“For the last four years,” says American fine art photographer Elizabeth Waterman, “I have spent most of my Saturday nights in strip clubs, photographing and building a rapport with the dancers who make their livelihoods there. I’ve captured the girls climbing the pole, giving lap dances in the VIP section, putting on glittery outfits, and counting their dollars at the end of a long night.”
With the unique perspective and kindred compassion of a young female artist building her own body of work, Waterman celebrates their humanity and commitment to mastering their art in service of larger life goals. For Moneygame, she shot the photos from 2016 to 2020 – primarily on 35mm and 120mm film – in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, and New York. Each dancer depicted has given permission to be photographed and published.
Popular media has long characterized strip clubs as gritty dens of ill repute. The truth is, there are many dimensions and nuances to the culture. By necessity, exotic dancers are highly competitive athletes, and consummate performers. They are also women using the profession as a well-considered strategy to pay off student loans, earn money to raise their children, buy a home, or launch a business.
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