I left Leeds’ ‘Purple Door’ club last Wednesday, at around five in the afternoon, thinking of clothes shops. It had been my second visit to the venue in two days. Both trips were before opening hours, each was revealing. It had struck me how sex can make us a little simple. Mention a pole-dancing club and many people’s minds leap straight to seedy subterranean caverns, replete with hard up housewives, performing grotesque gyrations for an audience of rugby players and wank addicts. Mention a clothes shop, however, and the automatic preconception is not a dubious den of stolen sartoria, vended by an extra from ‘Eastenders’.
Any other industry, in fact, we accept for having its respectable and more disreputable facets, but not those that pertain to sex. This predisposition is not just irregular and inconsistent but unfortunate. The truth is that ‘The Purple Door’ was far more decorous than York’s forlorn haunts. It also paid exceptionally, provided stringent security, and guaranteed a certain clientele by costing more than any rugby player, bar Wilkinson, could conceivably afford (£3.80 for a bottle of Budweiser, true!).
Hannah, the clubs longest standing dancer, further discredited the prejudices attached to the profession by being young, attractive and bright. “We get a few knobheads thinking we’re prostitutes, or that they can say what they like to us” she said, “but it’s mostly just businessmen.” And that was it. At ‘The Purple Door’ the dancers were just dancers, the clients just everymen on nights out. Sleazy? Not compared to the tides of peroxide blondes with which ‘Toffs’ is awash at the weekend, girls who can’t dance but will let you take them home for the price of a Smirnoff ice. And I can’t help feeling that the men who pay to watch professional entertainers in a salubrious environment are demonstrating far less prurience than those leering over the balconies at ‘The Gallery’ for four hours every Friday.
Of course dodgy dance clubs do exist, exploiting their employees into awful situations. But factories, which get round the minimum wage, still force their workers to sign contracts accepting personal responsibility when they lose a limb or two. Equally exploitative in my opinion. We don’t assume, however, that all factories do this.
Wittingly or not popular views on the sex industry homogenise an economic area just as diverse as any other, insulting serious careerists like those at ‘The Purple Door’, with unwarranted pity and failing to focus on the genuine victims of its underbelly.
As I write it’s Valentine’s Day and my particular beau is annoyed. Annoyed in part at my choosing today to write this today and in part because I’m broke. This means when I smiled sarcastically and said, “I’m not doing anything this year”, and she laughed and thought “Ooooh, surprise”, I actually meant it and she was destined for disappointment. Unfortunately we virtually share a birthday so my money is mostly tied up in preparation for the party.
So my thoughts turn from my own state of morose penury, and that of my dissident amour, to anyone bored enough to be reading this. Do you have a partner for this oh so special day? If not do you actually want one. If so I have just come across an old friend from first year, sadly (and perennially) without “a man”. Her name is Kate and she has begged me to mention her in the paper before she leaves York, which I see as a way of making two people happy. Here, Kate, is your five lines of fame, and a chance for any single readers to fight for her favour by emailing [email protected]
PS. Anyone wanting to wish me a happy birthday can email me their happy returns on the 20th.