Volume 94, Issue 5


Harris gives private U's thumbs up

Galleria welcomes 2,400 new jobs

UWOFA, admin wrap up a deal

Knife proposal seeks mandatory jail-time

Feds give prof $50,000 for stripper hunt

Ontario pollution hits all time high

U of T Bookstore hits the picket lines

Where have all the Christians gone?


Feds give prof $50,000 for stripper hunt

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

A Vancouver sociology professor has received a $50,000 federal grant, to ask former strippers for the naked truth about the erotic entertainment industry.

Becki Ross, a professor at the University of British Columbia, said the study, entitled the Burlesque and Striptease Project, is aiming to peel away the misconceptions and throw a spotlight on the stereotypes of erotic dancers in the Vancouver area.

"This is going to make a definite contribution to the knowledge of our cultural past in this country," said the Western alumnus. "Our aim is to recover stories of 'business-insiders', in order to challenge age-old stereotypes of the 'low-class, slutty show girls,' 'sex-crazed customers' and 'sleazy club owners'."

Ross explained she wanted first-hand accounts from both male and female, gay and straight strippers, as well as industry insiders ranging from club owners and staff, to regular patrons and the police who dealt with the business during the years 1945-1980.

The three-year study, launched early last year, was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, said SSHRC spokesperson Garth Williams.

"We made our decision on funding based on a peer evaluation process," he said. "Really, what we're looking at is quality."

Ross said she has received hardly any criticism about the project and added a hard look at the lives of strippers was long overdue. "My main response to critics who say this money is being ill-spent, is that strippers have always been taxpayers," she said. "We're saying these people should be understood in terms of their contributions along side the likes of Anne Murray and Celine Dion."

David Perry, senior research associate at the Canadian Tax Foundation, said while he believed the study may appear objectionable to some, he thought it was not a misuse of taxpayers' dollars. "If the government chooses, at a later point, to put some controls on the industry, this information might come in handy."

Walter Robinson, federal director at the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, said although the study may have some academic value, he did not think its conclusions would be useful to the general public. "There's no justifiable reason on this planet why Canadian taxpayers should provide this study with one penny," he said.

"I've been in the business 15 years," said Mike Houle, manager of the Fabulous Forum in London. "I'm glad someone's doing it, but I don't understand why the government is paying for it."

Houle said he believed the lives of strippers should be documented by people in the business, not university researchers.

"If the government wants to spend $50,000 on this thing, why don't they give it to me – I'll give the money to a charity and I'll write this thing for free."

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