Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Lured into a racket
Above: advertisement for "hostesses" in the (obscured) window of a "topless" restaurant in Farringdon Road.
"Topless" restaurants and lap-dancing clubs are in every town now, following changes to the law in 2003.
Henry Mayhew in London Labour and the London Poor demonstrated that the poor pay of female theatrical performers drove them into prostitution:
“Ballet Girls have a bad reputation, which is in most cases well deserved. To begin with their remuneration - it is very poor. They get from nine to eighteen shillings. Columbine in the pantomime gets five pounds a week, but then hers is a prominent position. Out of these nine to eighteen shillings they have to find shoes and petticoats, silk stockings, etc., etc., so that the pay is hardly adequate to their expenditure, and quite insufficient to fit them out and find them in food and lodging. Can it be wondered at, that while this state of things exists, ballet-girls should be compelled to seek a livelihood by resorting to prostitution?”
This is not to condemn all modern lap-dancers and topless waitresses as prostitutes. I am sure there are some who are confident career women fully in command of their own destiny. But I guess most are pretty girls from eastern Europe, lured into a racket they cannot get out of.
There were a few lap-dancing clubs ten years ago, but the explosion in numbers has been a result of New Labour policy (along with Super Casinos and 24-hour drinking).