Strippers ‘fired’ after complaints about club

Fired Up Stilettos organiser Margot Embargot, of Wellington, was in Dunedin to help local Dunedin...
Fired Up Stilettos organiser Margot Embargot, of Wellington, was in Dunedin to help local Dunedin strippers recently removed from the Stilettos Club roster. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Two strippers were "fired" from a Dunedin strip club for taking a stand against their treatment, says a campaigner for erotic dancers.

The owner of the club says the dancers are no longer on the roster for other reasons.

Margot Embargot, an organiser for stripper advocacy group Fired Up Stilettos, said the owner of Dunedin strip club Stilettos Revue Bar in Princes St fired the dancers after they signed a letter to management complaining about treatment at the club.

Ms Embargot, a Wellington-based campaigner, said the Dunedin dancers had a meeting with management after signing the letter, which included complaints about the "degrading way they were being spoken to and how rules were constantly changing".

It also alleged that "the mood and level of sobriety of the manager impacts what rules are upheld or made up on any given night".

The meeting ended with two dancers being told there were "no more shifts available for them any more and in the future", she said.

In a recorded phone call between a stripper and the owner of the bar, provided to the Otago Daily Times, the owner told one of the dancers he could "do whatever he wanted" and he did not need to "deal with s... from you b...... any more".

Asked about what he said in the recording, owner Peter Cooper said that was "not at all" how the dancers were usually spoken to by him or by management.

"This phone call was after a number of messages and correspondence so [that call] was obviously a baiting method, and it worked, because she baited me."

Mr Cooper denied the firing claims and said "no-one was actually physically fired" because the dancers were all independent contractors.

"They can be offered shifts as and when dictated by the business needs and they were told they would not be having any shifts coming up."

There was an investigation into the allegations made about the club, he said.

"We have to take this kind of allegation very seriously as it could impact our liquor licence."

Ms Embargot said she came down to support the Dunedin dancers after they contacted the stripper advocacy group.

What happened to the Stilettos dancers happened last year to dancers in Wellington, but on a different scale, she said.

"This tactic is used on purpose to scare the other strippers."

The dancers were independent contractors, labelled as self-employed, but were still expected to act as standard employees and answer to management. Their contracts also had no minimum required hours.

Ms Embargot said all New Zealand strippers were in the same contracting situation and there were no protections.

"We want to help every club and every stripper to level that playing field.

"We’re trying to make a significant dent in the way things work — it’s not a fast fix, but we’re determined."

Last Friday, Fired Up Stilettos and strippers from Dunedin put on a strip show at the Athenaeum Theatre in the Octagon, where people could get an "ethical lap dance" or a "guilt-free motorboat".

All the profits went to the dancers.

"We want to help raise the dancers’ spirits, because this is so demoralising to go through."