a feature documentary
by Vicky Funari and Julia Query
2000 / 16mm & digibeta / 70 minutes


A stripper at a San Francisco peep show called the Lusty Lady, Julia Query is no stranger to hard work.  Along with fellow exotic dancers with names like Decadence, Amnesia and Octopussy, Query puts in long, hard hours on stage.  But when faced with no sick leave, unfair demotions, safety and privacy concerns, and racial discrimination, Query and her co-workers decide to do something about it.  They set out to unionize the exotic dancers of the Lusty Lady.  Live Nude Girls UNITE! follows their quest to form the first Exotic Dancers Union and Query’s attempts, both hilarious and painful, to tell her mother what she does for a living.  On stage and behind the scenes, co-directors Vicky Funari and Julia Query uncover the struggles and the stories of the women who toil in the Lusty Lady.

Live Nude Girls UNITE! premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, won a Golden Spire Award and an Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival, had extensive festival play, an arthouse theatrical run, and aired on HBO/Showtime.

See The Film

Watch Online

Kanopy – Link
Amazon Prime – Link
iTunes – Link
Fandor – Link

Additional Links

Trailer Link
Buy the Film – Link

Live Nude Girls UNITE! is also available with Spanish subtitles.  Please contact Vicky Funari for a Spanish-subtitled copy.


Key Credits

Written and Directed:  Julia Query and Vicky Funari
Editors:  Vicky Funari and Heidi Rahlmann Plumb
Producers:  Julia Query and John Montoya
Executive Producer:  Gini Reticker
Co-producers:  Sarah Kennedy, Avi Peterson
Associate Producers:  Inka Petersen, CJ Roessler, Marisa Soghoian
Original artwork:  Isis Rodriguez
Original Music:  Allison Hennessy and Kali with Alex Kort; Blaise Smith and Dale Everingham
Sound design:  Jennifer Ware and Barbara McBain
Sound mix:  Howard Stein, American Zoetrope
Dedicated to Sex Workers Everywhere and to Dr. Joyce Wallace

Funding & Support

Astraea National Lesbian Action Foundation
Kathleen Glynn and Michael Moore of The Center for Alternative Media and Culture
Chicago Underground Film Fund
Fleishhacker Foundation
Pacific Pioneer Fund
Third Wave Foundation – The Funding Exchange
Threshold Foundation
Vanguard Foundation
Subsidized access to post-production facilities provided by The Bay Area Video Coalition
Post-production sound provided by HomeGirls and American Zoetrope


Julia Query (left) and Vicky Funari (right)

Gini Reticker

Julia Query, Producer/Director/Writer:  In graduate school, Query studied Sociology and postmodern feminist theory and established a documentary video collective.  She was associate producer on Dykes, Camera… Action!, about lesbian media activism, and consulting producer for All I Know:  Women and Breast Cancer in Oregon.  She also founded the University of Oregon Queer Film and Video Festival.  When Query left graduate school to pursue work as a stand-up comic, performance artist and writer, she became a stripper in order to have the time and flexible schedule to write and tour her solo performance pieces.  This led her to labor organizing and to producing Live Nude Girls UNITE!.  Subsequent to Live Nude Girls UNITE!, Query returned to school and is now a psychotherapist, speaker and writer.

Vicky Funari, Director/Writer/Editor:  Vicky Funari is a documentary filmmaker, editor, and teacher. Funari produced, directed, and edited the feature documentaries MAQUILÁPOLIS (2006) and Paulina (1998); and she directed and edited Live Nude Girls Unite! (2000).  These award-winning, critically acclaimed films have screened in many preeminent film festivals, including Sundance, Locarno, Havana, Rotterdam, SXSW, and Tribeca.  Her films have won numerous awards, including Grand Jury Prize and Audience Awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival; Lifetime Television’s Vision Award at the Hamptons Film Festival; and Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Women’s International Film Festival of Barcelona.  Her films have aired on PBS, HBO, and the Sundance Channel.  From 2006-2009, Funari directed the MAQUILÁPOLIS binational Community Outreach Campaign, using that film in conjunction with activist organizations and factory workers to promote public dialogue and social change.  Funari has been editor and consulting editor on a wide range of projects, most recently the documentary Strong!, directed by Julie Wyman, which aired on the PBS strand Independent Lens in 2012.  Funari is a Guggenheim Fellow and a MacDowell Colony Fellow.  Funari is currently a Visual Media Scholar at Haverford College, where she teaches, designs interdisciplinary media projects, and programs documentary film series for the college.  She is currently producing and directing two documentaries:  one, currently in post-production, tells a story of healthy aging, community, and ladies in a pool; while the other, in development, is about American rivers and their environmental and human histories.

Gini Reticker, Executive Producer:  Gini Reticker, Chief Creative Officer at Fork Films, is an Academy Award nominated and Emmy Award winning director and producer with a distinguished career that spans more than 20 years.  She recently directed The Trials of Spring, which has played at Human Rights festivals around the world and was accompanied by six shorts that launched on The New York Times. The film chronicles a young woman’s journey from an Egyptian village to international human rights activist.  Reticker previously won the Tribeca Best Documentary Award for Pray the Devil Back to Hell, the story of Liberian women whose actions helped bring an end to a brutal civil war.  She received an Academy Award nomination for the short film, Asylum, recounting one woman’s journey to political asylum in the US.  That same year she was nominated for an Emmy for producing A Decade Under the Influence.  Reticker was one of the creators of Women, War & Peace for PBS, executive produced Abigail Disney’s The Armor of Light, and co-produced The Betrayal (Nerahkoon) ­ nominated for both an Academy Award and an Independent Spirit Award.  She served as an Executive Producer on 1971, Live Nude Girls UNITE!, Cameraperson, Alias Ruby Blade, Citizen Koch, Hot Girls Wanted and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.


“Displays its share of exposed flesh, but at heart it’s part of the rich tradition of labor documentaries that includes Barbara Kopple’s Harlan County, USA and American Dream.” –A.O. Scott,  New York Times

PDF | Website 

“Wickedly funny… subversive comic style… goes after the divisions within feminism around the issues of sexuality, sex work, and the ways women deploy and depict their bodies… finds liberation in irony and uplift in ribald wit.”  –Amy Taubin, Village Voice


“This eye-opening documentary goes way behind the green door to chronicle the struggle of the Lusty Lady’s workforce as it unionizes against all odds…it brings sharp surprises to the world of labor filmmaking.”  –SF Bay Guardian


“An advertisement for the possibilities of the consumer digital video camera.  Not slick… never boring… Julia is a disarmingly honest narrator.” –Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

PDF | Website

“Racy, engrossing…an insider’s view of the sex industry.” –Variety

PDF | Website

“An entertaining package tour of 1990s feminism, the sex trade, sociology, and a mother-daughter relationship in crisis.”  –SF Weekly

PDF | Website

“Union Activities Uncovered in ‘Girls’: Stripper Turns Her Advocacy into a Labor of Love”   A profile of the filmmakers on the occasion of its theatrical opening in San Francisco.


“A naughty Norma Rae!” –Entertainment Weekly

“A partisan tale from the inside…immensely entertaining!” –Boston Phoenix

“A rare subversive documentary that manages to be comical, political, enlightening and entertaining all at the same time.” –Esquire

“Lively and provocative!” –Los Angeles Times


“Funny, sardonic and thoughtful…revealing.” –Boston Globe

“Bracing…the women are passionate, intelligent and articulate.” –Bay Area Reporter

“Will entertain, provoke, and enlighten… smart and thoughtful!” –Planet Out/Popcorn Q

Harlan County, USA with pasties!” –Marin Independent Journal

“Rough and lively, zingy!” –Out Magazine

“Feisty, moving!” –Christian Science Monitor

“Raucous, poignant!”  –San Francisco Examiner


Statement From the Filmmakers

Vicky Funari, Director/Writer/Editor and Julia Query, Producer/Director/Writer

First-time director Julia Query was a stand-up comic working a “day job” as an exotic dancer at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady peep show when she and her co-workers began to unionize.  They knew they were making labor history, and Query began to document their efforts with her home video camera.  She envisioned an entertaining documentary that would incorporate activism, theory and humor, showcasing the animation of stripper-activist Isis Rodriguez and Query’s own stand-up comedy as lively illustrations of contemporary feminist approaches to sex industry work.

Director Vicky Funari had recently premiered her feature documentary Paulina when Julia approached her looking for an experienced collaborator on Live Nude Girls UNITE!.  Funari was was particularly drawn to the story of the unionization of the Lusty Lady, having worked at the Lusty Lady herself in the early 90s and having made a short experimental video there, skin•es•the•si•a (1994).  Funari’s essay about that experience was subsequently published in the anthology Whores and Other Feminists (Editor Jill Nagle, Routledge, 1997).

Query and Funari shared a belief in activist cinema, a faith that films made with scant resources and plenty of brains, corazon, and chutzpah can help bring about social and political change.  Their hope with this film was to challenge commonly held notions of what it means to be a stripper, to offer sex industry workers and all workers inspiration in their struggle for rights, and to give audiences a rousing good time.


  • Golden Spire Award, Bay Area Documentary, San Francisco International Film Festival, 2000
  • Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature, San Francisco International Film Festival, 2000
  • Best Lesbian Feature, Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, 2000

Selected Screenings

  • SXSW, Austin, TX, 2000
  • San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Boston International Festival of Women’s Cinema
  • Flaherty Seminar
  • Downtown Community Television/DCTV, benefit for striking MoMA workers
  • Oufest, Los Angeles
  • Atlanta Film and Video Festival, Atlanta
  • Sheffield Documentary Festival, Sheffield, UK
  • Image and Nation Film Festival, Montreal
  • Provincetown International Film Festival, Provincetown, MA
  • Chicago Underground Film Festival, Chicago
  • Portland Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Portland, OR
  • Hallwalls, Buffalo, NY
  • Washington Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Washington DC
  • Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Seattle, WA
  • Image Out Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Rochester, NY
  • Minneapolis Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Minneapolis, MN
  • CineVegas International Film Festival, Las Vegas, NV
  • Screenings around the U.S. in support of exotic dancers doing labor organizing
  • Theatrical release through First Fun Features
  • International TV sales through Jan Rofekamp & Films Transit
  • MoMA/Museum of Modern Art, New, 2009
  • Cinema Politica, various cities, 2009
  • Full Frame Documentary Festival, 2010

Press Kit

Downloadable PDF