Thursday, August 30, 2007

Review: Candy Girl

Candy Girl: a year in the life of an unlikely stripper by Diablo Cody
4 stars

Summary (from Publishers Weekly): Why, you might ask, would a healthy, college-educated young woman start stripping for a living, when she could work in a nice, clean office? Cody, now an arts editor for Minneapolis's alternative weekly, had spent her whole life (all 24 years) "choking on normalcy, decency and Jif sandwiches with the crusts amputated." When she moved from Chicago to Minnesota to live with the new boyfriend she'd found on the "World Wide Waste of Time," she took a job at an ad agency... but not much else. Attracted by a local bar's amateur stripping contest, Cody soon moved from stage stripping to lap dancing, from tableside to bedside customer service and, finally, peep-show sex. Removing her clothes and dry-humping strangers in sex clubs had become her way of escaping premature respectability. Quite inexplicably, her boyfriend was completely cool with her new occupation, even joining her on occasional sex jaunts. When the inevitable burnout set in, Cody switched to phone sex, until that, too, got old, and the 9-to-5 straight world beckoned. Cody's so alarmingly entertaining, readers will wish the book were longer, though they'll be glad it ends before anything really ugly happens.

My thoughts: "Alarmingly entertaining" is right - I did wish it were longer, although it definitely had enough ugly for me as it was.

This was my second Minnesotan book for our trip. Husband knew most of the strip clubs from bachelor parties and other male-bonding rituals of his youth - "As far as I'm concerned, every night is Amateur Night at the Skyway! *bleagh*" I loved the Minneapolis-ness of it, references to places I've been and seen (not the strip clubs! :) ) and to Minnesotans in general. One of the finer points of her boyfriend was "he cooked a relevatory Tator Tot hotdish."

This one's really interesting - very funny, a bit shocking, and there's even some sweetness in it thanks to her relationship with her now-husband Jonny and her step-daughter. Cody has a great comic turn of phrase - here's an example of one of the benefits of her job at the ad agency, it had excellent porn shui "Porn Shui: noun, refers to the art of positioning oneself in one's office or cubicle so that one can surf porn undetected."

I also liked her lists of the best and worst stripping songs. Husband correctly guessed the #4 best one:
" "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard. The Lep's shouted choruses and relentless programmed drums prove ideal for chicks who can really stomp. (Coincidence: I once saw a stripper who, like Rick Allen, had only one arm.)"

The #7 worst is "Any Eminem song about matricide, Quaaludes, or fatherhood." (As Husband pointed out, isn't that all of them?)

It was fascinating to learn how a self-described nerdy girl eventually found herself in a glass booth at a sex shop. And as a look behind the scenes at the strip clubs - the tedium, the weirdness, the variety of girls themselves, the struggle to sell drinks and dances and oneself. It was a bit odd to discover that, like me, she had nicknames for some of her "patrons" (including Boner Stabbone, which Husband tells me comes from Growing Pains.)

The quote below doesn't really sum it up, but I found it really funny, for some reason, and in a way it does seem to sum up the lack of glamour of the sex entertainment biz. Overheard on the 2-way radio at the sex store:

Clerk #1: "What's that movie called with the people having sex underwater?
Clerk #2: "Either Sex Underwater or Underwater Sex."
Clerk #1: "Roger that."