Peep shows, unionization and feminism. They’re words not commonly used in the same breath, but The Lusty Lady (follow them on twitter!) in San Francisco’s North Beach has been prompting such word combinations since 1997, when the girls who worked there formed a union following a long battle with management.
Because it’s a peep show, The Lusty Lady attracts a different clientele than the other strip clubs along Broadway. The Lusty, a long-time North Beach staple, is the only place where clients can do whatever they want in the (semi) privacy that exists on their side of the glass partition that separates them from the naked girls in on the other side. While the girls certainly see more than they might want to under such circumstances, Bruno, who works at the front desk, said that “many of the girls prefer it to the other clubs, because here they don’t have to touch the clients.”
Girls can make more money at the other strip clubs, Bruno said, where private dances can be had for a lot of money, but they also have to pay fees to the clubs out of their earnings.
Kitty McMuffin, a stripper at The Lusty Lady, explained why she chose to work for less.
“I definitely made more money at other strip clubs when I danced on the East Coast, but I couldn’t call out sick, I couldn’t have any disputes about my treatment with my management, I had to pay out a house fee to this person and that person…I was working pretty hard for my pay and not being appreciated and supported. [Here at The Lusty Lady] we have a union rep, and she’ll definitely help us out.”
She said that she moved to the West Coast specifically to work at The Lusty Lady after seeing a documentary about the unionization fight called Live Nude Girls Unite! (which is also available for instant streaming through Netflix).
Contrary to the established public record, The Lusty Lady was not the first strip club in the world to become unionized, but it is the only currently unionized strip club. But The Lusty Lady does have one first they can call their own- the first worker-owned strip club.
And now you know.
Until next time, leave the flying to me!