victimization. We conclude with a discussion and a series of recommendations for future research.


Exotic dance Literature review Research Theory Subjectivity 


  1. Agustin, L. M. (2005). The cultural study of commercial sex. Sexualities, 8(5), 618–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barton, B. (2002). Dancing on the Mobius Strip: Challenging the sex war paradigm. Gender &Society, 16(5), 585–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blakley, D. (2009). April 21. Residents Protest Strip Club Opening in Community. Chicago CBS news: (accessed Feb. 3, 2010).
  4. Boles, J., & Garbin, A. P. (1974a). The strip club and stripper-customer patterns of interaction. Sociology & Social Research, 58(2), 136–144.Google Scholar
  5. Boles, J., & Garbin, A. P. (1974b). The choice of stripping for a living: An empirical and theoretical explanation. Sociology of Work and Occupation, 1(1), 110–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouclin, S. (2006). Dancers empowering (some) dancers: The intersection of race, class, and gender in organizing erotic labourers. Race. Gender & Class, 13(3–4), 98–129.Google Scholar
  7. Bradley, M. S. (2008). Stripping in the new millennium: Thinking about trends in exotic dance and dancers’ lives. Sociology Compass, 2(2), 503–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carey, S. H., Peterson, R. A., & Sharpe, L. K. (1974). A study of recruitment and socialization into two deviant female occupations. Sociological Symposium, 11(SPR), 11–24.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, R. (1985). Male strippers: Ladies’ night at the meat market. Journal of Popular Culture, 19(1), 51–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cordell, G., & Ronai, C. R. (1999). Identity management among overweight women: Narrative resistance to stigma. In J. Sobal & D. Maurer (Eds.), Interpreting weight: The social management of fatness and thinness (pp. 29–47). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  11. Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2008). Strategies of qualitative inquiry (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Deshotels, T., & Forsyth, C. J. (2006). Strategic flirting and the emotional tab of exotic dancing. Deviant Behavior, 27(2), 223–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deshotels, T. H., & Forsyth, C. J. (2008). Sex rules: The edicts of income in exotic dancing. Deviant Behavior, 29(5), 484–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dressel, P. L., & Petersen, D. M. (1982). Becoming a male stripper: Recruitment, socialization, and ideological development. Work and Occupations, 9(3), 387–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Egan, R. D. (2003). I’ll be your fantasy girl, if you’ll be my money man: Mapping desire, fantasy and power in two exotic dance clubs. JPCS: Journal for Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society, 8(1), 109–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Egan, R. D. (2004). Eyeing the scene: The uses and (re)uses of surveillance cameras in an exotic dance club. Critical Sociology, 30(2), 299–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Egan, D. R. & Frank, K. (2005). Attempts at a feminist and interdisciplinary conversation about strip clubs. Deviant Behavior, 26(4), 297–320.Google Scholar
  18. Enck, G. E. P., & James, D. (1988). Counterfeit intimacy: A dramaturgical analysis of an erotic performance. Deviant Behavior, 9(4), 369–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Forsyth, C. J., & Deshotels, T. H. (1997). The occupational milieu of the nude dancer. Deviant Behavior, 18(2), 125–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Forsyth, C. J., & Deshotels, T. H. (1998). A deviant process: The sojourn of the stripper. Sociological Spectrum, 18, 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frank, K. (2000). “The management of hunger”: Using fiction in writing anthropology. Qualitative Inquiry, 6(4), 474–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frank, K. (2002). G-strings and sympathy. Strip club regulars and male desire. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Frank, K. (2007). Thinking critically about strip club research. Sexualities, 10(4), 501–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  25. GraphPad Software. QuickCalcs. Online calculators for scientists. Accessed January 2008. Available:
  26. Israel, T. (2002). Studying sexuality: Strategies for surviving stigma. Feminism & Psychology, 12(2), 256–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kay, K. (1999). Naked but unseen: Sex and labor conflict in San Francisco’s adult entertainment theaters. Sexuality and Culture, 3(1), 39–67.Google Scholar
  28. Lerum, K. (2001). Subjects of desire: Academic armor, intimate ethnography, & the production of critical knowledge. Qualitative Inquiry, 7(4), 466–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Neuendorf, K. A. (2002). The content analysis guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Pasko, L. (2002). Naked power: The practice of stripping as a confidence game. Sexualities, 5(1), 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Perez, W. (2009). Nov. 16. Community fights strip club. Philadelphia ABC news. (accessed Feb. 3, 2010).
  32. Ritzer, G. (1997). Working: Conflict and change (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  33. Ronai, C. R. (1992). Managing aging in young adulthood: The “aging” table dancer. Journal of Aging Studies, 6(4), 307–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ronai, C. R. (1994). Narrative resistance to deviance: Identify management among strip-tease dancers. Perspectives on Social Problems, 6, 195–213.Google Scholar
  35. Schweitzer, D. (2000). Striptease: The art of spectacle and transgression. Journal of Popular Culture, 34(1), 65–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Skipper, J. K., & McCaghy, C. H. (1970). Stripteasers: The anatomy and career contingencies of a deviant occupation. Social Problems, 17(3), 391–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sloan, L., & Wahab, S. (2004). Four categories of women who work as topless dancers. Sexuality and Culture, 8(1), 18–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Spain, W. (2007, February 26). Strip-club stocks rise on Wall Street. Industry’s in steady growth, consolidation mode. Accessed June 2008. Available:
  39. Spivey, S. E. (2005). Distancing and solidarity as resistance to sexual objectification in a nude dancing bar. Deviant Behavior, 26(5), 417–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. SPSS. (2005). Version 14.0. Chicago, IL: SPSS.Google Scholar
  41. (2008). Accessed June 2008. Available:
  42. Sykes, G., & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of neutralization: A theory of delinquency. American Sociological Review, 22, 664–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Thompson, W. E., & Harred, J. L. (1992). Topless dancers: Managing stigma in a deviant occupation. Deviant Behavior, 13(3), 291–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Thompson, W. E., Harred, J. L., & Burks, B. E. (2003). Managing the stigma of topless dancing: A decade later. Deviant Behavior, 24(6), 551–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Weber, R. P. (1990). Basic content analysis (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  46. Wesely, J. K. (2002). Growing up sexualized: Issues of power and violence in the lives of female exotic dancers. Violence Against Women, 8(10), 1182–1207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wesely, J. K. (2003). “Where am i going to stop?”: Exotic dancing, fluid body boundaries, and effects on identity. Deviant Behavior, 24(5), 483–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wesely, J. K. (2006). Considering the context of women’s violence: Gender, lived experiences, and cumulative victimization. Feminist Criminology, 1(4), 303–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wood, E. A. (2000). Working in the fantasy factory: The attention hypothesis and the enacting of masculine power in strip clubs. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 29(1), 5–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stéphanie Wahab
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lynda M. Baker
    • 2
  • Julie M. Smith
    • 3
  • Kristy Cooper
    • 4
  • Kari Lerum
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Social WorkPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.School of Library and Information ScienceWayne State UniversityNew BostonUSA
  3. 3.College of EducationWayne State UniversityLake OrionUSA
  4. 4.William P. Faust Westland Public LibraryWestlandUSA
  5. 5.SociologyUniversity of Washington, BothellBothellUSA

Personalised recommendations