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Let's Hear it For These Dancers Who Have Found Ways to Keep Strip Club Culture Alive Through LA's Shutdown

Source - It was in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when a group of dancers from the East Hollywood hipster strip club Jumbo’s Clown Room realized no one was coming to save them.

After the club closed in March, they were waiting on a call, “for someone to swoop in and take the reins and tell us what to do,” said the performer who goes by Reagan (real name Megan Rippey). “Then we realized that we were those people.”

In early May, one Jumbo’s dancer named Gabrielle reached out to a few of her coworkers to create a virtual strip show. And within 24 hours they launched Cyber Clown Girls, which has now become a twice-weekly three-hour show featuring current dancers and alumni from Jumbo’s, and other performers from exotic dance communities. (Tickets to the Zoom show are sold through Eventbrite.) 

Co-founded by Gabrielle, Reagan, Coco Ono (real name Kayla Tange) and Kitty, the Stripperina (real name Kelly Vittetoe), the show has given the strippers a new sense of agency and empowerment in an industry that is notorious for taking advantage of women. Although they emphasized that Jumbo’s is a supportive environment run by women, other strip clubs can be exploitative. ...

Each follows a theme — “Star Wars,” disco and funk, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — and features a different lineup of dancers who perform two short pieces in their homes. Some dancers use portable poles, and others make creative use of bathtubs, windowsills, cars or apartment corners transformed by a makeshift set. ...

The tips are eventually pooled and split evenly among all the performers.

The show is, of course, sexy. Dancers strip down to pasties and G-strings, or to their birthday suit, with some strategic covering. But mixed in with the stripping is a level of zaniness, edge and political commentary.

In one show, Kitty performed a pole number in a cow costume — complete with sparkler-enhanced udders — and accidentally set part of her living room on fire. Another act by the dancer who performs as Susan B. Sketchy was a take-down of gender-reveal party culture.

There's just so much to love about this feel-good story I don't know where to begin. It's basically a hero's journey. Where a plucky group of underdogs is put into a seemly impossible situation. And against all odds believe in themselves, pull together as one, come up with a solution and triumph over adversity. Not only to they save the day for themselves and others, they create a better world. 

In a lot of ways, the story of Gabrielle, Reagan, Coco Ono and Kitty is the story of America. They refused to listen to the people who told them what they can't do. Instead they focused on what they could do. They used their brains, their ingenuity, their never-say-die attitude and their exotic dancer sex appeal and they achieved greatness they didn't even know they had in them. And it would figure that the city that leads the world in entertainment would produce these powerful, creative women who can bring us "Star Wars" parodies, disco, Shakespeare, flaming cows, gender reveal satire and zaniness, edge and political commentary all in one. With all that going on, the lonely introverts who rely on them for entertainment probably forget the reason they Zoom these shows to masturbate, they're so caught up in the social commentary, costumes and set design. 

That's the entrepreneurial spirit that helps make this the greatest country on Earth. For a few years anyway. And if it were up to me, I'd put these career women in charge of the economy, all the big tech firms and Hollywood while we're at it. I hope in a few years they can buy and sell Zuckerberg and Bezos a hundred times over. Godspeed, ladies.