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Stripping For College: The Truth Beyond The Stage

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stripper truck
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Previous advertisements from strip clubs include this truck, which featured a dancer in it.

A few weeks ago, the Little Darlings Strip Club created an ad on its electronic billboard.

“Now auditioning Class of 2015,” said the sign, showing a young woman with over-sized glasses carrying books.

Another ad said “Pay your way through college.”

Stripping in Las Vegas is, of course, legal. And Little Darlings doesn’t sell alcohol, so 18-year-old women can dance there.

But the advertisement raises questions about how Las Vegas is not only viewed, but how it views its young women. And is stripping really a good way to earn money for college?

Is “stripping” for money the kind of message we want to send our young women? 

The ad was Rick Marzullo's idea. He's the manager of Little Darlings.

"It puts us out there," he told KNPR's State of Nevada, referring to the ads in question. "It also carries over into the other fields that we also hire for."

He said he hasn't received any flak for the ads, and that all responses he's gotten have been positive.

Annie Lobert was a bit more skeptical. A former exotic dancer and sex worker, she's the founder of Hookers for Jesus, an advocacy group. She experienced violence during her career and said it's likely dancers will be propositioned at some point in their careers, which can lead to situations she sees as potentially dangerous.

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"Being in the industry is sometimes very violent," she told KNPR's State of Nevada. "I found that being a stripper didn't stop the violence, because I was approached by many different men, and unfortunately one of them was a pimp. That's my caution for these beautiful ladies that go into the strip clubs to work."

Janelle, a dancer at Little Darlings, disagreed with Lobert's claims.

"I'm not approached by predators," she said. "I think my daughter probably has more predators at her high school, or going to the movies. I think it's funny, to me, to see other people's points of views."

She said she specifically chose to work at Little Darlings because it does not serve alcohol, and compared it to a "boutique hotel," but said even at larger clubs where she's worked, she hasn't been preyed upon.

Lynn Comella is a professor of gender and sexuality studies at UNLV. She said what the ad depicts -- young people using such work to pay for higher education -- is not anything new.

"This isn't a new phenomenon," she said. "It's certainly not a Vegas-only phenomenon. I think that's really important to remember. Students, both women and, in fact, men, have turned to jobs in the adult industry and in the sex industry for a long, long time to raise money for tuition and to support themselves as they go through school."

She said the only thing surprising about the ads themselves were that they were large and well noticed.

(Editor's Note: This story originally aired in June 2015)

Guests

Lynn Comella, professor of gender and sexuality studies, UNLV; Annie Lobert, founder, Hookers for Jesus; Rick Marzullo, manager, Little Darlings; Janelle, Little Darlings performer

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