Elizabeth Waterman’s “Moneygame” features photographs from her five-year foray photographing strippers in five cities across the U.S. from 2016- 2020. It will also be the inaugural viewing of several images Waterman shot in Bangkok earlier this year.
Waterman’s portfolio Moneygame chronicles the world of strippers and exotic dancers, and was first presented to the public via the now sold-out 2021 book Moneygame (XYZ Publishing, Lisbon, Portugal). Remembering back to the very beginning when she was living and working in Brooklyn, Waterman says, “It took months to get access to my first clubs, and find my footing. No one quite understood what I was doing there. But I came in week after week. I helped to collect the dollar bills littering the stage. The dancers began to warm to me. I showed them my work, and they liked how I saw them. Soon they were volunteering to pose on the pole.”
From 2016 through 2020, she continued visiting nightclubs in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, and New Orleans, forging a rapport with the strippers, a bond necessary to create the intimacy and trust in the images she captured. Waterman’s work offers a unique glimpse – through a female gaze – into the charged and atmospheric world of stripping, including evocative mise en scene shots, images of the girls performing onstage, resting backstage, taking meal breaks, and applying make-up. Waterman celebrates her subjects’ humanity and commitment to mastering their art in service of larger life goals. Often, these women are using income from stripping and dancing to pay off student loans, raise a family, buy a home, or launch a business.
“As a professional voyeur, I’ve orbited around many subcultures – drag, club, carnival – skating along the periphery of other people’s moments. For years, I was hesitant to document the world of strippers and sex workers, but I was mesmerized by it all the same. In 2016, I finally discovered a place in Queens where the manager gave me the go-ahead to shoot. It took me a while to find my footing. I felt the cold ripples of the girls’ suspicion; no one quite understood what I was doing there. But I came in week after week. and the dancers began to warm to me. I showed them my work, and they liked how I saw them. Soon they were volunteering to pose on the pole. I know I’ve been changed by the experience, I’ve taken on some of their audacity. What does the life of modern stripper look like? That is what I am exploring with MONEYGAME.” – Elizabeth Waterman
About Elizabeth Waterman:
Elizabeth Waterman is a Los Angeles-based fine art photographer. A through-line in her body of work is the depiction of the ongoing metamorphosis of artists and performers of many genres and sub- cultures. Her distinctive photographs explore female sexuality, strippers and exotic dancers, porn actors, and portraits of artists. Waterman’s style is often cinematic in feel, elegantly composed, infused with directness, and suggestive of a story behind the image. Born in Taos, New Mexico and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Waterman began her career while living in New York City. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from the University of Southern California.
Elizabeth Waterman : Moneygame
September 14 – November 5, 2023
Leica Gallery Los Angeles
8783 Beverly Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048