‘P-Valley’: Katori Hall Visited Over 40 Strip Clubs to Research the Show
Katori Hall’s Starz drama series, P-Valley, became a massive hit when it first debuted in July 2020. The series is set in Chucalissa, Mississippi, and follows Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan), the non-gender confirming owner of the town’s strip club, The Pynk, and the women who work for her. The dancers at The Pynk include Autumn (Elarica Johnson). a woman running from her past who is suspicious of everyone around her. Mercedes (Brandee Evans), The Pynk’s long-time headliner who plans to get out of the strip scene by starting her own business. We were also introduced to Keyshawn, aka Ms. Mississippi (Shannon Thornton), a dancer in an abusive relationship, and many other characters.
The show is based on Hall’s play, Pu**y Valley and it has already garnered critical acclaim and been greenlit for a second season. Still, as much as fans love the series and cannot wait to return to The Pynk, it took a lot of time and patience for Hall to create this world. She visited an insane number of strip clubs when she began creating this world.
Is ‘P-Valley’ based on a real place?
P-Valley is not a real story, nor is it based on a real-life place. However, Hall did draw inspiration from several places before writing her play and eventually the TV series. Hall was inspired by the strip clubs that she visited, her own family members, and by rap sensation Cardi B.
“Cardi B literally rolled out the Pynk carpet for P Valley,” Hall told ELLE. “I was following her on social media when she was a dancer because I loved her personality. She was funny as fu*k and smart as fu*k, and even being young, she was this vibrant and political woman who was articulating herself in this powerful way. So fast forward, she just popped, and this story about this stripper-turned-rapper was on everyone’s tongue. She made other people feel comfortable and be more accepting—and was unapologetic about it the entire time. She was the starting point.”
What will ‘P-Valley’ Season 2 be about?
Season 2 of P-Valley was delayed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the new season will finally begin filming in Atlanta this month. At the end of the first season, Autumn saves The Pynk from being sold, and now she co-owns it with Uncle Clifford. “She came in getting her a** smacked on the dance floor, and now, she has some ownership in the club,” Hall explained to ELLE. “The power dynamics at the club have completely changed, and to see Uncle Clifford and Hailey fight over the throne will be the stuff of legends.”
The casting call for the second season asked for actors who can present in their 20s and have dancing and/or pole dancing experience. The casting call asks that these men, women, and non-binary actors should be comfortable with nudity and sexual scenes.
Katori Hall visited over 40 strip clubs to research ‘P-Valley’
When it came to bringing P-Valley to life, Hall wanted the world to be as authentic as possible. Therefore she visited over 40 strip clubs to make sure she got everything right.
“It’s been an odyssey,” she told Deadline. “That was around the time I was doing the really heavy research and went to over 40 clubs. I was just really grateful that I was able to really take my time and dig in. Sometimes you just need time to get to the truth, because oftentimes there’s this façade that people will put up. I just remember having conversations four and five times with certain women, in order to dig into the truth as to why they chose to dance. Or, how the dance chose them, and to find out those stories as well.”
Hall also wanted the series to be much deeper than just “strippers.” “I was always so enthralled by what I saw, because it goes beyond just women taking the clothes off. The women who are up on those stages, they were putting forth a theatrical experience. I felt like I was at Cirque du Soleil,” she told The Los Angeles Times.