A confession of sorts: I’m a horror fanatic. It’s almost an addiction, actually, but not one I’m particularly concerned about. As such, I was more excited than I had any right to be when I sat down to watch the Joe Bob Briggs “Red Christmas” marathon on Shudder on December 13th.

For those who’ve never heard of or watched a Joe Bob marathon, whether on Shudder or 20-plus years ago on TNT’s MonsterVision (the man truly is a national treasure), his marathons work like this: He shows a movie, then breaks a few times throughout the movie to offer deep-dive trivia and factoids. He also riffs on all sorts of things, anything from politics to pop culture.

On this recent “Red Christmas” marathon, Joe Bob ended the marathon by telling “sad Christmas stories” that have happy endings. Though his was certainly compelling, it was the one told by his “co-host” of sorts, “Darcy the Mail Girl,” that really got my attention.

And it should get yours, too.

Feature entertainer Natasha Nova, photo by Mad Creativity
Feature entertainer Natasha Nova, photo by Mad Creativity

As Darcy explained, several years ago she and her son were being abused and severely traumatized by her ex-husband. Eventually, she was able to escape from this abuse with her son, but was then left, literally, with nothing (please keep in mind, I’m paraphrasing here). As she was waiting in line to apply for welfare, she decided that she wanted a more empowering path for herself. So, she did what other women have done when in a similar situation: She went to a strip club and started dancing.

“That night I came home to my son and I had more cash than we had ever seen,” said Darcy, noting that this was a club in South Carolina but did not specify which one. “I told him we never had to worry about money again, that we were going to be okay.”

Club owners and operators have heard a story similar to Darcy’s many times over the years, I’m quite sure. This is a point that those who oppose strip clubs and some those in the media tend to overlook: That being an exotic dancer is a viable source of income for hundreds of thousands of women. That being an exotic dancer can support a family, or launch a new career, or pay for a college degree. That being an exotic dancer can be empowering.

In the era of “me too,” this can be quite the dichotomy. Stripping as female empowerment? Absolutely! And isn’t this a great opportunity to change the conversation as it relates to strip clubs? If dancers feel empowered and respected in your club, then they can be your best possible spokeswomen — to other entertainers, on social media, to their friends and families even.

The entertainers are the life’s blood of your club, right? But do they know that? Are they appreciated? Do they feel that your club is a safe space for them to earn a living? For an industry that has, at times, been an easy target for evangelicals, “family” groups and pseudo-feminists, it’s time to flip the script — and your entertainers could help you do just that.

EXPO deal 1