The Lusty Lady Theater, San Francisco and the world's only strip club cooperatively owned and operated by the women entertainers themselves, stands in danger of coming apart at the seams. As Uptown Almanac reports, the Lusty Lady's head Madam and all but one member of the club's worker cooperative board have quit. Without much direction or employees, the club (which just recently celebrated 15 years of being part of the SEIU) is now in a tight spot moving forward.
As soon-to-be-former dancer Sandy Bottoms writes on her blog [NSFW] about the current climate within the co-op:
Over the past few weeks a giant schism has formed within the cooperative regarding the future of our historic and beloved business, which is resulting in a wave of workers, including myself, walking away. I want it to be known that the Lusties leaving the Lady are NOT walking away from it's [sic] rich memory of camaraderie and perseverance during cooperization or landmark status of being the only unionized sex work business' within the United States, but simply from a disintegrating system and hostile working environment within a failing business model.
For what it's worth, the Lusty Lady is not closing immediately, but that appears to be a real threat if the co-op doesn't work out their current issues and find enough entertainers to keep the peep show running. According to Uptown Almanac the club needs an infusion of cash, some new marketing efforts and a lot of new talent (among other things). So far, no one has stepped forward to pass the hat and start any fundraising efforts for the club, but supporters are encouraged to reach out to the remaining club owners via their Facebook page. In the meantime, this behind the glass piece from SFAppeal is definitely worth re-visiting for a captivating look at life as an entertainer at the Lusty Lady.
We should also note this isn't the first time the Lusty Lady has been struck with internal disputes and infighting. Back in 2006, a dancer and member of the theater's co-op board was dismissed after she posted an email from a male employee detailing customer complaints about a BBW night to a message board in the club's dressing room. That ordeal prompted workers to question whether the union was useful in light of the club's co-op situation.