/ 2018 / /

Dark Angels

Although statistics about sex workers and the sex industry are notoriously unreliable, those regarding strip clubs are a matter of public record. There are currently more than 4,000 such establishments in the United States, providing livelihoods for about 58,000 dancers, bartenders, and other employees.

Exotic dancers give stage shows for both male and female patrons, typically demonstrating “tricks” on poles, lap dances, and acts in private rooms. On a good night, a dancer can make two thousand dollars or more.

Popular media has long characterized strip clubs as gritty dens of depravity and ill repute, but there are many dimensions to the story. Exotic dancers are highly competitive athlete; they are young mothers paying off student loans.

The photographer began this ongoing project in June 2016. The images are from clubs in the outer boroughs of New York, as well as Los Angeles. Each dancer has given her permission to be photographed.

Based bicoastally in Los Angeles and New York City, Elizabeth Waterman is a portrait and fashion photographer.

Her clients have included MS Magazine and fashion designers Elie Tahari, Marc Jacobs, and Alex and Ani.

Her distinctive images, which define the spirit of her generation’s emergence and transformation, have been featured in shows at the old Limelight Church/Jue Lan Club (NYC), Wallplay (NYC), and Olson-Irwin (Sydney). Online, her works have been included in auctions on the website artnet, and showcased on L’Oeil de La Pho


– Prix de la Photographie (PX3) 2018; Gold Winner in the Documentary Category, Silver Winner in the People Category, and Honorable Mention

– 16th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest, Photo of the Day, Editor’s Pick (September 21, 2018)