Exotic dancing, stripping, whatever other name you know it as, is one of those jobs that has often made a reoccurring appearance in cautionary tales about where poor life choices lead. In more recent times, however, stripping has become less of a taboo and more of a cultural fascination. There have been slews of popular songs dedicated to the profession and its women, documentaries and television shows that take us “inside the world of strippers,” several Hollywood blockbusters have even cropped up around the topic. Oddly enough, and despite its seeming allure, many of the pervasive views of both the profession and the women attached to it persist.
In the maiden edition of the erotic zine, “Bang!,” published by Imperial Pictures and photographer Jonathan Leder, we’re given a firsthand narrative of the daily life and rituals of a woman who works as a stripper. Although it is never revealed whether these accounts are fictionalized or hand-on-the-good-book true, it’s nevertheless an interesting perspective. The writer, who reveals herself to have a degree in Russian Literature and a love of the words “tits” and “cunt,” pens detailed accounts of her experiences. She begins with her first night on the job in Sydney, Australia and progressively moves through different cities and strip clubs around the world, revealing personal anecdotes about clients, other strippers and herself.
Depending on your point of view, the text supports Leder’s cinematic photography or perhaps vice versa. Either way, the writing and photography work symbiotically. Sultry women exuding raw sexuality pose in various stages of undress; they are sometimes with each other, sometimes alone and sometimes with men. The common factor between these women is that, to a certain degree, they are all selling a fantasy. It is a notion that becomes doubly ironic when considered in the context of the writing. “She tailors her name, job, hometown and assortment of kinks to accommodate each client. I got the best fake smile in my zip code,” reads the epilogue. Here, the stereotypical “lost girl”-turned-stripper doesn’t exist. What we do see is a calculating business woman performing the functions of her job while occasionally stopping to gather stories and reflect on the experience.