Staged Sexuality: A Dramaturgical Analysis of Erotic Dancing

Amanda J. Swygart-Hobaugh M.L.S., Ph.D., Georgia State University


This research comprises an ethnographic study of female erotic dancers in a single erotic dance club. Using Erving Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical analysis of the social construction of the self as my theoretical basis of inquiry, I examined the dancers’ staged performance of a self. I interpreted the erotic dancers’ performances as constructed fronts intended to fulfill the heterosexual male customers’ fantasies of the ideal sexual female. Operating with this assumption, I observed how the erotic dancers created and maintained the ideal sexual female through the manipulation of setting, appearance, manner, and impression management techniques. Lastly, I discuss the implications these created fronts have for the social construction of female sexuality.