Video draws crowd, group discussion

Cassie Riley

The Women’s Studies program at Western is trying to make students think.

Monday evening students gathered in the Garrett Conference Center Auditorium to view “Live Nude Girls Unite.”

The 70 minute video covered a unique topic: the stripper’s union.

The film documented a period of Julia Query’s life as a peep show stripper at a Los Angeles strip club called the Lusty Lady, as she and her fellow dancers struggled to win their rights as workers.

“I think it raises the question of what professions have basic rights,” said Jane Olmsted director of Women’s Studies.

The video mixed in dancing scenes, footage of the protests and the negotiations along with some of Query’s own stand up comedy.

Query, a young lady born during the civil rights movement, is the daughter of women’s rights activist Joyce Wallace.

According to Query, her mother was a strong Jewish girl who “became a doctor rather than marry one” as her parents had expected.

The film also deals with the struggle that Query had to face in admitting to her mother that she was an exotic dancer, a secret she kept until she and her mother were both asked to present at a conference on prostitution.

Marjorie Yambor, an instructor in the broadcasting department, said this was her first time to sit in on a video in the Gender Images film series.

“I’m very interested in gender role stereotyping and how sex comes into that,” she said.

Whatever their reasons for coming, viewers watched intently and even laughed at some points.

According to Olmsted, each film brings in about 30 to 60 people. However, she said, this time around 80 people attended the screening.

The audience showed their appreciation for the film afterwards with a round of applause. Some stayed longer to share in a discussion about the film.

“I’m glad they’re doing something to better their work environment,” said Gage freshman Chris Talley. “No one should be forced.”

While viewers agreed that the women deserved the rights they fought for and won, some believed that the efforts could have been better spent.

“All the energy that (the women) put into this effort could be put into something more,” Yambor said.

Olmsted said how each person viewed the situation depends greatly on their morals.

“It’s just the notion that you have to really question your assumption of what’s really degrading and what’s not,” she said.

The Gender Images film series will continue through March with two more films.

“Untold Desires,” a film dealing with the sex lives of the physically disable, will be shown in February.

“It’s just really frank testimonials from people with disabilities,” Olmsted said.

Olmsted said able-bodied rarely think about disabled people, and if they do, they don’t think they have sexual desires.

In March “The Ballad of Little Joe,” a film dealing with a woman who lived most of her adult life disguised as a man, will be shown.

“We try to show films that challenge people to think,” she said. “They get people to think and hopefully grow.”

Reach Cassie Riley at [email protected]