An Intimate Look at the Nightly Routine of Miami Strippers

Iconic photographer Jill Freedman shares previously unpublished photographs of exotic dancers she took in 2002.

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Jul 24 2016, 4:00am

Jill Freedman is an incredibly accomplished artist and image maker. Her career has spanned five decades and during that time she has made a name for herself through award-winning street photography in New York. She began working spontaneously in the 1960s when she shot her first two rolls of film on a borrowed camera, and has been creating iconic images ever since.

I was mostly familiar with her amazing black and white photographs of cops, firefighters, and 70s NYC, so I was very surprised to receive an email from her with the subject line "Miami Strippers 2002". However, after getting the chance to chat with her a couple times and visit her apartment and archive, I realized she applies the same spirit of adventure to every assignment. - Elizabeth Renstrom, Vice Photo Editor

Below is the artists statement she published with these photographs.

Nothing says love like a nice present, and while candy and flowers are good, nothing gets Cupid's arrow quivering like a spanking new pair of knickers. The kind you put on to take off. If love is fleeting and ephemeral, best to keep the dream alive, put as much statin and lace between your pelt and the naked truth as decently possible.

In search of the indecently possible, and the romance that's in it, I checked out what the strippers weren't wearing. For who would know better about taking it off than a stripper? But alas, stiptease is no more; no more tease of the balloon or bubble or veil. They come out already stripped of illusion, leaving nothing to the imagination. Where is the magic? Nowadays strippers look like everyone else running around in their underwear, except their heels are higher and their bodies build. And they get paid for the working out. Jill Freedman, December 2002 — Miami Beach, Florida.

She spoke to VICE about her her process when shooting this project.

VICE: You're a prolific street photographer, how do you embed yourself without being intrusive?
Jill Freedman: Sometimes I'm invisible, sometimes I'm not. I don't question magic.

What's the story behind your access and motivation to photograph these strippers?
I saw a woman in ridiculous stripper shoes standing in a doorway. It made me want to shoot strippers.

How do you choose the subject matter you're going to focus on?
It chooses me.

I find you're known a lot for your work shot in NYC, do you prefer photographing place outside of the city, like you did here?
I love traveling and making pictures. People are the same everywhere, most of them are nuts. It's fun catching crazy moments.

In speaking with you now, several times, I've learned a great deal about your life and adventures, but I'd love to hear more about what you'd like to be photographing now versus when you started?
I started photographing people and I still want to photograph people. For me, the thing is catching moments and sharing them.

This is unpublished material and you you've mentioned to me in previous conversations that most of your work has remained unpublished, which is surprising. I find artists today need immediate approval or to get exposure for their work instantly, but you photograph out of necessity, have you always been this way?
Yeah, necessity like a spider has to spin a web, that kind of necessity. I'm happy when I'm taking pictures, it's fun to lose yourself out in the street.

You can follow Jill Freedman's work here.

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