Strippers march to save jobs

Strippers and supporters of Spearmint Rhino marched through the streets of Sheffield today to save their jobs.

By Molly Williams, local democracy reporter
Thursday, 13 June, 2019, 12:11

The colourfully-dressed crowd marched from the strip club, on Brown Street, to the Town Hall waving banners and placards – some of which read ‘twerking class heroes’, ‘walk a mile in my pleasers’ and ‘my body, my business’.

They also shouted chants including ‘my neck, my back, my body pays my tax’ - a play on the song Lick My Neck, My Back by Khia.

Strip club dancer Celia Lister protests with other demonstrators to oppose moves to close a branch of Spearmint Rhino in Sheffield.

Some gave speeches, including Rachael McCoy, a 37-year-old single mother of two who is also a stripper at the club.

She said: “This is really important to us. This is our livelihood.

“As a single mother this job helps me feed my children and has changed my life for the better.

“We need all of your support. We are working hard trying to feed our families, pay our bills and taxes.”

Strip club dancer and single mother of two, Rachael McCoy, 37, protests with with other demonstrators to oppose moves to close a branch of Spearmint Rhino in Sheffield. Danny Lawson/PA

It comes after a secretly-filmed video taken inside the club by two former police officers threatened to shut the venue down.

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The details of the video were revealed by members of the Women’s Equality Party at a full council meeting. They said strippers could be seen breaching their licence by touching customers sexually. Several councillors walked out of the meeting, saying the description was ‘too graphic’.

Gabby Willis, women’s officer at Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union which is situated next to the club, called the video ‘revenge porn’.

Several of the club’s strippers have spoken out about the footage. George McGhee, 27, said: “I felt attacked and that they had come in and violated our privacy. It triggered my anxiety and mental health. I didn’t want to work, but instead of taking a step back I chose to carry on.”

Strip club dancer Celia Lister protests with with other demonstrators to oppose moves to close a branch of Spearmint Rhino in Sheffield. Danny Lawson/PA

Sheffield Council and Spearmint Rhino have since been investigating. A hearing was due to take place yesterday but has been pushed back for further enquiries.

Heather Watson, 23, is a student and a stripper at the club. She said the uncertainty had been causing a lot of anguish for the employees.

She said: “The precariousness is really taking its toll on everyone. Every single year there is this feeling of ‘maybe we’re going to be shut down’ but this year it’s felt more likely.

“I think people are becoming more understanding of the industry but the campaigns against us are becoming more vicious.”