Why did I decide to this project? Initially because I was doing a sequence assignment at Portfolio Center. I knew some bartenders who worked nearby at a strip club. I was a bartender too (trying to pay for school) At this point, influences from my sociology background kicked in. I asked if they could help me find a dancer who would allow me to photograph her stripping. I wanted to know why they do it, how they do it, and what makes them do it.?
The break came when my teacher and mentor, Dennis Darling, (studied under Harry Callahan) asked me to take over a fluff piece for Atlanta Magazine about strip clubs (all here in Atlanta). The women were not warming up to him, as they all had been approached by too many men asking to photograph them. I was able to approach them as a woman interested in their stories, which I then later recorded through interviews.
I worked on this off and on for twelve years It was near the end of the project when the book deal came through. During that time I went undercover at the Gold Club in Buckhead, as a cocktail waitress (a la Gloria Steinem) for a very long month, to experience what it was like inside.
My hope was to give the women some human dignity by having an opportunity to express themselves through words and stories. For me, the important nugget of truth was how much we are all fundamentally the same underneath it all.