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There are more strip clubs in the United States than anywhere else in the world. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 500,000 American citizens find employment at strip clubs. (And that’s just what’s on the books.) Yet despite the prevalence, our understanding of strippers and the club industry remains limited and subject to stereotypes. In this feature-length documentary, we aspire to uncover a new version of the female experience and to humanize an industry that has long been a source of criticism.
Destination: Dallas, Texas. It’s here in the heart of the Bible Belt that we examine how the lives of the stripping world, in many ways, mirror our own lives outside the club. Naturally, contradictions will reveal themselves – the most obvious being the fact that Dallas has one of the highest concentrations of strip clubs in the country, smack in the middle of an extremely Christian and conservative community.
We have been on the road now for 6 months. Over the course of 12-18 months we are hoping to continue this journey. With the funds raised on this Indiegogo, we will charge on. We will follow individuals whose lives are entangled in Dallas' vast and consuming club industry. We strive to reveal a naked, uninhibited truth. These people have all made choices out of circumstance, need, or desire, and this film will explore how the choices they make resonate with themselves and others.
Maria started dancing when her car broke down in front of a strip club and she didn't have the money to tow it. An incredible athlete, Maria is now addicted to the pole and attacks the job with force. She’s determined to master the craft of pole dancing and regularly competes in competitions for large cash prizes constantly, honing her craft and refining her technique.
A former stripper who openly talks about her experience with prostitution, drug abuse, alcoholism, and depression, Polly is now the founder of a Christian group called ‘We Are Cherished” that helps guide women out of the strip club. In a fanatically religious town, Polly has put her reputation on the line to go public about her past and launch her organization. Success is critical as she faces the scrutiny of her church and confronts her own self worth.
Tatum is a leggy brunette with stars in her eyes, working at an all-nude club to make rent. Addicted to the money and all that comes with the lifestyle, she confesses that the club is an environment to live out her many selves: slutty, shy, and ever changing. She still sees this point in her life as transitional.
"Sisters" Shelsea and Kody live together raising Shelsea’s two-year-old daughter while the father is in prison. Both only 20 years old and born a month apart, they grew up with different mothers and shared the same father. Victims of domestic abuse and recovering drug addicts, Shelsea and Kody work tirelessly, splitting time at the club to make ends meet.
Born into the Jehovah's Witness, Josh tried to live his life in accordance with those values, sometimes at odds with his career in the club world as the manager at the highest grossing strip club in Dallas. In the same month that Josh found out a woman at the club was pregnant with his child, he was also diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.
This film has never been more socially relevant. The judgment and scrutiny that the women in this film experience is not limited to that of the sex industry, Dallas, Texas, nor the far off past. This is now. Sexual repression and the condemnation of women is still a very real part of American culture. By placing these stories in 2014’s seemingly progressive society, we allow them to resonate even stronger.
Since this film is about women it inherently deals with women’s issues. Stripping is a highly gendered occupation. Women strip, men watch. However, this film does not present stripping as an act of feminist expression. Instead, it examines several different experiences and suggests that the reasons a woman might choose to strip are too complicated and unique to warrant summation. The nuances of the female experience are not always accounted for accurately on film, and we aspire to correct this.
This film is a meeting of day and night. Because director Poppy de Villeneuve began her career as a photographer, she believes that imagery has an essential role in reinforcing story. Inspired by the great American photographs of Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, Philip Lorca-DiCorcia, William Eggleston and Richard Avedon, she brings this visual language and storytelling to Texas, focusing on locations that hold emotional energy within the landscapes and the people themselves.
Dallas is a place full of contradictions and we’re able to register that visually. Neon lights beckon passerby into the dark club where girls dance to the rotating rhythm of fluorescent lights. Each of the countless churches proudly mark their lawns with larger than life crosses. Motorcycles zip across country roads and roar past the living rooms of women who rarely see the light of day.
Poppy de Villeneuve is a director and photographer. Lately she has been directing commercials, creating documentaries and new digital media projects worldwide. She shoots regularly for The New York Times and has recently made commercials for Rayban, Bottega Veneta, the NFL, Michael Kors and Benetton. She is often found driving around quiet spots off the interstate searching for stories and people. She lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Chloe Hall is a producer and director whose work in the field has awarded
her two Emmy nominations. She has worked on television shows such as Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, Say Yes To The Dress, Christmas at Rockefeller Center and The ING NYC Marathon. She lives with her husband and two children in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
Elaine Strutz is an Emmy award winning editor. She likes to dabble between film and television and her most recent work includes Reverence, an upcoming film by Zana Briski, e2: the economies of being environmentally conscious, Chinatown: In Their Own Words directed by Sam Pollard, Disappeared, and Say Yes to the Dress. She lives in Brooklyn.
Vann Alexandra is a creative services agency that gets projects financed through crowdfunding. The company has produced several crowdfunding campaigns, all successful, and has raised millions of dollars for clients ranging from Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmakers to Neil Young.
BAM, Bottega Veneta, Bravo, Burberry, CBS, Chloe, Comedy Central, Dazed and Confused, Discovery, Elizabeth Arden, ESPN, The Guardian, Harper's Bazaar, Microsoft, Macmillian Cancer Research, Michael Kors, NFL, NBC, The New York Times, Nike, Opening Ceremony, Oxygen, PBS, Rayban, Sony Music, TBS, TLC, Travel Channel, USA, Vogue, and Zac Posen.
While our Indiegogo goal is enough for a rough cut our ultimate goal is $100,000. We've carefully estimated how we intend to use the funds. Check out our budget to completion below. The patterned half of the chart indicate the figures that make up our initial goal.
All of the funds raised through this campaign will go directly towards helping us create a rough cut and ultimately complete the film. Your Indiegogo dollars will support artist fees, travel, equipment, and marketing so that we can make the best-looking film possible with the best people and the best means of getting it out there. With your help we'll be able to build stronger relationship with our subjects. We can maintain filming at a regular pace so the story can evolve naturally and into something we can be all proud of.
Again, this is a story that needs to be told. We need YOU to us get there. Thank you!