Fines only way to keep strippers in line, sex worker Lisa Lewis says

Depriving a stripper of money is the only way to ensure they will follow club rules, former dancer Lisa Lewis says.

Lewis, who has worked in strip clubs all around New Zealand and the world since 17, said having fines in place was standard practice.

Lewis was commenting after Christchurch woman Jessica Clifford, 22, revealed the inner workings of Calendar Girls, which she is taking to the Employment Relations Authority.

Clifford claims unfair dismissal after she didn’t turn up to work one night last year and today revealed what the dancers were subject to behind the scenes.

A document included in her case reveals how the club can issue fines to dancers for offences including wearing a G-string for too long while performing and “hanging around in changing rooms”.

It also unveiled the various fines the dancers were subject to, which included $100 fine for lateness, $75 fine for intoxication, $250 fine for not showing up for work, a $200 fine and a 50 per cent tax on tips for “rudeness to patrons or management”, a $100 fine for wearing a G-string – “All dancers must be completely naked for whole of second song and entire duration of tip round” – and a $50 fine for “hanging around in changing rooms for [an] unacceptable amount of time”, among others.

Clifford called herself an advocate for strippers’ rights.

Lisa Lewis during her time as a guest performer at Calendar Girls several years ago. Photo/Supplied.
Lisa Lewis during her time as a guest performer at Calendar Girls several years ago. Photo/Supplied.

But Lewis was unimpressed with Clifford’s stance – and said it was normal practice to have fines in place for strippers.

“Every strip club that I’ve worked at in New Zealand… and around the world, have all had that deterrent. The girls don’t care about being told off.

“The girls that come into the industry have been kicked out of home, they’ve been on the streets, some have broken the law, they have criminal convictions.

“In terms of our industry, we don’t have a fear of being told off. We don’t care. What we care about is money.”

Lewis said each of the dancers would have a monetary goal as the reason for working there.

“One girl might be wanting fake boobs, one girl might be trying to pay rent and put food on the table for the family, another girl might be doing drugs on the side. Every girl has her own reason for being in the industry and the only way someone is going to listen in a club scenario is a deterrent of a fine.”

As for Clifford’s experience, Lewis wasn’t impressed she was calling herself an ambassador.

“She cries out that she’s been bullied and then she calls herself an ambassador to the industry. I’m sorry, someone who has been in the industry four months is not an ambassador to the industry.”

She said an ambassador in the industry would be some like dancer Venus Starr.

Lewis, who performed as a ‘guest performer’ several times at Calendar Girls many years ago, added that it was a given that you have to work weekends.

“Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest nights in a strip club. Of course they’re compulsory.”

Lewis said she felt sorry for Calendar Girls being dragged through the ERA and said she would recommend any girl to work there.

Former Calendar Girls director Jacqui Le Prou declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate given the woman’s case was before the ERA.

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