Monday, January 14, 2013

Money VS Morality

In 1948, over $30 million from tourism was spent in Vancouver. By 1975, that number was closer to $200 million. Vancouver was being promoted as the new 'Playground of North America'. Part of this 'playground' was the nightlife, including the strippers. However, civic boosters would never include those 'sordid' venues to lure tourists.

However, the strip tease industry employed thousands. Besides the dancers themselves, there were club owners, managers, booking agents, doormen, bouncers, ticket-sellers, hat-check girls, cigarette and cigar girls, go-go dancers, choreographers, photographers, costume designers, club secretaries, bookkeepers, MCs, DJs, cooks, kitchen staff, bus boys, prop and set people, lighting specialists, waiters, waitresses, cleaners, bartenders, the musicians who supplied the dancers with live accompaniment until the mid to late 1970s. The industry was also financially beneficial to lawyers who defended clubs when the establishments were raided by vice squads.
In addition to those directly benefiting from the striptease industry, the success of the dancers helped others as well. People such as speciality shoe makers, hosiery, make-up, and liquor suppliers. Cab drivers are enriched by the industry as are hair stylists, manicurists, pedicurists, security guards, wig-makers, tanning salon operators, clothing/fabric retailers, drug sellers, child care workers (those that took care of the dancers' children)  and plastic surgeons who performed breast enhancements. Even such organizations as the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Daily Province, The Province and Vancouver News Herald found the strip tease industry to be profitable. The papers would sell daily advertising spots to nightclub promoters.

We can't forget the benefits of the striptease industry on the city's coffers either. There were permits to be issued for liquor and licensing, property taxes to be paid as well as utility payments. It is no wonder that the striptease industry became as vital to Vancouver's economic growth as our railway facilities, sawmills and grain elevators.
It's ironic though that, with all the money the stripteases industry generates, many never considered it labour. Only the untalented, morally disturbed or desperate woman would become a stripper. Surely, no respectable young lady would consider getting on stage, dancing to suggestive music and then taking her clothes off for an audience. Or even not getting totally naked, just teasing. Never mind that a striptease dancer could earn more than a secretary, a factory worker, baker or a retail clerk.

The morality minders, as I like to call them, wanted to shut down the night clubs that catered to the striptease. These high minded people protested, had obscenity laws enforced and made the lives of those involved in the industry difficult. Yet the industry survived.

Thanks again to Burlesque West by Becki L. Ross for all the information I am using for these entries. Wednesday, I will look at more on the striptease industry in Vancouver.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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