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G-Strings & Sympathy-PB [Paperback]

Katherine Frank , Frank , Katherine Frank
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 28.29 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Dec 5 2002
Based on her experiences as a stripper in a city she calls Laurelton - a southeastern American city renowned for its strip clubs - anthropologist Katherine Frank provides a fascinating insider's account of the personal and cultural fantasies motivating heterosexual, male strip club "regulars." Given that all of the clubs where she worked prohibited physical contact between the exotic dancers and their customers, in G-Strings and Sympathy Frank asks what - if not sex or even touching - the repeat customers were purchasing from the clubs and from the dancers. She finds that the clubs provide an intermediate space - not work, not home - where men can enjoyably experience their bodies and selves through conversation, fantasy, and ritualized voyeurism. At the same time, she shows how the dynamics of male pleasure and privilege in strip clubs are intertwined with ideas about what it means to be a man in contemporary America. Frank's ethnography draws on her work as an exotic dancer in five clubs, as well as on her interviews with over thirty regular customers - middle-class men in their late-twenties to mid-fifties. Reflecting on the customers' dual desires for intimacy and visibility, she explores their paradoxical longings for "authentic" interactions with the dancers, the ways these aspirations are expressed within the highly controlled and regulated strip clubs, and how they relate to beliefs and fantasies about social class and gender. She considers how regular visits to strip clubs are not necessarily antithetical to marriage or long-term heterosexual relationships, but are based on particular beliefs about marriage and monogamy that make these clubs desirable venues. Looking at the relative "classiness" of the clubs where she worked - ranging from the city's most prestigious clubs to some of its dive bars - she reveals how the clubs are differentiated by reputations, dress codes, cover charges, locations, and clientele, and describes how these distinctions become meaningful and erotic for the customers. Interspersed throughout the book are three fictional interludes which provide an intimate look at Frank's experiences as a stripper - from the outfits to the gestures, conversations, management, co-workers, and, of course, the customers. Focusing on the experiences of the male clients, rather than those of the female sex workers, G-Strings and Sympathy provides a nuanced, lively, and tantalizing account of the stigmatized world of strip clubs.


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Product Description

From Library Journal

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.

Review

"[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.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Understand the book for its actual theme Dec 12 2003
Format:Paperback
While this is obviously adapted from academic material, Frank uses her experience as an exotic dancer to dig into the question of why men frequent strip clubs.
I'll grant that, superficially, this is a darned easy question to answer.
Still, one of the real strengths of the book is that Frank was able to see past her academic preconceptions and discover an emotional terrain that was not what she anticipated. The standard feminist analysis (male power and domination of women) didn't shed much light on male motivation. She considers a range of possible agendas, from the obvious to the esoteric, and never settles on a trite or doctrinaire analysis.
The book keeps feeling like its on the verge of a profound insight but it never seems to find it. Frankly, even though the author wasn't trying to focus on the women who work as exotic dancers, it was fascinating to learn the tricks and scripts used to create the illusion of intimacy and authenticity.
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Paperback
I've read a number of books dealing with this genre, but this was (by far) the most dry. It is extremely clinical, and reads more like a doctoral dissertation than a book. That's not to say that there weren't some interesting points made in the book, but you REALLY had to dig through the anthro jargon.
Franks cites other source a lot -- more than any other book I've read. Nearly every paragrah refers to an exterior source. I found this a little distracting.
Overall, I'm not sorry I read the book, but be prepared -- it does not wisk you along -- you really have to fight to glean Frank's points.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understand the book for its actual theme Dec 12 2003
By Michael Booker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While this is obviously adapted from academic material, Frank uses her experience as an exotic dancer to dig into the question of why men frequent strip clubs.
I'll grant that, superficially, this is a darned easy question to answer.
Still, one of the real strengths of the book is that Frank was able to see past her academic preconceptions and discover an emotional terrain that was not what she anticipated. The standard feminist analysis (male power and domination of women) didn't shed much light on male motivation. She considers a range of possible agendas, from the obvious to the esoteric, and never settles on a trite or doctrinaire analysis.
The book keeps feeling like its on the verge of a profound insight but it never seems to find it. Frankly, even though the author wasn't trying to focus on the women who work as exotic dancers, it was fascinating to learn the tricks and scripts used to create the illusion of intimacy and authenticity.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An acedemic book with the focus on the customer..... Sept. 25 2005
By L. Bernard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
An interesting ethnography.....A good counter to all of the focus on strippers - why not study the customers for a change? I appreciated the fact that the author was not trying to be overly positive or negative about strip clubs or the men who go to them, but trying to understand why the customers were drawn to them in the first place. This isn't another "tell all" book about someone's experiences as a dancer, but still gives an insider's observations.
16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Extremely Anthropological Disection Of The Male Psyche May 16 2003
By Synthpopguy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read a number of books dealing with this genre, but this was (by far) the most dry. It is extremely clinical, and reads more like a doctoral dissertation than a book. That's not to say that there weren't some interesting points made in the book, but you REALLY had to dig through the anthro jargon.
Franks cites other source a lot -- more than any other book I've read. Nearly every paragrah refers to an exterior source. I found this a little distracting.
Overall, I'm not sorry I read the book, but be prepared -- it does not wisk you along -- you really have to fight to glean Frank's points.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the other dynamic, without which there is no club....the guy July 27 2008
By George Albright, Esq - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Until now there have been many many tales written by erotic dancers and few to none about the guys who frequent the thousands of establishments on a regular basis. Why indeed do we keep showing up? Frank peels away some of the layers, giving us thoughtful insite.

Please consider reading yet another book, written by a guy with assistance from the dancers in his life. ENVELOPED BY VENUS, also featured here on Amazon, may add depth to your understanding and enjoyment of the state of mind best described as, enraptured and ENVELOPED.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the wife of a stip club frequenter June 4 2012
By kpi95 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Read this book in 2003, after finding the names and phone numbers of over 20 women in my husband's address book in his brief case. Turned out they were all strippers he met on out-of-town business trips. Found this book very insightful in understanding what draws men to the clubs, and its not sex. Its about conquest, the fantasy of men thinking these women really care about them, and the thrill of talking to pretty woman without any of the baggage or responsibility of everyday life. The men think they are special when they get the "real" name and phone number of a stripper, but its all part of the game. Strippers dance under assumed names so they can give out their "real" name and make the man think he's really special. Men will pay for a lap dance in the back room, and in reality, just sit and chat with the stripper. It's 2012 and my husband has recently returned to his previous travel ritual, which has been very painful for me. He has agreed to read the book to understand that the strippers don't care about him, just are manipulating him for his money.
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