The Players Club
Time Out saysIce Cube's first foray behind the camera as writer/director combines a cautionary tale of greed, folly and brutality at a Southern black strip club with an account of one fresh intern's triumph over the joint's stacked odds. The 'girls' occupy centre frame: Diana 'Diamond' Armstrong (LisaRaye), using the night work to support a young son and pay her way through journalism college, and Ronnie (Wilson) and Tricks (Givens), sour lifers who amuse themselves corrupting new recruits, including Diamond's gullible young cousin Ebony (Calhoun). For the most part, the film follows Spike Lee's Girl 6 and the post-feminist consensus in defending sex workers' professional choices according to the control they maintain over their acts while acknowledging at least some of the constant sexual, economic and personal pressures involved. Sympathetic it may be, but it never cuts deep; moreover, the camera spends far longer gazing at the women's stage acts than it does recording their feelings of degradation. That said, there are strong performances and two or three house-raising comic set pieces.