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"Power of the Pussy" Takes You Behind the Pole at Magic City

By Siobhan Cassidy

The only experience I had with strippers before watching the Power of the Pussy was with this nasty drug-addled British performer named Debbie Dumpling, who had breast that looked like rotten watermelons and a face only a mother or a creep with a BBW fetish could love. She "danced" at my 21st birthday celebration and pretty much ruined strippers for me because every time I've seen an erotic dancer since, I've been instantly reminded of Debbie's stank outhouse odor. But Power of the Pussy, the new YouTube documentary series about strippers at Atlanta, Georgia's famed Magic City, helped wipe away the bad taste Debbie left in my mouth and give me a newfound appreciation for the revelatory power of erotic dancing and the women who do it. The show allowed me to see strippers not as disease-infested creatures of the night, but strong artistic entertainers who grind to get what they want in the world on their own terms. This behind the scenes look at the most shouted-out titty bar in world gives you insider insight into the fears these dancers have starting out, the situations that brought them to stripping, and how they've gone beyond simply taking their clothes off to create a form of entertainment that splices many different types of dance together. Power of the Pussy also made me wonder why am I interning at VICE for free, when I could be dancing on stage making a shitload of money. Considering all of this, I called up director Artemus Jenkins and retired-stripper/pole fitness instructor Gigi Maguire to talk about the new show, the difference between stripping and entertaining, and how to use my vagina for power. 

VICE: Do you think your pussy is the key to your power?
Gigi Maguire
: Money, power, and respect. First, you get the money, then you get the power. And when you get the power, then motherfuckers will respect you... In the words of Lil’ Kim.

That’s true.
Women have the power. That’s why the title of the documentary is what it is. We don’t go looking to men for entertainment or company or to have someone to talk to or whatever.

You look sexy. Do you feel sexy?
At the end of the day, I got into stripping for the money. You don't strip because you want to dance naked. I don’t know anybody who wants to go up and dance on stage naked in front of strangers. 

When I think of a stripper, I think of a chunky, white trash woman named Debbie. But this documentary seems to show a more glorified type of stripper.
Stripping is becoming more mainstream because the ball players and rappers are coming to see us and talk about us. People are beginning to see us in a different light. Before, there were a lot of rachet clubs and hole-in-the-wall places that were near truck stops and airports. The girls were not as enticing and were more into drugs and prostitution. Now, these strippers are like celebrities. These girls are glorified for what they do and for having these amazing bodies and skill. Once you get hip-hop to start talking about it, then it goes to the moon from there because hip-hop is the driving force behind our culture these days.

What's the difference between a stripper and an entertainer?
There is a large difference between a stripper and an entertainer. A stripper isn’t going to give you much entertainment. They are just going to take their clothes off, booty shake, and their show isn’t going to be much of a show. An entertainer is going to wow you with their performance. That performance is going to be so great that when they don’t take their clothes off, it doesn’t even matter. Or you don't even realize that they didn't take off their clothes because you were so amazed by the tricks they presented in their performance.

Gigi Maguire

Mr. Jenkins, how much time did you spend at the strip clubs before you thought of shooting a documentary?
Artemus Jenkins: After you go to so many strip clubs, ass and titties start to look the same. That's what happened. So, I started talking to people. That's when I found out that strippers did stuff outside stripping, like go to school and get degrees.

But you don’t have a pussy. How did you know pussy has the power?
I found out from the women who I interviewed. They use their pussies for independence. Power, to me, represents independence. I think people assume strippers are victims. But I learned that isn’t always the case.

So do you think this documentary will show the world that strippers have brains?
I think people could find out on an individual basis. A lot of these women are smart, good, well-rounded people. Unfortunately, it isn’t widely known that these girls aren't lowlifes.

Gigi: Before I’m a stripper, I’m a mother, I’m a woman, I’m a business owner. It’s those positive things that comprise who I am. Not to say that stripping is negative, but people look at stripping in a negative light and don’t understand everything else that comes along with the lifestyle and the job itself. They also don’t understand what these women actually have going on. It’s a shame that people look at us that way.

Are the complex dance moves done in select places like Magic City what drives people to rave about ATL as a Mecca for stripping?
AJ
: That’s a big part of it.  For men, it is an aesthetic thing. The men who rap about and go to Magic City go there because that is the type of woman they like to see. It is the way these girls move. In future parts of the video, you will see what it means to dance like someone like Gigi.

Gigi, do you feel like you’re an local celebrity in the clubs?
GM
: No, I’m every woman. Yeah I ride with this team, but we are regular people. Whatever name you want to put on us, be it strippers, dancers, or whatever—we are still regular people.

For sure. Thanks Gigi and Artemus!

For more Power of the Pussy, check out part two of the series below:

@SiobhanCassidy0

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