Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Letters from men who go to strip clubs

Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs. It's not the prettiest name, but it'll do.

For those of you who have been following for years, you'll remember in 2008, I created Letters from Johns, a year-long online project featuring email letters I received from men about why they paid for sex. That project became quite popular a few months after it was launched when Eliot Spitzer was busted for hiring call girls. Here's the piece I wrote about it in Newsweek.

Subsequently, I created Letters from Working Girls, which never really took off, I theorized because the women were too busy out there living the life. I also created Letters from Men Who Watch Pornography, which was a dud, probably because to think about porn analytically kills the desire one experiences in relationship to it.

Last week, I posted five more installments of my How Your Journalism Sausage Gets Made series on my Forbes blog, which focuses on the strip club economy, including one post where I asked readers why they go to strip clubs. The next day, I published three of the letters I received. A few days later, I'd received a half-dozen letters, so I created Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs.

I like doing The Letters Project for several reasons. Because it's self-directed. Because it gives me and others a window into a mindset that may not otherwise be revealed. Because I think confessions are a sort of fascinating, dynamic genre. Because with every year that passes for me as a journalist, I believe more and more that the only way someone can understand something is by listening to a cacophony of voices. This is that cacophony.

Why didn't I include why women go to strip clubs? Why women go to strip clubs isn't of particular interest to me. Most of the people that go to strip clubs are men. Why Men and Women Go to Strip Clubs was even more awkward than the title I already had. (And, no, I will not create another site called Why Women Go to Strip Clubs because a), as I mentioned before, I'm not really that interested, and b) there won't be very many letters.)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, probably to remind myself more than anything else: I've covered a lot of things as a journalist: movies, celebrities, technology, sex, fashion, war, and more, but I think the common thread that interests me is men. Why? I don't know. If I figured that out, I probably wouldn't be interested anymore.

Send me your letters about why you go to strip clubs: EMAIL. Or share the link with a friend who may be interested. All letters are anonymous.