Naked Truth

Naked Truth:

    Strip Clubs, Democracy and  a Christian Right

Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012

Across America, strip clubs have come under attack by a politically aggressive segment of the Christian Right. Using plausible-sounding but factually untrue arguments about the harmful effects of strip clubs on their communities, the Christian Right has stoked public outrage and incited local and state governments to impose onerous restrictions on the clubs with the intent of dismantling the exotic dance industry. But an even larger agenda is at work, according to Judith Lynne Hanna. In Naked Truth, she builds a convincing case that the attack on exotic dance is part of the activist Christian Right’s “grand design” to supplant constitutional democracy in America with a Bible-based theocracy.

Hanna takes readers onstage, backstage, and into the community and courts to reveal the conflicts, charges, and realities that are playing out at the intersection of erotic fantasy, religion, politics, and law. She explains why exotic dance is a legitimate form of artistic communication and debunks the many myths and untruths that the Christian Right uses to fight strip clubs. Hanna also demonstrates that while the fight happens at the local level, it is part of a national campaign to regulate sexuality and punish those who do not adhere to Scripture-based moral values. Ultimately, she argues, the naked truth is that the separation of church and state is under siege and our civil liberties—free speech, women’s rights, and free enterprise—are at stake.

A leading dance scholar and critic who has served as an expert court witness in more than one hundred exotic dance cases nationwide, JUDITH LYNNE HANNA is Affiliate Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland. She has written hundreds of articles and numerous books, including To Dance Is Human: A Theory of Nonverbal Communication; The Performer—Audience Connection; Dance, Sex and Gender; Dancing for Health: Conquering and Preventing Stress; and Partnering Dance and Education.




Prelude: Sparks Fly: Church-State Conflict
– An Awakening
– From Strip Club to Religion
– Aftershock of Secularism and Sexual Revolution
– More Surprises
– Why Christian Right Activists Attack Exotic Dance
– Full Disclosure
– Itinerary

Chapter 1: Scripture and Hostility to Exotic Dance
– Reasons for Christian Right Opposition
—- Dominionism
——– Soldiers of the Cross
——– Money and Influence
——– Challengers in Christian Right
—- The Body and Dance
—- The Uncovered Body and Lust
—- Patriarchy Challenged
—- The Nature of Men
—- Expectations
—- Deceit
– The First Amendment Umbrella

Chapter 2: Fighting Exotic Dance: Call to War
– The Attack
—- General Political Strategy
—- Adverse Secondary Effects Campaign
——– Allegations Challenged
——– Criteria for Evidence
——– Disregard of Evidence
—- Indecent, Lewd, and Obscene
—- Government Regulation under a Mythical Pretext
—- Other Government Actions
– Psychological and Physical Attack
– An Illustrative Case: Phil Burress and the Citizens for Community Values

Chapter 3: Target of Attack: Striptease 101 or Seduction by the Devil
– Roots
– Who’s Onstage
– Getting There
– Serious “Speech”
—- Exotic Dance Dialect
—- Components of Exotic Dance
——– Showcase
——– Private Dance
– The Art of It
– Pecking Order and Social Class
– Artistic Value
– Dance “Class”
– Adult Play for Pay
– “Satan’s” Ploys
—- Turning On
—- Reading for the Connection
—- Parody
—- Moving It
—- Close Up and Touching
—- Music and Setting
– Socially Redeeming Values

Chapter 4: Nudity Touch, and Sex: Marginal or Mainstream
– “Sinful Nudity” Is American
– Simulated Nudity
– Self-Touch
– Dancer-Patron Touch
– Simulated Sex

Chapter 5: “Rottweilers” Lock Their Jaws: Bench Trials
– Arrests in a Family Business
– Why Raid Showcase Theater?
– Club Fights and Wins First Round
– Round Two: The 2003 Attack
—- Public Hearing on Proposed Exotic Dance Regulations
—- Regulations (CB-86-2003) Passed
—- Legal Challenge
– The Battle Continues: Round Three
—- Commissioned Report
—- Raids on Club Exstasy
—- Harassment of Showcase Theater
—- More Laws
—- “New” Regulations (CB-61-2006)
—- Another Lawsuit against Prince George’s County
– Denouement

Chapter 6: Shooting Nude Crotches: Jury Trials
– Class Act in Cannon Falls
—- Destiny’s Case
—- Paris’s Case
– Sugar Daddy’s in Benton County
—- Amy’s Case
——– Community Positive Feedback on Exotic Dance
———— About the Economy
———— Secondary Effects
———— Trampling Rights
———— Misplaced Morality
———— Respect for Women
———— Artistic Value
——- Community Negative Feedback on Exotic Dance
– Serious Artistic Merit
– Brandy’s Case
——- Community Talk-Back
– Coda

Chapter 7: Exotic Dancers and Labor: Need to be Saved?
– Kinds of Clubs
– Good Bosses
– Bad Patrons and Bosses
– Pluses and Minuses
– Financial Disputes
– Truth Be Told

Chapter 8: Christian Right Claims Club Crime: Where Are the Bodies?
– Murder: Boyfriends, Husbands, Police, Mafia, and Others
– Different Violence
– Dancer Aggression
– Attacks on Property
– Prostitution
– Drugs
– Bribery
– Violations of Laws Specifically Regulating Clubs
– Questionable Police Tactics
– Stigmatization of Exotic Dance
– Hypocrisy
– So, Where Are the Bodies? Evidence?

Chapter 9: Stripping Your First Amendment and More
– The Defense of Exotic Dance
——– Duel in the Desert and Moral Scold
——– Reactive and Proactive Club Resources
——– Indirect Support
——– The Constitution
– The Courts Speak and Misspeak
——– Evidence of Adverse Secondary Effects
——– Economic Impact
——– Time, Place, and Manner Considerations
——– Zoning and Alternative Locations
——– Governmental Interest
——– Overbreadth
——– Alcoholic Beverage Control
——– Obscenity
——– Prostitution
——– Licensing
——– Artistic Choice
– Dogma v. Pluralism
– Perils of Disregarding the Naked Truth


1 Exotic Dance
2 Comparison
3 Exotic Dance Criteria for Serious Artistic Merit
4 Nudity in Exotic Dance
5 Messages of Physical Distance
6 Expressive Contact in Exotic Dance
7 Contact in Social Dance: Lap Dance Heritage
8 Exotic Dance Patrons
9 Judith Lynne Hanna’s Exotic Dance Expert Witness Court Testimony
10 Jurisdictions that Attack Exotic Dance
11 Key Christian Right Political Activists and Revenue in the News, 1995–2010
12 Arsenal of a Segment of the Politically Active Christian Right
13 Reality and Myth: What Neighbors Say about Exotic Dance Clubs
14 Protection under the Constitution of the United States of America



Readers’ comments on earlier drafts suggest broad interest in the manuscript (of course, they had suggestions to improve the manuscript which helped me in revision):

“This is a highly readable and engaging text that will be attractive to a popular audience as well as interested academics.”

“The book promises, of course, to gain considerable attention. Raw curiosity and its partner, prurient interest, would link to scholarly interest. There might well be significant trade success. The book would last. The public discourse might be improved. These would not be insignificant gains.”

“This book could have broad appeal to the general educated reading public, including people interested in the growth of ‘striptease culture’ throughout the popular culture and those engaged by church vs. state debates (harmful growth/influence of the Christian right, infringements on free speech). The book could also work in college courses on women’s/gender studies, sociology, law and society, dance/performance. I could see it having this dual market of a general interest trade book and a college-level text. I think the book’s compelling strengths are its original analysis of exotic dance as a form of expressive communication and its consequent protection under the free speech provisions of the First Amendment. The author’s contextualization of exotic dance in a discussion of the meanings of nudity in art/dance/musical theatre is strong. All this material is a fresh and important contribution to the growing literature on exotic dance. Important also is her overall contextualization of current stripping debates in an argument for the separation of church and state and for vigilance in regards to unconstitutional right-wing/evangelical attempts to control women’s sexuality, community moral standards, and local business regulation.”

“There is definitely an important, readable, unique book here. The style is readable rather than dry. There are many interesting stories, with colorful characters. Quoting actual attorneys, defendants, prosecutors, and dancers is quite charming. There is a growing number of academic and intelligent trade books on exotic dance in recent years, but none that I know of quite like this one, with its focus on First Amendment issues and dance as a form of expressive (and constitutionally-protected) communication.”

Most compelling are:
* the author’s own experiences as an expert witness
* interviews with the many participants in various legal actions
* explicit statements from the Religious Right about wanting to transform America, using sexual censorship as a central vehicle.”

A writer in Israel: “It is riveting stuff — I had no idea! I find myself more interested and distressed by this issue than I would have expected — by the civil liberties aspect. The Christian Right righteousness is absurd and would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous — some stages of the Inquisition weren’t actually that much different! The exotic, erotic and sexual content comes over fine with a clarity and light touch to the writing which somehow makes it read well.”

“Hanna’s strongest and most fascinating support for her arguments and thesis are found in her first-hand descriptions of numerous court procedures and trials, court documents, and transcripts. Equally impressive are Hanna’s own credentials in terms of her professional training and her extensive work as an expert witness for the exotic-dancing clubs throughout the United States. Hanna also attacks the notorious adverse secondary-effects argument by statistically demonstrating, through reports and additional studies, that exotic-dancing clubs may actually contribute less adverse secondary-effects than regular dance clubs or local bars. She clearly illustrates that the working conditions of the dancers in the clubs, in teams of harassment or exploitation, are no worse and sometimes much better than most other places of employment and social environments for young women, including restaurants and colleges. Hanna also demonstrates that exotic-dancers as a group do not take such jobs because of childhood abuse, or because they suffer from mental or emotional defects. Along the way, Hanna describes the skill and art of the dancers in terms of specific performance techniques to situate exotic-dancing as an “art” protected by the First Amendment under the Law…. Hanna includes titillating newspaper stories, bordering on the prurient, about various crimes presumably caused by exotic-dancing clubs. But in short order Hanna proceeds to prove such claims inaccurate, demonstrating that the clubs in question were in fact only tangentially involved in the crimes. In some cases, the police and other government officials were revealed to be the authentic criminals…. Hanna’s research is so remarkable, and many of the stories she tells are dramatic simply by the nature of the details she reports.”

“This book should be very useful to the many government officials who are involved in zoning and other regulatory issues affecting exotic dancing establishments, all over the country, as well as to free speech advocates and the growing number of individuals who support, work at, and patronize exotic dancing businesses.  It should be an excellent resource for lawyers and judges as well, given the large number of criminal prosecutions and other legal proceedings involving the exotic dancing business.  I think this book would also be of interest to general readers.”

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