Monthly Archives: November 2013

Stripping Across America

(11/25/13)  Let’s get this out of the way right up front:  We love strippers!  There.  We said it.  We love the people.  We love the artistic glamour.  We love the exotic beauty.  Having covered the stripping lifestyle extensively throughout Fallen Angel’s Dirty Dancer series, we believe we have a pretty well-informed view of what actually goes on both inside and out, so if any of what follows comes off as a bit bias, oh well.  That’s just how it goes sometimes.

Yes, we love strippers, but we fully recognize that not everyone shares the love.  Indeed, there are some perfectly reasonable arguments against ecdysiastical pursuits and, in any rational debate, these do need to be part of the conversation on the topic.  However, with one camp firmly promoting the art, entertainment and self-reliance aspects and the other entrenched in beliefs of exploitation, subjugation and deviancy, the opposing forces will no doubt repel each other for all eternity.  When a country like Iceland of all places bans stripping, you know you’ve reached a critical mass in terms of digging in on a subject. So, let’s just get past all of the rhetoric and see what’s this and thus in the profession these days.

Generally speaking (as there’s no universal set of parameters defining the culture of stripping), the basic numbers look like this:

-As you might imagine, over 90% are female.  However, it’s interesting to note that percentage is down a few points from census statistics reported following the 2000 survey as more males are now entering the sector.

-A little more than 10% have less than a year of experience, with a median age of about 24.  The bulk, more than 50%, have been performing for 1-5 years while about 20% have up to nine years of experience.  About 15% have over 10 years invested in the industry.

-The number of clubs in the U.S. with some form of stripping: Over 4,000.

-The annual revenue of strip clubs in the U.S. as of 2012: Over $3 billion.

Without a doubt, stripping is big business–with big opportunities for those truly committed to their craft.  Many a student loan has been paid off and professional careers launched from the profits of exotic dancing.  This is even more impressive when you consider that tip rates haven’t kept up with inflation; generally remaining the same over the past 30 years.  In any event, while haters are going to no doubt hate, today’s trends show that they’re having little to no effect in slowing down this niche industry.

Though there is a wide range of forms (mostly due to confusing legalities which, in many cases, vary from town to town), the most common aspect we’ve found is that the people who work in this industry genuinely enjoy what they do and take immense pride in it.  Sure, there are some who are just in it for the money (much like any other kind of job), but most will tell you that the money is less of a motivation than the more self-actualizing factors.  In essence, they feel empowered through the work they’ve chosen and, like any other artist, tremendously fulfilled through the appreciation they receive for their performance.  Most would certainly prefer to do without the negative judgments and intolerant stigmas, of course, but oh well. 

That’s just how it goes sometimes.

Sources:  U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor

 

Sex Tech Across America: Can We Still Connect?

SAAgraphic11182013(11/18/13)  With just about every advance in technology, a creative application towards sexuality occurs.  No sooner did the electric light bulb catch on that powered vibrators began hitting the market (yes, yes, for “muscle aches” and such.  Sure.)  No sooner did the plate camera debut that porn was born.  No sooner did the BetaMax arrive that everyone could suddenly star in their very own skin flick.  No sooner did a PC appear on desks everywhere that cybersex in all of its forms become all the rage–well, at least until the next big thing (pardon the pun) came along.

For a civilization that historically seems so hung up on sex, we sure do have a long track record of creatively–and successfully–tweaking geekdom in pursuit of orgasms.

In any event, repurposing technology for sexual gratification is just part of the game and there’s no reason to think that it’ll be slowing down anytime soon.  If anything, it’s probably about to gain speed exponentially.  We’re not quite to the realm of the “Orgasmatron” fictionally foreseen in the 1970s, but we’re pretty close with medical devices designed to read and manipulate brainwaves and nervous system functions.  While such items may have been originally conceived to treat things like head traumas and spinal cord mishaps, you can bet that there’s a little pervy R&D type tucked away in a dark corner somewhere musing, “Hmm…wonder what else we can use this gizmo for?”  How long do you think it’ll take for someone to figure out that there’s millions more to be made simply by slapping on some slick marketing?  Case in point:  The medication, sildenafil citrate, was specifically developed to treat conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease.  Ah, but guess what else they figured out it could do?  So, just tint the pill blue and give it a snazzy, virile-sounding name and ta-daaa:  Viagra.  It’s capitalism at its finest.

So, what lies ahead?  With advances at a fever pace, it’s not even just a matter of technocycling, but also redefining what we thought we used to know.  Simple concepts like “relationships” and “intimacy” have suddenly exploded well beyond what was once clear cut into a blurred digital realm where both can easily occur without the people involved having actually met or even touched.  No doubt, there will be a period where some (likely older generations) classify such developments as “fake” or “bad” while others (probably those brought up to employ virtual technologies as a perfectly natural part of their lives) will be more accepting of them as “real” or “good”–with all sorts of subtle shades in between.  For a time, there will continue to be debates as to whether “cyber-cheating” is a “real” act of infidelity while others will trumpet the premise that there’s nothing phony about actual sexual gratification through digital means.  No doubt many will classify one end of the spectrum as detached fantasy while others will tout actual benefits such as precluding unwanted pregnancies and STDs.  As with most things in a major state of flux, there’s no universal answer, but it is pretty clear that it’s going to continue to evolve, perhaps in ways we cannot even conceive of today.

In a world where technology has enabled greater democracy while simultaneously turbo charging capitalism, the possibilities for sex tech are literally endless.  Where do you think it will go?  What kinds of items do you think will appear on the horizon within the next 50 years?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sex Across America Salutes: America’s Veterans

(11/11/13)  It’s been said millions of times:  Freedom isn’t free.  No one knows this better than a veteran of America’s armed forces.  So, before anything else, we want to take a moment to say thank you on this Veterans Day to everyone who has worn our nation’s uniforms for both their service and their sacrifice–and we ask anyone reading this to do the same.

With that said, while those who served have done much to protect and defend us, we have to ask:  Who is protecting and defending them?  As we track various sex trends impacting Americans, we are disturbed to find that among many serious issues facing today’s service members is the growing problem of sexual assault–and it’s a concern that’s well justified.  Earlier this year, the Department of Defense (DoD) published a study that found a significant year-over-year increase in sexual assault cases (26,000 in 2012 vs. 19,000 the year before–a 37% jump).  With these kinds of staggering numbers obviously trending in the wrong direction, it’s pretty clear that the chain of command needs immediate help–and you would think they’d welcome it when offered.  Apparently, not so much.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is currently pushing legislation for the 2014 defense bill (scheduled for debate in less than two weeks) that establishes a simple, independent system for handling and prosecuting military sexual assault complaints.  The DoD is vehemently opposing it on the grounds that they believe military prosecutions should remain within military chain of command.  Ordinarily, given the unique nature of military life and its specific system for maintaining order and discipline (known as the Uniformed Code of Military Justice), this might make sense, but the disaster in progress obviously demands otherwise.  It’s evident that the system in place has not only failed, it’s growing worse.  Even top military commanders recognize this.  After the study noted above was released, the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Raymond Odierno, commented,

“Our Army is based on a bedrock of trust – the trust between Soldiers and leaders that we will take care of each other.  Recent incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment demonstrate that we have violated that trust.  In fact, these acts violate everything our Army stands for.  They are contrary to our Army Values and they must not be tolerated.”

Indeed, they must not be tolerated, but if the existing system permitted these admitted violations of trust, then it’s clearly time for change.  It may not be popular to break with a traditional tenet of military life, but popular tradition is a poor excuse for maintaining a failed course.  Responsible leadership recognizes when help is needed–and embraces it enthusiastically when offered.  By all means, the chain of command should retain responsibility for improving preventive measures, but when those measures fail, GIs need to have a safe place to go with their complaints that exists outside the chain that failed them.  It’s as simple as that. 

The bottom line:  Senator Gillibrand is offering a reasonable approach to addressing the rising problem of sexual assault in the military.  Implementing it hinges on the widespread support of the Senate when it votes on the National Defense Authorization in just a few days.  You can have a direct impact on helping to fix this serious issue by voicing your position on the matter to your state’s Senators (here is the Senate’s email directory) and by sharing this article widely throughout your social circles so that others may consider doing the same.  (The “share” button is just below the article.)  Please honor those who serve on this Veterans Day by taking just a few moments to help protect and defend them.

For everyone who wears America’s military uniform, the day eventually comes where it’s put away for the last time.  On that day, the Veteran should be able to look back on their time of service fondly, with satisfaction and with tremendous pride–not with shame, despair or sorrow.  This Veterans Day, please take a moment to do something special that not only addresses a serious problem now, but also positively impacts countless future Vets to come.

Sex Across America’s Recommended Reading List

SAAgraphic11042013(11/4/13)  It’s almost that time of year.  The holidays are a’comin and while we’d love to recommend a shiny new toy or two as a stocking stuffer from Fallen Angel’s new toy boutique (hint, nudge, wink, kiss), we feel that as sex-positive educators and activists, it’s equally important to promote knowledge and literacy.  Besides, bookworms are sexy too, right? Accordingly, we’ve scoured our own library for titles that mean something special to us and asked for additional suggestions from some of the nation’s most respected sexologists, therapists and counselors.  The result:  The highly concentrated list below that we hope has at least something useful for everyone.

We would like to note that some of these suggestions are classics which may be hard to find or are no longer in print.  As such–and to provide third-party reviews for your consideration as well–we’ve linked each title to its product page at Amazon.com, which may have a limited amount of used editions for certain books that may interest you.  Additionally, some of these suggestions may be available in electronic form.

General Sexuality/Relationships: 

The New Male Sexuality by Bernie Zilbergeld

My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday

Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex by Nina Hartley with I.S. Levine

She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner

How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Dr. Patricia Love and Steven Stosney

The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans

Loving and Lasting: How to Stay Tuned In and Turned On in Your Marriage by Ande Lyons and Michelle Preast

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex by Dr. David Reuben

The Goddess Orgasm by Eve Marx

Partners in Passion by Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson (available to the general public in early 2014)

How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do by Candida Royale

Political/Historical:

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson and Neil Strauss

The Rape of the A*P*E* by Allan Sherman

One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History by Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach

The Government Vs. Erotica: The Siege of Adam & Eve by Philip D. Harvey

Leatherfolk by Mark Thompson

The Red Queen by Matt Ridley

Inside Seka by Seka with Jim Norton and Kerry Zukus

Plays Well in Groups by Dr. Katherine Frank

Alternative Sexuality/Kink Oriented:

SM 101 by Jay Wiseman

Screw the Roses, Give Me the Thorns by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon

The Loving Dominant by Dr. John Warren (out of print, but copies still available on Amazon in short supply)

The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy

The ABCs of BDSM by Dama deNoche

The Gospel of Kink by Dr. Richard Wagner

Erotica:

Ultimate Sex by Miranda Forbes

The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice (A.N. Roquelaure)

Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg

X: The Erotic Treasury by Susie Bright

If you have comments about any of these recommendations or specific suggestions of your own to share with our readers, please leave a reply to this posting.  Your thoughts about this–and all of our topics–are not only important to us, but potentially beneficial to other readers as well, so sound off and join the conversation.

As we move into this year’s holiday season, all of us at SexAcrossAmerica.com want to take a moment to thank everyone who’s supported our efforts and promoted us within their own social and professional circles.  We hope you’re enjoying our direct, if somewhat off-beat-on-occasion coverage of various sex trends around the country and look forward to hearing suggestions regarding topics you would like to see covered in the future.  Just shoot us a quick email and we’ll be sure to get it on our upcoming schedule.