Stripper Author Hits the Big Screen

January 10th, 2008 at 6:21 pm

I told you reading was sexy.

With the movie Juno performing respectably at the box office and acquiring award nominations, its stripper-screenwriter is making some news of her own. In addition to writing Juno, Brook Busey-Hunt/Diablo Cody is also the author of a memoir about her time working in the sex industry. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but her book “Candy Girl” is quite good. I recently read it along with another stripper memoir because I like reading similar books together, it’s like a nice food and wine pairing. (Try reading Dry and Junky together sometime. Two gay American men with the same last name write memoirs about their drug addiction?)

US billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian was making news recently when he sold 28 million of his shares in General Motors. Around the same time, he offered to buy 15 million shares of MGM Mirage, increasing his stake in the gaming and hotel giant from 56.3% to 61.7%. With reports indicating the inevitability of strip clubs moving inside the casinos (the Las Vegas Gaming Commission has thus far denied the request), Kerkorian and other’s investment in this industry will grow considerably more adult.

Lily Burana’s “Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America” and Diablo Cody’s “Candy Girl” are both revealing, personal tales from this burgeoning, multi-billion dollar business. In “Strip City,” Burana travels to strip clubs across America, attends stripper school, and even spearheads a legal battle for dancer’s rights, sufficiently providing a wealth of information with unrelenting detail. In “Candy Girl,” Cody works as a stripper, peep show performer, and phone sex operator, masterfully bringing her observations of the sex trade to life with deep, telling imagery. While Burana is inclined to describe the weather outside a club, the ambience inside a club, and the cracked, peeling fingernails of a dancer hustling that club, Cody is more likely to just tell you about the deaf guy at a table near the stage with a sign that reads “TAKE OFF YR PANTY.”

Burana with “Strip City” is the better writer, but Cody with “Candy Girl” is the better storyteller. When you pick up a stripper’s memoir, you are expecting certain things much like the reader of a mystery will demand certain conventions like a detective, a crime, and clues. The better storyteller, Cody’s delivers the goods for the genre. Burana’s prose is exacting and formal; she is journalistic in her deliberate inclusion of statistics and description. But more glaringly obvious, on top of its failings as a road novel, Burana’s “Strip City” feels outright contrived. Whereas Cody’s experience rings of desperation, sincerity, and struggle and clearly mirrors the experience of girls like her all over the world, Burana’s journey smacked of a writer forcing a story out of her past life (Hey, I know! I’ll strip for a year and write a book about all the crazy shit I see!).

Cody writes like a stripper performs. Her prose is informal and lively. Her snappy words dance and twirl into entertaining tales of the industry slang, codes, and norms. Reading her memoir feels like having a close friend tell you a great story. Dear reader, come along with Diablo Cody, let her sling an arm around your shoulders as she takes you on a journey into the undulating land of stripping. She makes a fantastic tour guide, explaining nomenclature and sharing insight into tip rails, house moms, torture chairs, Wednesday “Wet ‘n’ Wild” nights sponsored by O’Douls, the “teeter-totter” move, jack shacks, and panty auctions. Cody’s prose is so inviting and unassuming that I even forgive her for referring late in her memoir to having “spread like Hellmann’s.” And through both women’s memoirs, only one of Cody’s stories succeeded in making me gag.

In the end, Burana and Cody’s memoirs are both very, very good and achieve brilliant moments of poignancy in illuminating an unconventional livelihood and industry that is increasingly mainstream. Cody smartly observes: “…exercise DVDs offer women the opportunity to strip themselves into thinner bodies, teenagers wear Hustler logos and visit tanning beds, feminists, braniacs and alternative types peel for websites like Suicide Girls and Nekkid Nerds, and coeds lift their shirts for spring-break sexploitation pictorials making sexual exhibitionism the norm, not the deviation.”

I can’t help but imagine the 90-year-old Kirk Kerkorian nodding in agreement as he stuffs his 9 billion dollars of net worth in the thong of a dancer.

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3 Responses to “Stripper Author Hits the Big Screen”

  1. I’ll have to check out the Diablo Cody book.

  2. I don’t normally leave replies to feeds that I read on the web. I enjoyed yours so much I just had to reply!

  3. Any of you into new PC games?

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