Naked Lives

Inside the Worlds of Exotic Dance

By Mindy S. Bradley-Engen

Subjects: Sociology, Women's Studies, Criminology, Gender Studies, Sociology Of Organization
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438426068, 146 pages, May 2009
Hardcover : 9781438426051, 146 pages, May 2009

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
My Interest
Applying a Social Worlds Perspective
2. Methodology
Analytical Approach
The Dancers
3. Dancing at the Hustle Club
The Social World of the Hustle Club

The Pussycat

Adjusting to the World of the Hustle Club

Brianna’s Story

4. Dancing at the Show Club
The Social World of the Show Club


Adjusting to the World of the Show Club

Rachel’s Story

5. Dancing at the Social Club
The Social World of the Social Club


Adjusting to the World of the Social Club

Club Initiation
Nadia’s Story

6. The Social Worlds of Exotic Dance
The Work and Normative Order of the Hustle Club
Explaining Career Continuity: The World of the Hustle Club
The Work and Normative Order of the Show Club
Explaining Career Continuity: The World of the Show Club
The Work and Normative Order of the Social Club
Explaining Career Continuity: The World of the Social Club
7. Conclusion
Future Directions . . .
Club Typology Trends
Challenging the “Exploitation versus Liberation” Debate
Selected Bibliography

Looks at the experience of being an exotic dancer in different kinds of strip clubs.


Is stripping good or bad for the women who do it? According to sociologist Mindy S. Bradley-Engen, there's no simple answer. An exotic dancer's experiences can be both empowering and degrading: at times a dancer can feel like a goddess, at times ashamed and dirty. Drawing on extensive interviews as well as her own experiences as an exotic dancer, Bradley-Engen shows that strippers' work experiences are shaped by the types of establishments—the different worlds—in which they work. A typology of strip clubs emerges: the hustle club, the show club, and the social club, each with its own distinct culture, expectations, and challenges, each creating circumstances in which stripping can be good, bad, or indifferent. Going beyond the warring rhetorics of exploitation and empowerment, this book provides a rich and complex account of the realities of exotic dance and offers a fascinating, thought-provoking consideration for both academics and general readers.

Mindy S. Bradley-Engen is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas.


"Most studies of the sex industry focus on the feminists' debates resulting from the 1980 sex wars, which question if the nature of sex work is good or bad for women. However, Bradley-Engen in her ethnographic study moves the discourse beyond this debate, and argues that the level of exploitation, or empowerment, women experience working in the exotic dance industry depends in which types of clubs they work … Bradley-Engen's study adds to the field of the sociology of women, labor stratification, and future directions of sex industry research. " — Contemporary Sociology

"Naked Lives offers highly readable shifts between Bradley-Engen's reflections on her own experiences as a dancer and the experiences of other business-insiders … First-person narratives convincingly convey exotic dancers' feelings of anger, frustration, and affirmation, while the author's application of a 'social worlds' template is original and innovative. " — Canadian Journal of Sociology

"Unlike other studies of exotic dancers that rely on interviews with dancers or ethnographies of strip clubs, this book combines the author's own personal narratives with formal interviewing and observations. She utilizes great quotes and offers powerful imagery of an industry that otherwise can easily be misunderstood or sensationalized. She quickly brings the reader into the club world by opening the chapters with her personal experiences. " — Lisa Pasko, coauthor of The Female Offender: Girls, Women, and Crime, Second Edition