Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Stripper (1986)

Producer-director Jerome Gary takes the Pumping Iron films one step further in this pseudodocumentary, fabricating characters and situations out of whole cloth and appealing directly to prurient interests—its subject is a largely staged stripping contest at a Las Vegas convention for professionals of the trade. We follow five young women, each of whom has a life problem that winning the contest will solve (come to think of it, wasn’t this the format of Queen for a Day?). Melodramatic flourishes quickly supersede the minimal eroticism, as Gary keeps upping the ante by absurd degrees in a desperate attempt to create some suspense for the contest finale (the suggestions of potential suicide seem particularly dishonest). Nobody’s going to go home satisfied, but it smells like a smash on the cable market.

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