The Lusty Lady wasn’t taken down by moralists or big government, but by the rising cost of rent.
In May the co-op failed to pay the $16,500 rent on their building.
It would take an average 2.3 rappers making it rain per month just to cover the rent.
The joint closed its doors this week.
In honor of the Lust Lady, we recap the struggles and history of these worker warriors in stilettos.
The First Union
The Lusty Lady became the first union strip club in 1997. The exploitative nature of the adult industry, combined with concerns about customers video-taping strippers during the peep shows led to the dancers organizing.
The strippers approached the Service Employees International Union Local 790 and planned the union organizing drive. The campaign resulted in a 57-15 successful union election.
More pay for less clothes!
Negotiations resulted in a contract, though labor relations remained strained as the contract had not solved all the issues between the company and employees.
But it did result in better conditions and pay of up to $21 dollars an hour.
Live Nude Girls Unite! – The Documentary
The union struggle was the subject of the documentary Live Nude Girls Unite!. The film gives the strippers a chance to tell their stories: From how they ended up at the club to why they organized the campaign.
Better than rewatching old episodes of Joanie Loves Chachi.
The movie was critically well received, winning the Golden Spire at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and it was chosen as the Best Lesbian Feature at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
It is available to watch on Netflix.
The First Co-op
In 2003, the owners of the strip club announced they were shutting down when the margins fell and they faced competition from the Internet.
When the announcement came, the women didn’t just give up, they bought out the club.
They had little pocket money, as they had no pockets.
They faced many struggles, like finding financing for adult entertainment, and the San Francisco area hadn’t fully recovered from the dot-com bust.
But they got committees together and arranged a successful buyout plan.
Struggles and End of the Show
The co-op found itself struggling like any small business, but with their own particular issues. The co-operative nature required getting everyone to agree on changes, which can slow down decisions.
The club hired a general manager to take over financial decisions in order to fix the situation and try and revamp it.
But the manager’s grand plans to refresh the club was met with the accumulated financial issues and he turned into a negotiator on the closing of the club.
Eventually the curtain must fall and the stripper must put her clothes back on for good.
The club closed on September 2 — Labor Day.