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

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Stéphanie Wahab.

Appendix: List of articles included in the study (n = 89)

Appendix: List of articles included in the study (n = 89)

*Agustin, L. M. (2005). The cultural study of commercial sex. Sexualities, 8(5), 618–631.

Barton, B. (2007). Managing the toll of stripping. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 36(5), 571–596.

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Barton, B. (2001). Queer desire in the sex industry. Sexuality & Culture, 5(4), 3–27.

*Bell, H., Sloan, L., & Strickling, C. (1998). Exploiter or exploited: Topless dancers reflect on their experiences. Affilia, 13(3), 352.

Bernard, C., DeGabrielle, C., Cartier, L., Monk-Turner, E., Phill, C., Sherwood, J., & Tyree, T. (2003). Exotic dancers: Gender differences in societal reaction, subcultural ties, and conventional support. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 10(1), 1–11.

Boden, D. M. (2007). Alienation of sexuality in male erotic dancing. Journal of Homosexuality, 53(1–2), 129–152.

*Boles, J., & Garbin, A. P. (1974a). The strip club and stripper-customer patterns of interaction. Sociology & Social Research, 58(2), 136–144.

*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.

*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.

Bradley, M. S. (2007). Girlfirends, wives and strippers: Managing stigma in exotic dancer romantic relationships. Deviant Behavior, 28(4), 379–406.

Bruckert, C., & Dufresne, M. (2002). Re-Configuring the margins: Tracing the regulatory context of Ottawa Strip Clubs, 1974–2000. Canadian Journal of Law and Society/Revue canadienne droit et societe, 17(1), 69.

Calhoun, T.C., Cannon, J. A. H., & Fisher, R. (1996). Amateur stripping: Sexualized entertainment and gendered fun. Sociological Focus, 29(2), 155–166.

*Cannon, J. A. H., Calhoun, T. C., & Fisher, R. (1998). Amateur Ssripping and gaming encounters: Fun in games or gaming as fun? Deviant Behavior, 19(4), 317–337.

*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.

*Clark, R. (1985). Male strippers: Ladies’ night at the meat market. Journal of Popular Culture, 19(1), 51–56.

Demarco, J. R. G. (2007). Power and control in gay strip clubs. Journal of Homosexuality, 53(1–2), 111–127.

*Deshotels, T. H., & Forsyth, C. J. (2008). Sex rules: The edicts of income in exotic dancing. Deviant Behavior, 29(5), 484–500.

Deshotels, T., & Forsyth, C. J. (2006). Strategic flirting and the emotional tab of exotic dancing. Deviant Behavior, 27(2), 223–241.

Downs, D. M., James, S., & Cowan, G. A. F. (2006). Body objectification, self-esteem, and relationship satisfaction: A comparison of exotic dancers and college women. Sex Roles, 54(11–12), 745–752.

*Dressel, P. L., & Petersen, D. M. (1982). Becoming a male stripper: Recruitment, socialization, and ideological development. Work and Occupations, 9(3), 387–406.

*Dressel, P. L., & Petersen, D. M. (1982). Gender roles, sexuality, and the male strip show: The structuring of sexual opportunity. Sociological Focus, 15(2), 151–162.

*Egan, R. D. (2006). Resistance under the black light: Exploring the use of music in two exotic dance clubs. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(2), 201–219.

*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.

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.

Egan, R. D. Frank, K. (2005). Attempts at a feminist and interdisciplinary conversationa bout strip clubs. Deviant Behavior, 26, p. 1–24.

*Enck, G. E. P., James D. (1988). Counterfeit intimacy: A dramaturgical analysis of an erotic performance. Deviant Behavior, 9(4), 369–381.

*Forsyth, C. J., & Deshotels, T. H. (1998). A deviant process: The sojourn of the stripper. Sociological Spectrum, 18, 77–92.

*Forsyth, C. J., & Deshotels, T. H. (1997). The occupational milieu of the nude dancer. Deviant Behavior, 18(2), 125–142.

*Forsyth, C. J., & Deshotels, T. H. (1996). A sociological profile of the nude dancer. International Review of Modern Sociology, 26(2), 111–120.

Frank, K. (2007). Thinking critically about strip club research. Sexualities, 10(4), 501–517.

Frank, K. (2000). “The management of hunger”: Using fiction in writing. anthropology. Qualitative Inquiry, 6(4), 474–488.

Frank, K. (1998). The production of identify and the negotiation of intimacy in a “gentleman’s club”. Sexualities, 1(2), 175–202.

Frenken, G., & Sifaneck, S. J. (1998). Sexworkers and dope: An ethnography of heroin using lap dancers in New York City. Addiction Research, 6(4), 341–370.

*Israel, T. (2002). Studying sexuality: Strategies for surviving stigma. Feminism & Psychology, 12(2), 256–260.

Johnson, M. L. (1998). Pole work: Autoethnography of a strip club. Sexuality & Culture, 2, 149–157.

*Kay, K. (1999). Naked but unseen: Sex and labor conflict in San Francisco’s adult entertainment theaters. Sexuality & Culture, 3(1), 39–67.

Lewis, J. (2006). “I’ll Scratch Your Back if You’ll Scratch Mine”: The Role of Reciprocity, Power and Autonomy in the Strip Club. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 43(3), 297–311.

*Lewis, J. (1998). Learning to strip: The socialization experiences of exotic dancers. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 7(1), 51–66.

Liepe-Levinson. (1998). Striptease: desire, mimetic jeopardy, and performing spectators. The Drama Review, 42(2), 9–37.

*Magruder, C., Woodruff, R., Minns, G., Barnett, V., Baker, P., Brady, E., Julian, T., Pezzino, G., Reece, M., Alejos, A., Cave, M. D., & Rothenberg, R. (2001). Cluster of tuberculosis cases among exotic dancers and their close contacts. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285(18), 2322–2322.

*Maticka-Tyndale, E., Lewis, J., Clark, J. P., Zubick, J., & Young, S. (1999). Social and cultural vulnerability to sexually transmitted infection: the work of exotic dancers. Canadian Journal of Public Health. Revue canadienne de santé publique, 90(1), 19–22.

Maticka-Tyndale, E., Lewis, J., Clark, J. P., Zubick, J., & Young, S. (2000). Exotic dancing and health. Women & Health, 31(1), 87–108.

Mestemacher, R. A., Roberti, J. W. (2004). Qualitative analysis of vocational choice: A collective case study of strippers. Deviant Behavior, 25(1), 43–65.

*Meyer, M. (1991). I dream of Jeannie, transsexual striptease as scientific display. TDR-The Drama Review, 35(1), 25–42.

Miller, G., Tybur, J. M., & Jordan, B. D. (2007). Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: Economic evidence for human estrus? Evolution and Human Behavior, 28(6), 375–381.

Montemurro, B. A. (2001). Strippers and screamers: The emergence of social control in a non-institutionalized setting. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 30(3), 275–304.

Murphy, A. G. (2003). The dialectical gaze: Exploring the subject-object tension in the performances of women who strip. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 32(3), 305–335.

*Pasko, L. (2002). Naked power: The practice of stripping as a confidence game. Sexualities, 5(1), 49–66.

*Peretti, P. O., & O’Connor, P. (1989). Effects of Incongruence between the perceived self and the ideal self on emotional stability of stripteasers. Social Behavior and Personality, 17(1), 81–92.

Perrucci, A. C. (2000). The relationship between persona and self in exotic dancers’ experience of privacy. Current Research on Occupations and Professions, 11, 35–53.

*Petersen, D. M., & Dressel, P. L. (1982). Equal time for women: Social notes on the male strip show. Urban Life, 11(2), 185–208.

Philaretou, A. (2006). Female exotic dancers: Intrapersonal and interpersonal perspectives. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13(1), 41–52.

*Prehn, J. W. (1983). Invasion of the male strippers-role alignment in a small-town strip club. Journal of Popular Culture, 17(2), 182–186.

*Prewitt, T. J. (1989). Like a virgin: The semiotics of illusion in erotic performance. American Journal of Semiotics, 6(4), 137–152.

Price, K. (2008). ‘Keeping the dancers in check’: The gendered organization of stripping work in The Lion’s Den. Gender & Society, 22(3), 367–389.

Price, K. (2000). Stripping women: Workers’ control in strip clubs. Current Research on Occupations and Professions, 11, 3–33.

Reid, S. A., Epstein, J. S., & Benson, D. E. (1994). Role identity in a devalued occupation: The case of female exotic dancers. Sociological Focus, 27(1), 1–16.

*Ronai, C. R. (1999). The next night sous rature: Wrestling with Derrida’s mimesis. Qualitative Inquiry, 5(1), 114–129.

Ronai, C. R. (1998). Sketching with Derrida: An ethnography of a researcher/erotic dancer. Qualitative Inquiry, 4(3), 405–420.

*Ronai, C. R. (1994). Narrative resistance to deviance: Identify management among strip-tease dancers. Perspectives on Social Problems, 6, 195–213.

*Ronai, C. R. (1992). Managing aging in young adulthood: The “aging” table dancer. Journal of Aging Studies, 6(4), 307–317.

Ronai, C. R., & Cross, R. (1998). Dancing with Identity: Narrative resistance strategies of male and female stripteasers. Deviant Behavior, 19(2), 99–119.

*Ronai, C. R., & Ellis, C. (1989). Turn-ons for money: Interactional strategies of the table dancer. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 18, 271–298.

*Ross, B., & Greenwell, K. (2005). Spectacular striptease: Performing the sexual and racial other in Vancouver, B.C., 1945–1975. Journal of Women’s History, 17(1), 137–164.

Ross, B. L. (2006). “Troublemakers” in tassels and G-strings: Striptease dancers and the union question in Vancouver, 1965–1980. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 43(3), 329–344.

Ross, B. L. (2000). Bumping and grinding on the line: making nudity pay. Labour/Le Travail 46, 221–50.

Ross, C. A., Anderson, G., Heber, S., & Norton, G. R. (1990). Dissociation and abuse among multiple-personality patients, prostitutes, and exotic dancers. Hospital & Community Psychiatry, 41(3), 328–330.

Schiff, F. (1999). Nude dancing: Scenes of sexual celebration in a contested culture. Journal of American Culture, 22(4), 9–16.

*Schweitzer, D. (2000). Striptease: The art of spectacle and transgression. Journal of Popular Culture, 34(1), 65–75.

*Skipper, J. K., & McCaghy, C. H. (1970). Stripteasers: The anatomy and career contingencies of a deviant occupation. Social Problems, 17(3), 391–405.

Sloan, L., & Wahab, S. (2004). Four categories of women who work as topless dancers. Sexuality & Culture, 8(1), 18–43.

Smith, C. (2002). Shiny chests and heaving G-strings: A night out with the Chippendales. Sexualities, 5(1), 67–89.

Spivey, S. E. (2005). Distancing and solidarity as resistance to sexual objectification in a nude dancing bar. Deviant Behavior, 26(5), 417–437.

Spivey, S. E. (2003). Bureaucratizing the erotic: Rationalizing embodiment in two nude dancing bars. Sociological Imagination, 39(2), 93–113.

Sweet, N., & Tewksbury, R. (2000). “What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place like This?” Pathways to a career in stripping. Sociological Spectrum, 20(3), 325–343.

Sweet, N., & Tewksbury, R. (2000). Entry, maintenance and departure from a career in the sex industry: Stripper’s experiences of occupational costs and rewards. Humanity & Society, 24(2), 136–161.

Tewksbury, R. (1994). A dramaturgical analysis of male strippers. Journal of Men’s Studies, 2(4), 325–342.

*Thompson, W. E., & Harred, J. L. (1992). Topless dancers: Managing stigma in a deviant occupation. Deviant Behavior, 13(3), 291–312.

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.

Trautner, M. N. (2005). Doing gender, doing class: The performance of sexuality in exotic dance clubs. Gender & Society, 19(6), 771–788.

Urish, B. (2004). Narrative striptease in the nightclub era. Journal of American Culture, 27(2), 157–165.

*Wahab, S. (2004). Tricks of the trade: What social workers can learn about female sex workers through dialogue. Qualitative Social Work, 3(2), 139–160.

*Wesely, J. K. (2006). Considering the context of women’s violence: Gender, lived experiences, and cumulative victimization. Feminist Criminology, 1(4), 303–328.

Wesely, J. K. (2006). Negotiating myself: The impact of studying female exotic dancers on a feminist researcher. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(1), 146–162.

Wesely, J. (2003a). “Where am I going to stop?” Exotic dancing, fluid body boundaries, and effects on identify. Deviant Behavior, 24(5), 483–503.

Wesely, J. K. (2003b). Exotic dancing and the negotiation of identity: The multiple uses of body technologies. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 32(6), 643–669.

*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.

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.

Wosick-Correa, K. R., & Joseph, L. J. (2008). Sexy ladies sexing ladies: Women as consumers in strip clubs. Journal of Sex Research, 45(3), 201–216.

Young, G. R., & Wagner, E. E. (1993). Behavioral specificity in the Rorschach human movement response: A comparison of strippers and models. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 49(3), 407–412.

* Indicates the 39 articles included in the analysis of findings.

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Wahab, S., Baker, L.M., Smith, J.M. et al. Exotic Dance Research: A Review of the Literature from 1970 to 2008. Sexuality & Culture 15, 56–79 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-010-9084-8

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Keywords

  • Exotic dance
  • Literature review
  • Research
  • Theory
  • Subjectivity