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The Table Dancer’s Tale: the real Mexico

29 March 2012

Like Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado,  whose “Magic Made in Mexico” Editorial Mazatlán published last year, Lupita Domínguez  is a successful businesswoman, and keen observer of Mexican social customs and business culture who not only has a story worth telling, but a story she tells extremely well, and one worth reading.

The Canadian-born van der Gracht de Rosado’s had to carve our a business based on what skills she brought with her.  The successful business she and her husband, Carlos, developed — Tecnología Turística Total — was a result not just of business acumen, but of a rare ability among expats to accept and learn to adjust to the Mexican way of things.  Joanna initially self-published a book about her experiences, modestly focused on her own community, but… having recognized that there was a crying need for a more in-depth and comprehensive work, she’d completely rewritten and vastly expanded the original work, which, by sheer luck, came to our attention, and which we were honored to add to list of titles.

Lupita Domínguez, although a native-born Mexican, has also had to make adjustments in her outlook and assumptions if she was to succeed in her own career, as a service provider in the leisure industry.

Lupita Domínguez is an artist…a pole dancer. She has worked in various cities throughout México in the best—and sometimes not the best—table dance bars.

She learned English in Puerto Vallarta, México, and lived1 in the United States for a year to perfect her English and take a course in writing (and reading) as a follow-up to her first literary work.

Today, she combines her night job with a career in business administration and hopes to open her own bar in a Mexican port such as Manzanillo, Vallarta, Mazatlán, or Puerto Peñasco.

That “first literary work”, like Joanna’s first book, was a self-published book.  When Lupita, who was visiting family in Mazatlán stopped  at our bookstore, to see if we might take a few copies for sale, we were immediately taken by her professionalism and seriousness.  We mostly sell second-hand English-language “beach books”, but carry our own books, and a few local authors as well… but very few books in Spanish.  Still, as a novelty, if nothing else, it seemed worth having a few copies of “Historías de Table Dance” available.

When I started to read “Historías” I had an “OH… MY… GOD!” reaction.  This is not  some lightweight entertainment, nor pure titillation, but a clear-eyed, no apologies  look at some of the less flattering aspects of Mexican culture — gender roles, labor exploitation, sexual and physical abuse among them.  And, in the midst of it all, love, tenderness, humor and solidarity.

Editorial Mazatlán, being Editorial Wisemaz’ imprint for “cultural studies”,  was set up to publish just this kind of book.  We took the unusual step of buying out Lupita’s contract (and the entire press run) from the original publisher.  The printing and layout are not up to our standards, but the writing itself stands on its own as a original and valuable work.  A primary source on the sex trade, one without the usual moralizing or theorizing normally found in such documents.  But, as an English-language publisher, mostly distributing to the United States and Canada, we wanted to make this book available to English language readers.  It deserved not just a good translator, but the right translator.  After a lot of back and forth conversations with various translators I know about who might be up for this job, I realized I already knew the right person.

Sabina Becker, a well-known Canadian blogger, whose “News of the Restless” carries the slogan “Suck it, haters! Feminism rocks!”  combines good humor, a dash of sexual innuendo and a goodly dose of righteous anger not only on sexual, class and labor issues, as well as Latin American politics.  Having the good fortune to grow up in a multi-lingual household (she first learned Spanish from her mother’s old German language school texts) I couldn’t have found anyone better at ten time the rate we paid her (not that we had the budget for that).  She has more than earned her quite reasonable fees  and we’d be happy to recommend her to others needed quality translations in record time.

We’re still editing the translations, which is no reflection on Sabina, but part of the normal process… we normally go through five or six iterations with a text, and its unusual that on this work, we’ll only need two or three which I think is something of a record.  With our book designer already at work, “The Table Dancer’s Tale” will be available for the general public by September.  And, I should add,  can be included (and SHOULD be included) on Fall Semester reading lists for courses in Latin American, Women’s or Labor Studies.

From the Introduction (copyright ©2011 Lupita Domínguez, English translation copyright ©2012 Sabina C. Becker)

In this book you will get to know the double standards of my beloved México, for though I love my country and am proud of my Mexican roots, I consider the all-pervasive culture of machismo and the double standards of México to be the true reason why so many young, beautiful, educated women end up with this kind of “easy job”.

How is it possible that our own mothers push us to work in the nightclubs? They, whose moral duty to their sons and DAUGHTERS is to give them love, protection, moral foundations and above all, to help them whenever they have problems, duck their heads and prefer to hide the problems just because of what people might say? Some of these women, whom the world by mistake gave the good luck of having children, dare to call their daughters whores—not prostitutes, but WHORES, which in México is the worst word we use when we want to offend, put down and insult a woman—when they live off them. Yes, week after week they go shopping with the money those daughters whom they call whores…and of whom they are ashamed…send them  to buy food for those children and the good-for-nothing husband they have at home.

And, too, there are other “mothers” who prepare their daughters from an early age for this lucrative “work”.  Stories of incest, in which the daughter, of course, is the one who is at fault.   Abuses committed against girls by their brothers, which our mothers dare not report to the police out of shame about what they might say and because they might haul a beloved son off to jail. Fortunately, there are also stories with happy endings. Stories of girls who found love and the support of a partner in one of those so-called sin clubs. Enjoy, and please, mothers, support your daughters…love them…value them.

These double standards also include our “macho” Mexican men: fathers, brothers, uncles, buddies; who are all models of rectitude at home, but come nightfall, transform themselves, paying for dance after dance from us to show their friends what machos they are.  Some even pay us to put our fingers in their anuses. Men who are brutes at home with their families but in the nightclub are the most splendid of gentlemen.

I have seen friends almost come to blows to pay the tab when they haven’t even gone home with their paychecks yet. Men who bring their sons to “debut” with the table dancers, while keeping their daughters at home to clean the house and wash and iron their brothers’ clothes. Because a good Mexican macho doesn’t wash clothes, doesn’t clean the house, doesn’t go grocery shopping…and doesn’t give good sex to his wife.

Ouch!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Allen Graham permalink
    29 March 2012 8:21 am

    May I suggest a visit to the “Ancha d’oro” , across the street from the ‘Shrimp Ladies’ in Mazatlan.
    Very noisy, free food, beer sold in buckets of ice, and loud music. The meseras range in age from 17 to 35. Most are attractive, and polite. They will offer you their phone number.
    Take your wife or girlfriend, as long as she is not a mazatleca.
    Rumour has it that a certain ex-pat writer hangs out there.

  2. 29 March 2012 10:31 am

    Very much looking forward to this new book. A good eye-opener is easily my favorite genre and this promised to be instructive in quite a few ways.

    Even though I feel like I’m an “expert” at adapting to Mexico, as a male I imagine I’ve missed about 51% of everything going on due to the roles and double-standards more visible from one side of the gender-gap than the other. What a great find.

  3. 31 December 2014 12:02 pm

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    Thanks

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