From Sin City's dark glamorisation to We're The Millers' glib stereotyping, the media's representation of stripping is as one-dimensional as the female characters themselves — usually limited to either "sexed-up vixen" or "stripper with a heart of gold."
Director and photographer Poppy de Villeneuve and producer and director Chloe Hall, however, are sick of the clichés. This is why they have spent the past six months delving into the stripping scene of Dallas, TX. While creating a documentary on stripping in the Bible Belt, the pair has gotten to know strip-club employees both inside and outside the clubs themselves.
The U.S. has more strip clubs than anywhere else in the world, de Villeneuve and Hall point out, and yet our understanding of the industry remains limited. Poppy and Chloe "aspire to uncover a new version of the female experience and to humanise an industry that has long been a source of criticism," by way of their feature-length film.
The documentary — working title The Dallas Project — will explore the experiences of strippers and managers, each of whom carries unique reasons for his or her involvement in the industry. "I hadn't seen behind the curtains of a strip club before starting this project," Poppy tells me. "We discovered all sorts of women — and men, for that matter — looking for love, family, money, and power. [These people] aren't necessarily so different from the rest of us. We have talked to many young women [who are] learning about themselves and trying to find some sort of security in a chaotic, turbulent world."
Poppy and Chloe are funding their documentary with an Indiegogo campaign that ends today at midnight — so if you'd like to support their cause, now is the time. (You can also view the trailer for their film.) "Stripping is a highly gendered occupation," the campaign's profile reads. "Women strip, men watch. However, this film does not present stripping as an act of feminist expression. Instead, it examines several different experiences and suggests that the reasons a woman might choose to strip are too complicated and unique to warrant summation."
Poppy shared with us a sampling of the photographs she has taken throughout the process of creating the film: a glimpse into the private and public worlds of women who are often misunderstood. The photos show the strippers on stage, but also speak to their roles as mothers, wives, sisters, girlfriends, friends, and more — just as The Dallas Project seeks to do justice to all facets of their personalities. Click through for the 17 perspective-altering shots.