Dancers say private rooms provide them key revenue
Hundreds of adult entertainers converged on City Hall on Friday in an effort to prevent lawmakers from banning private rooms and booths in San Francisco’s adult entertainment clubs.
The City Commission on the Status of Women is considering legislation to ban the private rooms after receiving reports that women are sexually exploited and abused in the secluded areas.
But dancers say taking away the booths takes away their money. “Eighty percent of the money I make is through private rooms,” said Gia, a dancer at the Hustler Club in North Beach. Dancers use the money to pay for school and support their families, she said. It’s estimated that a dancer can make between $200 and $1,000 per shift.
Legislation drafted by the commission would ban the booths and require the clubs to obtain a permit through The City’s Entertainment Commission. The Entertainment Commission’s Legislative Analyst Committee listened on Friday to an hour of testimony from the adult entertainers, and then continued the hearing to a later date.
“Our object is not to shut down the clubs. We understand that dancing is a legitimate form of work,” said Emily Murase, executive director of the Status of Women commission. Murase said the private booths are a “public safety hazard” and the legislation would protect “the needs of those who are most vulnerable.”
But dancers said the legislation would make things worse. “If they take away the booths then [dancers] might be forced to perform in unsafe areas like in hotel rooms, private parties, where you are not as closely watched,” Gia said.
Those behind this legislation do not understand what goes on in the private booths, said Evan, who dances at Centerfolds Déjà Vu in North Beach.
“I actually make a living out of talking to men. I sometimes give lap dances. But most of the time I speak to lawyers, I speak to policemen, I speak to city councilmen. I realize men not only need this fantasy world but they also need emotional support.” Evan said.
While most spoke against the legislation, Daisy Anarchy, a former dancer, said, “The private booths are specifically a tool to enable prostitution to happen in the dance clubs.” She added, “I, as a dancer, was making fine money without a private booth. I have been sexually assaulted in these booths.”
No matter what the Entertainment Commission ultimately decides, the Commission on the Status of Women plans on bringing the legislation before the Board of Supervisors in September or October.