LIVE NUDE GIRLS UNITE

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 69 minutes
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You know, it feels as if you must hold an audience at gunpoint to make them watch a documentary on labor issues. To accomplish this task, all it really takes is a bunch of amusing naked lesbians.
Are labor issues still important? Damn right, they are. Too often, employers still exploit their workforce in whatever manner they can get away with, especially in areas where the law doesn’t reach or doesn’t cover. One such gray area is the sex industry.
In San Francisco, the owners of all the different strip clubs kept pushing their “performers” as far as they could. In most places, dancers are registered as independent contractors. Not only do they earn only their tips, the clubs often charge them a “stage fee” just to work there. The acts expected of the entertainers have become increasingly explicit and are only hinted at in this film.
Finally, at one club, the dancers had had enough at decided to fight back. Among the leaders was our documentarian, Julia Query, and this is largely her story. A lesbian and stand-up comic, she had bills to pay and the relatively easy money of the peep shows of the Lusty Lady club provided a good living. Problems began to creep into the work place. Billed as women-owned and women-friendly, the club wielded some disturbing racial policies and some malicious firing practices. Seeking help from the AFL-CIO, the girls soon learn that they’re in it for the long haul and the chances for success are slim.
Nothing sells like sex, though, so the nascent union draws much local and national news coverage. Soon, dancers at clubs around the country look to them as leaders. This can bring its own headaches. Julia’s mother is a well-known doctor who runs a program in New York City to help prostitutes and get them off the streets. She freaked out when her daughter came out as a lesbian and still doesn’t know what she does for a living. When both generations are asked to speak at an international conference on prostitution, confrontation is inevitable.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of nudity. I’m sure the first three words of the title are the drawing card for most of this film’s audience. It’s that last word that provides the real story and the whole point of this project. Labor abuse is like racism: just because people aren’t shooting each other in the streets anymore, it doesn’t that it isn’t still a huge problem. I hope that this film can open a few the eyes of a few people to the issue. If that requires a few pairs of hooters, so be it.



Posted on March 25, 2000 in Reviews by
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