Lap Dance Expert Compares Stripping to New York City Ballet

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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Today, super-serious journalistic institution Bloomberg News introduces us to 75-year-old grandmother and professor of anthropology Judith Hanna, a leader in the field of defending strip clubs as an academic expert. In 2012, Hanna's arguments will be used by a club in Albany at the New York Court of Appeals, in support of its owners' fight for tax-free sales based on the entrance-fee exemption for "dramatic or musical art performances." Hanna is adamant in her First Amendment defense of erotic dancing, and even invokes opera and the ballet:

"Exotic dance shares with virtually all dance genres the fact that it is a purposeful, intentionally rhythmical, culturally patterned, nonverbal, body movement communication in time and space," Hanna writes in "Naked Truth: Strip Clubs, Democracy and a Christian Right," to be released next year. It "conveys meaning by the use of space, touch, proximity to an observer, nudity, stillness and specific body movements."

Hanna says, "It's really old hat. It's in musicals, operas, and theater," while Bloomberg cites the New Testament and Vaslav Nijinsky's The Rite of Spring ballet. The New York state Tax Appeals Tribunal, though, rejected Hanna's "stunningly sweeping interpretation of what constitutes choreographed performance," necessitating the appeal. Hanna estimates that in defending nude dancing, she has won 45 times, compared to 21 losses. Hanna says she has observed at least 1,500 "ecdysiastic performances" as fieldwork, and charges about $3,000 for her services.