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August 10, 2000 04:58pm
HBO manages to make strip clubs boring
Source: Reuters/Variety
by: Phil Gallo

(HOLLYWOOD, CA) -- HBO expands its latenight sexploits with a hybrid documentary series that tracks the lives of eight strippers in a ``gentleman's club'' north of Philadelphia.

Show differs from other docs that have aired on HBO and sister channel Cinemax that have drawn on the grind, sans bumps, of women taking off their clothes for a living. ``G String Divas'' follows the strippers in and out of the club as they give the usual chatter about why they do what they do and try to come off as more than visual playthings. Like the clubs themselves, it quickly becomes boring.

The first two episodes -- ``Lapdance 101 With Jordan'' and ``Ginger, Queen of the Jungle'' -- air back to back Saturday before the 13-seg series moves to Thursday at 11 p.m. ``Ginger'' does provide a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a smooth operator, a stripper who has men figured out better than her work mates, whose verbal daggers she draws as she leads one man after another to the ``champagne room'' for $20-plus lap dances.

For Ginger, it's all about ``hustle, focus and manipulate.'' She picks her targets, gets 'em into the back room, hustles a tip out of them and then finds another victim. Other strippers swear she's doing more than getting topless because she does so much business -- a bartender speculates she can pull in $800 in three hours -- but the camera shows that the mantra delivered by Chris Rock in his last HBO special is indeed true: ''There's no sex in the champagne room.''

But beyond the money-spearing ambition of Ginger, a 1990 grad of Villanova University, these women lack captivating stories. HBO supplied episodes two, ``Ginger, `` and four, ``Chrissie Does It All,'' about a lesbian stripper, and after about 15 minutes of their stories, interspersed with a lot of lap dancing, it grows tired and lacking in drama.

Technically, the show is a marvel to look at: Shot over nine months at the Divas Intl. club, the film has been effectively spliced together by editor Max Weissman to magnify the redundancy of the women's acts while retaining some of the staged eroticism. Director of photography Tom Hurwitz gets clear shots in a dark environment and Peter Miller's sound recordings are remarkably clear.

Filmed in Bristol, Pa., by HBO Prods. Executive producer, Sheila Nevins; producer, Patti Kaplan; supervising producer, Suzanne Mitchell; associate producer, Elizabeth Tracy; director, Kaplan; director of photography, Tom Hurwitz; sound, Peter Miller; editor, Max Weissman.

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