Not many exotic dancers can say they enjoy health insurance and a 401k, but performers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady club have enjoyed those benefits from 1996. Sadly for them, the club will soon close after the building’s rent tripled over the course of 12 years.
The Lusty Lady is the city’s only co-operatively run, employee owned strip club, which made headlines in 1996 when the dancers unionized and later in 2003 when the club’s employees purchased it from the original owners. Despite it’s iconic status in San Francisco, the proliferation of internet pornography, coupled with the skyrocketing rent, the Lusty Lady no longer has a leg to stand on.
"The industry has changed," Prince$$, a dancer at the club for about 12 years, told The San Francisco Chronicle. "Why would someone get in their car and drive from Palo Alto or wherever, find parking, to see a naked girl when they can do it from home?"
"We were the last real peep show in America," added Roxanne Readmeat, another dancer club. "It's really the last Madonna music-video-style peep show."
Not only did The Lusty Lady provide its dancers with financial benefits, but the club also took great strides toward making nude dancing a more respectful institution.
The Chronicle writes, “The Lusty Lady promoted dancers with alternative and diverse looks and body types, and promoted ‘sex positivity,’ its dancers said.”
"It's just a San Francisco flavor," Prince$$ said. "It is so iconic. It's just as much a part of it as the Golden Gate Bridge or Coit Tower. It's just so sad to see it go."
But with around $16,500 of rent each month—compared to $5,500 a month in 2001—The Lusty Lady has been behind on payments since April. After the building’s owner Roger Forbes declined to restructure the rent, the The Lusty Lady was forced to close down, with the unpaid rent waived.