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Filmmaker Gene Graham on ‘This One’s for the Ladies’ + The Ecstasy Feeling of Sex

June 9, 2019

ATM: Describe the ecstasy feeling of sex related to the tension when the performer walks into the room.

EG: Every performer is a little nervous before they get out there. The dancers we saw have been on the circuit for a little while. They are pretty comfortable with the ladies. You must have some level of confidence to get out there to be sexy. These guys and the dom dancers are really putting themselves out there. There is a vulnerability in a sense. They are moving very close to their customers and patrons and fans. They are walking through the room, table, and chairs. Hands are going on their body. Again, you must have a level of confidence about who you are. You have to open up about being vulnerable to people. Of course, when you strip down and whip out your dick, this is a pretty bold thing. I am not sure if someone is shy. They are a stripper.

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There is something within themselves that they are activating. There is a showoff nature in this. Even if they are bashful and shy. They are an exhibitionist. They are putting themselves out there. It is the same thing for females. Even though in this film we are not looking at the strip club in the eyes of men watching. It has to be something for the women as all at their strip clubs. It is a bold statement of who you are and also because of your circumstances. Gabrielle, could you do it? I am not sure it would work for me. 

ATM: What do you think drives the women’s adrenaline while seeing the dancing?

EG: It is a combination of things. It is the look of the guy and his body. There is a whole sexy swagger thing to it. It is a part of their performance. They are coming in their already sexually charged and looking hot. There is the costuming and the movement. There is also a connection. A good performer has a good connection with the ladies. It is pretty intimate. There is a guy named DC Paint. Mr. Paint has been working the DMV for a long time. He knows his ladies. It is the dick.

It is no doubt about this. For most of the ladies, it is not just about having a good time, laughing, and the naughty sexy fun. At some level, there is always that fan who is being dicked down by some hot racked up and jacked up guy. There he is on stage. He has the body, the faced, and is oiled up. He is hot and sexy. He has a big dick. People would want this in their life.

ATM: What is your definition of sex?

EG: Sex is pure physical, psychological, and emotional satisfaction. Getting there is a part of the fun. The release leaves you ready for the world.  

ATM: There was a dancer who walks into a dimmed room. He is eyeing the crowd with a fierce look. His body is filled with oil. His chest looks like bricks stacked on each other. His hands rub all over his body. This dancer gets on the floor to rotate his pelvic area in circles while staring at the crowd. He grinds the floor about five times as he crawls to the ladies. It becomes a call and response with the body not with words. A drop of oil dripped down into midair and dropped on the floor. His eyes never leave the crowd. He lifts his body back up and moves his hands into his thin underwear. His name was Satan.

EG: Satan is great. He is a nice guy. Satan is unassuming and nonchalant. You might miss the full-on sexuality and sex thing that is coming off him. He might walk pass him. When you take a second look, and you are like, “Oh shit, this guy.” I remember we were out having lunch one day. It was the way he was with the waitresses. By the end of our meal, he has a bunch of numbers. He is charming. I believe he knows all of this. He has been around for a while. He knows the powers. He is a cool guy. He is fierce about making sure he provides for his children. He is trying to pass on the idea of making sure you use the means to do with for yourself. Get your money and do something for yourself. He is big on passing these values to his children. Also, making sure he has the money to invest in the things related to his children. He is also entrepreneurial. He is also a personal trainer and hustling for his family.

ATM: There was a moment where a dancer picked up one of the ladies in the air in a straddling position. The dancer fastly throws her back to the floor only to bring her back up again. Their chest is grinding on the other women’s midsection. Her breath becomes like a chastity belt. The dancer’s faces went up and down her body with their head. The woman becomes entrapped with the dancer’s gaze and stares. As their warm skin touches, the ladies start to scream. Her name was Blaze.

EG: Blaze is wonderful. I did not know this when we started to follow people. I did not know a lesbian dancer would be expected in a straight place for women. It was a surprise. The black culture is painted with a broad and almost universal brush. From my experience, while shooting this, there is homophobia in the black community. It is more subtle than nuance. You have a dom lesbian dancer dancing to women. This speaks to a great performance. This speaks to fluidity the strength of the performer. It speaks to sisterhood. Also, the fluidity nature of our sexuality as human beings. I have never seen a movie that reflects this in the black community. I find this refreshing. Blaze talks about how male dancers do not like doms on the circuit. In the atmosphere, it feels like it is all good. There is nothing with the judgment. The conversation of what you like and do not like is on the low. People get hung up on sex. It would be a lot easier if we allowed people to be how they are.  

ATM: The dancing from any perspective makes a dancer or patron experience provides a safe space. It creates a tension that is desirable. It is like another world comes into play. In this world, the rules are pants must come off, the feet must descend from shoes, the belt buckle must pop open. The lipstick gets wiped off. The cufflinks slide off, the collared shirt gets taken off. The rules are no lights. But you always have that one that breaks the rules to turn the lights on. The one that wants to slip back on their pants. The obedient one tells his person to stop and continue to follow the rules but settle with a dimmed light. He tips her body back as he begins to kiss her body. This allows her body to form into the letter L.

The way the sheets become straight, wrinkled and untamable makes their bodies form the letter O. The way he inserts into her legs allows her body to take the form of the letter V. The way her body squirms makes her body take the form of the letter E. You all call it moaning. I call it the sound of the finishing touches of Shakespeare’s blue ink pin dropping to the finishing touches of Sonnet number 14. The rapid breathing is no different than the breathing Michelangelo did as he finished The Sistine Chapels. Her eyes play musical chairs as she looks at his abs. He reaches and their lips play double dutch while they are kissing. The soft tussling is like when Rembrandt would paint his self-portrait. Or how Picasso would smile after every painting. The cries are the same as Van Gogh as he became frustrated with not selling his 1889 Irises. The slowness of their breath takes the form of the 1999 Pinot Grigio last drop sliding to converse with the other liquid in the bottle. The slowness of their rolling is like the quarters that just rolled out of his left pants pocket. So, the dancing is art. Sex is an art form.

EG: Yes. Woah. You have an interesting imagination. I do agree on the dancing is art. I am there with this for sure. It is reciprocal. In the sense that you can really get up close and get personal. It can make you feel very good. If you are in this place and you are feeling it, then you are definitely having a good time. You are putting the outside, outside and enjoying yourself.

ATM: How far did you go back to knowing about stripping?

EG: Personally, it was in Miami. This was in the 90s. I lived in Miami Beach, Florida. I would see the dancers. I saw the dancers. My second strip club was a lesbian strip club. I do not know how I ended up here. My eyes were poking out of my head for what was getting seen. It was literally a big eye-opener. It was a black lesbian club. Wow. It was wild. What do you want to know?

ATM: What types of things were being displayed in front of your eyes?

EG: Everything. A woman would do the split while everything would be exposed. Dollars were going down on the cooch. A lot of things were slapped on. It would always be the butch lesbian would put the money down with her tongue. I was like, “Wait, this is too much.” There is a movie with this scene happening in LA. It is really good. I was in a dark place with black people. It was wow to see this action going on.

ATM: Why do you believe some people perceive the stripping lifestyle in the same category as legal pornography?

EG: People group all sex work in this realm. They think there is going to just be a lot of sex going on. The guys are going to be jumping the women. There is prostitution at the club. During my shoots, I did not see any of this. Now, if you ask the dancers if they do, they have an active sex life because they were dancers, then they would tell you yes. To me, this is not pornographic until someone puts a camera on it and post it. My understanding of pornography is there being penetration. I have never seen a show where a woman was fucked on stage. I am not saying this does not happen somewhere in the world.

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ATM: What has been the progression of seduction displayed in films and entertainment?

EG: I feel we have gone backwards. The movies during the 70s were way more erotic. There was more willingness and more skin in “mainstream.” This all changed with Reagan because of our shift into conservatism. There was a lot of politics saying no drugs and sex. We have been living in a conservative time were creative, ability, and showing the full aspects of a love story might not be explored visually the same such as during the 70s.

Gabrielle, you went very deep. You asked great questions.

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