Sssh will be okay, Archie, but I am glad they see the possible ramifications in terms of censorship and are part of the campaign, because they might not be okay if it goes ahead and to the next level. Expectations will also be okay, they only need to stop selling triple x dvds and they can keep their licence I think. Chariots won't be affected, which seems odd, but it's got political weight behind it; pinkpound. I think the policy is specifically anti women as much as being anti sex; the idea of sex & women being most threatening. The venues most targeted are those which the council themselves has decreed are offensive; neighbourhood forums don't agree. there haven't been complaints, for example. People in the area aren't objecting - it's mostly because the Olympic cavalcade (that's the wrong word for it, I know, but whatever - the fleet of cars?) will go up the Hackney Road and mustn't see these places. The only thing there is to see is the word striptease written in neon outside The Axe. Which isn't lit up in daylight, and is probably mistaken for some kind of Tracey Emin-ish pretty piece of art by the local hipsters. I don't get this nil policy at all, and I think it's got misogynist as well as draconian overtones. It makes women the greatest thing for society to fear, the naked female body. Specifically the bodies of women who rarely unionise (although many are doing so over this), and who often don't have all their legal papers and their immigration status may be sketchy. Yeah, they are really worth hating. Talk about easy targets. This isn't always the case, though. And the day the dancers were given a meeting room in the Town Hall where they and sat around a giant table, all miked up, and made a councillor realise that some of them had postgraduate qualifications, were highly articulate, and all loved their work (which is a threat in itself, I think, to the very fabric of our society: loving your work) and weren't being exploited.....it was priceless. But I don't know if it will be enough. It doesn't seem, ostensibly, like a big deal amidst all the huge cuts and the corruption taking place, but I do believe it has really worrying overtones. We take our performance nights for granted, the freedom of expression in LGBT and ground-breaking nights out across the city, but we can't take that for granted if this policy goes through, and it suggests that the walls are closing in.
It's important that by outlawing these types of places they necessarily go underground, which does mean that the women working in them are unsafe.
It might seem that the world of straight men looking at strippers has no bearing on gay rights, but I see them as very closely connected: the idea of 'othering' those considered to be a risk to society. The idea of those who are 'too sexual' or 'sexually deviant'. And these venues did set a precedent over 30 years ago for a whole wave of gay, drag, performance art, burlesque, call it what you like, to take place across the city. These are old school East End venues which fly in the face of body fascism and ageism. Jo King is large and formidable and in her late 40s or older, still performing, and started off in these places. She turned the tradition mainstream, and whatever you think of that - I don't know if the knock-on effect could put a stranglehold on performance nights in Vauxhall, Soho...who can say? I think it's not a good sign, though. I think we take our freedoms for granted, and there are people in suits wanting to make moral decisions on our behalf. By opposing this policy, you oppose the very idea of this.