We are all about driving community and sisterhood between SW girls
– and we couldn’t wait to invite Samantha Sun, the leader of organisation, ELSC to talk to us about what London’s authority in stripping is up to, and how they are approaching 2021 Stripper Politics.
What is the ELSC and why was it started?
East London Strippers Collective is a community interest company aimed at providing a resource of work, support and community to strippers. We started as a collective of strippers who found common ground working in the strip pubs across Shoreditch and East London. Our shared grievances of mis-managed clubs, poor working conditions, exorbitant fees and harmful licensing legislation led to our creation.
What role does ELSC play in the industry, and what is the main mission?
ELSC is part of a larger network of sex-worker run and owned organisations. We’re still in the process of defining who we are. We try to provide alternative sources of income to our members by hosting a multitude of events, from parties, workshops, classes, lectures and more. It’s about repacking our labour and sexual capital to operate outside the business model of strip clubs. As much as possible, we try to operate as resource for sharing information, a support network and an agency.
What are the three things ELSC would like to achieve when it comes to sex worker rights?
The main issue we spend a lot of time talking about is worker status in regards to strippers, and strip club licensing. Long story short, licensing laws are both extremely strict, arbitrarily so, and extremely expensive, particularly in London. This causes difficulty in RUNNING clubs. Club owners pass this cost of license renewal down to their dancers through extortionate house fees. For those who don’t already know, strippers are not paid a wage – they make money in tips. Instead, they pay the club a house fee every shift. This fee can range from anywhere between £20 to £120 per night, depending on where you work. On top of that, the club takes a 25-60% commission of ALL our earnings. This type of exploitation is only made possible because dancers do not have any worker rights – they are classed as “self-employed”. However, looking at the requirements for self-employment, it becomes clear with set shift times, dress codes and club rules that dancers are misclassified. Under current strip club business models, dancers should be classified as workers, and are owed things like sick pay and are protected against things like wrongful termination. Still following? Now, if there are better licensing laws that allow for MORE clubs to open with more resources for SECURITY, ethical management and health and safety, then dancers have more options to pick from. They won’t feel pressured to accept poorer working conditions because there’s little else available.
SO IN CONCLUSION:To solve some of the systemic issues that affect those of us most vulnerable in the community, we have to tackle the issue of 1.) Sexual Entertainment Venue licensing and 2.) achieve worker status for all dancers.
What is the biggest stigma you wish to overcome, in relation to the way strippers are viewed?
I think it’s the same stigma that faces any and all sex workers. It’s not ONE kind of misconception or stereotype that I’d like to address. It’s the result of that stigma that alienates us from getting into school, breaking into other industries with vanilla jobs, makes us more vulnerable to violence from authorities, etc. I’d like for the general public to give sex workers the same respect they give all other jobs. It’s just a job, at the end of the day. It should be fairly paid and as free from exploitation and violence as any other job. Harassment and violence are not INHERENT to sex work, it’s the stigma that prevents us from accessing workers rights, legal recourse, a public voice, etc that makes sex work unsafe.
How has virtual stripping / camming emerged through Lockdown and Covid? How has the world of stripping been impacted?
Virtual sex workers and cam girls have always been a thing. OnlyFans was popular long before lockdown – in fact, I had a small, fledgling account before lockdown began as well. Many people have moved their businesses online. It seems to have worked fairly well for those of us who already had strong online presences.
In terms of stripping: it kind of depends on where you are in the world. Places with a strong culture for strip clubs, aka, Australia, New Zealand and USA, will probably survive and continue to flourish afterwards. However, in the UK, particularly in London, I think strip clubs as they used to be, are pretty much dead. I can think of 2 venues already off the top of my head that are no longer operating as Sexual Entertainment Venues. They changed to dinner-show/cabaret once lockdown ended. I believe they also changed ownership. One is Stringfellows Covent Garden. My hope is that the old business model dies – I don’t give one single flying fuck about the cokehead strip club owners who mis-managed and mistreated the fuck out of dancers, only now to cry about their “business” drowning. In the midst of the carnage, I hope to see more grassroots, sex worker led and owned clubs and events take their place.
What are your two tips for girls to engage with clients and make more money?
To be perfectly honest, my hustle isn’t even that good so I’m not a great person to ask about this. What works for me won’t work for everyone. Personally though, I have found that, strangely, patience works. Desperation emits a strong scent that just about anyone can pick up. The times I have made the most money was when I didn’t need it at all. I was genuinely having fun at the club, or enjoying my interactions with a client and it was much easier to get paid. They WANTED to pay. Whereas, the times when I had set some arbitrary goal of what to make in a night, those were some of the worst earning nights. The other thing that works, that I personally am not actually capable of, is just being more of a hot mess bimbo character. I have seen girls with full blown law degrees toppling around in giant pleaser shoes, doing shots with clients and being generally a hot mess and the SECOND I see them back in the changing room, the facade drops and they’re back to normal. Maybe I’m just a terrible actress but I do not know how to be that person. Those are the top earning girls! I prefer a quieter approach with banter and less pressure to spend, because I like having regular clientele. I don’t want someone to spend 1k on me a night and never return. I want someone who comes every week and spends 200 every week for years, so it really depends on you. You can make it work – by being yourself.
What is your biggest message to girls in the webcam industry?
PAY ATTENTION TO INTERNET SECURITY LAWS AND LEGISLATION, BOTH IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY AND IN THE UNITED STATES. I have spent the past couple months researching intensely on American internet laws and it is fucking wild. The vast majority of websites we use are based in the United States, or they are American companies, so they MUST abide by American federal and state law. So, even if you are in Europe, the UK, Australia, etc, doesn’t matter. You will have to work within your local laws, AS WELL as American laws. Anyone who webcams and relies heavily on the internet to promote their sites and their work, familiarize yourself with Section 230, FOSTA/SESTA, the now defunct, but probably soon to arise again SISEA and the EARN IT ACT.
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