CNN Money interviewed me & some other strippers regarding employment rights entitled “Strippers vs. Clubs in fight over Labor Rights.“ I appreciate that they focused on the labor aspects of stripping to debunk the notion that strippers are independent contractors when in fact they’re employees. The article also quoted 1 of our supporters, Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer who’s represented strippers in class action law suits.
The only part I have a problem with is with CNN’s video entitled “Strippers cash in on lonely oilmen” which essentially profiles strippers from a club in North Dakota as preying & profiting off workers in the oil industry who come through the club’s doors. It’s unfortunate that none of the strippers profiled talk about how much they’re paying to work but hopefully viewers will glean that from the article.
That being said, if you so feel inclined, please comment on CNN’s discussion board to counterbalance comments from readers who think that strippers should just quit [and find “real jobs”] if they don’t like their conditions; that they’re not real labor; & that they’re independent contractors & therefore not entitled to employee rights.
As for an update on the film itself: we’re continuing to make progress in editing & hope to have a rough cut in April/May. So much to do in the weeks ahead but grateful that this film will appeal to some pretty diverse audiences…
This Kickstarter Update #13 contains an audio excerpt from an interview I did with a stripper named “Kat.” She has worked as a stripper in San Francisco for nearly 2 decades and started when she was 18 years old. She’s still going strong + working in the clubs + I respect that Kat’s figured out a way to make the system work for her so she can remain in the industry. What happens behind the curtains of the private booths? Her audio is distorted upon her request because she talks about the pressure to prostitute as a result of the illegal stage fees the strip clubs charge. Kat is one of several women I interviewed who is afraid that speaking out about what labor conditions are really like can get her fired. Blackballed.
As I work on my feature documentary film, License to Pimp, I feel slightly restless that I’m not producing something more complete regularly. So I’ve decided to post one artistic thing to my website every week. It can be a bit of video, photos, a drawing. Really, Anything. Anything that inspires me to create that week. It’s a challenge to myself to remain curious, creative, & in the practice of producing work consistently. For myself. I’m going to call it my “Weekly Cre-ARTivity” series.
I checked out this remarkable show of Weegee’s crime scene photographs entitled “Murder is My Business” @ the International Center for Photography this past Friday with my friend, Mariko Passion, who’s featured in my documentary. The other equally amazing show was photos by Greg Villet of the Loving Family, who were the first interracial Black/White couple who challenged the racist law in America’s history that banned people of color from marrying whites. I’ve been waiting to see the documentary, The Loving Story, but now, I can’t wait! All of this was inspires me to push myself harder & to enjoy what I’m doing, seeing, & reflecting on.
So my first installment of my weekly creative endeavors is a series of photos I shot with my iphone Saturday April 14, 2012 in NYC’s Chinatown. I went down there to pick up some Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs. I remained for another hour: the weather was fantastic (something like 70 degrees fahrenheit) & I marvelled observing the vibrant lives & culture. I have to admit that I usually don’t stay long when I visit Chinatown to pick up my monthly herbs because the smell of fish & seafood are too pungent for my vegetarian nose. I observed not only as a person who’s unfamiliar with this culture but also as a New Yorker who is of this culture. As an immigrant, I understand that people make community amongst their own, and each of us is here to forge a better life for ourselves & our families.
Below is a preview of when you can expect to see in this series. A young girl about 10-12 years old was watching her young brother & sister (possibly as her mom was grocery shopping). She was wiping her eye but didn’t seem upset as if she’d been crying. I asked her if she was OK. She said that she just scratched her eye. She was holding a damp tissue to it hoping its coolness would bring down the pain. As I watched her, I was reminded of the numerous times that I babysat my own siblings when my mom had to tend to something: doing the laundry, going to the grocery store, when my parents went out. I loved the playfulness of her younger sister. I was reminded that I need to play more often!
I am 1 of several artists of Southeast Asian descent who is included in a group multi-media art show @ Aljira (Newark, NJ) that features artists using “various media and complicated visual strategies to upend or explore gender expression, sexuality, sex work, and new subjectivities.” Curated by Edwin Ramoran, it’s appropriately entitled Me Love You Long Time after the lines from Stanley Kubrick’s film Full Metal Jacket where a Vietnamese prostitute hustles two American GI’s and initially asks if they have girlfriends in Vietnam. One soldiers replies, “No–not just this minute.” She continues, “Well, baby, me so horny. Me so horny. Me love you long time. You party?” Her lines were then geniusly re-sampled and made infamous by 2 Live Crew. Ahh, the power of Artists to transform everyday socio-political stuff into Art…
Why am I included? I used to work as a stripper several moons ago and am currently in production on the documentary License to Pimp which chronicles three strippers and the choices they make as they respond to illegal labor conditions. Many of my films explore queer female sexuality. My first documentary Straight for the Money (1994) was about lesbian and bisexual women doing sex work. What am I showing? I’m showing a short experimental film called ent-homo-philia (2003) about a woman who’s undergoing a transformation. On April 4, 2012 during Aljira’s day-long symposium, I’ll show an excerpt from License to Pimp. If you want to stay current with progress on this film or my work, please sign up for my mailing list.
ME LOVE YOU LONG TIME
February 16th, 2012 – April 14th, 2012
April 4, 2012 @ 6pm in NYC: Third Streaming (10 Greene St., 2nd floor, NY, NY 10013)
April 14 @ 11am @ Aljira: Symposium with Artists
ARTISTS in SHOW: Diyan Achjadi, Reza Afisina, Tai Chi Alfonso, Nicole Awai, Hima B., Yason Banal, Anjali Bhargava, Isauro Cairo, Lynne Chan, PierSath Chath, Vanna Chin, Susan Choi, Cecile Chong, Young Chung, Jon Cuyson, Cirilo Domine, Oasa DuVerney, Richard Fung, Permi Gill, Vicente Golveo, Akintola Hanif, Skowmon Hastanan, Swati Khurana, Andrew H. Kim, Naruki Kukita, Viet Le, Sokchanlina Lim, Mail Order Brides/M.O.B., Yeni Mao, Zavé G. Martohardjono,Tala Mateo, Gabby Quynh-Anh Miller, Ivan Monforte, Gloria Shuri Nava, Hoang Tan Nguyen, Phuong Linh Nguyen, Sokuntevy Oeur, Mariko Passion, Tomiko Pilson, Johanna Poethig, Pulang Alakdan, Clifford Landon Pun, Ling Quisumbing, Vanessa T. Ramalho, Rico J. Reyes, Larilyn Sanchez, Maitree Siriboon, SLAAAP! (Sexually Liberated Asian Artist Activist People!), Joel B. Tan, Teresa Nasty, The New Sound Karaoke with Black Waterfall & Bobby Service, Nodeth Vang, Nathan Lam Vuong, and Maria Yoon.
I was sucked into the Facebook vortex this past MLK weekend when I saw an update from Anna Jackson. It was actually posted by her daughter, Rissa. The updates here posted as if Rissa were speaking directly to her mother. I was in shock. Anna passed away on January 12, 2012. Rissa was mourning the loss hoping to channel her mother and received tremendous support from Anna’s circle of family and friends. It was difficult to believe that Anna is no more. Her personality just filled up the room that it’s hard to imagine that we no longer get that.
I met Anna Jackson in the summer of 2008 while doing an artist residency with members of the New Jersey Women & AIDS Network (NJWAN). I wanted to collaborate with women and girls who were infected, impacted, & at risk for HIV/AIDS and who felt comfortable sharing their stories for a video project that would become a living, digital HIV/AIDS quilt called HIV Sisters. It wasn’t easy finding women and girls who wanted to participate in spite of trying to recruit people for a few months. But Anna stepped up to the challenge without any hesitation: she was fearless. Anna knew her story was important and wanted to share it with others to make a difference.
This is the production journal for Hima B., an independent filmmaker.
Stay tuned for updates on projects that I’m directing.