(omaha) - By day she’s works at Blue Line Coffee Shop selling cappuccinos. By night, she dances at a strip club to earn college credit.
As a sociology student studying in Europe, 22-year-old Jenny Heineman became interested in another line of work.
“I was taking a course on Sexuality and Culture and got introduced to the underground culture of sex work, and became very interested in the rights of sex workers”, explains Jenny.
Sex workers, like strippers.
Jenny adds, “Upon entering the states, my curiosity and my desire to work with these women led me to get a job.”
Not just any job. By night, Jenny dances at the 20’s Club.
“I probably go up on stage maybe four times in a five-hour shift”, says Jenny. “And I’m constantly thinking please don’t fall.”
She’s learned to strut her stuff in five-inch heels. “And the rest of the time is spent kind of mingling with customers and doing dances for customers at tables”, says Jenny.
This is the first time the 20”s Club has allowed a camera inside, but the club is still protective of its customers and dancers. Jenny is the only one allowed to appear on camera. Her experience with the customers and her fellow workers at the 20’s Club eventually became the subject of her honor thesis at University of Nebraska at Omaha entitled “Work & Gender: A Midwest Strip Club Ethnography”.
U.N.O Sociology & Anthropology Professor Dr. Shireen Rajaram says, “I think it’s very, very worthwhile topic for us to really, really look at.”
Dr. Rajaran applauds Jenny’s courage and says only through this kind of first hand account, can sociologists identify with real issues and dispel stereotypes.
“It’s a huge industry. So I think it’s important for us as sociologists and anthropologists to really shed light on some of these issues, especially the social injustices” says Dr. Rajaran.
Jenny says the biggest injustice is the biggest stigma placed on her fellow dancers. ‘You know, a lot of these women are doing this to support their families. Several of them are single mothers. They work very hard at a job that can be quite tiresome”, explains Jenny.
If nothing else, she hopes to raise awareness of inequities, and earn the dancers respect she says they deserve.
Jenny exclaims, “Get to know your local stripper. That’s the message.”