A French photographer offers an unexpected view of the United States through its many strip clubs


Some individuals journey the world in quest of journey, whereas others hunt down pure wonders, cultural landmarks or culinary experiences. However French photographer François Prost was on the lookout for one thing altogether completely different throughout his latest street journey throughout America: strip golf equipment.

From Miami to Los Angeles, Prost’s newest ebook “Gentlemen’s Club” charts his route throughout the US through practically 150 strip golf equipment with names like Pleasures, Temptations and Cookies N’ Cream. There isn’t a single nude lady to be seen, nevertheless, as Prost’s digicam was completely skilled on the buildings themselves — and particularly their often-colorful facades.

Over the course of 5 weeks in 2019 he traversed over 6,000 miles, with the resulting photos capturing every thing from the pastel hues of Florida’s Membership Pink Pussycat to venues hiding in plain sight within the nation’s extra non secular states.

“I’d divide these venues into two sorts: One could be very built-in into the general public panorama, and one is a little more hidden and dodgy,” Prost mentioned, talking to CNN on a video name and e-mail.

The Xcape Mens Club in El Paso, Texas.

The primary sort, he added, might be present in “very American” settings, reminiscent of “round amusement parks and quick meals and malls.” The latter venues, nevertheless, would typically look indistinguishable from any retailer in a strip mall. Prost mentioned he discovered many such institutions alongside the Bible Belt, a socially conservative area within the nation’s south. He was particularly eager to discover the realm because of the obvious distinction between the prevalence of strip golf equipment and what he describes in his ebook as “conservatism and excessive puritanism.”

Prost insisted that he had little curiosity within the interiors or providers of the strip golf equipment, which he at all times visited in the course of the day. As an alternative, he hoped to be taught extra about American tradition by creating goal, documentary-style pictures of institutions sitting on the intersection of intercourse, gender and commerce. Documenting altering attitudes towards intercourse by way of the lens of structure, he added that the sequence was primarily of a panorama images undertaking.

“The prism of this theme of strip membership facades grew to become a method of learning and attempting to grasp the nation,” he wrote in “Gents’s Membership,” pictures from which can function in an exhibition in Tokyo in March.

”(‘Gents’s Membership’ is) an goal panorama of dominant opinions and gender and the sexualization of the female picture.”

The genesis of Prost’s undertaking dates again to his 2018 sequence, “After Party,” which centered on the flamboyant facades of French nightclubs. He mentioned that individuals continuously commented that the buildings’ exteriors regarded as if that they had been ripped straight out of American cities, sparking the concept that he ought to go to the US and lengthen the undertaking.

As he meticulously deliberate his journey, he was struck not solely by the sheer quantity of strip golf equipment in America however that — in contrast to In Europe — they usually demanded to be seen. Sizzling pink partitions, gigantic nude silhouettes and even candy-cane-striped storefronts made no secret of the form of leisure supplied inside.

“ instance can be Las Vegas, the place strip golf equipment are all over the place and their indicators blink as a lot as a quick meals (restaurant) or on line casino signal,” Prost mentioned.

Miami’s golf equipment have been usually painted in vivid, Wes Anderson-esque hues. Different pictures present brightly coated venues contrasting with their sparse desert environment.

Little Darling, one of over a dozen Las Vegas establishments featured in Prost's book.

If the institutions have been open in the course of the day, Prost would enter and ask for permission to take pictures so as “to not look suspicious… and clarify what my intentions have been,” he mentioned. The interiors not often lived as much as the tantalizing guarantees plastered throughout the indicators outdoors, however the photographer met a bunch of characters throughout his five-week journey, from detached bouncers to managers who have been thrilled in regards to the undertaking.

“More often than not, individuals have been OK — 99% of them would say sure to a facade image,” he mentioned, including they sometimes wouldn’t thoughts his presence, so long as he didn’t take pictures of patrons or dancers.

“Some would assume that it was a bit unusual, some can be actually enthusiastic about it and provides me their enterprise card to ship me the image when it was completed,” he mentioned.

Prost mentioned his greatest shock, nevertheless, was how “normalized” strip golf equipment gave the impression to be in on a regular basis life. As he displays in his ebook, “The connection that Individuals appear to have with strip golf equipment is sort of completely different to what you see in Europe. Going to a strip membership appears to be much more normalized … You go as a pair, or amongst mates at evening to have enjoyable.”

He was struck, as an example, by the truth that so many Las Vegas strip golf equipment doubled as eating places — with many boasting comfortable hour offers, buffets and particular reductions for truck drivers or building employees.

“I observed a number of strip golf equipment that will promote being a strip membership and steakhouse, so you would eat a giant piece of meat (whereas) watching strippers. That can be one thing that appears very American to me,” he mentioned, including: “I heard from some individuals I met in Portland there are even strip golf equipment (that supply) vegan meals.”

The facades are plagued by jokes like “My intercourse life is just like the Sahara, 2 palms, no dates” and pun-based names like Booby Entice and Bottoms Up. Prost’s documentarian method heightens the indicators’ surreal comedy. But it surely additionally doubles as a impartial lens by way of which viewers could make up their very own minds in regards to the objectification of girls.

Dreams Club in Los Angeles, California.

By honing in on the faceless dancing our bodies of feminine silhouettes and the quintessential “ladies ladies ladies” indicators, “Gentleman’s Membership” explores the commodification of girls who’re, in actuality, utterly absent in Prost’s works (an statement mirrored within the ebook’s title, which is a phrase that crops up quite a few instances on indicators all through his pictures). The strip golf equipment he visited market ladies as issues to be consumed, from the various food-themed names to an commercial studying, “1,000’s of lovely ladies & three ugly ones.”

For his subsequent undertaking, Prost plans to go to Japan to doc the nation’s love inns, which occupy the same position as strip golf equipment in some elements of the US: open secrets and techniques in a conservative society. However the photographer believes the American institutions he visited say one thing distinctive in regards to the nation — one thing that’s much less about sexuality and extra in regards to the American dream.

What his undertaking has proven him is, he mentioned, this: “So long as you’re profitable by way of enterprise, (it doesn’t matter) in case your exercise offers with intercourse.”

“Gents’s Membership” might be exhibited at Agnes b. Galerie Boutique in Tokyo, Japan, between March 17 and April 15, 2023. The book, printed by Fisheye Editions, is accessible now.

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