Feature documentary, 62 minutes, color and black and white
Produced by Jodie Evans, Producer/Director Amie Williams
Since its earliest days, Las Vegas had depended on women. It’s a city where the female body is more an object of commerce than anywhere else in America. This video goes behind the “Showgirls” mythos to tell the true story of real women who live and work in Las Vegas—the mothers, maids, waitresses, wives, cabdrivers, construction workers, casino executives, and showgirls, who struggle against the sex-object stereotype—and whose stories reveal there’s always more to girl than the show.
“Las Vegas exists because it is the perfect reflection of America.”
What do Las Vegas women have to say about all women today or for all of society?
Since its earliest days, Las Vegas has depended on women. Then and now, to be female in Las Vegas is to be caught in the crossfire of every imaginable definition of “woman”—definitions from Hollywood, feminists, gangsters, and the corporate world. In Las Vegas, where the phonebook devotes 20 pages to callgirls, and where most taxicabs carry buxom billboard ads for topless clubs, the female body is more an object of commerce than anywhere else in America.
“Women of Las Vegas have always been the objects, and never the subjects”. Yet strip away the Strip, and another reality unfolds. The film, Stripped and Teased, tells the untold story of the Other Las Vegas—the real women behind the showgirl mythos, beyond the neon. “Women’s work built Las Vegas,” says Culinary Union president, Hattie Canty, who is featured in the film.”There’s more to Las Vegas than naked women.”
The filmmaker, Amie Williams, narrates the film, as she struggles to understand how women survive here, in a town that flaunts sex, prostitution and pornography. She comes from Los Angeles with a lot of preconceived notions about female exploitation.
As she gets deeper into the story, she finds her initial misgivings are challenged by following the day-to-day lives of nine other women. Through an initial structure of “day shift, swing shift, and night shift,” we hear stories that tear at the seams of any preconceived notions about “Sin City” and the women who make their living here. We meet women such as Shirley, a single-mom maid who cleans high-roller suites at the Mirage, and every day cares for her homeless brother suffering from AIDS. Or Tina, a journeyman carpenter who has helped to build most of the Strip hotels;Mindy, a forty-something “goddess” at Caesar’s Palace has put two sons through medical school on her cocktail-waitress salary;
Susan, a painfully shy ballerina finds her confidence as Bally’s lead showgirl, and Hattie, the first African American labor union president in the U.S., presiding over the longest running strike in America today.
These are women who work hard in a twenty-four hour town, who support their families, pursue their dreams, and live the ups and downs shared by women from all walks of life. Ultimately, we learn that these women are no different than women elsewhere, as the film ends with the filmmaker having met and married a man in Vegas, and conceived a child. Against all odds and learning from other Vegas women, she finds a new life, “or at least an entirely new way of looking at it.
* Booklist, Top Ten Adult Videos of 2000
* The Gold Apple, National Educational Media Network
* The Chris Award, Columbus International Film Fest
* Best Documentary, Sedona Film Festival
* Best Documentary, Rivertown Film Festival, Minneapolis
* The Joey Award, San Jose International Film Festival
* Silver Medal, Houston USA Film Festival
* Zoie Award, Internet Festival
* Film Arts Festival, San Francisco
* Slamdance On the Road Tour, 1999
* Feminal, Cologne, Germany
* Interfilm Short Film Festival Munich, Germany
* Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
* Sedona International Film Festival
* Rivertown International Film Festival
* Houston International Film Festival
* Zoie Internet Women’s Festival, Atlanta Georgia
* CineVegas International Film Festival
* Singapore International Film Festival
* REVeleation Film Festival, Australia
* Philadelphia International Film Festival
“Intriguing…a unique perspective on Las Vegas.”
-Booklist, American Library Association (chosen as Top Ten Videos of 1999)
“Captivating and consciousness-raising…”
-Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times
” A film that not only takes us behind the Hollywood stereotypes of Vegas women, but delivers a deeply resonant portrait of female strength and endurance that women everywhere can relate to and appreciate…”
-Jeannette Catsoulis, film critic, Las Vegas Weekly
Stripped and Teased A new documentary explores naked Las Vegas Filmmaker Amie Williams’ documentary Stripped and Teased could be described as both the first film about Las Vegas without a prostitute and a documentary about female pioneers in America’s fastest growing city. The way Williams sees it, her film tells the untold story of the Las Vegas women behind the showgirl mythos and the neon. Stripped and Teased: Tales from Las Vegas Women premieres at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 on Saturday and Sunday. “Women in Las Vegas are visible as objects and invisible as subjects,” says the writer, director, and narrator. “A lot of people ask why I didn’t put a prostitute in the movie, but they’re available on every street corner. I wanted to explore the Las Vegas we never see.”
-By Tracy Johnson, LA New Times
“Stripped & Teased” is a surprising film in many ways. I do have to admit that the title itself conjured up salacious images of Vegas showgirls in a Jack Ruby / Las Vegas Grind kind of way. Not so… “Stripped and Teased” is a very personal account of the women behind the facade. Beautifully paced, the work delves deeply into the lives and motivations of hostesses at Caesar’s Palace, union bosses, exotic dancers, taxi drivers, hotel maids, construction workers and showgirls. Rather than take broad bush strokes of “women in Vegas”, the film focuses on these women, capturing them in surprising intimate and sometimes moving moments. “Stripped & Teased” avoids all the stereotypes and clichés ordinarily associated with Vegas, replacing exploitation film preconceptions with real and engrossing human drama. Williams mixes a wonderfully laid back and moody version of the Elvis standard “Viva Las Vegas” with some remarkable archival Vegas tourist and information films. These sometimes hilarious sequences provide the seamless transitions between issues, emotions and events which deeply effect the lives of these passionate women.
-San Francisco Weekly
Stripped and Teased: Tales from Las Vegas Women Amie S. Williams USA 1998 62 min 16mm & 35mm Let’s go beyond the neon to tell the true stories of Las Vegas women, who not only create the fantasy but clean up the mess in the morning. A raw look at nine lives, in three shifts, in a town that never sleeps … there’s more to the girls than show!
Since its earliest days, Las Vegas has depended on women. Then and now, to be female in Las Vegas is to be caught in the crossfire of every imaginable definition of “woman” – definitions from Hollywood, feminists, gangsters, and the corporate world. In Las Vegas, where the phonebook devotes twenty pages to callgirls, and where most taxicabs carry buxom billboard ads for topless clubs, the female body is more an object of commerce than anywhere else in America. In a town that flaunts prostitution, Sex and Pornography, Amie Williams, then an L.A resident and not short of a few preconceptions herself, undertook the task of “stripping away the strip”. “Day shift, swing shift and night shift” is the rhythm and key that provided the initial structure, an inlet into the superfice of so-called glamorous life.
Preconceived notions of female exploitation in ‘Sin City’ are radically altered as we encounter Shirley, a single mom who cleans suites at the Mirage, and every day cares for her homeless brother who has AIDS. Or Tina, a journeyman carpenter who helped to build most of the strip hotels; Mindy, a forty-something ‘goddess’ at Caesar’s Palace who put two sons through medical school on a cocktail waitress salary; Susan a painfully shy ballerina finds her confidence as Bally’s lead showgirl, and Hattie, the first African American labour Union President who presides over the longest running strike in America today.
In this documentary, as in her earliest acclaimed work ‘Uncommon Ground: Voices of Youth in America and South Africa’, firsthand comparison between riot-torn L.A and Apartheid, Amie Williams sets the context straight. She takes the individuals she interviews out from between the narrow confines of preconceptions and stereotypes rendering them ineffectual by the portrayal of the day to day struggle they face.
In “Stripped and Teased” we see women who work hard in a twenty four hour town, who support their families, pursue their dreams and live the ups and downs of women from all walks of life, all over the world.
In her documentary, Stripped and Teased: Tales from Las Vegas Women, local filmmaker Amie Williams sets out to prove that “inside every woman, there’s a little bit of Las Vegas.” To that end, Williams has made a film that not only takes us behind the Hollywood and marketing stereotypes of Vegas women, but delivers a deeply resonant portrait of female strength and endurance that women everywhere can relate to and appreciate.
Unusual for films with such a strong feminist thrust, Stripped and Teased is neither didactic nor hectoring, but has a gentle, confidential tone that makes it all the more powerful. Williams has a low-key and receptive directorial style that seems to make her subjects comfortable and encourages them to open up. Consequently, the film has many moments of profoundly personal revelation as women talk about plastic surgery, pregnancy termination, unemployment and relatives who are ill or incarcerated. The beauty of this film, though, is that its overall tone is uplifting rather than depressing, full of hope rather than despair.
Focusing on the lives of ten women—a maid, a construction worker, a union president, a Caesars “goddess,” a resort vice-president, a showgirl, a cab driver, a professional poker player/sex therapist, a community worker and an exotic dancer—the film shows the disparate and necessary ways in which women are woven into the fabric of Las Vegas. Taking us behind the curtain (a woman who has been involved in the construction of just about every major resort in the last ten years) and in front of it (the head showgirl at Bally’s Jubilee!), Williams chooses women on a road to self-realization, women who have been knocked down by life and have refused to stay down.
A great deal of the knocking down, at least figuratively, has come from emotionally absent and immature boyfriends, missing husbands and callous employers. There is a strong sequence in which scenes showing Sheldon Adelson promoting the plans for his new Venice resort are intercut with footage of the Sands implosion and un-employees bemoaning the fact that Mr. Adelson has no plans to rehire people who have worked hard for him for many years. A recently terminated Shelly Berkley puts on a brave face for the camera but looks like she could cheerfully throttle her ex-employer.
Filmed over three years, Stripped and Teased feels like a work-in-progress and makes us want to revisit these women in the future. The backbone of the resort and entertainment industry, the heart and soul of community activism, Las Vegas women may be less than the myth but considerably more than the sum of our physical parts. And in that respect, at least, we are just like women anywhere.
-From the Las Vegas Weekly
This video goes behind the “Showgirls” mythos to tell the true story of real women who live and work in Las Vegas—the mothers, maids, waitresses, wives, cabdrivers, construction workers, casino executives, and showgirls, who struggle against the sex-object stereotype—and whose stories reveal there’s always more to girl than the show.
Jodie has been a political activist for the last twenty years. She ran Jerry Brown’s national campaign for Presidency in 1982, where she produced the first political “infomercial,” broadcast on national television. She serves on the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, raising funds for women’s issues and female candidates. She has also been involved with programming and production of the Telluride Film Festival, when she was married to Max Palevsky. More recently, she is assistant producing Michelangelo Antonioni’s latest film in Los Angeles. She was born and raised in Las Vegas.