B-drinking is a strategy whereby dancers, waitresses, and otherwise legally employed women illegally solicit drinks from tourists for pay. Unique to the ethnographic literature on strip clubs, Bourbon Street, B-Drinking, and the Sexual Economy of Tourism focuses on the role of alcohol sales in the sexual economy of Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Relying on historical material, Demovic reveals that the intimate encounters B-girls have provided have been a part of the tourism service economy since the beginning of the twentieth century. The evolution of “B-girldom” as an imagined identity created through changing representations of the practice over the decades have both reflected and constructed the experiences of women working in New Orleans’ nightclubs. The B-drinker is an iconic character found in fictional and nonfictional accounts of the city. B-girls inhabit an ambiguous structural position in the performance of heritage tourism in New Orleans. Participant observation and interviews reveal that by the 1990s women who worked as B-drinkers were significant stakeholders in French Quarter tourism, able to use their informal networks to seize power over working conditions in the tourism economy of Bourbon Street. Demovic focuses on how these marginalized but critical workers have responded to stigma by creating tight knit groups which continue to support one another decades after leaving their work on Bourbon Street. This book adds the New Orleans example to a broader understanding of how sex work evolves in ways that reflect regional history and culture. Widening the ethnographic lens, Demovic looks past strip tease itself and to the economic activities of such workers when they are off the stage.
For more information, check out A Conversation with Angela Demovic, Bourbon Street, B-Drinking and the Sexual Economy of Tourism