Monday, June 25, 2012

Designer Feminist of the Year

I thought that if other blogs could have a proper competition, then so could I. I wondered what the theme could be and then I remembered the various people that we have encountered over the last 6 months who seem to spend their waking hours trying too close down strip clubs....

So it gives me great pleasure to announce the StrippingTheIllusion 'Designer Feminist of the Year Competition'. To makes things a bit more straightforward, I did the nominations although I will happily add new ones if anyone cares to make a suggestion. Nonetheless, these are the competitors......

Anna Van Heeswijk - The original designer feminist, now CEO of Object. You can all about them here and here.

Rania Khan - Tower Hamlets Councillor and general loather of the strip club scene. Read about her here.

Charlie Dacke - Someone who campaigns against clubs in Portsmouth such as Wiggle and Elegance as you can read about here and here.

Rachel Reeves - MP for Leeds who failed in her bid to get 7 clubs in Leeds closed. Read about her here....

The Muffia - Rad fem street theatre duo who you can read about here.

You will see the poll on the right hand margin of this blog and the competition will close on July 31st, at which point the winner will be announced. I can't imagine the winner will want to come to a prize giving, but it might be fun to invite them.

Postscript: The font is nearly invisible, but I have just spent 10 minutes trying to make it more legible and I have to say I failed. So I am afraid you are going to have to look closely and you can just about see whose button to push. Actually you can highlight it with your mouse....

Clubs in Profile - The Nags Head

Many venues try and do art, only the Nags Head succeeds.... 

There are almost as many club formats as there are clubs and speaking for myself I tend to find myself in smaller East End venues and of these there are a few such as The Horns, Browns and The Nags Head that are well worth a visit. Our last club profile featured The Horns on the border of Hackney and Islington. For this profile we find ourselves in Tower Hamlets and The Nags Head. Its a venue with history and from what I can see on the internet, there has been a pub called The Nags Head somewhere on Whitechapel Road since at least 1807.It seems to have undergone a name change (initially it was referred to as The Nags Head and Woolpack) and a change of location…

It seems that the first location was 9 & 10 Whitechapel Road and it moved to its current address (17 & 19 Whitechapel Road) sometime during or after WW2. I have the feeling that the first location was destroyed in the Blitz. If we add in the fact that a pub called the Angel and Crown at 2 & 3 Whitechapel Road was destroyed by bombing, it is a reasonable assumption that the original Nags Head suffered the same fate or was heavily damaged.

Its current format seems to resemble two georgian houses knocked together as you can see in the picture below. ...

To the wary eye it may not look that inviting, but believe me you will have to go far to find a friendlier welcome in a strip pub. Like all strip and lap dancing pubs the venue is incredibly safe, I have been a customer for almost ten years and have never seen a problem there. Bar prices are the same as the pub down the road and as any regular will attest, The Nags Head has some of the most attractive girls in London working there.

Recently the venue has benefited from a total refurbishment and the photograph I took below gives you an idea, but does not really do the work any justice....

Owner Manu clearly has doubts about my compositional abilities.....

As you can see its a small venue, but that's fine and every day you will find a mix of local residents, tradesmen and City workers all of who know each other and have done years. The Nags Head is probably the best venue in Tower Hamlets and those of you that follow my blog on a regular basis will know that it is threatened with closure by the Council. This saga drags on and on and it seems there may be a meeting to discuss the boroughs venues some time in September. That said, the recent shattering defeat of prohibitionists in Leeds with seven venues being re-licensed may even make the firebrands of Tower Hamlets think again.

Like many venues, The Nags has a website which can be found at . The website is well thought out and includes a search feature that lets you know when any particular girl is working on what day, a feature that no other clubs website currently possesses.

Its an easy place to get to and find and we have included a map below....

As you can see its about 5 mins west of Aldgate Tube and even Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street stations are not that far away.

If you plan on visiting London for the Olympics you can combine a visit to The Nags Head with a meal in Brick Lane, (we recommend Cinnamon because its brilliant) and history lovers can visit the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, where the Liberty Bell was cast.

Opening at 12.00pm 7 days a week, The Nags Head is a must visit pub.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Newspaper In 'Positive Article About Lap Dancers' Shock.

I actually cannot remember the last time I read an article in the media that approached the subject of lap dancing clubs in a positive manner. In fact I am not sure there has ever been one....until now. The Yorkshire Evening Post story - 'Lapdancers Reveal their Naked Ambition' is a well thought out piece, written in the aftermath of the Objects total failure to secure the closure of seven clubs in Leeds.

The writer, Rod McPhee decided to do what seems to be beyond the wit of people such as Rachel Reeves, Bernard Atha and Fawcett Society member Rebecca Charlwood and actually meet some of the people that work in the clubs, in this case Wildcats.

"........A lap dancer at Wildcats on The Headrow can rake in anything up to £2,000 a week – the most any of the four women we spoke to earned was the equivalent of £60,000 a year......"
Yes I am sure this is correct and that's one good reason why everyone campaigned so hard to keep the clubs open. As I demonstrated in a recent posting, employment opportunities with anything near the same income level are non-existent in Leeds.

What was nice to see was the dancers were portrayed with humanity. The truth of the matter is that they are ordinary people just like us with career ambitions that include in the case of the girls interviewed, aspirations such as nursing, journalism and even health and safety inspection.

What was particularly interesting were the comments attached to the article. Almost all were very supportive, but still there were some that I found irritating.....

This is one of the irritating ones. Hard to know what issues Steven91 is reflecting here, apart from the fact that he can't cope with women who earn more than he does. I don't imagine they put 'lapdancer'on their CVs either, but the only reasons for that is the swarm of bigoted twats that seem keep popping up everywhere.....

Ronald Jeremy responds to Steve with maybe more tact than I.......

Sarah Covell makes a valid point about prostitution, but I really wish she had not expressed it in the same content as her comment about the clubs. But otherwise its a great comment from a sensible person.

Steven91 is soon back on the case and displaying his inability to understand or accept other peoples arguments. I say this because he makes the same point as he made before and adds an insult along with it. Steven91 really should invest his energy in making his own life better, as opposed to hoping that other peoples lives are damaged by the same ignorance and prejudice that he so willingly flaunts.

Steven91, you should written 'legalised prostitution', when you fail to write and phrase correctly you look like an arse, which actually you do when you make comments that you cannot support.

TonyN tries to reason with Steven91, but quite frankly his time and words are wasted.

So overall a great article and some great comments. We will of course be back here again next year, because Rachel Reeves and the gang aren't going to give up, but I anticipate some peace in Leeds for the time being.

Stripping The Illusion Under Attack?

I always wondered if it might happen and it appears that it has. I received an e-mail this morning that informed me that Norton is blocking access to this blog on the basis that it is a fraudulent site. Now given that this is Google blog, given that we don't solicit for donations, given that we don't ask you for your details or ask you to get involved with helping to transfer millions of dollars from third world banks......

This posting will be updated as we receive evidence that this has indeed happened, but if you are experiencing difficulties in reaching this site, please let me know....

Maybe later we can speculate on who actually reported us.


Yes I can now confirm that it is possible that we have been reported as being a fraudulent site and are being blocked by Norton...

So it seems that our Sunday is going to be spent working out how best to respond and we will of course keep you updated. Fuck knows what's happening


Well it appears that the problem could be generic to the blogspot domain. Thank you to Techno Mystic (great site so visit it here) who did a Google search and uncovered details that relate to this issue. Nonetheless I have contacted Symantec and will let you know their reply.....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dancers Information

Due to the issues that had recently been facing clubs in Leeds, I've been in contact with Dr Teela Sanders, who along with Dr Kate Hardy and Rosie Campbell conducted a two year research programme in the striptease and lap dancing industry. This research has been distilled into a brilliant web resource called Dancers Information which can be found here.

Written largely by dancers themselves, the site contains well thought information and guidance that would be of benefit to both new and experienced practitioners. Certainly the information on tax issues and self employment must be read because many people that are self employed, irrespective of what they do can skimp the issues that surround the law and their careers, usually to their personal cost.

Perhaps the most important section though is on personal safety. The sections on travelling to and from work and being stalked contain well thought out, practical advice that would benefit anyone, dancer or not and should be read through.

What I like about the site is the detail, its very granular and it seems to me that everything has been thought of and written about. Advice is even offered for dancers in terms of how to behave should they run into a customer outside the club environment. I imagine the chances of this must be incredibly remote, but nonetheless a dancer is quoted as follows....

"...I have met customers whilst out with my mother – who have approached me to have a ‘chat’. My family know what I do, and while they might not like it they know it’s a ‘job’. Living a double life (while unfortunately necessary for some dancers) can be difficult to manage in the long-term...."

I find it incredible that someone could approach a dancer for a chat outside the club. When I am in Shoreditch, depending upon the time of day, its possible to see dancers going to and from work and even under these circumstances I find it best to treat them as strangers. If a dancer makes an effort to say 'hello' its different but as a rule of thumb distance is best and that way there are no surprises.

I think Dancers Information is important for another reason. Its one of a number of resources that now exist to support the industry and the people that work in it. This can only be a good thing........

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Muffia Make A Response

On March 11th 2012 I made a posting about well rad feminist guerilla group The Muffia. You can view it here. The article was based around a frame grab that was lifted from Objects Yahoo Group and for the sake of completeness, the frame grab is below.

As you can see they planned to cavort around Hackney and deliver a searing piece of street theatre that expressed their disapproval of the strip tease industry. I found it an amusing idea and pointed out that like Object, The Muffia were keen on getting of peoples cash....

Yesterday, three months after the posting was made, Kate O'Brien of The Muffia made a response.....

".......LOL, thanks for your 'hilarious' breakdown of the planned event by The Muffia over a year and a half ago. Really up to date research on a project that never actually happened. Well done....."
I made a response but decided that it deserved a posting all of it's own.

The time line is irrelevant as the point of the article was to explore the prevailing hostility to strippers and clubs as embodied by Object and it seems to me, The Muffia. We can see how The Muffia failed to distinguish between 'lap dancing clubs, stripping and prostitution and decided to perform their routine outside strip clubs, despite the fact that it was designed to be a comment 'against paying for sex and/or sexual interactions. If they had been serious about their intention I imagine they could have found a brothel to perform outside of, but maybe not because after all clubs and the dancers that work in them are easier targets.

Anyone with an informed opinion about the industry knows that sex is not on offer at any club,  I am also unsure what The Muffia mean by a 'sexual interaction'. Maybe like Object they believe that the clubs of Hackney venues are full of dancers 'offering intercourse and oral sex acts'. So despite their assurance that the event was 'not targeted at women ....who are in the sex industry', it was clearly designed to attack dancers as it was going to be delivered outside one or a number of strip clubs in Hackney.

The best bit about it all is that The Muffia solicited donations for this event, in order that the 'body could be covered by this money'. Now thanks to Kate O'Briens really up to date comment we now know that the event never actually happened, so I imagine that either no donations were forthcoming to cover the 'body with' so it was cancelled or those from Objects ranks that did support the event were given a refund.

Maybe instead of delivering 'take the piss out of dancers' street theatre outside clubs, it might have been better to have gone inside and spoke to the people involved. In that way it would have been possible to make an informed view of the lap dancing and strip tease industry and The Muffia could have responded from an informed opinion.

LOL. Sorry I know that's not going to happen though....

Hilarious though.....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Moralist Olympics in Leeds - The Empress Strikes Back?

Rachel Reeves, or Empress Rachel as we will now call her, spent much of the weekend Tweeting her disappointment that Leeds Council Licensing Committee didn't share her views that every club in the City be closed at the probable loss of 750 jobs.

Below we can see her reaction to the news....

By 'much more needed' we can assume she means 'closed down'. Mike Parks believes that its all about revenue and asks everyone to remember the time he was a JP. Nonetheless, Empress Rachel is down, but not out and states that the total failure she and her gang experienced is only the beginning. She plans to bring in more people from London to tell Leeds Council how to run the City.

Dave Simpson bemoans how bad Leeds is getting with 'shop boards up' just like it was in the early nineties. Kind of weird comment, given that if Empress Rachel had got her way, there would have been 7 more sets of boarded up premises, two of which would have been opposite the Town Hall, which would have looked great for visitors to the Council. The Empress points out that the current state of Leeds is more reminiscent of the 1980s recession, which given that she was born in 1979 either means she has a great memory or saw some pictures of it somewhere.

Chris Matheson, 'Trade unionist. Evertonian. Labour supporter. Tory despiser. Racism hater', demonstrates his commitment to the economic well-being of the people by saying all clubs should be banned because they are 'revolting' and reassures us that he is 'no prude'. I suggest Chris pops into 'Wildcats' and talks to the dancers about their job and explains why it is revolting. He won't do this of course, because its easier to grandstand on Twitter than find things out for himself.

Empress Rachel congratulates Rebbeca Charlwood for her excellent campaigning and Rebbeca responds with a lovely 'huge thx'. I would love to work for Rachel, because I would get a bonus no matter happened, even if my campaign was flawed to begin with and ended in almost total failure...

Now we see the outline the Empress Reeves plan for vengeance. She is going to write a motion for the Labour branches, because lets face it they can't do it for themselves and she is going to get Neil Walshaw to take it 'to Headingley'. Neil is plainly thrilled about this idea and asks her for a reminder e-mail to undertake this critical task. As a reward Neil gets a lovely e-kiss. So sweet....

I have saved the best Tweet until last though....

Mike Parks (he used to be a JP) raises the possibility of an 'Inspector that looks into licensing matters' that maybe, just maybe can overturn democratic decisions that ambitious MPs don't like. Best of all, maybe the Empress and Becca can attend Licensing Meetings and make sure the locals do the right thing. The Empress thinks this is a brilliant idea and states that she will pursue the idea with a vengeance.

This has to be the most frightening thing of all, because Members of Parliament can in no way interfere with the business of a local council, so I have to ask why Rachel doesn't know this. Maybe she just plans to sit and give the Committee disapproving looks and tut whenever she hears something off message. Maybe she plans to attend by video conference, if so, future Leeds Council Licensing Committee meetings may look like this.....

I mean this is not a photo of a Leeds Council Licensing Committee meeting, but you get my drift. Empress Rachel can be anywhere in the world and project her disapproval at the committee members. You can see above that she is trying to influence the bald chap on the left. If he doesn't start agreeing, maybe he can be zapped with something....

So my message to every club owner in Leeds is that as Sun Tzu said, you plan for your enemies capacity, not their intention. This isn't over and as those that sat in on 'Wildcats' Licensing Hearing know, certain people are prepared to say and do almost anything....

Friday, June 15, 2012

For Giselle.....

Do you see what I am saying?

If you are reading this and are not Giselle, you don't know what this is about. But don't worry about it. Do you see what I am saying though?

Actually, just want to make an observation that I can share with everyone. Do you notice how the one on the left is wearing a 'Rush' t-shirt? She wears the t-shirts, buys the records, doesn't listen to the lyrics though or if she does, forgot about the time the Solent Feminist Network stood outside Wiggle screaming their heads off. Lets have some appropriate Rush lyrics.....

"Witch Hunt"
The night is black
Without a moon
The air is thick and still
The vigilantes gather on
The lonely torch lit hill

Features distorted in the flickering light
The faces are twisted and grotesque
Silent and stern in the sweltering night
The mob moves like demons possessed
Quiet in conscience, calm in their right
Confident their ways are best

The righteous rise
With burning eyes
Of hatred and ill-will
Madmen fed on fear and lies
To beat and burn and kill

They say there are strangers who threaten us
In our immigrants and infidels
They say there is strangeness too dangerous
In our theaters and bookstore shelves
That those who know what's best for us
Must rise and save us from ourselves

Quick to judge
Quick to anger
Slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice
And fear walk hand in hand...

Moralist Olympics In Leeds: Freedom Of Choice 7 Designer Feminism 0

"Rachel, you know those clubs that you're trying to get closed..........."
You know what happened by now, just by reading the title of this posting. Today, Leeds Council's Licensing Sub Committee approved the re-licensing of all seven clubs that appeared before them this week. It's a watermark decision because people that took a broader view, that weren't going to be swayed by single issue obsessives, acted to preserve the jobs of 750 people in Leeds.

I was going to post yesterday about the hearings for Red Leopard and Wildcats and trust me there is much to comment upon, but for the moment let us celebrate a victory over bigotry and one day remember that this was the day that just maybe the tide turned and we started to take the power back.

I just so want to make some kind of sarcastic comment and rub the victory in the faces of people like Rachel Reeves, but I wish to be dignified about this, so will leave that kind of behaviour to others....

But that said it's massive league fail for Object Leeds, isn't?

All those letters that they wrote.

Lets be dignified though.


I feel sorry for those people (all 30 of them) that copied and pasted their objection letters to Leeds Council.

Actually, not that sorry at all.....

Got to post about what happened during the hearing for Wildcats....

Sandra McNeill, you just cannot go around saying that kind of stuff.

Don't imagine Bernard Atha is that happy either.

"....Well, not sure how to tell you this, but their licenses were all approved. All seven of them actually. What a bummer ."

It's about time we had some good news though....

They'll be back next year, but we'll be ready for them....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vera Rodriguez - Photographer and Dancer
As I stated some time ago, the scope of the blog is expanding to include postings about dancers who have other careers. This is the first of these articles and it is about Vera Rodriguez, a dancer that works in Tower Hamlets that made such a powerful impression at the 'Dancers Speak Out' event in April of this year.

Vera is a wonderful photographer whose work seems to effortlessly embody the story that so clearly lies behind her compositions. Put simply, there is almost a movie behind every shot you will see in this article and this is just the smallest fraction of her output. Vera's first exhibition, 'Looking In Looking Out' was held at the 'Crossroads Womens Centre' in May of this year. The exhibition was tied into the publication of 'KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: An A-Z Guide for Sex Workers' and was organised by the English Collective of Prostitutes.

Vera worked hard to produce material for this article, so lets start off with a piece that she wrote for the 'Looking In, Looking Out' exhibition.

This was the last picture of the exhibition, it is a self portrait, as I 

photographed the bed where I was sleeping, the camera bag represents me.- Vera

This photo screams 'Edward Hopper' to me. I love it.- Chasmal

When I first came to London in 2000, I arrived at a squat near Brixton where Spanish friends were living. I was completely disappointed with my experience as a journalist and I needed a job to survive. One of the girls in the squat said to me "Why don’t you come and work in a peep show in Soho, all you need to do is to dance naked in a sexy way. They pay cash in hand and you let them know your availability one week in advance." After trying to get a job as an art room keeper at the Tate Modern and failing, I decided to give it a try. I never imagined that to ask for a job in the Adult Industry would change my life forever.

Three years passed and I was still working shifts in Soho. After taking a couple of introductory courses in photography I was accepted onto a Foundation Degree course in Professional Photography. Tired of moving from one evicted house to another squatted house, in a period where the authorities made it so difficult, four girlfriends and I decided to rent a big house in Streatham. We were all working in peep shows and some of us started to working in strip clubs to make some extra cash to cover the rent.

After three years, I got a BA in Photographic Arts at Westminster University, but I was so used to the stage, high heels and taking my clothes off for money that I couldn’t compromise and take the kind of job that Snappy Snaps offered me – I lasted three days. I preferred to keep my photography independent and carry on dancing, after all, I liked it.

I started taking pictures of dancers and girls like me who decided to work in the adult industry. I exhibited some photos at the University as part of the Social Documentary project. Renowned picture editor, Colin Jacobson called me into his office and asked me if I wanted to publish the pictures but I felt I was not ready. Who could tell that six years later, I am not only still in touch with him but I consider him a good friend. I am proud to say that he has agreed to edit my future book about Peep Shows. In fact, he suggested the title "Looking in, Looking Out".

By 2008, the credit crunch had started in London and I needed a break. I went to Spain but I couldn’t see myself having a nine-to-five job. So I started to work in peep shows around Europe – in Nuremberg and Bochum in Germany, Amsterdam and Gent, Brussels and Antwerp in Belgium. I was working for three or four months a year and living a bohemian life in Spain. I told my family what I do for a living because I didn’t want to lie anymore, and even though they found it very hard to accept my work, I found that the feeling that what I was doing was wrong was slowly disappearing.

I have seen men from all kind of backgrounds, age or social or economic status walking the streets of the red light district.-Vera. 
This is a great shot, who is the guy and what lead him to this street and how is someone in one of the windows hovering 3 feet in the air?- Chasmal
By 2010, I was back in London. I applied for a University photography course and told the truth that I had been shooting photos in peep shows for five years and that I am planning to publish a book. I was accepted onto the course. Of course, I found work in a peep show and strip club. It was a new beginning.

By June, I was volunteering for the First Sex Workers Film Festival. There, I met Luca Darkholme, one of the organisers. This marks another important period in my life. I met new people involved in the sex workers movement and I didn’t feel alone anymore. I had a chance to share my views with colleagues and not with outsiders who may find it more difficult to understand my choices.

Since last October, I have been working closely with other sex worker activists like Thierry Schaffauser. At the moment we are organising amongst other things a campaign to stop the closure of 11 strip clubs in Tower Hamlet that will leave more than 600 woman without an income. Meeting Luca and Thierry has opened up my perspective on the sex worker movement. I have been introduced to more people. Through Luca, I performed at the Sex Workers Open University and I was introduced to X:talk, an organisation that offers English lessons to migrant sex workers. Suggested by them, I joined a union: the GMB Sex Workers Branch and at the first meeting I met Niki Adams from the English Collective of Prostitutes. I mentioned my photo book project and the pictures I took of Belgium’s Red Light District and she was very interested. Seven months have passed since that conversation and now I consider her a friend and a person that I admire. I feel I am not alone and that I belong to a movement and, yes, I am proud of it.

Niki´s proposal of the exhibition becomes a reality today with another very important event: the launch of an A-Z Guide to the laws for sex workers so we all can know better about our rights. This is a crucial project at this moment in time when it is very necessary that our voices are heard.

Vera also a wrote another piece that told the story of the background to 'Looking In, Looking Out'.....


In 2008, I was working in a peep show in Antwerp. The business was very slow and one of the girls was complaining to the DJ that she was not getting many private shows. "Consider yourself lucky" he said. "You work 13 hours a day, dancing on a turning bed, and you get paid. The girls that are working in the windows have to pay between €100 and €150 a day to hire a window for eight hours. If they don’t get enough clients, they end up paying money out of their own pockets.”

This was the main image of the exhibition. It defines the title "Looking in, looking out". I took it from the room where I was sleeping, upstairs the Peep Show where I was working in a 15 days contract. September 2010. - Vera. 
I think this another great, cinematic shot with great story potential - Chasmal.
Brothels are forbidden in Belgium and most of the owners of these windows are lawyers or businessmen. They take a big cut of girls’ money. They are the real "pimps". The laws generally are not fair to those of us who offer sexual services for money, or for anyone, who for one reason or another, decides to work in the adult industry. In many countries, the laws are changing, and not for the good. Criminalisation, stigma, isolation and lack of protection are just some of the problems that we face.

I took this picture from another peep show, where I also worked but Police closed it down from one day to another. Winter 2008.-Vera. 
What's the story with the two on the street and note the girl with her back to them in the window - Chasmal.
Some countries decide to persecute the client but that doesn’t make it easier for sex workers. The media offers a very distorted version of reality with fake statistics about trafficking. While genuine victims are denied help, trafficking is being used by the police as an excuse to deport migrant sex workers. Sex workers and the public in general need to know that just few months before the Olympics, raids, deportations and prosecutions of sex workers have dramatically increased.

The girls who decide to work in the windows have to pay between 100 and 150 euro for the renting of 8 hours. The owners of these windows are the real pimps - Vera. 
The moment of contact where both parties acknowledge each other is so beautifully portrayed in this photograph - Chasmal.
I am very pleased to be exhibiting my pictures on the same day that the English Collective of Prostitutes is launching a guide “Know Your Rights an A-Z for Sex Workers”. I hope that those that attend today will get a more accurate and wider view of the sex industry and hopefully more people will join our fight. We are building a movement: to demonstrate, to socialize, to unionise, to demand our rights so we can press to change the laws and the perspectives of outsiders. People who decide to sell sex should be protected, not prosecuted and judged. We are workers and we want rights, not rescue.

Some of the workers, in times of recession, have to pay from their pocket if they don't get enough clients during one shift - Vera. 
The man here wonders how much time he has. Is he the owner of the window? - Chasmal.
Do yourself a big favour and go back and look at the photographs again and this time, really look. You will see stuff that you didn't see the first time around and that is what makes each photo so compelling.

I am thrilled that Vera allowed me to feature her work and I hope that you like as much as I. Finally, I have my usual important statement to make. If prohibitionists such as Object get their way, work such as this may never be made and with one sweep of bigoted legislation and dishonest campaigning, a thousand stories never see the light of day and remain untold. This is the reason that we fight and will keep fighting until either we win or there are none of us left to fight for truth, choice and the right of self expression.

Moralist Olympics in Leeds - Purple Door and Deep Blue

Yesterday two clubs had to face the Licensing Committee, Purple Door and Deep Blue. This article will look at the objections raised against Purple Door first. Essentially, the objections were identical to those submitted against Liberte on during Mondays hearing. The numbers are as follows....

Overall 32 objections were received, Rachel Reeves of course had pride of place with her letter being marked as Number One. Bernard Athas e-mail regretting that he couldn't make moral judgements appeared again as well. After that it was the same as usual from Cllr Christine MacNiven, Lisa Mulherin and Kamilla Maqsgood.

The same three kinds of template letters used against 'Liberte' also appeared again and accounted for 23 objections. The remaining entries were again identical to those submitted to the 'Liberte' hearing. I do however have some observations to make...

It has been proposed that a 'welfare pack' a raft of measures be adopted to help ensure the safety and well being of dancers in Leeds clubs. This of course is totally unacceptable to Object, who justify their view that the dancers welfare is best served by making them jobless, by rolling out a quote from their tired 'Lapdancer Testimonials' portfolio.

I hate it when Object lie by trying too convince us that they care about dancers.

Furthermore, it seems that the Object Leeds have decided to try and be really clever and use Teela Sanders own research against the industry. As you can see above, Object have copied and pasted an article from the Yorkshire Post, itself culled from Dr Sanders. I am not sure what point they are making by doing this, apart from seeming to support the view that pole dancing skills are in decline and bemoaning the money that hard working dancers can make.

The best original comment is below....

One group of objectors decided that they would justify their view that womens right to equality is best achieved by making 500 of them jobless, by framing the club scene as a modern day equivalent to the 'Black and White Minstrel Show'. It is of course an idiotic comparison, because if Leeds Council closed a club where 'black people put on shows for whites', the council itself would be justifiably accused of being racist and there are clubs where 'gay individuals' dance for the straight community. Many straight females use gay venues to socialise in so I fail to see the comparison. It is essentially an intellectually half baked attempt to make a point, but quiet frankly, apart from our amusement it has little or no value.

I wonder if the writer would be happier of the customers were 'half-naked' as well.

I also want to make the point that I hate it when people of colour are referred to as being 'black', as I find it racist.

So that was the opposition to Purple Door, essentially the same group of cynical politicians and moralists as yesterday...

Lets look at the next hearing, which was considering the application of Deep Blue.

The count stands at 32 objections. Reeves, Atha, MacNiven, Maqsgood and Mulherin submitted the same letters as they did for the last two clubs and the template letter count stands at 20. The rest of the objections were of course the same as on the last hearings.

Was there anything interesting? Well kind of....

Here the writer admits that ordinary night clubs can be 'very intimidating', a fact that anyone that has walked past one knows. But hang on...I thought it was just the lap dancing clubs that caused problems? Clearly not. I also have to let the writer know that 'there is this kind of lap dancing bar there' now and trust me you be a lot safer passing it that any normal night club. In fact I am amazed that the writer clearly hasn't even noticed Deep Blue and I also wonder if they objected to the venue when it was a normal nightclub and 'very intimidating'.

Above we have another example of an objector getting vicarious thrills by implying the dancers are prostitutes, an accusation they make without any supporting evidence.

In summary, the objections are quite frankly incredibly weak and any standard nightclub that was faced with them would walk away unscathed. But in this case we must remember that we are talking about lap dancing clubs, that by their nature have to accord to a different set of license conditions, set by bigots and petty minded moralists and that is a whole different ball game...

Postscript: Tomorrows Moralist Olympics will feature the hearings for the clubs that everyone (well 30 people maybe) seem to love to hate - 'Wildcats' and 'Red Leopard'. From what I have heard so far about what occurred, I will have an incredibly entertaining report for you to read.....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wildcats - An Award Winning Bar In Leeds

Safer Leeds is council run scheme, chaired by Cllr Les Carter that runs a programme called 'Best Bar None' that aims to recognise bars that make a contribution to making Leeds a better experience for people to enjoy. The scheme is open to any pub, club or bar that demonstrates that it has procedures in place to deal with drink related anti-social behaviour.

Les Carter said.......

".....These establishment have sent out a strong signal to licensees across the city, they play an active role in reducing alcohol anti-social behaviour.....".

The scheme is supported by the Home Office, West Yorkshire Police, Leeds City Council and Leeds City Licensing Association and it rewards venues have that clearly demonstrated effective management that provides a safe environment for customers to enjoy themselves in. Apparently the scheme has already proven its role in making the night time city a safer experience for everyone.

In fact every year there's an award ceremony, where the best of best are recognised for their efforts....

The 2011 award ceremony was held on 19th June and bars, pubs and clubs across the city held baited breath to see who made the greatest contribution to making Leeds a safer city for night time revellers. Lets look at the results...

Do you see what I see?

Yes you do, because 'Wildcats' came second.

So this makes for an interesting situation. In 2011, 'Wildcats' was awarded for its contribution toward  making Leeds safer. Yet in 2012, the same venue is besieged by activists, MPs and councillors because it apparently is apparently making the city unsafe....

Well I am sorry Leeds Council, you cannot have it both ways.  In 2011, the venue was presented with an award  that was based upon clear, evidence based criteria that it was successfully tackling violence and anti-social behaviour. In 2012, the venues existence is threatened because it seems some politicians disagree with its location (don't forget that  licences are awarded by the council) and some activists have the feeling that the place causes female objectification. Wildcats was doing the same in 2011 as it was in 2012, so what's the difference?

Is this some kind of joke that public servants get that the public don't?

Or is BestBarNone the joke?

Or is it the current prohibitionist campaign?

If its the latter, then the joke is on everyone, male or female that uses the city at night. If bars that win awards for creating safe environments are later closed on the grounds that they promote violence against women, then the credibility of the entire BestBarNone scheme is at risk and Leeds will be seen as a less inviting place for visitors.

Since I started writing about the campaign in Leeds, page views of this blog have steadily increased to over 150 a day. People from all over the world are reading about Wildcats and the other threatened clubs and are probably wondering what on earth is going on. So Leeds Council need to understand that as in Tower Hamlets, the world is watching.

For me, the way forward for clubs in Leeds is clear. Whether that viewed is shared by the politicians of Leeds remains to be seen. 'Wildcats' hearing is on 13th June and we wish them good luck, although 'luck' shouldn't be a factor.....

Moralist Olympics in Leeds - Liberte

So, for those of you that have been following the current 'situation' in Leeds, here we have the first of the reports that will cover the Licensing Committees deliberations on how many of the cities clubs they plan to close. Mondays hearing focussed on Liberte and due to the councils commitment to open government, we can see what has been going on.

So the numbers are as follows, Liberte received 33 objections (out of a population of 798,000) so in other words the existence of Liberte is of concern to .004% of the people of Leeds. Next we have to consider where the objections actually came from and I can say that  in many cases the objectors details were redacted. But I can report that 5 of the objections came from local MPs and councillors. You may also recall that every feminist group in the City had made available template letters so that people could object without having to think too hard about it. There were three template letter variants received that accounted for a further 19 objections.

So, if you take the 5 politically motivated letters and 19 templates, you are left with 9 letters that someone actually sat down and thought about.

Is there any fun stuff? Yes of course there is.......

Cllr Bernard Atha doesn't actually seem to get around to objecting at all, in fact  he seems more upset about the fact that he cannot object on the basis of his personal morality. Anyone that knows anything about the business of objecting to lapdancing clubs knows that moral objections do not count.

So clearly Bernard doesn't know the legislation.

It is good to know about the fact that he is 'extremely hostile' to clubs and how they excite the 'baser instincts of men in a corrupting manner', so no moralistic value judgements from him then. What is really interesting is that he is a qualified lawyer, so maybe he should do a little more research for himself maybe.

Bernard is the Honorary President of the Northern Ballet and its good to know that he has taken an open minded view on the subject of making almost 750 people in Leeds redundant.

What else is there?

Well as you can see, Cllr Kamilla Maqsgood gave considerable thought to her objection and clearly she feels she is so important that she doesn't have to state why she wants to see them all closed. You must of course remember that politicians are very special people and their views are superior to ours.

I left the best objection until last....

This is one of the template letters and it appeared three times. Note the emotive use of language....

"....In traditional strip clubs women are objectified by having (italics mine) to strip for men for money...."

No that's wrong. No one has to strip for money, because no one has to be a stripper, if however you are a stripper, it is expected that you will remove your clothing at some point and no one is going to do that for free.

What do the authors mean about 'peculiar rules'?

Also note how the letter insults dancers by stating that they 'solicit men', the dancers are dancers, not prostitutes so can the author please keep their morality where it belongs. Next we see a whole raft a bigoted value judgements taken straight out of the Holsopple report when we red that man 'shout abuse' at the dancers. Once again, the writer spares not effort to insult dancers when they are once again compared to 'prostitutes' and that they job is technically speaking 'licensed rape'.

We also see the trend to ensure that no matter what else happens, 'Red Leopard' and 'Wildcats' are closed down. I am unsure why an award winning bar (Wildcats) has created suck hatred among the 33 people that have objected, but I am sure that things will be clearer as the week progresses.

So what do we have so far?

Some designer feminists writing templates because their members are too lazy to object unless the letter is written for them, some vote and profile hungry MPs who hope that no one notices that they plan to make 750 people (500 of them women) jobless and some God driven moralists. On the basis of what we have seen so far, it should be a walkover for the clubs (or it will be when it gets to the High Court), but we will have to wait and see. Remember, this is the Morality Olympics and some one is going to have to win some gold medals, but the issue is who?

Oh, before I forget, Rachel Reeves objected. But you already knew that......

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rachel Reeves - Global Leader

I found this morning that another blogger has a focus on Rachel Reeves. On reflection I should not have been surprised that she has form and the blog provides us with a very useful account of the absurdity that Rachel seems to spout on an almost weekly basis.

If I was a voter in Leeds I would be heading straight over to Rachel Reeves - Global Leader right now in order to get a more informed view about the kind of person that Labour HQ parachuted in from London with the aid of an all-female selection list.

My focus on Rachel and her colleagues will be maintained over the next week or so, but I feel the need to keep  highlighting her views on a regular basis now, just really to ensure those extra votes that she is anticipating come at nice, high price...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Clubs Threatened In Leeds - Rachel Reeves On Unemployment

"And when the single-minded pursuit of short term gain overrides any sense of social responsibility, then it can corrode the context of trust that a well functioning market economy depends on". 
Rachel Reeves, an excerpt from the speech she delivered to the Christian Socialist Movement Tawney Dialogue meeting on 10th May 2012

Rachel Reeves says the words, but does she believe them? I somehow think not because she is currently spearheading a campaign to close every lap dancing club in Leeds, in a vanity campaign that will cost in the region of 500 jobs.

Lets take a look at the employment situation in Leeds and I have a graph that was compiled by Leeds Council....

The above graph may take a minute to interpret as it contains 4 years worth of data all in one range, but we can see that the number of benefit claimants in Leeds stands at around 25,000 people and at the same time as this we remember that Rachel Reeves is campaigning to increase this number by 2% almost overnight.

I undertook some further research into the local employment situation and visited the Reed website, which is searchable by user selected criteria. I decided to do a search for jobs that would provide the potentially unemployed dancers with similar flexibility of hours and something approaching their current earnings. The result is captured below for you to look at and disbelieve....

I made it as open as possible, within a 20 mile radius of Leeds, on a roughly equivalent salary, including permanent, contract, temporary and part-time jobs. As you can see there are 20. Well that will deal with about half of the students employed at Wildcats, assuming of course they are interested in door to door sales or driving a lorry.

Rachel Reeves utter contempt for the people whose jobs and futures she wishes to see broken on the anvil of her personal ambition is an amazing thing to behold. Interviewed recently in the Asian Express Newspaper, she said the following amazing sentence...

"I recognise that people are employed by these clubs, but the council could put something in place to train them for another job".

Rachel insults the staff when she makes the assumption that they actually need training, many are graduates and are more than job ready, the issue facing them is that there are no suitable jobs out there. What is more amazing is how Rachel simply brushes off the 500 job losses on the basis that Leeds Council can wave a magic wand and put into place 500 individual vocational training programmes, that cannot by their nature lead to any guarantee of subsequent employment.

Rachel Reeves knows that the jobs she plans to destroy cannot be replaced in any sensible length of time, she knows this but simply doesn't care. Recently the dancers of Wildcats held a public protest meeting to fight for their futures. Rachel Reeves was nowhere to be seen, probably because she knew that she had no comfort to offer the girls and almost certainly because once again, she doesn't care.

The other thing that strikes me, is Rachels' desire to spend Leeds Councils money. Funding 500 vocational training schemes will cost in the region of £1 million, based upon an average unit cost of £2000 per Flexible Support Fund participant. Of course we forget the cost of unemployment benefit for 500 people and the Housing Benefit that will have to be paid out as well. If we fold in to the equation lost tax revenue from the clubs, we see that Rachel has failed to undertake any analysis of the economic impact of her campaign. Given that between 2000and 2006 she worked as an economist at the Bank Of England and the British Embassy in Washington, this is something I find quite surprising.

You would imagine as a Christian, that Rachel would have at least tried to to engage with those whose futures she is threatening, but to my knowledge she has not even tried. So when Rachel delivered her speech at the Tawney Dialogue of the Christian Socialist Movement, did she understand that a great example of the 'single minded pursuit of short term gain' that 'overrides any sense of social responsibility', could easily be seen as her desire to see every club in Leeds closed? Furthermore, does Rachel understand that the 'context of trust' that will be 'corroded', will be the one that she has with her constituents?

Rachel sees cheap votes in pandering to a mixed group of radical feminists and moral bigots, but nothing is cheap as it seems and in the long term it will cost her her seat in parliament.  The 500 people she wants to see jobless, together with their dependants will see to that at the next general election, because 7016 is not really much of a majority. Not much of a majority at all, actually....

Clubs Threatened in Leeds - Guess Who Started The Campaign?

The internet is a wonderful medium for spreading ideas and doing research because the internet remembers everything. Even if you think you've deleted all traces of your on-line activities, somewhere a trace remains. Now that I am focussing heavily on Leeds, I though it might be a good idea to see who kicked all of this off. Well it only took 5 minutes and you won't be surprised to learn......

Yes its Object.......

So it seems that the roots of all this date back about three and half years and what a full agenda they have to pursue.....

The Miss Leeds regional heat for Miss England was of course targeted, because it involves people capitalising on their looks, which is a big no-no for designer feminists. Hanging round newsagents to see where they stack this months copy of 'Zoo' seems to be a big issue as well, mostly because the magazines feature women who earn a living by their looks and of course the 9 clubs in Leeds were prime target because their staff earn a living that relies upon their looks and personality. I wonder what happened to the 6 sex shops, because as we know they sell forbidden material and should be closed down.

As far as I can see, the only worthwhile objective was their involvement in a campaign for a Rape Crisis Centre in Leeds, which actually opened in April 2010.

Now as we know, Object seem to like to get people to write in to Licensing Departments, but do seem to want to control what people write, so it should be unsurprising that they have produced a template objection letter for each and every club in the City. The letter is about three pages long, but in essence it is as follows.....

We are writing to request the above application is refused on the grounds of location, including premises in the vicinity, the character of the club’s locality, issues that could arise from the location and the number of clubs already in Leeds:

Well yes of course they want it closed, this is after all Object. Interesting that they want 'Wildcats' closed because of the presence of Silks, Liberte, Black Diamond, Deep Blue and Purple Door. The strange thing is that they want Silks close because of the presence of Wildcats, Liberte, Black Diamond, Deep Blue and Purple Door, which strikes me as a kind of circular logic where the clubs cannot win.

Let's look at what else they have to say....

Wildcats is located opposite Leeds Art Gallery, Central Library and Town Hall. The Town Hall, as well as being a wedding venue, is becoming a centre for the arts with the aim to establish it firmly as a natural home and focus for arts across the city.

I am reasonably sure that the council know where Wildcats is, but it is good that Object point out that the council may lose wedding business because of the close proximity of a lap dancing club. That said I cannot see that as being a realistic possibility....

I cannot see the following conversation taking place....

Engaged Person 1.  "Honeybun, we can get married at the Town Hall. It will be marvellous for everyone."

Engaged Person 2 "I don't think so sweetpea, there's that awful Wildcats place opposite and it will be open only 6 hours after we get married."

Is 'Wildcats' open at the same time as the library? Object create the vision of pensioners returning their P.D.James novel being dragged in the club by out of control lap dancers. Its an absurd vision I know, but Object have never been slow to use hysterics to promote their cause.

It is in close proximity to Millennium Square, the City Museum and the Carriageworks theatre. These are locations identified in Section 6 of the Sex Establishment Licensing Policy 2011 as part of the council’s provision of its cultural offer which is described as an “essential aid to community involvement and an increasing sense of common identity”. It is important that the character of this locality, as stated in LCC policy, is protected. The presence of Wildcats in this locality impedes this.

This is a fairly typical Object proposition, which is making statements without any supporting evidence. Exactly how will the presence of 'Wildcats' impede 'community involvement and an increasing sense of common identity'? Its meaningless, but it sounds good.....

Wildcats is located in close proximity to the newly refurbished Victoria Gardens.

Yes we can read the map......

Events for members of Leeds’ diverse population take place or begin in Victoria Gardens, including the lighting of the Giant Menorah, Reclaim the Night Leeds, VE day celebrations, children’s fairground attractions, Leeds Pride, lighting of Christmas lights and Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All to name a few.

Well the fact that Reclaim The Night Leeds starts in Victoria Gardens shouldn't be a problem. In Reclaim The Night London, they make a point of marching past Spearmint Rhino and singing abusive songs about the dancers. At least this they can abuse the staff and customers of almost every club in the City in record time.

Victoria Gardens is also home the municipal war memorial, where wreaths and poppies are frequently placed, and Remembrance Sunday parades are held. This monument should be respected and the location around it should remain appropriate. Historically it has been a site for key historic events, such as peace and justice demonstrations, including the pre-war suffragette rallies and anti-war demonstrations over conflicts such as Vietnam and Iraq. It was the venue for the official declaration of Leeds as a 'Fairtrade City', seeking fairtrade between the 'developed' and 'developing' world. Such heritage should be respected.

Object lose points with the above section, in that they copied and pasted large lumps of it from 'Leeds, Live It, Love It' website entry about Victoria Gardens (see below). Once again I have to ask what tangible impact the presence of 'Wildcats' will have?

The location of Wildcats is on a busy main street with bus stops, churches and services close by, including The Women's Counselling & Therapy Service in Oxford Chambers, Leeds Cathedral and The Methodist Church at Oxford Place, for many women who wish to avoid walking past this club will involve such a significant detour as to not be an option and if needing to catch a bus (bus stop Y15 is directly outside) they are forced into a position of vulnerability.

So in other words, 'Wildcats' should be closed because a minority of the population are so against clubs that they cannot bear to walk past them? I am sorry, but I have to ask who owns the problem? Furthermore, exactly how will they be vulnerable if they have to wait for a bus outside the club? The constant presence of security staff means that anyone in the area would a be a lot safer than if they were half mile up the road and at the mercy of every drunk that pours out of the average pub and wine bar....

Recent research from the Local Government Association[ii] identifies that 72% of council officers think that clustering of lap dancing clubs is damaging the local economy.

Just because a group of people think something happens, it doesn't make it the truth, so next time please include the evidence. Also do you notice the inclusion of a figure that implies the presence of a later reference or appendix? Its marked in blue. Yes you've got it, the above excerpt was probably another cut and paste job, because the template letter doesn't  have an appendix. Good to see that Object are taking this campaign seriously.

We would like further consideration to be taken regarding the opening times of these clubs. It is inappropriate that they should be able to operate close to 24hours a day, making the effects of the clubs on the locality an all-day occurrence.

If I am correct, 'Wildcats' is open from 9.00pm to 5.00am, which is 7 hours and nowhere near the 'close to 24hrs' that Object claim, but then again, Objects relationship with the truth has always been tenuous at best.

Now if you are not a resident of Leeds or have never been to 'Wildcats', you may be wondering what the place looks like. If you listen to Object, you may have a vision of a huge neon lit club with half naked girls in the window that is visible from miles away. Well, be prepared for a surprise, because 'Wildcats' look looks like this....

Its hard to imagine anything less imposing. But you see its not the outside that's the problem. From the point of view of the prohibitionists, its what goes on inside that's the issue. The issue is of course that it offends their morals, but morals have no part in this debate, irrespective of how well the viewpoint has been hidden.

In summary, have you noticed that every regional campaign seems to be unique or have its own angle? I also note that as with Tower Hamlets, Object appear to be taking a back seat and letting everyone else get on with the agenda. I believe that the reason for this is that Object find some of their co-campaigners in some way distasteful and I think that this needs to be explored a little further....

Actually, I have a feeling that Leeds is very close to Tower Hamlets in terms of the driving forces and components of the prohibitionist campaign....its about two things that we should never talk about in the pub...religion and politics.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Clubs Threatened in Leeds - The Hypocrisy of Rachel Reeves

Wildcats in Leeds present 'Help of Heroes' with a £1000cheque....for the last time if Rachel Reeves has her way.........
Sadly StrippingTheIllusion cannot be everywhere and I must admit some situations have not been given the attention they deserve, one of these is the campaign in Leeds to close the cities lap dancing clubs. The campaign is headed by Labour MP Rachel Reeves. In case you have never heard of Rachel, she has an impressive track record....

Her first political involvement came when she was the defeated (second place) Labour candidate for Bromley and Chislehurst in 2005. Failing to grasp the idea that doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result the second time is a good definition of insanity, Rachel stood in the same seat in a 2006 by election and this time finished fourth, with her share of the vote reducing from 10,241 votes to 1,925. It was noted at the time that her result was a humiliation for Labour and the worst result for a governing party since 1991.

Clearly someone at Labour HQ decided that she was worth another try and as a result of an imposed all-women shortlist, Rachel won the seat of Leeds West, albeit with a majority reduced by over 5,000 when compared to her predecessor, John Battle.

You would think that someone who has benefited from a pro-active feminist inspired policy would be believe that guarding the jobs of women, especially students as being her first priority. Well it is, unless they are jobs in lap dancing clubs, because Rachel wants them all closed down.

As you may be aware, prohibitionists cannot object on moral or religious grounds against lapdancing clubs, they can only use the unsuitability of the venues location as the basis for their localised campaigns. I find it amusing that Rachel holds the view that the location of Wildcats is unsuitable because its opposite the Town Hall and close to a War Memorial. This strikes me as a great example of throwing mud against the wall and hoping it sticks and I have to question the motivations of anyone that talks about War Memorials in one breath, then spends the rest of her time trying to close a venue that recently donated £1000 to the 'Help For Heroes' charity, that as you know funds assistance for those that have been wounded in the various conflicts our country finds itself embroiled...

But I am sure that Rachel will find a way to step into the shoes that she plans to forcefully empty and find a way to make up for the lost charity revenue generated by Wildcats.

Rachel Reeves is a hypocrite on three counts.

The first is that after securing a seat on the basis of an all female shortlist, she runs a campaign that if successful will cost hundreds of jobs (largely female) in Leeds. Its not just dancers that will become unemployed, its bar staff, its security staff and cleaners as well. Don't forget their dependants either.

Secondly Rachel is a hypocrite because many of the people that work in the clubs are students that will struggle to make a comparable living to fund their studies. We of course remember that Rachel knows all about the issues of funding further education having read politics, philosphy and economics at New College Oxford and finished off with an MSc in Economics at the LSE.

Finally Rachel is a hypocrite because on one hand she makes a point about war memorials at the same time she is trying to close a club that is actually doing something real to support service people that have been injured in military activities that the government that she is part of sanctioned.

If you really want to understand how Rachel thinks, take a look at the frame grab below from her Google Plus campaign regarding clubs in Leeds...

We see that Stephen Rennie condemns that which he has no experience of (apart from his value judgement loaded imagination) when he makes ludicrous comments about 'thuggish establishments' and masturbation. What kills me is Rachels gleeful reaction to Rennies bigotry. In the frame grab we see that her objections are essentially a pose, her issue is not with war memorials or the proximity to the Town Hall or anything else for that matter, its her personal morality that's offended and she simply isn't strong enough to admit it.

Let's be clear bout what is happening here. A Labour MP is running a campaign that could lead to the loss of a minimum of 500 jobs and I gather she has expressed the view that the job losses won't be too much of a problem because the staff can be retrained. If that's the case, lets hope its not A4e doing the training.

The Licensing hearings for Leeds clubs take place next week and we will be reporting on them as soon as we find out what has been decided. We will also be focussing on the situations background and no doubt will be writing more about Rachel Reeves in the coming days...

On a happier note, I learned today that Wildcats in Harrogate were successful in their license application. This demonstrates that Harrogate Council make good judgements and run an effective Licensing Team and that Mrs Clown better use the map we designed for her.

East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum Laying Down The Law

I was sent the delightful email below, where a representative of East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum expressed their dissatisfaction about the minimal length of time they had been given to object to the licensing of 'Elegance' and 'Wiggle'  in Portsmouth.

A couple of points that I would like to make, for benefit of the author of the e-mail. 

If you want to get civil servants on-side, don't make sarcastic comments about licensing renewal notices being 'buried in the small print' of a papers classified section. People don't like being addressed in this manner and you almost seem to imply there is some kind of conspiracy going. If you want to know what's going on locally I suggest you get off your backside and find out for yourself.

In fact, I wouldn't be relying on a local councillor to facilitate the witch hunt against 'Wiggle' and 'Elegance', as they probably worrying about more important things. Quite how the premises are 'intimidating', is beyond me but it is reassuring to see the use of standard Portsmouth prohibitionist terminology when we see the phrase 'brothel-like entertainment application'. Maybe the author could put their bigotry aside for a while and see for themselves what goes on in 'Elegance', because that way they could be reassured that the venue is not remotely 'brothel-like' or indeed 'vile' and that the people that work their are just trying to make a living. Admittedly the manner in which they make a living may not live up to the lofty morals of the e-mails author, but at least they are keeping their heads above water and aren't in debt.

The request to ensure that information on all and any applications that may offend the sensibilities of the East Southsea Neighbourhood, be forwarded to Councillors 'immediately' may be asking too much as well.

There is a worrying tone to the email, as the author seems to assume that the Licensing Team are naturally in accord with the petty minded moralism that seems to be running rampant in the City at the moment. As I said before, if club licensing applications shouldn't be allowed to 'slip under the radar', then the best way to ensure this is to look at the screen yourself.

I note that Object are now rallying their troops via Twitter and we can see that they made a key announcement on 28th May to urge their followers to submit their objections Elegance 'by the 23rd May', which eagle eyed readers will know was 5 days earlier. Quite how this was to be achieved I am unsure, but given that the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum wrote the anguished email to the Licensing Department on the 29th, we can at least see who is yanking whose chain, as it were...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Charlie Dacke Unleashes The Furies (On Herself)

As its a bank holiday and I am a little bored, I thought I would give you all a special treat and complete the Charlie Dacke Facebook article series. What you see below is the last frame grab of the hole that Charlie dug for herself....

The comments made by Charlie at this stage of the debate are quite priceless. She is of course correct when she states that dancers are self employed, but once again we see childish comments being made when she refers to club owners as being 'pimps'. I have to ask if the comment about 'cuts of earnings' and 'fines' refers to Elegance and if so, where her evidence is for this comment. Charlie then goes onto to throw every bit of mud at the wall she can find when she reveals that self employed people have 'no sick pay, no maternity pay, no pension'. This as I understand it is fairly typical of self employed people throughout the land, so why it is being employed as a reason to close Elegance and Wiggle is beyond me. Lets face it, if Charlie gets her way, the dancers will have no sick pay, no maternity pay, no pension and no income as well.

Next however comes the comment that I promised you in my previous posting, so lets look at it some detail....

".......They (dancers) have the opportunity to join unions; Equity, GMB etc, but they don't because they don't really want to be selling sexual services........"

But hang on, in the posting that Charlie made in the same thread (go here) she explained to Kathryn Rimmingtom that Elegance is place where.....

" go to buy young girls to strip for them and grind their shaven pubic areas in their faces while they often attempt t [sic] stick their fingers inside the women's vaginas and grab their breasts........"

I don't know about you, but grinding shaven pubic areas in mens faces sounds very much like sexual services to me, but a few hours later Charlie then says this actually doesn't happen because 'they don't want to be selling sexual services'. So basically, Charlie just admitted that she lied.

Lets look at this from another angle, according to Charlie, any dancer that is a member of Equity and GMB is selling sexual services. This comment in itself is outrageous, but when you consider that it comes from a Unison activist in Fareham Borough Council, you really start to wonder what her agenda is. I think that the comment that Charlie made about Equity and GMB members is one that she should be held to account for and on that basis I will be informing the relevant people in both unions about Charlies slur.

Ben Norman continues his struggle for reason and makes the fair point that if the clubs are going to be closed, then those affected have the opportunity to get another job and do not end up unemployed because it suits the outlook of a group of political activists. By making this comment, I really think that Ben was offering Charlie a lifeline, in order to ensure that she didn't make any more comments that made her look bad in the eyes of casual readers. The problem is that Charlie didn't see it...

"...........If a sweat shop opened up down the road from me,and was then threatened with closure, I wouldn't fight to save jobs for the sake of jobs........."

This comment informs my view of Charlies mindset. If something exists that she disapproves of, it must be destroyed, irrespective of the social and human cost. I wonder what Charlie thinks the workers of the hypothetical sweatshop are going to do to live, while she and her cohorts are 'chip-chip-chipping away' at their vision of a social paradise?

Ben then throws Charlie yet another lifeline and it seems that she still doesn't understand what is happening.

".......I suspect you'd campaign to better the workers pay and conditions..........."

I am not sure Charlie would. Her viewpoint is purely binary, her view would be that any worker she feels is exploited is better off being unemployed and she has to think that, because if she didn't, it would undermine her campaign to close Elegance and Wiggle. If Charlie really cared about improving incumbent workers rights, she would be engaging with the management of Wiggle and Elegance and seeing what happens inside for herself. Because if she did, she would see for herself that there is nothing to worry about. Mind you if she had bothered the read the dancer testimonies in this blog, she would know that there is no exploitation and that the biggest issue that the dancers face is Charlie Dacke trying to take their jobs.

Can we get to the bottom of this? The campaign on Portsmouth has never been about exploitation of workers, its never been about objectification, its never been about crime, illegal parking or a shooting that we are told took place some years ago. Its been about one thing and one thing only, that a group of women saw an opportunity to guarantee their futures by dancing naked in a club. By doing this they violated a viewpoint held sacred by designer feminists, that being that income and social standing must never be achieved by reliance on looks and personality.

We see that Kathryn Rimmington provides us with the benefit of her analysis of the local labour market. Yes Kathryn I am sure there are alternative jobs, but I doubt they pay as much as working in Wiggle or Elegance or Heaven Sent, something that I am sure you would be aware of if you had the slightest clue about what you are eagerly trying to close.

In the first article in this series we saw that Kathryn Rimmington warned Charlie about unleashing The Furies.

For those that do not have the benefit of Kathryns knowledge of classics, let me explain that The Furies were the three goddesses of vengeance. Each had a specific role that they were to fulfill. Tisiphone was the avenger of murder, Megaera revenged those that had been wronged by the jealous and Alecto punished those afflicted with constant rage. They were the guardians of the law when the state had not yet intervened or did not exist, or when the crime was a crime of ethics and not criminal law.

When Kathryn mentioned The Furies, she was totally on the ball, especially given that a formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath".

Given the amount of false oaths that we seen sworn by Charlie Dacke and her crew, I am surprised The Furies aren't flying over Portsmouth right now.

Postscript: As mentioned earlier, I have contacted representatives of both the GMB and Equity with regard to the comments that Charlie Dacke made on Facebook.