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Lap Dances Find Academic Champion as Cities Rein in Strip Clubs

Judith Hanna, a 75-year-old grandmother and anthropology professor, spent an afternoon in 2005 on a beach in Jacksonville, Florida, photographing women’s swimsuited backsides.

Hanna, who has spent almost 50 years studying the cultural expression of dance, called the fieldwork “interesting.” Her pictures, meant to demonstrate local enthusiasm for exposed flesh, became evidence in a nightclub’s fight against an ordinance requiring strippers to better cover their derrieres. Since 1995, Hanna, a University of Maryland researcher, has helped clubs repel efforts to tax, regulate or close them, arguing more than 100 times that striptease is just as much an art as ballet.