NAKED IS THE BEST DISGUISE: My Life as a Stripper by Lauri Lewin


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Lewin, now 25, recalls her five years (starting at 16) as an off-and-on stripteaser in Boston's Combat Zone--in a depressing, often-stagey memoir that's feebly angled towards feminist awakening. Her middle-class Jewish parents were divorced early; life was tense with mother and stepfather (a civil rights activist); at twelve Lauri and sister Nina moved in with their hippie-ish teacher/father--whose example led Lauri into teen promiscuity. (""From what I could see, sex was sex. The more the better."") And then, living virtually on her own at 15, Lauri got into drugs, accepted sexual abuse from a dealer/boss, next followed Nina into stripping--out of envy, the need for attention and affirmation-of-beauty (as well as cash). The first job, at the Twilight Lounge, was really vile, with prostitution a heavy sideline; Lewin left after a quasi-rape. (""As I saw it, my attacker and my innocence were the culprits. . . .Stripteasing itself was not intrinsically evil."") Things seemed much better at the Nudie-Tease Nightclub: no prostitution, a relatively decent boss, a better class of customer, a more glamorous approach to stripping and genital display--feeding Lewin's fantasies of being a Marilyn Monroe instead of short and frizzy-haired. But she found it harder and harder to separate her stripper-persona ""Lolita"" from her offstage college/romantic life. (""Lovemaking, in my mind, became like a floor show for two people, an act, the 'sex act.'"") She numbed herself with cocaine. And after the death of her semi-radical grandmother and an abortion, she finally renounced the fantasy-image of womanhood in stripping: ""I felt the ripping of the tissue from my womb and as it issued from me, I knew beyond a doubt that there could be no separation between what I did and who I was."" Some dankly authentic details of stripper-life, fair sketches of sad/self-deluding colleagues--but repetitious, often poorly written, and unconvincing as a soul-journey. . . with feminist generalizations substituted for genuine, specific self-awareness.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1984
Publisher: Morrow