‘P-Valley’ Creator Katori Hall on Exploring the Art of Stripping Not Exploiting
The 2020 Starz strip club drama P-Valley received a lot of attention from fans for its portrayal of the South that was unlike most other movies and shows.
While most productions focusing on strip clubs or pole dancing sexualize them, P-Valley’s take on the topic is different, showing it more as an art and highlighting the athleticism involved.
P-Valley is based on Katori Hall’s 2015 drama, and she pulls from her own experience of growing up in Memphis to tell the story. Given how little the portrayal of strip clubs matched reality, Hall wanted to show the real side of the industry, which was completely ignored by other productions.
You saw athletes on the pole, you didn’t see sad broken women. And so, for me, that was like, ‘Boom, I know this is an art form, and yet people don’t understand this particular art form comes from these Black women down in the south.’
Hall spoke to many strippers about their background when she began to explore the topic creatively. And during this process, her realization about how diverse the people in this line of work were made her want to teach others about the “different versions of the stripper” and why women danced.
Exploring the Art of Stripping Not Exploiting
To achieve Hall’s vision of portraying stripping as an art, P-Valley had to be filmed in a way that was not exploitative and did not perpetuate the idea of hyper-sexualization of Black women.
Because there’s an athletic component to it, I make sure that anytime we lens the dance, we were much more interested in capturing what these women’s bodies could do vs what these women’s bodies looked like. The story is being told about women from their POV.
Hall further explained that the camera placement was placed on the women’s gaze and ensured that the camera never lingered on a woman’s breast. Much of the shots captured the entirety of the actresses’ bodies and made heavy usage of shadows.
The cinematography was also inspired by Barry Jenkins’ 2016 coming of age drama film Moonlight and how the movie’s frames had been saturated with colors.
P-Valley did a similar thing, saturating their frames with blue or pink light to make it "otherworldly, but it also makes Black folks look beautiful," according to Hall.
Season 2 of 'P-Valley'
The first season of P-Valley received much love from fans, and it’s no surprise that the show is getting a second season.
Starz recently dropped a behind-the-scene for the upcoming season 2 where the cast, including Brandee Evans, spoke about the production and what to expect.
The second season will not only explore the strip clubs and dancing through the eyes of the dancers but will also show much more of the outside world. There are also newer stages and sets to show different aspects of the club.