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Strip Class Offered at Mt. Holyoke

August 5, 1999

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (AP) _ Russian literature lecturer. Mother of two. Striptease dancer. For Susan Scotto, it’s all in a day’s work.

Ms. Scotto, an instructor at the all-women Mount Holyoke College, stripped in clubs while getting her doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. Now she’s sharing her experiences with students in a noncredit how-to class in striptease.

Ms. Scotto says exotic dancing is an art form that pleases the dancer and the viewer. A class she offered on the topic last year was so popular that she plans to offer it again in September.

Sophomore Patty McCarthy was one of the 65 students who took the class last year. She said she would consider taking it again: ``It was sort of fun.″

Students in the class view clips from movies featuring strippers, learn basic bump-and-grind moves and get to take home props, including feather boas, scarves, fans and high heels.

``I don’t see any way how an exchange of pleasure is something to be condemned,″ Ms. Scotto told the Union-News in Springfield. ``Someone in any form of work can feel exploited. It’s all a state of mind.″

Reached at home, the mother of two, whose husband also teaches Russian at Mount Holyoke, declined to elaborate but said she stood by her statements.

College President Joanne Creighton pointed out Wednesday that although the class was held in a campus dance studio, the course is not part of the college curriculum, ``nor does Professor Scotto receive any pay for this noncredit class.″

Sally Sutherland, associate dean of faculty, said Ms. Scotto still dances semiprofessionally, but neither that nor the class goes against the 162-year-old college’s feminist traditions.

``Where else but a women’s college could provide a safe and secure place to explore the boundaries of an art form that slides over into pornography and exploitation?″ she said.