Two-year-old cancer sufferer to benefit from event
Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier
Exotic Dancers for Cancer will once again remove their clothes for a good cause.
Former stripper Trina Ricketts said in the past four years the strip-a-thon fundraiser has proved so successful in Vancouver, a second event is planned for Victoria this year.
“A lot of people didn’t believe it would last,” said Ricketts. “Everyone’s shocked.”
Last year the group raised $8,000, which was divided between Rethink Breast Cancer and a Kelowna mother, and former stripper, struggling to survive financially during cancer treatments. The dancers initially wanted to donate partial proceeds from the 2007 event to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, but were turned down because the donation was deemed too controversial. After the story broke in the Courier, the dancers came to the attention of both the national and international media.
The dancers then decided on Rethink Breast Cancer, which will once again receive partial proceeds. The second recipient of this year’s fundraising efforts is the family of a two-year-old boy from Victoria. Ricketts said the boy has completed treatments for a germ cell tumour, but now suffers from hearing loss and speech problems. The boy’s family was devastated financially while he underwent treatment for the tumour.
Ricketts, who has been organizing the large event as a volunteer since its inception, said for the first time, a small portion of the funds raised will go towards a salary for an exotic dancer who’s taken over much of the event planning.
“It’s really, really stressful trying to plan an event of this size,” said Ricketts. “I have two jobs and can’t do it anymore and it’s a matter of paying someone or it’s not going to happen. It’s also about giving a dancer some gainful employment. I hope people don’t see it as a negative thing.”
Last year Ricketts conducted an informal poll on the website http://www.nakedtruth.ca, asking which strip club dancers enjoyed working at most. The Naked Truth website is an online stripper community. Ricketts wanted to use the information to help her choose the location for this year’s event. She said the hands-down winner was Mugs and Jugs in New Westminster, which closed a month after the poll was completed. She then turned to the dancers’ second choices–a tie between the Penthouse Nightclub in Vancouver and the Red Lion in Victoria. Last year the fundraiser took place at the Drake Showlounge, which is also closed.
Ricketts hopes the annual fundraiser will remind people to go out and support local strippers by patronizing the clubs that are left, particularly those dancers love working at most.
“Safe working options for women disappear when strip clubs close down,” says Ricketts. “The misconception that strip clubs are vessels for organized crime where women are exploited is causing widespread harm for women who have chosen this profession over minimum wage jobs.”
She adds high property values are also leading to the sale of many former strip clubs.
“What people don’t seem to realize is that exotic dancers like their jobs,” says Ricketts. “We clock in and clock out, like anyone does. And we don’t think sex is evil.”
A live auction will be part of the fundraiser–if the dancers can find a volunteer willing to get onstage and direct it. Anyone willing to offer their time for a good cause can contact Ricketts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fifth Annual Exotic Dancers for Cancer takes place in Vancouver April 4 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Penthouse Nightclub on Seymour Street. Pre-sale tickets are available at Urban Body Lazer, 860-777 Hornby St. for $15 or $20 at the door. In Victoria the strip-a-thon takes place April 6 from noon till 1 a.m. at the Red Lion Inn on Douglas Street. Admission is by donation.