Monday, January 21, 2013

Agents and Growth

Before I start on today's blog entry, I want to thank Aurora Morealist for the write up  she did on this blog. In case you haven't had the chance to read it, visit this link and do so.She said some really nice things.

Now to continue our look at the striptease industry in Vancouver and once again I am consulting the book Burlesque West by Becki L. Ross.

After WWII, Vancouver was a burlesque city. In fact, it was the place to be entertained by the art of the tease in Western Canada. Dancers worked without agents, booking shows themselves and becoming a family of sorts.

The striptease industry began to build once women realized the wage potential. Dancers were paid in cash and in a few nights could make enough money to pay the rent for a month. Becoming an exotic dancer was also appealing because of the hours. For a single mother, she could spend all day with her child, arrange for a babysitter at night and go make money then.

It seemed like a win win situation for all. The club owners were convinced that the dancers helped sell beer, definitely brought customers in and the good clubs paid the dancers well.

It started in the late 1960s. The number of dancers and nightclub stages were rapidly rising and a loose agreement between club owners, promoters and booking agents was arranged. This agreement was to implement hiring and performance standards: a professional dancer was contracted to perform a set of twenty to twenty-two minutes every hour of a designated shift, six days a week. The dancer had to pay her booking agent 10% of her weekly wages. Of course, the amount of the wages depended on where she was booked into. Dancers were assigned A, B or C rankings by agents then booked into corresponding clubs. The A clubs naturally paid the highest.

By the 1970s, dancers were represented by agents who not only were responsible for getting the best possible gigs for their dancers but were also there to settle disputes. When the dancer got into trouble, the agent would be there to calm things down and make the club/pub owners happy.

Vancouver based dancers though claim that conditions were better than those south of the border. There was more money to be made here than in even Las Vegas - striptease dancers were not allowed in the main part of Vegas and had to work harder to hustle drinks in the clubs on the outskirts of that famed city.

On Wednesday, I want to closer and the class of clubs and take a peek at the racism that existed in the world of the striptease. Please join me for that entry.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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