Dirty Dancing

This slick-surfaced denial of the dark side sapped the enthusiasm of my Go Gurl, though sympathy didn't disappear completely until Burana's foray into Tijuana nightlife. Miss Faust and her "cool" friends (i.e., those that dig strippers) peruse the clubs on Avenida de la Revolución, the main drag. They visit one club where she first notices a dancer with "deflated breasts." Burana is not sympathetic to the aging of the female body. While working in a Soho boutique she describes the customers as "soft-bellied housewives . . . who are eager to be fawned over and dressed up in something that might recapture a husband's eye." And at the stripper museum in Helendale, California, the sight of older women performing naked embarrasses her. Burana is good to go when she's the sexual focal point, but she treats other women's sexuality with hostility and unease. In Tijuana, Burana gets up onstage with the stripper whose "hips switch angrily under her zebra print mini-dress."Burana is put off by the "bitchy dancer" and seemingly unconscious of the fact that she's made herself the sexual (not to mention financial) center yet again. Maybe this is what being an exhibitionist is all about, but Burana never really subjects her experience to the deep reflection she promises in the book's introduction.

Lily Burana takes a sentimental journey.
photo: Jay Muhlin
Lily Burana takes a sentimental journey.

Details

Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America
By Lily Burana
Talk/Miramax, 328 pp., $23.95
Buy this book

Nudity is one of the few things that make being human bearable, as is sex in all its variations. I want to hear the particulars from disciples of sadism and masochism, and if spanking is your thing, you've got my complete attention. But if I'm going to read a whole book about exhibitionism (separate stripping from its faux glamour and economic advantages and that's what you get), you gotta be honest about the paradoxes, about the human fragility and longing at the center of all sexuality. You can't just tell me, like Lily Burana does over and over, that it feels really cool.

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