What would you do if your workplace became a brothel?

Would you work with it?

Fight it?

or Quit?



LICENSE TO PIMP is a feature documentary about the dilemmas that strippers face when they must pay for the privilege to work in strip clubs where management violate their labor rights. Filmed in San Francisco, the filmmaker (an ex-stripper) investigates the various factors that enable the strip clubs to pimp their workers and deny them basic rights that workers across America are guaranteed.

The film chronicles the choices of three strippers & the filmmaker and offers a rare & intimate window into an aspect of this industry that few are privy to.

We follow LOLA, a teenage Latina immigrant who struggles to remain a lap-dancer while working alongside co-workers who prostitute to pay management their stage fees. DAISY is a whistle-blower who lobbies city and state agencies to demand that they enforce the law so that workers’ rights are protected.  Determined to keep 100% of her earnings for herself, MARIKO strips outside the strip club circuit and must learn tactics to remain safe.

Through these women’s stories, we see the current working conditions for exotic dancers not only in San Francisco, but throughout the nation and globally.   As strip clubs misclassify workers as independent contractors and engage in other illegal and unfair labor practices, this documentary aims to uncover the options available to workers to negotiate their labor.

nt, a whistle blower, and a woman who tries to transition out of this
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5 Responses to “documentary”
  1. Richard A. Sands, PD/PI says:

    Thank you, thank you indeed because it is about protecting workers “all workers” throughout the nation and golbally as strip clubs misclassify workers as independent contractors and engage in illegal and unfair labor practices that endanger their health & safety… without question or exception!

  2. Sierra says:

    I find all of this to be a shame but not too surprising. I’m thrilled to pieces that you created this website and are trying to get information out there. I danced for 10 years and it was honestly the best time of my life until I saw the steady price to work go up and the consequence of that was, of course the competition to make more so the dancers did more. I honestly think that there needs to be a clear line between dancing and brothels and it it getting blurred. Many of my regulars didn’t want extras and things like that. They honestly appreciated the female form, or were neglected at home but didn’t want to “cheat” so going to a strip club was perfect for them.
    I was fired from one for turning down a managers request to have relations with him. That is not why I was there. It was business. I needed to support myself and my son. period. I’ve worked in many clubs and have have a pretty good collection of the papers and things they posted on the walls in the dressing room to show people the absurdity of it all. I finally transitioned into the “real world” of work about 5 years ago and it was tough but I’m glad now considering how far things have progressed. When I started, we did Table dances, dances tableside, then lap dances, and when I stopped it was pretty much dry humping customers (where’s the beauty in that!) I purchased a website and tried to get the word out after being fired but the ladies either didn’t believe what I was telling them (independent contractor vs employee) or couldn’t do anything about it because they had to feed their family (I learned to keep my mouth shut because of that)
    This is actually a topic I am very passionate about and always will be. Despite people opinion of what its all about (or was) I gained self esteem and confidence and was empowered as a woman from dancing. I know that is not true in every case but it was in mine. The crappy thing was that I couldn’t tell most people what I did because judgement would take place of getting to know me. Funny, I would get to know someone really well and think they knew me enough to not let that shade their opinion of me but many times it did. It is my opinion now that I’ve been in the “real work world” that at least when you walked into the club I was working at, it was all transparent- It was a business deal; I am there selling you fantasy and you are paying for that. I have learned in the corporate world people do “extras” to get ahead- rather underhanded and shady compared to the transparency of going into a strip club if you ask me. And I now know they are no “better” people then I, dancing or not, they just used that label to make themselves feel better.
    Thank you again for this site and getting the word out there! i believe there is a place in this world for strip clubs and dancers, we just need to take it back a few notches and put the beauty back into it and empower the women. I’d never take back my dancing days

    • Richard A. Sands, PD/PI says:

      Indeed, thank you Sierra for sharing your experience and story. I agree with you a thousand percent. That is one reason why I started the website and blog… to help bring awareness regarding dancers safety, health and welfare issues.

    • HI, Sierra-
      Thanks for your response–I agree with you about feeling empowered by stripping. I also have no regrets about stripping. I loved watching women performing on stage & was fortunate enough to start off working at a dive strip club where there was true ethnic & body diversity so I got to work alongside women who didn’t fit the conventional idea of Barbie beauty. I feel it’s where I developed an appreciation for the female body in all its glory & flaws.

      My only regret is that management took advantage of workers by misclassifying us as independent contractors & charging us exorbitant fees to work. When I worked at the Market St. Cinema, girls had to pay between $200-$300 per shift. Cudos to you for taking out a website & trying to better educate your fellow workers about their labor rights. It’s too bad that the message wasn’t well received. I encountered the same reactions you got plus others that were very hostile. Women felt that we should pay to work because the manager had a wife & kids or because “we didn’t pay taxes.” I was outraged. Many of us had families & did pay taxes. And even if we were single, why should I ever have to pay to work? The clubs are getting away with a bigger tax fraud by not paying employee taxes, social security, etc. Other strippers felt that because all of the clubs were charging strippers to work, then it must be legal so therefore OK. Even when presented with info that mandatory tip outs to the management was illegal, women still choose to side with management. Usually to save their jobs. A few slept with management to further ensure their jobs. Some argued that we should pay to work like hairdressers & cab drivers…

      Good for you that you transitioned out of the sex industry. It’s not easy adjusting to the income loss or the ability to have a more flexible work schedule. I definitely deleted my stripping history from my resumes when trying to get “respectable” 9-5 jobs. I agree that it’s a harsh but transparent truth that the sex industry doesn’t hide that it exists to serve customers’ sexual appetites or that people “get ahead” by sleeping with the boss. I have a harder time believing in “respectable” people like cops, mayors, & district attorneys who claim to fight crime and injustices to women yet remain mute & dumb even after strippers complain about how strip club management’s pimp fees push many of us to turn tricks & work in underground brothels.

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