Many Hiaasen fans think STRIP TEASE is his best
novel. The complex and entertaining plot ---a hilarious
look at what a politician will do for love and money --- seems more
timely now than when the book was published in
Congressman David Dilbeck is lovesick over stripper Erin Grant.
Erin is a no-nonsense mom with a drop dead body and talent for
dancing that pulls down a lot more money than her former
secretarial job with the FBI, which she lost because her ex-husband
is a felon. An unsympathetic judge has given custody of
her daughter to her ex, who uses the child to help him in his
chosen line of work --- stealing wheelchairs. Erin needs
to earn $15,000, fast, to launch a child custody battle.
Congressman Dilbeck's infatuation with Erin, one in a long history
of beautiful ladies, is making his political handlers nervous ---
very nervous. Especially when he is recognized and
photographed bashing one of Erin's fans over the head with a
champagne bottle when the fan gets out of hand during a bachelor
party at the Eager Beaver dance club. Dilbeck sees his
addiction to beautiful women as a harmless, occasional recreation,
but his "fixer" lawyer is prone to settling matters more
In the following excerpt the fixer, Malcom Moldowsky, confronts
Dilbeck when they learn that of the incriminating photo and they
don't know who has it, and what, if anything, Erin may know about
"People are trying to harm you, David. We need to be
sure she's not one of them."
Dilbeck shook his head. "You're completely paranoid."
"But she's just a stripper."
Malcolm Moldowsky grabbed Dilbeck's shirt. "Fannie Fox," he said,"
was ‘just a stripper.' Donna Rice was just a
model-slash-actress. Elizabeth Ray was just a secretary who
couldn't type. Gennifer Flowers was just a country singer. Don't
you get it? Ask Chuck Robb. Or that horny idiot Hart. Teddy
Kennedy, for pity's sake...
Moldy released his grip. Exhausted, he wilted on a bar stool.
"Those who ignore history," he said, "are doomed to get their nuts
Al Garcia, a Cuban cop with the Dade County sheriff's department,
becomes involved when bodies start popping up in odd places, and
Garcia tries to put the clues together.
STRIP TEASE the movie starred Demi Moore as Erin, Burt Reynolds as
David Dilbeck, Armand Assante as Al Garcia, the Cuban cop and Ving
Rhames as the bouncer at the Eager Beaver dance club. In
a word, it stunk. Had the screen writer and director
stuck to the plot, the ending would have offered a thrill ride with
the signature Hiaasen diabolical twist. But, alas, somebody gave up
on the movie about two thirds of the way through --- the plot went
astray, direction got sloppy; scenes that started out at night in a
refinery suddenly switched to a cane field in full
sun. Too bad --- with a cast like that, Strip Tease the
movie might have made a successful transition to the screen and
been as a big a hit as the book. Billed as a comedy, instead it is
a comedy of errors. Put it on your list of book to movie flops.
Read the book.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 23, 2011