by Robert Butler
Jill Morley was working as an exotic dancer when she decided to make a documentary about women who take their clothes off for a living.
Stripped, (playing Sunday, April 13) starts out with everyone involved giving the usual justifications for taking a job as a stripper: It pays incredibly well, it gives women a sense of power, it’s nice to be wanted, etc. Yet the more Morley delves into her subject, the darker this world becomes. By concentrating on a small group of her friends and co-workers, she’s able to get below the surface, examining how this work has affected (usually negatively) their relationships, sexuality and identity. In the case of one woman, it proves fatal.
Simultaneously lurid and insightful (though weighted toward the latter), Stripped is quietly heartbreaking. Still, there are moments of unexpected humor. Take the subject of breast augmentation, which one dancer compares to the special effects in Star Wars: Everybody knows they’re fake, but that doesn’t stop the audience from enjoying them.