bschaller at ltoa dot com
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Review: Lily Burana's Strip City

In my voyage to become a Bookslut, I have been reading quite a lot lately. My latest adventure into the literary world has been Strip City. Strip City is the memoir of Lily Burana, a former exotic dancer, who on upon deciding to settle down and get married, has a sudden urge to revisit her former life to reconcile her demons. As an added bonus she decides to take us along with her by documenting her travels. I must admit that when I first picked up the book, I expected some shocking expose by an "I have no regrets, take me as I am or fuck you.." kind of stripper. This was not the case. I must also admit that ever since the first time I was taken to a strip club I have found them most strange. I mean that in just about every way possible. It is a strange mix of a testosterone-driven urge to see naked women, a sense of feeling sorry for the exploited girls, a wonder at either the strength or resign the girls must have, and a sense of honesty about the whole experience. The last one may be surprising to some of you, but I still say that a strip club, next to a casino, is one of the most honest places you can find. Reading Strip City gave me some new insight into a world which I don't think I am fully capable of understanding. Burana does a good job a humanizing her story and experience. She tells about girls who fall into convenient stripper stereotypes of single-mom and uber-feminist, but she also goes beyond some of these same old cliches. One of the only issues I had with the book was her word choice in the prose. It is a good story and a moving one as well, but she seems to try a little to hard sometimes. I don't know who she is trying to prove herself to, herself or the reader, but when you use words like "Faustian" or "somabulatory" and "pussy" in the same sentence it just seems kind of out of place. If you can get past her high-brow literary references and need for words longer than ten letters, you actually do get a good story. Aside from a little insight into a subculture that none of us will experience first hand, you are able to relate to one lesson at least: The past is not a tourist destination. If you really want to go back a relive the past, you must be prepared to deal with everything that goes with it. This book makes that point as well as the character of Rob Gordon does in High Fidelity when he decides to call all of his old girlfriends. This is a dangerous road and one that is to be taken with caution. All that said, I found this book an enjoyable read and would recommend it. If you have some hang up about exotic dancing and are turned off by that, you should read this book even more. These girls are the ones that have fallen through the cracks, shining a little light on them is a good thing. B

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