Revelatory, unapologetic life story of a San Francisco stripper and sex worker.
Crane, a university writing instructor and Los Angeles blogger, writes nostalgically of her solitary youth as an energetic, restless “chunky” girl growing up in Northern California. Her father, a lawyer, abandoned the family when she was 10; as a teenager, negative body image issues manifested into bulimia. But it was her mother’s abusive post-marriage relationship that forced her to move to San Francisco on her own at 17, posing nude for artists while subsisting on “a diet of meth and oranges.” Her bisexuality emerged alongside a slow descent into drug abuse, which parlayed into dancing at a colorful assortment of San Francisco strip clubs catering to generous, fetishistic patrons. After a suicide attempt, Crane found the strength to attend substance abuse recovery meetings. With pride and exhilaration, she discusses her time pole dancing as “Lolita” and “Stevie,” as well as her activist involvement in the country’s first strip club unionization; the author does not express shame for a livelihood borne out of necessity and fascination. Crane even straddled sex work with a stint as a youth counselor, but when her mother became debilitated with cancer, she and her brother compassionately came to her aid and bestowed a dying wish in an excruciatingly sorrowful scene. However, she again yielded to the call of the street, traveling from Los Angeles to New Orleans. There’s a gripping emotional current coursing through Crane’s often startling material; the urgency and brazen honesty of her storytelling is difficult to ignore. Definitely not for the sheepish, Crane’s graphic life spent navigating gritty gentlemen’s clubs and massage parlors doesn’t end with catharsis but with unrepentant contentment.
A raw, searing self-portrait.