Among the recent plethora of books by and about strippers (e.g., Toni Bentley's Sisters of Salome, Lily Burana's Strip City, and Elisabeth Eaves's Bare), Frank's work, an obvious doctoral dissertation, stands out in that she uses anthropological tools to analyze the male customers' experience while working as a stripper herself. Her research is sound-she works in a variety of clubs to get a full picture of the experience-and she documents her research exhaustively, with 25 pages of footnotes and a 14-page bibliography, in addition to extensive verbatim quotes from her subjects. Unfortunately, this rigorous approach has robbed her thesis of its inherent bathos and humanity, resulting in a tedious, laborious read weighed down with academic jargon. She also includes some of her own fiction, which does not enhance the reading pleasure. Her conclusions are not enlightening: although it upsets their wives and girlfriends, men continue to frequent strip clubs. One question she does not address is economics: how do middle- and working-class men justify spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars a night at these clubs? Of appeal exclusively to a handful of academics, this work is not recommended.Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., NJ
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"[P]recious little has been said about the individuals who drive this industry: the customers... According to folk wisdom and pop psychology, the motivations of strip club customers are fairly transparent: a natural male drive to ogle beautiful women... Katherine Frank explodes these assumptions... Weaving interviews, psychoanalytical interpretations, historical information, and fictional tales told from strippers' perspectives into a nuanced tapestry, Frank has created a surprising, entertaining, and thought-provoking read... By portraying the ordinary, white, middle-class, oftentimes married men who frequent strip clubs, Frank has paved the way for a more complete understanding of sex work."--Kim Diorio, Popmatters "[W]hat sets Frank's book apart from more generic stripper-revelation tomes is her mission: instead of focusing on the clubs' female dancers, Frank seeks to provide an insider's account of the fantasies that motivate the male clientele who frequent these clubs... [A] fascinating chronicle of male psychology. Frank's writing is so clear and concise it's easy to forget that one is reading an academic text that truly reveals what runs through men's' minds when they spend an evening at Scores, looking for a little male bonding."--Laura Barcella, Bust "[A] brutally honest and interesting, if unsettling, read. Smartly dispensing with worn-out cliches about porn, Frank instead delves into topics brought up by the men she interviewed, and adds insightful comments..."--Meleah Maynard, Rain Taxi "In G-Strings and Sympathy, Katherine Frank takes an important first step in investigating, reporting on, and beginning to truly understand one segment of these sex-paid consumers...[S]he offers complex, multi-layered, sometimes paradoxical, explanations of what is at work, emotionally and culturally, for these men... Frank's writing style invitingly combines academic and analytical rigor with an easy accessibility that is unusual in academically oriented work... [F]our delightful fictional 'interludes'--well-written, enlightening short stories related to stripping provide yet an additional, refreshingly alternative perspective all their own. G-Strings and Sympathy offers a unique, intelligent, sympathetic, politically-aware look behind the curtain of secrecy and shame that shrouds the thriving culture of strip (and lap dancing) clubs across the nation. If you've ever wondered who the other guys are when you're at one of the clubs, or wondered why your guy might enjoy going there, a cruise through its pages is an enjoyable way to find out."--David Steinberg, Spectator Magazine (and syndicated to many online venues) "[A]n academic yet accessible exploration of the exchange between the naked lady on the platform and the man who keeps returning to tuck money in her garter..."--Virginia Vitzthum, Salon.com "[Frank's] careful and systematic account of the narratives of the men with whom she worked, her creative approach, as well as her experience as a dancer/researcher make this text provocative, powerful and rich. Methodologically, Frank does an excellent job exploring the politics, theoretical underpinnings and feminist ramifications of ethnographic practice. She also provides a particularly powerful account of the historical, social, legal, and political context of Laurelton and thus gives the reader a window into the place within which she worked both as a dancer and a researcher."--R. Danille Egan, Sexualities "Frank's book provides a fascinating ethnographic account of the fantasies of male strip club regulars. Through "observing the observers," she is able to take the focus off of the dancers and move it onto a previously unproblematized group: male customers... Frank crafts a well-researched and beautifully analyzed work that not only takes the stigma off of dancing but also moves the gaze onto the men who keep dance clubs in business." --Kristen Schilt, Reconstruction "[O]ne of the best books about the world of commercial sex work, neither titillating 'inside scoop' by a practitioner nor moralizing tract by a preachy politico... [B]rilliant... When it comes to men's sense of entitlement to women's bodies, their self-deceptions that such encounters are 'special' for the women, and their evasive rationalizations about the politics of sexual voyeurism ...well, Katherine Frank takes it all off."--Michael Kimmel, Journal of the History of Sexuality "Frank builds upon her fascinating interviews with regular customers to explore how personal erotics intertwine with social material relations and public fantasies... Beyond her cultural and ethnographic analysis, Frank also includes a series of equally illuminating short stories written from the perspective of dancers."--Ann McClintock, Seminary Co-op "The real power of Frank's extraordinary book is that she is able to give voice, through her many interviewees, to the complex fabric of masculine desire as it is staged in the strip club... It must be said that Frank is an especially gifted writer. Her critical prose is lucid, compelling, and accessible to non-specialists... [I]n this book Frank also displays her talents as a writer of fiction. Three fictional interludes serve to elaborate a few of the book's central issues, such as bodily identity and intimacy, and are presented from the first-person perspective of the exotic dancer."--Michael Uebel, Labour/Le Travail "[R]emarkable... I look forward to using this study of public, masculinized, voyeuristic entertainment in a class I teach on the anthropology of masculinity."--Matthew C. Gutmann, Journal of Anthropological Research "Frank's fieldwork and her conclusions about male sexuality, models of masculinity, and the performance of male desire are intriguing and unexpected (at least for this female reviewer), and raise issues to be addressed by future researchers of the intersections of sex and work."--Ida Fadzillah, Anthropology of Work Review "[I]ntriguing... G-Strings and Sympathy consistently and creatively challenges the ideological dictates attached to sexuality, gender, and marriage. Frank does more than ethnographic study here; she demands that practitioners of cultural studies seriously investigate the seemingly seedy aspects of pop culture rather than merely look... [A]n excellent and challenging addition to courses on popular culture, gender studies, and cultural anthropology."--David Russell, Journal of Popular Culture Interview with Frank ran in many UPI syndicate papers. Also interviewed in Wisconsin Public Radio. Negative review in Library Journal. Listed in CHE, PW, TLS Book Alert email, and Ethnos. Excerpted in Chronicle Review. Abstract on Society for Psychological Anthropology website. Frank has been interviewed by a crew making a documentary on strip clubs and for Cosmopolitan Magazine. Frank's article appeared in The Journal of Sex Research, based on research from her book.