Gay American Studies Scholar Stripped His Way to a Ph.D.





In the 90s, a typical night for Craig Seymour included G-strings, elbow grease, and dollar bills in his socks.

Between sets at Washington, D.C.’s gay strip clubs – unique institutions while they lasted, where hands-on experiences were encouraged — he graded papers, “red pen in hand.”

“The truth was that stripping had long called out to me. It offered something different from my grad school grind of dealing with students, grading papers, and sitting through seemingly endless seminars.”

So Seymour writes in his new memoir, All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C. (Atria, 2008), his tell-all tale of getting eyed and groped while an American studies Ph.D. student (and teaching assistant) at the University of Maryland at College Park. The racy book doesn’t seem to have hobbled him on the academic hiring circuit: After three years at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth’s English department, he heads to Northern Illinois University as an associate professor of journalism this fall, with credit toward tenure status. “It’s clear that he is working in defined academic traditions of ethnography and journalism, so I didn’t hear any hue and cry about it,” Jeffrey Chown, incoming journalism chair at Northern Illinois, says of faculty reaction to Seymour’s publication history.

“I actually read an excerpt,” Seymour, now 39 and with significantly more time logged as a journalist than as a stripper, says of his NIU campus visit. “I’m at the point in my career that I don’t want to be anywhere if people don’t want me exactly as I am.”...

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