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Neon Girls: A Stripper's Education in Protest and Power

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A riveting true story of a young woman’s days stripping in grunge-era San Francisco where a radical group of dancers banded together to unionize and run the club on their own terms. When graduate student Jenny Worley needed a fast way to earn more money, she found herself at the door of the Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco, auditioning on a stage surrounded by mirrors, A riveting true story of a young woman’s days stripping in grunge-era San Francisco where a radical group of dancers banded together to unionize and run the club on their own terms. When graduate student Jenny Worley needed a fast way to earn more money, she found herself at the door of the Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco, auditioning on a stage surrounded by mirrors, in platform heels, and not much else. So began Jenny’s career as a stripper strutting the peepshow stage as her alter-ego “Polly” alongside women called Octopussy and Amnesia. But this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill strip club—it was a peepshow populated by free-thinking women who talked feminist theory and swapped radical zines like lipstick. As management’s discriminatory practices and the rise of hidden cameras stir up tension among the dancers, Jenny rallies them to demand change. Together, they organize the first strippers’ union in the world and risk it all to take over the club and run it as a co-operative. Refusing to be treated as sex objects or disposable labor, they become instead the rulers of their kingdom. Jenny’s elation over the Lusty Lady’s revolution is tempered by her evolving understanding of the toll dancing has taken on her. When she finally hangs up her heels for good to finish her Ph.D., neither Jenny nor San Francisco are the same—but she and the cadre of wild, beautiful, brave women who run the Lusty Lady come out on top despite it all.  A first-hand account as only an insider could tell it, Neon Girls paints a vivid picture of a bygone San Francisco and a fiercely feminist world within the sex industry, asking sharp questions about what keeps women from fighting for their rights, who benefits from capitalizing on desire, and how we can change entrenched systems of power.  


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A riveting true story of a young woman’s days stripping in grunge-era San Francisco where a radical group of dancers banded together to unionize and run the club on their own terms. When graduate student Jenny Worley needed a fast way to earn more money, she found herself at the door of the Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco, auditioning on a stage surrounded by mirrors, A riveting true story of a young woman’s days stripping in grunge-era San Francisco where a radical group of dancers banded together to unionize and run the club on their own terms. When graduate student Jenny Worley needed a fast way to earn more money, she found herself at the door of the Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco, auditioning on a stage surrounded by mirrors, in platform heels, and not much else. So began Jenny’s career as a stripper strutting the peepshow stage as her alter-ego “Polly” alongside women called Octopussy and Amnesia. But this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill strip club—it was a peepshow populated by free-thinking women who talked feminist theory and swapped radical zines like lipstick. As management’s discriminatory practices and the rise of hidden cameras stir up tension among the dancers, Jenny rallies them to demand change. Together, they organize the first strippers’ union in the world and risk it all to take over the club and run it as a co-operative. Refusing to be treated as sex objects or disposable labor, they become instead the rulers of their kingdom. Jenny’s elation over the Lusty Lady’s revolution is tempered by her evolving understanding of the toll dancing has taken on her. When she finally hangs up her heels for good to finish her Ph.D., neither Jenny nor San Francisco are the same—but she and the cadre of wild, beautiful, brave women who run the Lusty Lady come out on top despite it all.  A first-hand account as only an insider could tell it, Neon Girls paints a vivid picture of a bygone San Francisco and a fiercely feminist world within the sex industry, asking sharp questions about what keeps women from fighting for their rights, who benefits from capitalizing on desire, and how we can change entrenched systems of power.  

30 review for Neon Girls: A Stripper's Education in Protest and Power

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    When I read the synopsis—a story about a stripper fighting for unionization while getting her PhD in the 1990s—I was intrigued. I really enjoyed so much about this book. I learned a lot about the sex industry but so much more about the people participating in it, especially Worley. I loved that Worley told it like it was, her doubts and feelings, her experiences, her relationships with coworkers. Even the details of code words and phone lists were included. But I loved that at its heart this was When I read the synopsis—a story about a stripper fighting for unionization while getting her PhD in the 1990s—I was intrigued. I really enjoyed so much about this book. I learned a lot about the sex industry but so much more about the people participating in it, especially Worley. I loved that Worley told it like it was, her doubts and feelings, her experiences, her relationships with coworkers. Even the details of code words and phone lists were included. But I loved that at its heart this was a story of feminism and empowerment. I highly recommend picking this one up if you’re a nonfiction/memoir fan. (I received an advanced copy in exchange for my review.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brandy {The Review Booth}

    This book is a good hard look at a specific group of workers the general populace tends to look down upon (to put it mildly). I’ll be honest, the demand for people in these types of positions will more than likely NEVER cease. I honestly cannot applaud Jennifer more for all she accomplished during her nearly ten years as a stripper all the while going to school in hopes to finally achieve her Ph. D. Reading a different angle of the sex industry than my first plunge into it (How to Make Love Like This book is a good hard look at a specific group of workers the general populace tends to look down upon (to put it mildly). I’ll be honest, the demand for people in these types of positions will more than likely NEVER cease. I honestly cannot applaud Jennifer more for all she accomplished during her nearly ten years as a stripper all the while going to school in hopes to finally achieve her Ph. D. Reading a different angle of the sex industry than my first plunge into it (How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale) was no less enlightening. "It was wearing, though, having to assert, again and again, my own humanity, to prove myself a person dozens or scores of times each shift. It sometimes seemed as if all the large and small degradations of existing while female in this world had been simmered and reduced to a thick, too strong, too sour elixir that fed us in a steady drip, drip, drip." How is it so easy for society to deem others beneath them, dismiss them as unintelligent, and exploit them for personal/business gain? The ladies employed by the Lusty in Jennifer’s history are a brilliant reminder as bright as neon itself that society should really know better about stuffing people into conveniently labeled boxes. I found the dynamics of the Lusty versus Chez Paree interesting – I’ll admit that all I’ve ever heard about are businesses like Chez Paree where the women have little to no control. "I hated the idea that men I didn’t know or trust now had records of the work I did, that they could carry Polly, naked and unawares, from the safe refuge that had birthed and nurtured her, into that other world where I had to live my life. Would others meet her out there? My professors, students, college friends, people back home? Polly was mine, and she belonged in here, not out there." Neon Girls: A Stripper’s Education in Protest and Power did an amazing job at highlighting the industry for both sides of the coin – exploitation, and empowerment. I highly recommend to readers who find memoirs/autobiographies, sexuality, history of the sex industry, protests, reform, and feminism interesting topics. I would like to thank Harper Perennial and Jennifer Worley for this eye-opening book – the courage and relationships of the women recounted in this book is truly something special.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    The now defunct Lusty Lady was a San Francisco institution in its day—a rather seedy peep show whose poles were worked by a group of women—many of them feminist lesbians—who in the mid '90s decided to band together against exploitative work conditions, unionised, and eventually banded together to run the place as a co-op. Jennifer Worley, who worked at the Lusty Lady in the '90s and early '00s while a financially struggling grad student, has produced a book which is both a highly readable memoir The now defunct Lusty Lady was a San Francisco institution in its day—a rather seedy peep show whose poles were worked by a group of women—many of them feminist lesbians—who in the mid '90s decided to band together against exploitative work conditions, unionised, and eventually banded together to run the place as a co-op. Jennifer Worley, who worked at the Lusty Lady in the '90s and early '00s while a financially struggling grad student, has produced a book which is both a highly readable memoir and a reflection on feminism and worker exploitation, one which is candid and sometimes serious but never po-faced or jargony. True, Worley had the scope to dive more into the history of sex workers' rights—we learn occasional titbits, such as the fact that the famous burlesque artist Gypsy Rose Lee was also a union organizer, but little more than that. Worley doesn't proffer any big takeaway lessons, nor does she seem to have gone back and interviewed any of her former co-workers about their thoughts or memories. This is one woman's take on her experiences, and at times I would have liked a little more of a rounded view. Still, definitely worth reading if you're interested in feminism or labour history.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review In one of my college classes, The Commodification of Gender, we studied the unionization of San Francisco’s Lusty Lady, learning how the women fought back against their management (unfair rules, hidden cameras in the dressing room, etc) to create the world’s first ever strippers’ union. We studied their legal proceedings, magazine features, and interviews. Jennifer Worley’s first hand account of her experience in t I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review In one of my college classes, The Commodification of Gender, we studied the unionization of San Francisco’s Lusty Lady, learning how the women fought back against their management (unfair rules, hidden cameras in the dressing room, etc) to create the world’s first ever strippers’ union. We studied their legal proceedings, magazine features, and interviews. Jennifer Worley’s first hand account of her experience in the unionization gave me an even greater insight into this topic, movement, and achievement. A must-read for anyone interested in the topics of gender, the sex industry, sex workers, feminism, capitalism, classism, and power dynamics. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jaimie

    Not me listening to the audiobook in my car, cheering out loud from the sheer force of girl power happening here. Not me getting all emotional and literally tearing up at the thought of former strippers coming together, years after the fact, for a final reunion dance before their club is closed for good. This is freaking fantastic. Everything I "knew" about strippers clearly came from movies and, um, is wrong. Loved learning about experiences completely new to me, from someone who lived it. 4 sta Not me listening to the audiobook in my car, cheering out loud from the sheer force of girl power happening here. Not me getting all emotional and literally tearing up at the thought of former strippers coming together, years after the fact, for a final reunion dance before their club is closed for good. This is freaking fantastic. Everything I "knew" about strippers clearly came from movies and, um, is wrong. Loved learning about experiences completely new to me, from someone who lived it. 4 stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    How is everyone not talking about this amazing memoir!? I was fascinated by Neon Girls and finished this in a day! I loved reading about the author’s changing feelings along her experience in the sex industry, and how there really wasn’t a conclusion regarding if stripping is empowering or exploitative. Jennifer Worley does a wonderful job showing examples of situations where it really was both (empowering and exploitative), and how many people felt one way or the other due to the purpose/nature How is everyone not talking about this amazing memoir!? I was fascinated by Neon Girls and finished this in a day! I loved reading about the author’s changing feelings along her experience in the sex industry, and how there really wasn’t a conclusion regarding if stripping is empowering or exploitative. Jennifer Worley does a wonderful job showing examples of situations where it really was both (empowering and exploitative), and how many people felt one way or the other due to the purpose/nature of their work versus how powerful they felt in the moment. I loved the way these beautiful women bonded together to fight back for change and sex workers’ rights. The author explains and exposes stage rules, hiring practices, discrimination, and more. Neon Girls is fascinating, riveting, feminist, and inspiring, offering an inside look into an industry that is rarely seen. Thank you so much to Harper Perennial for my gifted copy of this amazing book! Release date 6/9/2020

  7. 5 out of 5

    Raven Graham

    "Two-four-six-eight, don't go here to masturbate." This has to be one the best, if not the funniest, picketing chants I have ever heard. Neon Girls is based off of the author's experiences as a stripper in the mid-1990s in San Francisco, CA. Her account demonstrates the convergence of feminism, sex, and powers of organized labor. Worley did a fantastic job of weaving the narrative around the individuals working at the Lusty Lady, their camaraderie, and their perseverance to create a safer, more i "Two-four-six-eight, don't go here to masturbate." This has to be one the best, if not the funniest, picketing chants I have ever heard. Neon Girls is based off of the author's experiences as a stripper in the mid-1990s in San Francisco, CA. Her account demonstrates the convergence of feminism, sex, and powers of organized labor. Worley did a fantastic job of weaving the narrative around the individuals working at the Lusty Lady, their camaraderie, and their perseverance to create a safer, more inclusive workplace environment. The idea that the dancers were being filmed without their knowledge and/consent never crossed my mind. I also appreciated Worley's mental tug-of-war she experienced during and after her dancing career. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in memoirs or wants the explore the history of San Fran's sex industry. I'm looking forward to watching her documentary.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    This book!! This book was very special to me. I worked at a strip club in my early-mid 20’s and the book brought back so many great memories (scroll for a pic of me in those days); the female comradery between waitresses and dancers, the empowerment, fun times, and the friendships built. Jennifer Worley not only had experience as a dancer, but she did her graduate work on the industry. This book was jam packed of the real life experience, as well as the history and background of burlesque and st This book!! This book was very special to me. I worked at a strip club in my early-mid 20’s and the book brought back so many great memories (scroll for a pic of me in those days); the female comradery between waitresses and dancers, the empowerment, fun times, and the friendships built. Jennifer Worley not only had experience as a dancer, but she did her graduate work on the industry. This book was jam packed of the real life experience, as well as the history and background of burlesque and strip clubs. I never thought that I’d gain my first understanding of unions and union negotiations through a book about strippers, but there it is! “I was learning a lot more at Lusty than just the ins and outs of hair removal and how to apply lip liner. I was also learning about solidarity among women and how much power we could wield by standing together “

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thanks to Harper Perennial for an advance copy for honest review. This memoir is fascinating, about the author's time working at San Francisco's Lusty Lady and her experiences with organizing the dancers into a union to negotiate for better and more equitable working conditions, and eventually leading the charge to become a worker-owned club. As salacious as this sounds like it could be, the subtitle of "a stripper's education in protest and power" is much more accurate- it shows the author growi Thanks to Harper Perennial for an advance copy for honest review. This memoir is fascinating, about the author's time working at San Francisco's Lusty Lady and her experiences with organizing the dancers into a union to negotiate for better and more equitable working conditions, and eventually leading the charge to become a worker-owned club. As salacious as this sounds like it could be, the subtitle of "a stripper's education in protest and power" is much more accurate- it shows the author growing and learning throughout her years at the club and becoming an organizer while vividly capturing a time and place.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brady Steigauf

    A topic I knew nothing about beforehand! Not only did it help me understand and humanize the work of these women, but this book will make you want to unionize your own workplace.

  11. 4 out of 5

    René

    An eye-opening and surprisingly uplifting read about sex work and feminism. It was charming and readable, and filled with nuance. I also liked the local aspect of it, since the Lusty Lady was started in Seattle before opening it's infamous San Francisco chapter. An eye-opening and surprisingly uplifting read about sex work and feminism. It was charming and readable, and filled with nuance. I also liked the local aspect of it, since the Lusty Lady was started in Seattle before opening it's infamous San Francisco chapter.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Anderson

    Thank you Harper Perennial for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely loved this memoir. I had a feeling that I would when I read the synopsis. Yes, it's about strippers, but it's also about feminists and workers rights. This was about unionizing a strip club. There was also a bit of history of the trade. Burlesque dancers were unionized along with other entertainers and stage actors in the early 20th century. I had no idea. Along with learning a lot, this book h Thank you Harper Perennial for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely loved this memoir. I had a feeling that I would when I read the synopsis. Yes, it's about strippers, but it's also about feminists and workers rights. This was about unionizing a strip club. There was also a bit of history of the trade. Burlesque dancers were unionized along with other entertainers and stage actors in the early 20th century. I had no idea. Along with learning a lot, this book had an easy flow and quite a bit of humour. Worley was able to tell her story, that was at times quite serious, in a very entertaining way. If this memoir was turned into a film or mini series, I would 100% watch it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    An interesting first person account of the unionization of a famous strip club in San Francisco. I appreciated the descriptions of mid-90s San Francisco and the little discussed sex industry scene that existed there prior to the dot com boom, which basically drove out a lot of classic businesses in the area. The author talks about her first encounter with being an exotic dancer and her experiences in unionizing this club. Themes of labor unions, feminism, the rights of sex workers, and capitalis An interesting first person account of the unionization of a famous strip club in San Francisco. I appreciated the descriptions of mid-90s San Francisco and the little discussed sex industry scene that existed there prior to the dot com boom, which basically drove out a lot of classic businesses in the area. The author talks about her first encounter with being an exotic dancer and her experiences in unionizing this club. Themes of labor unions, feminism, the rights of sex workers, and capitalism are discussed throughout this narrative. I recommend this book to people interested in reading about the history of labor practices within the sex industry, something that deserves attention.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mariane

    Fun quick read on stripping and unionizing in 90s San Francisco!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Reeeeally good. I couldn't stop. "Eventually being spoken to by coworkers, supervisors, and complete strangers while naked would feel normal...soon nudity would become my natural habitat, my default state.... But today in the face of Jospehine's breezey nonchalance I felt awkward and shy then invisible when my nudity went utterly unremarked." "In retrospect I suppose my performance was a way of trying to show Jospehine - and maybe myself - that I was no shrinking violet, but a bold brazen wildflow Reeeeally good. I couldn't stop. "Eventually being spoken to by coworkers, supervisors, and complete strangers while naked would feel normal...soon nudity would become my natural habitat, my default state.... But today in the face of Jospehine's breezey nonchalance I felt awkward and shy then invisible when my nudity went utterly unremarked." "In retrospect I suppose my performance was a way of trying to show Jospehine - and maybe myself - that I was no shrinking violet, but a bold brazen wildflower unafraid to bare my petals to the sun or to the leering gazes all around." "She explained 'At a lot of other clubs there's an expectation that dancers need to perform sexual favors for managers or other employees. But we don't tolerate that. And if a dancer tells me a support member did something that felt like harassment, that's it. If it's a he said she said situation we go with what she said.' This was the mid 1990s, just a few years after the concept of workplace sexual harassment had entered the popular consciousness via the Anita Hill hearings and workplaces were just starting to develop sexual harassment policies. Most of them were toothless, more concerned with the possibility that men would be unfairly accused than with the treatment of female employees. But here, at a pornographic nudity show where women could wear 'an attractive top or attractive bottom' but never both, the policy was that women were to be respected and taken at their word." "I learned to see such gestures as the licky loo face, used so frequently by street harassers, as blatant sexualized threats, expressions of aggression and contempt packaged as desire. Now confronted with the gestural shell of this harassment bereft of the aggression and contempt I'd come to recognize in it my understanding was shifting again. Was I just being re-indoctrinated into accepting again what I knew to be abuse? Was this job demanding that I unlearn my hard won feminist analysis?" "When I step back and look at the process of creating Polly I realize that it mimicks the very process by which identities are formed outside the peep show. We watch, we imitate, we try things on, we notice how others respond, and we adapt to those responses until we land upon a way of being in the world that works. That way of being eventually becomes so automatic that we forget the trying on and casting off, the learning, so that we mistake it for the truth, a truth we call 'myself'." "Polly gave me a confidence that sometimes looked like cockiness, a power that sometimes looked like brazenness. Polly showed me a new vision of myself and taught me to inhabit it." "I began to realize that I wasn't just some fraud pretending to be a stripper. Not because I wasn't pretending, but because we were all pretending. That's what it meant to be a Lusty Lady: to pretend. And in pretending to become." "Laying myself bare for myriad strangers day after day had begun taking a toll. It was becoming more difficult to make myself vulnerable enough to feel desire or even to be desired after spending several hours, several times a week naked, vulnerable, open to all who projected their lust upon me." "For all the confidence and authority I was gaining in the classroom [from Polly], on stage I began to feel desiccated, sucked dry of my former brazen vitality as if my teacher persona was vampirizing Polly, stripping her for emotional parts." "While the chance to work less and make more was a draw, this motivation was really a cover for a more emotional, more seductive force. The sex industry is built upon seduction after all. It seduces not only its patrons but its workers as well, whispering in the same alluring tones that echo in the ears of gamblers, promises of something more, something more. I didn't need more. But I felt pulled nevertheless to see the rest of this underworld, learn its ways and squeeze from it all that was coming to me, all the riches girls like Alex promised were waiting if I just laid down one more bet." "I just couldn't take the unrelenting rejection for one more day...In many ways stripping inverts the dynamic of the non-commercial, heterosexual pickup. At the lap dance club women pursue and try to pick up men while men swat them away.... But whereas men have been socialized to expect sexual rejection most of the time, women have been socialized to be sexually perused. So the sheer volume of rejection an exotic dancer experiences can be grueling in spite of all the desire and admiration that might also come our way. While most of us think as the three song stint on stage as the substance of the job - the glitter, cheap spotlight, brass pole, desiring eyes all around - the work of this work is elsewhere. The work of this job is walking in your underwear and heels for hours, smiling and weedling for tips from men who glance briefly at your tits or crotch or face, judge you insufficient then wave you away dismissively. It is emotionally wearing and at times humiliating for those like me who lack the steely confidence." (on co-ops and slacking members) "For the rest of us it felt uncomfortable to intervene and tell a coworker to shape up because, also socialized into the hierarchies or capitalism, we expected the boss to do that. Without a boss it just felt bossy to intervene." "To spin amid an unlikely sisterhood of women called Octopussy, Amnesia, Justice, Peace, and Chaos. Women who burned brightly and hotly and briefly in that grubby, sleazy little dive then cooled and ossified back into Allisons, Stephanies, Lauras, and Megs."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    Worley’s memoir on her time as a stripper in the late 90's and early 2000's is descriptive, personal, and much more economically oriented than I thought it would be. The last two thirds prominently focuses on her and her coworkers setting up their own union, as well as the economics of their club and other strip clubs in the area. For example, she speaks on how the emergence of the internet drew away some of their customers and how dancers made money in different ways depending on which club the Worley’s memoir on her time as a stripper in the late 90's and early 2000's is descriptive, personal, and much more economically oriented than I thought it would be. The last two thirds prominently focuses on her and her coworkers setting up their own union, as well as the economics of their club and other strip clubs in the area. For example, she speaks on how the emergence of the internet drew away some of their customers and how dancers made money in different ways depending on which club they were working in at the time. I didn’t think I would find the discussions about unionizing (and the economics of sex work) to be interesting, but Worley does a good job showing why her and her colleagues decided to unionize and what challenges they faced along the way. Additionally, the book had a much more emotional impact on me than I thought that it would and this is primarily because of her writing about the friendships she made with fellow dancers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Jean

    Fantastic - I couldn’t put it down. Worley does such a good job of appealing to the emotional triumphs and defeats that her and other dancers at the Lusty Lady faced, first through unionization, then through a co-operative, and then eventually through the closure of the establishment altogether. I thought the feminist lens she applied to her work and the experiences of herself and the other dancers was well done - I would have maybe liked to see a bit more of a discussion about how racialized wo Fantastic - I couldn’t put it down. Worley does such a good job of appealing to the emotional triumphs and defeats that her and other dancers at the Lusty Lady faced, first through unionization, then through a co-operative, and then eventually through the closure of the establishment altogether. I thought the feminist lens she applied to her work and the experiences of herself and the other dancers was well done - I would have maybe liked to see a bit more of a discussion about how racialized women are especially vulnerable in the sex industry; though she did address a few instances throughout the book, it would have been great to have a bit more from an industry-wide perspective. If you like feminism, labour unions, socialism, or all of the above, this book is for you!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Moushumi Ghose

    I LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down. As someone who also lived in San Francisco in the early 90's, steeped in it's queer, sex-positive, political culture this book really took me back. From the feminist conundrum that was so prevalent in the 90's- is sex work empowering or does it support the patriarchy? (both, of course, its highly nuanced which this book explores quite nicely) to the dyke culture, to the fringe culture utopia that was SF in the 90's (only those who lived there could know I LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down. As someone who also lived in San Francisco in the early 90's, steeped in it's queer, sex-positive, political culture this book really took me back. From the feminist conundrum that was so prevalent in the 90's- is sex work empowering or does it support the patriarchy? (both, of course, its highly nuanced which this book explores quite nicely) to the dyke culture, to the fringe culture utopia that was SF in the 90's (only those who lived there could know this was truly a bubble we lived in), to living in converted Victorians, this book described it all to well. I am also writing a SF story and am searching for books which support that journey and voice of life in SF, and this one really told the tale better than any I have come across thus far. Jennifer really did an amazing job. Thank you

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Excellent read About 10 pages in I realized I had read this book ages ago, but still couldn't put it down. Such a wonderful account of the unionization and sex worker takeover of the Lusty Lady in SF. Definitely recommend this little gem! Excellent read About 10 pages in I realized I had read this book ages ago, but still couldn't put it down. Such a wonderful account of the unionization and sex worker takeover of the Lusty Lady in SF. Definitely recommend this little gem!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    Enjoyable, relatable, and interesting. I had my little Ohioan nose pressed so hard against the glass of 90's San Francisco dyke culture, that I remember when the Lusty Lady unionized. This was a lovely trip back in time for me. Highly recommended if you were there or wanted to be. Enjoyable, relatable, and interesting. I had my little Ohioan nose pressed so hard against the glass of 90's San Francisco dyke culture, that I remember when the Lusty Lady unionized. This was a lovely trip back in time for me. Highly recommended if you were there or wanted to be.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jen LF

    This book was truly outstanding - perhaps the best book I've read all year. Jenny truly makes the world of the Lusty Lady come to life, and expertly combines memoir with an analysis of the issues facing sex workers. It made me think, laugh, and even cry a little. I can't say enough good things about it. This book was truly outstanding - perhaps the best book I've read all year. Jenny truly makes the world of the Lusty Lady come to life, and expertly combines memoir with an analysis of the issues facing sex workers. It made me think, laugh, and even cry a little. I can't say enough good things about it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    A fascinating and fun feminist read about sex work, union organizing, power dynamics, activism, and sisterhood.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    loved this! felt like something I would have read/discussed in my women studies class, very intriguing and also informative I highlighted so much in this

  24. 5 out of 5

    Megan (readingretriever)

    Neon Girls Rating: 4/5 After reading Neon Girls, I have a new found respect for workers in the sex industry. In my own ignorance, I have judged strippers based on their job title alone. In Neon Girls, Worley does a fantastic job of showing that these woman are so much more than their profession. Based on her own experiences, Worley showcases how the woman she performed, and then unionized with, are some of the most bad-ass, feminist, and driven chicks out there! Neon Girls follows the women of The Neon Girls Rating: 4/5 After reading Neon Girls, I have a new found respect for workers in the sex industry. In my own ignorance, I have judged strippers based on their job title alone. In Neon Girls, Worley does a fantastic job of showing that these woman are so much more than their profession. Based on her own experiences, Worley showcases how the woman she performed, and then unionized with, are some of the most bad-ass, feminist, and driven chicks out there! Neon Girls follows the women of The Lusty Lady Theater as they join together to fight for a safe and fair workspace. I loved how much of a family the ladies were and how everyone banded together against the blatant racial discrimination and usage of hidden cameras in the workplace. It's remarkable what this group ended up doing and a very cool story! Besides the family dynamic and the ladies totally sticking it to the man, I also enjoyed learning about the evolution of the adult entertainment industry in the 1990s/2000s, the behind-the-scene politics at play in strip clubs, and the LGQBT culture in San Francisco. Worley and many of her coworkers are lesbians and it was interesting to read about San Francisco from their perspective given that I can only recall reading about San Francisco from a gay male perspective. Overall, Neon Girls has a strong feminist message and is a great read for Pride Month! Thank you to Harper Perennial for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nandika | Booktrovertgirl

    This was a fascinating book to read. I went into the book not expecting much, thinking it would just be a behind-the-scenes of the stripping industry. What I didn't expect was how well the topics of feminism plus the labor rights were explored. I think that the book was a good mixture of the author's emotions and the matter-of-fact activities of a strip club. The tug of war in the author's mind about being a stripper while being a feminist and how that intersected was interesting to read. Though This was a fascinating book to read. I went into the book not expecting much, thinking it would just be a behind-the-scenes of the stripping industry. What I didn't expect was how well the topics of feminism plus the labor rights were explored. I think that the book was a good mixture of the author's emotions and the matter-of-fact activities of a strip club. The tug of war in the author's mind about being a stripper while being a feminist and how that intersected was interesting to read. Though I think I would have enjoyed more emotional exploration, that's just a personal preference and not a slight against the book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Jennifer encompasses huge ideas—feminism, sexuality, queer culture, power dynamics, union organizing, the labor movement, sex work, capitalism—into a fascinating memoir. I loved this book. While it has a clear point of view, I appreciated that there were no easy answers to any of the questions raised. It made me think and is also just a hell of a great (true!) story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    This book is electric and I loved it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Really interesting story. I liked that there was no grand conclusion (e.g. is stripping empowering or exploitative?), just a series of intelligent reflections as the author adjusted to stripping, made friends with the other dancers, and organized a union. It's a complicated situation, and it worked well to just tell it as a story, one that included the various feelings and analyses she had along the way. Really interesting story. I liked that there was no grand conclusion (e.g. is stripping empowering or exploitative?), just a series of intelligent reflections as the author adjusted to stripping, made friends with the other dancers, and organized a union. It's a complicated situation, and it worked well to just tell it as a story, one that included the various feelings and analyses she had along the way.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    Thank you to the publisher for my copy, all opinions are my own. This book is absolutely fascinating - with its in depth, insiders view of the stripping and sex work scene of 90's San Francisco. I was completely taken in by this book, the way Jennifer spins the tale of her foray into being a Lusty Lady stripper for years, the cast of colorful and delightfully fun characters surrounding her and the gritty determination of that group of people to create a better working situation for themselves and Thank you to the publisher for my copy, all opinions are my own. This book is absolutely fascinating - with its in depth, insiders view of the stripping and sex work scene of 90's San Francisco. I was completely taken in by this book, the way Jennifer spins the tale of her foray into being a Lusty Lady stripper for years, the cast of colorful and delightfully fun characters surrounding her and the gritty determination of that group of people to create a better working situation for themselves and each other. This little book packs a punch and is worth adding to your autumn TBR!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    Sex work is real work. This is a really entertaining and informative read. It follows the author in her work at a peep show in San Francisco while getting her master's degree, and her fellow strippers work to become one of the first sex worker's unions in the US. It's also a fun dive into the queer drama of an early 2000s SF before it got taken over the tech-bro's. Sex work is real work. This is a really entertaining and informative read. It follows the author in her work at a peep show in San Francisco while getting her master's degree, and her fellow strippers work to become one of the first sex worker's unions in the US. It's also a fun dive into the queer drama of an early 2000s SF before it got taken over the tech-bro's.

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