Equity Titty Show Campaign Joins Licence Battle

By Hazel Last edited 107 months ago
Equity Titty Show Campaign Joins Licence Battle

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Peter Stringfellow protested it (in his inimicable, awful way), the Proud Galleries protested it (with nipple tassels) and now Equity is applying its considerable union-shaped weight to the battle against it. ‘It’ is the reclassification of burlesque, lap dancing and pole dancing venues as ‘sexual encounter establishments’. Due to the licence fees costing up to £30,000, reclassification is understandably unpopular for leg, tit and bottom entertainment venues.

Feminist groups and (some) local residents are keen for the reclassification in the hope that it will make clear what is on offer in these venues and, due to the financial demands of the licence, perhaps discourage them from continuing. It's precisely that classification that Equity opposes and at the Trades Union Congress in September, the performers' union will call for support in urging the government to stop enforcing reclassification.

Equity's argument, laid out with slightly more coherence and fewer personal insults than Stringy managed, is that audiences will expect sexual encounters at a sexual encounter establishment, therefore putting at risk performers who are just doing a bit of saucy striptease in a variety show. That opposition to reclassification is fair to burlesque - burlesque is a variety of acts, not just sexy stripping all night (if that's the burlesque you're watching, you're watching people who have got it wrong...) But... isn't a lady sliding up and down a pole provocatively an obviously sexual encounter? Isn't a sexual encounter the point of having a lap dance? How did we go on for so long without realising pole dancing and lap dancing clubs were not automatically sexual encounters?

This broad lumping together of three quite distinct styles with three distinct aims is opposed within Equity itself, so the union's campaign, like the broader issue, may twirl around and around inconclusively like nipple tassels on a burlesque dancer, who may or may not be doling out a sexual encounter.

Last Updated 19 August 2009