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All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C.

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted December 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating, informative and intelligently written Memoir/Exposé

    Craig Seymour writes with the abandon and grace of a wordsmith with years of experience instead of a young writer for whom this is only his second book. Granted he has practice gained from academic studies and from writing for the media as a critic and interviewer of pop stars and those attributes give his book a uniquely credible flavor. But whatever the combination of elements upon which he draws, Seymour simply writes very well, capturing the interest of the read from page one to the last without a moment for pause. <BR/><BR/>The very amiable Seymour shares his personal life, first as a somewhat sexually identity confused child from an African American family in Washington, DC to his years as a university student when he gradually confronts his early questions of who he is by having the courage to try the challenging aspects that have always been his approach/avoidance conflict under the guise of an academic thesis: he will investigate the culture of gay strippers by first observing and then participating. From Seymour's fluid writing style the reader flows along with him, learning the idiosyncrasies and very humanistic situations he confronts in the world of the physically relaxed stripper bars of Washington, DC. <BR/><BR/>What makes Craig Seymour's memoir many steps above other attempts to tell-all about the netherworld of strip clubs is his manner of sharing the real responses of both the strippers and the clients who pay for the services. Yes, he does touch on some strange tales of experiences related by other strippers and personally witnessed on his own, but the overall feeling is the discovery of the reasons and motivations on both sides of the dance bar. He also shares his first hand (and rejected) introduction into the other aspects of the porn industry and escort concept and one reason these episodes are touching is Seymour's valued sharing of his investigations with his significant supportive partner Seth, an honesty that pervades all of his reporting. <BR/><BR/>What this book offers is entertainment and a very well documented evaluation of the years when the most daring strip bars in the country were in the capital city of the nation! Seymour ends his book with his experiences as a celebrity interviewer, and these last chapters seem at first to be far less well written, less interesting that the major portion of the book - until Seymour ties his life experiences together in the last chapter, opening windows of self discovery and the resultant quiet advice that leaves the reader feeling endeared to the writer. This is an important book, not just a passing fance type exposé but instead a beautifully wrought slice of American life we should all share. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2008

    Positive, insightful and witty look at gay DC's infamous strip clubs of the 80's and 90's

    In this unique and engaging memoir, Craig Seymour attributes his childhood fascination with street hookers, glimpsed as his parents drove through his native D.C. at night, as the likely motivation to do his master's thesis on the social interaction of male strippers and their customers in the 'hands on' D.C. gay clubs of the late '80's and early '90's. When one of his interviewees at the clubs suggested he'd get a much better perspective by actually working as a stripper, he agreed, with much trepidation yet excitement at no longer being an 'outsider' in that world. For a period of years that reached through his doctoral studies, Seymour became a regular performer at several of these clubs located in the seedy S.E. section of downtown, ironically a short distance from the White House and Pentagon. Throughout these years, he returned home each night to his longtime (and first) lover, Seth, who didn't really understand his need to dance naked in front of strangers instead of teaching (as he did) to finance his graduate studies, but nevertheless tolerated it as something Craig needed to do. The 'memoir' section of most gay book stores has no shortage of books by former strippers, escorts or porn stars, doing a 'tell-all' about their exploits for a willing audience of readers. Seymour's book is refreshingly different from this crowd, not just because he 'drew the line' at stripping, but because he recognizes and reflects on the reasons why he needed to do it, and how it has helped and shaped his personality and future career aspirations, which included a stint as a music critic, celebrity journalist/photographer, and now as a professor of English. It's a witty and positive message of being open to live one's dreams, regardless of any possible consequences, and being honest and open-minded in dealings with people you meet at any stage in your life. The book also gives considerable insight into the mindset of other strippers, including 'gay for pay' straight boys there (supposedly) just for the money, as well as the lives of some of the regular (but occasionally racist) customers, who craved the forced intimacy and fantasy 'connection' made with these boys. Last but not least, it gives a historical and political perspective on gay nightlife in Seymour's beloved home town, which razed all of these clubs about ten years ago to make room for the new baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals. Much recommended, five dancing stars out of five.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2009

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