LA Weekly


The first, expository third of ex-stripper Jill Morley’s documentary, Stripped, tells the viewer nothing that existing fiction and documentary films about sex workers – women and men, gay and straight, strippers, escorts and porn stars alike – haven’t already told us. Many, for instance, grew up feeling ugly or invisible, and now use their sexuality to fill self-esteem voids. Even those who are not so wounded, who view the work positively or as a political statement, confess to a creeping cynicism about humanity and a mounting resentment of their clients. But as the film progresses beyond its formulaic introduction, the featured women – ranging from a single mom who’s also a freelance writer, to a dancer with an MFA from NYU, to an actress/performance artist – push the film toward a more nuanced dialogue. Confessed fears of soul corruption, aging and the loss of genuine creativity elevate the film from lukewarm rehashing into an often- moving philosophical debate on everything from femininity to the nature of work. Though Morley, who also created and starred in a one-woman show based on her experiences, is a shaky technician (the film frequently veers out of focus, and camera placement often obscures as much as it captures), she leads with her heart, for a character study that lovingly honors its subjects.
The film is the first in a three-week series.
(Sunset 5; Sat.-
Mon., Aug. 31-Sept. 2)