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Observation of customer - waitress interaction in a topless club over a two and one half month period are presented. Data was generated by a participant-observer who worked as a waitress-dancer in a topless club during this period. Analysis focuses on the setting, appearance and manner of the “cynical performance” (Goffman, 1959), orchestrated by the waitress through which she uses nudity and nude dancing to stimulate the fantasies of her patrons, and thereby creates “counterfeit intimacy”, (Boles and Garbin, 1987). The overriding goal of the club and the waitress-dancers is to make money through the sale of alcohol and table dances; customer goals are to have a ”sexual experience” (not necessarily intercourse), of some sort. Various “ploys” enacted by both customers and waitresses, are analyzed, with the ultimate goal of these ploys being to enhance the effectiveness of the “counterfeit intimacy” contrived by both parties. Conclusions suggest that all forms of “counterfeit” can be studied as sources of benefits for people whose expectations have not been met by legitimate institutions, and that rationality in performance is maximised in performances explicitly designed to he counterfeit.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1995.23.4.369

Publication date: January 1, 1995

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