From the perspective of a young female photographer, MONEYGAME presents a fresh, respectful, and humanizing window into the world of strippers and exotic dancers.
“Moneygame is full of photographs that depict this world where women rule the stage”
“For the last four years,” says photographer Elizabeth Waterman, “I’ve spent most of my Saturday nights in strip clubs, photographing and building a rapport with the strippers and exotic dancers who make their livelihoods there. I’ve captured them climbing the pole, giving lap dances, putting on glittery outfits, and counting their dollars at the end of a long night.” Selections from Waterman’s body of work from this extended foray comprise her new book MONEYGAME, a luxurious coffee-table volume published by XYZ Books, Lisbon, Portugal. MONEYGAME is available in both Standard and Collector’s editions.
In her artist statement, Waterman says, “It took months to get access to my first clubs, and a while to 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. I know I’ve been changed by the experience. I know I’ve taken on some of their audacity.”
With the unique perspective and kindred spirit of a young female artist building her own body of work, Waterman celebrates her subjects’ humanity and commitment to mastering their art in service of larger life goals. She shot the photos from 2016 to 2020 – primarily on 35mm and 120mm film – in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, and New York. Each of the 132-page hardbound book’s 76 photos is previously unseen, and each dancer depicted has given permission to be photographed and published.
Popular media has long characterized strip clubs as gritty dens of ill repute. The truth is, there are many dimensions and nuances to the culture. By necessity, exotic dancers are highly competitive athletes, and consummate performers. They are also women using income from the profession as a well-considered strategy to pay off student loans, raise a family, buy a home, or launch a business. On a good night, a dancer can make $2,000 or more. They put forward the courage to preserve and maintain their dignity, and seem to transcend the material world with ethereal, dazzling grace.
Waterman says, “First and foremost, this project would never have gotten off the ground without the trust and generosity of the remarkable women in these images. Thank you.”
The Standard Edition of MONEYGAME is now available to pre-order from XYZ Books for $55 USD/45 Euros: http://www.artbooks.xyz/books/moneygame. For the very limited-run Collector’s Edition, each book is signed and numbered by the artist, and comes with a signed 8×10-inch archival print. Only 50 copies will be made available, with a list price of $195: https://elizabeth-waterman-photography.myshopify.com/products/moneygame.