Strippers at a strip club in Mexico City
|Names||stripper, exotic dancer, erotic dancer, go-go dancer, dancer, peeler, ripper|
|Occupation type||performing arts|
|Activity sectors||strip clubs, exhibitions, festivals, competitions, busking|
|Competencies||striptease, pole dancing, cage dancing, lap dancing|
|Related jobs||nude modeling, pornography, escorting, prostitution|
A stripper is a professional erotic dancer who performs a contemporary form of striptease at strip club establishments, public exhibitions, and private engagements. Unlike in burlesque, the performer in the modern Americanized form of stripping minimizes the interaction of customer and dancer, reducing the importance of tease in the performance in favor of speed to undress. Not every stripper will end his or her performance completely nude, though full nudity is common where not prohibited by law. The integration of the stripper pole as a nearly ubiquitous prop has also shifted the emphasis in the performance toward a more acrobatic, explicit expression versus the slow-developing burlesque. Stripping is typically associated with female performers; male strippers make up less than a third of the professional community. Strippers, when working, are typically found at strip clubs. House dancers work for a particular club or franchise. Feature dancers tend to have their own celebrity, touring a club circuit making appearances. Entertainers (dancers) are often not actual employees of the club itself but allowed to perform as independent contractors.
Until the 1970s, strippers in Western cultures were almost invariably female, performing to male audiences. Since then, male strippers, performing to female audiences, have also become common. Male and female strippers also perform for gay and lesbian audiences respectively, as well as for both sexes in pansexual contexts. Before the 1970s dancers of both sexes appeared largely in underground clubs or as part of a theatre experience, but the practice eventually became common enough on its own. Male strippers have become a popular option to have at a bachelorette party. The modern male stripper show usually involves full nudity, although sometimes they may retain underwear, especially g-strings, bikini briefs or thongs throughout the show, or only remove all clothing for a brief time. Performances are usually fully choreographed, involve dance routines and a costume of some sort.
- 1 Recent history
- 2 Male strippers
- 3 Work environment
- 4 Performance
- 5 Social factors
- 6 Organizing in the Workplace
- 7 Strippers and the law
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The image of strippers as known today evolved through the late 1960s and 1970s in the U.S. and international cultures which embraced Americanized striptease, introduced into popular culture by the genre-defining performances of Carol Doda. By the 1980s, the pole dancing and highly explicit imagery associated with today's performers was widely accepted and frequently portrayed in film, television, and theater. In a bikini performance, both breasts and genital areas typically remain covered by revealing attire while dancers provide services and entertainment. Go-go dancers will retain their tops and bottoms for the duration of their performance. A stripper whose upper body is exposed but the genital areas remain obscured during a performance is said to be topless. Not all strippers are comfortable dancing topless. Strippers who uncover the genital areas along with other clothing during a performance are said to be dancing full nude. The practice is banned in many jurisdictions, but many dancers will work around the constraints but selectively uncovering her vulva, anus, or both for short periods of time then replacing the clothing. As with topless dancing, not all strippers are comfortable dancing full nude.
Touching of strippers is not permitted in many localities. However, some dancers and clubs allow touching of dancers during private dances. If permitted, during a lap dance the dancer grinds against the customer's crotch while he or she remains clothed in an attempt to arouse or bring the recipient to climax. In parts of the USA, there are laws forbidding the exposure of female nipples, which have to be covered by pasties by the dancer. Research suggests that exotic dancing can pay well, but often at a significant cost to the stripper. Due to the common practice of hiring strippers as contractors, not as full-time employees, strippers must deal with extreme job insecurity, unstable pay, no health benefits, and the requirement of paying fees to the club for technically renting their stage. This precarious employment is accepted because of the stigma associated with exotic dancing. Dancers use props such as make-up, clothing, costumes, and appealing fragrances to complete their character and maintain their "front". Research on linkages between lesbianism and stripping, still classified as deviant behavior in conservative social climates, has asserted that "some exotic dancers become lesbians because of their isolation from effective social relationships and their overall dissatisfaction with males".
A male stripper will likely perform at club, bar, workplace or private home with private advanced bookings or ladies nights being prevalent over strip clubs which is the norm for female strippers. This is different from the chippendales scene that emerged to prominence in the 1980s with today's norm being one sole performer, or a series of individual performers rather than a group of strippers.
Tewkesbury argues that male strippers 'masculinise' the role; thus are not disempowered in the way that, he asserts, female strippers are.
Performers are called strippers, exotic dancers or just dancers, or entertainers. Another name for a stripper is an ecdysiastic dancer or simply an ecdysiast. Many reasons have been cited as to why women become exotic dancers; however, the overriding motivation is to make money. The more attractive the dancer, the more business she generates. Therefore, beauty and sexuality act as the currency in this profession. There are no job prerequisites to become an exotic dancer. Formal training is minimal, primarily on the job and provided by more senior dancers. Dancers learn a set of rules, such as: never leave money unattended; never leave the club with a customer; and never refuse a table dance. As long as she can "sell" herself, she is capable of becoming an exotic dancer.
Inside the club
Strippers, when working, are most likely to be found at strip clubs. An essential draw of the strip club is the live entertainment, which the vast majority of the time are the strippers. Dancers effectively entertaining customers are the key to generating revenue by keeping the customers on site and enticing them to be repeat visitors. House dancers work for a particular club or franchise. Feature dancers tend to have their own celebrity, touring a club circuit making appearances. Porn stars will often become feature dancers to earn extra income and build their fan base. High profile adult film performers Jenna Haze and Teagan Presley among others have participated in feature shows through the USA, as did now-retired stars such as Jenna Jameson. Entertainers (dancers) are often not actual employees of the club itself but allowed to perform as independent contractors for a predetermined house fee.
During each set of one or more songs, the current performer will dance on stage in exchange for tips. Where legal (or legal restrictions are ignored), dancers may offer additional services such as lap dances or a trip to the champagne room for a set fee rather than a tip. Strippers can be contracted for performances outside of the strip club environment. Some strippers will only strip for private engagements and do not have a regular affiliation with a strip club. Much like activities inside the club, different dancers have different comfort levels for services they will provide during a private party. Aside from advertising for striptease services outside of the club, an unknown percentage of strippers also work in other aspects of the sex industry. This can include erotic and nude modeling, pornography, escorting, and in some cases prostitution. Outside of the U.S. the use of strip clubs to facilitate sex for hire is much more common, and stripping is viewed in those settings as advertising for sexually-oriented services performed in private areas of the club or off premises.
Most clubs have a dancer rotation where each dancer in turn will perform for one or more songs in a fixed sequence which repeats during a shift. More informal clubs will have dancers take turns when a stage becomes empty or have a free flow of entertainers where the stage has any number of entertainers who wander off and on at will. Feature entertainers are not usually part of the rotation, and have set times where they will perform that are advertised throughout the shift. If a DJ is present, he or she will emcee the rotation and typically announce the current dancer(s) on stage and possibly who to expect in future sets.
During each set of one or more songs, the current performer will dance on stage in exchange for tips. Dancers collect tips from customers either while on stage or after the dancer has finished a stage show and is mingling with the audience. A customary tip (where customers can do so at the stage) is a dollar bill folded lengthwise and placed in the dancer's garter from the tip rail. Other common tip methods are to insert the dollar into the stripper's cleavage from the hand or mouth, to simply place it or toss it on stage. Tipping during a stage performance is prohibited by some clubs due to restrictions in local ordinance or past incidents on the premises. Each club and dancer will have individual tolerance levels for customer interaction including tipping. Some clubs will have multiple stages on the premises that dancers will move between, but typically the dancer would collect for her time on the main stage during a rotation. Tips can also be collected during private dances.
Where legal (or legal restrictions are ignored), dancers may offer additional services such as lap dances or a trip to the champagne room for a set fee rather than a tip. This fee will typically include a set fee for the room, for a set amount of time. Private dances in the main club areas most often take the form of table dances, lap and couch dances, and bed dances among others. An air dance is a particular form of private dance where little to no contact between the dancer and customer occurs. This class of dance spans the different categories above, and some dancers can perform air dances when more contact heavy forms of dance were expected and paid for.
Table dances are distinguished from other forms of dances in that they can be performed where the customer is seated on the main floor. Table dances also refer to a form of minimal touch private dance where the performer is physical located on a small table in front of the customer(s). Table dances should not be confused with table stages, where the stripper is at or above eye level on a platform surrounded by chairs and usually enough table surface for customers to place drinks and tip money. These stages are configured for close viewing of the striptease and are known for dancers lowering themselves from the stage onto customers during their set.
Lap dances can be (and are) performed in all manner of seating, ranging from plain stools and kitchen-grade chairs to plush leather armchairs. They can also be performed with the customer standing in these designated areas. A service provided by many clubs is for a customer to be placed on stage with one or more dancers for a public lap dance. Occasions for this type of performance are bachelor parties and birthdays in the club among others. Bed dances are designed for the customer to be lying down with the entertainer(s) positioned on top of them. Bed dances are the least common of the three, and in many clubs are a more expensive option than a lap dance because of the novelty and increased level of contact between customer and service provider.
A champagne room (also called a champagne lounge, or champagne court) is a specialized VIP Room service offered by gentleman's clubs where a customer can purchase time (usually in half-hour increments) with an exotic dancer in a private room on the premises. Depending on the quality of the club, the room, which is away from the hustle and bustle of the main club, is well decorated and usually has its own bar. Clubs sell champagne by the glass or by the bottle for both the dancer and the customer. Strippers who have multiple trips to VIP in a given shift will often give their portion of the alcohol to other dancers or customers to reduce the amount they are drinking themselves.
Outside of the club
Strippers can be contracted for performances outside of the strip club environment. Some strippers will only strip for private engagements and do not have a regular affiliation with a strip club.
A bachelor party may involve activities beyond the usual party and social gathering ingredients (often drinking alcohol and gambling), such as going to a strip club or hiring a stripper to perform in a private setting like a home or hotel. In some traditions more hazing-like tests and pranks at the future groom's expense, which shows the whole thing is also a rite of passage from bachelorhood (associated with an adolescent lifestyle, often in the common past of most participants, e.g. in their student years) to "more responsible" marital life. These pranks can involve a stripper if the entertainer is willing. Increasingly, bachelor parties have come to symbolize the last time when the groom is free of the influence of his new wife. It has also become common for a similar party to be held for the bride-to-be. This is known as a bachelorette party or Hen party. Some also chose instead to hold a so-called Stag and Doe party in the US or a hag party or hag do in the UK ("hag" being a portmanteau "hen" and "stag"), in which both the bride and groom attend. The female equivalent of a stag party in Canada is often known as a "stagette", "doe" or "bachelorette".
Private parties are popular events for which to hire strippers. There are many entertainment businesses that have strippers contracted for private performances. Some of these companies have a national presence, with strippers contracted in multiple states and some who work regionally over a multi-state area. Strippers will also do side work and handle their own agreements and payment arrangements. Written agreements are atypical in this type of transaction unless a formal, registered business is involved. They could also travel over significant (i.e. flight required) distances for private events and appointments, most of the time passing the cost of travel and accommodations onto the customer. Patrons at the clubs in which the strippers work are a primary source of customers for their work outside of the club. Much like activities inside the club, different dancers have different comfort levels for services they will provide during a private party.
Aside from advertising for striptease services outside of the club, an unknown percentage of strippers also work in other aspects of the sex industry. This can include erotic and nude modeling, pornography, escorting, and in some cases prostitution (which is now illegal in all states other than Nevada within the U.S.). These activities are not mutually exclusive, meaning that a stripper who models on the side would be a stripper and model.
Adult industry trade shows often have strippers working, though many of them are affiliated with individual companies and not necessarily freelancers. More traditional industries have made use of go-go dancers to provide entertainment and act as Bargirls or hostesses. The lack of explicit nudity makes go-go dancers more socially acceptable than topless and nude performers in public areas.
There are also exhibitions, festivals, and competitions where independent strippers are more likely to be performing. Nudes-A-Poppin is a popular festival scheduled annually which features both female and male dancers competing in erotic dance. Outside of the U.S. the use of strip clubs to facilitate sex for hire is much more common, and stripping is viewed in those settings as advertising for sexually-oriented services performed in private areas of the club or off premises.
Strippers are focused on making money from customers. How dancers go about maximizing revenue varies, but every customer who walks into a club is potentially a mark. For customers they do not already know, dancers use factors such as clothing, shoes, age, and race to determine who they wish to interact with. Dancers and owners are always in agreement on the objective of making money. Strip clubs are profit-oriented businesses like restaurants and other retail establishments and dancers are their primary enabler to encourage them to spend time in their establishment. The dancers continually interact with the customers in the club by walking around and attempting to solicit drinks and lap dances, usually scanning the floor of a club to find the most lucrative customer to target.
While clubs can generate revenue through means such as cover charges and drink fees, dancers make most of their profit from giving lap dances or VIP dances where regulations allow. Otherwise customer tips to dancers from a stage set are their primary form of payment per shift. The dancer qualifies a customer by sizing up their appearance and personal characteristics. Once the dancer identifies her mark, she approaches and attempts to create a false social relationship with her customer using tactical interactions and manipulations toward a result of monetary gain. Customers can make the first move and engage the dancer directly, but more experienced dancers will have seen most of their tactics already. Strippers appeal to masculine desires, but they can adapt to fit the needs of female patrons to view them as customers. Adapting the experience to the customer is an integral part of exotic dancing.
While working a stripper is not necessarily required to remove all of his or her clothing. For any of the three types of clubs there are exceptions based on the individual dancer and management, and clubs are classified based on typical performances, zoning, and advertised services.
In a bikini performance, both breasts and genital areas typically remain covered by revealing attire while providing services and entertainment. Go-go dancers will retain their tops and bottoms for the duration of their performance. What differentiates a bikini dancer from other types of performers is the degree to which her body is exposed. Some restaurants offer attractive waitstaff in revealing outfits, but the uniform may not reveal the midriff or expose the back. They would also have more coverage in the pelvic area than you would see on a typical go-go performer.
The stripper, in the case of a bikini performance, may begin with layers of clothing over top of the bikini which then would be removed during the course of the dance set. When a bikini performance is being performed, many dancers will forgo a garter because they can accept tips at various points in their outfit (typically above the thigh or over their ribcage). A bikini performance is far more likely to be performed by a female than a male given social norms throughout the world. It has been debated whether or not bikini clubs and performances should count as striptease, but there is little contention over its classification as exotic dance. The phrase Go-Go was adopted by bars in the 1960s in Tokyo, Japan. It was of lesser reputation until it was appropriated by American burlesque and striptease establishments, which in turn became known as go-go bars and the women working there known as Go-Go dancers.
In many clubs, while a stripper is walking the floor she will be required to wear her full bikini top and bottom. When a stripper performs personal services (such as lap or bed dances) where she comes into contact with a customer, she would also be required to remain in her bikini in more restrictive club environments. Private dances in particular are scrutinized to ensure that no club policies or local ordinances are being violated during the performance. The additional clothing also acts as a deterrent to prevent a customer from exceeding the boundaries set by a particular dancer. On 19 June 1964, Carol Doda began go-go dancing topless at the Condor Club on Broadway and Columbus in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. She became the world's most famous go-go dancer, and a prototype for the modern stripper, while dancing at the Condor for 22 years.
Women are at times employed in adult-only venues to perform or pose topless in forms of commercial erotic entertainment. Such venues can range from downmarket strip clubs to upmarket cabarets, such as the Moulin Rouge. A stripper whose upper body is exposed but the genital areas remain obscured during a performance is said to be topless. Topless entertainment may also include competitions such as wet T-shirt contests in which women display their breasts through translucent wet fabric—and may end up removing their T-shirts before the audience. Strippers can engage in these alternate topless activities at sanctioned times inside the club or as independent contractors at outside venues. Not all strippers are comfortable dancing topless. In areas where choice in formats exist, exotic dancers express concern that the more they offer in their performance (nudity included) the more they stand to profit.
Even the dancers that will go topless have been known to stay covered during a dance during slow periods in the club with few customers. This is particularly true if the customers do not appear to be engaged or actively tipping because they are not being compensated for their time on stage. The practice of topless dancing is banned in many jurisdictions, but strippers have been known to work around the constraints but selectively uncovering her breasts "peek-a-boo" style for short periods of time then replacing the clothing. For a male dancer, a bare chest is not considered in the same light and does not face the same legal restrictions. During a show where customer tipping is permitted, most strip clubs limit contact with a dancer's breasts to one way from the dancer to customer. Many clubs do not allow any breast contact, and some go so far as to place markers on stage that a dancer is not permitted to cross while nude. This physical separation enforces compliance with the no touch policy.
Strippers who uncover the genital areas along with other clothing during a performance are said to be dancing fully nude. The practice is banned in many jurisdictions, but many dancers will work around the constraints by selectively uncovering her vulva, anus, or both for short periods of time then replacing the clothing. For a male dancer, exposing the penis or anus is equivalent. Many dancers prefer to leave their clothing on their bodies once they have shifted them from their private areas. In some cases this disguises blemishes or areas of their figure they are not comfortable with, or could simply be to prevent those parts of the outfit from being misplaced.
Not all strippers are comfortable dancing full nude. If viewed as a continuum, fewer dancers will dance topless than go-go and fewer still would dance fully nude. It has been reported when in direct competition with more conservative offerings, fully nude formats are seen by customers as a superior enough substitute for them to switch clubs. In areas where choice in formats exist, exotic dancers express concern that the more they offer in their performance (nudity included) the more they stand to profit. Still, strippers have been known to dance only at topless clubs because of their desire not to strip completely nude. Some clubs permit both nude stage dancing and fully nude lap dances. Where nude private dances are allowed with contact, some dancers choose to place some type of barrier (cloth or occasionally plastic) over the customer's lap as a precautionary measure.
There is no one "stripper lifestyle" where all striptease practitioners fit neatly into a single stereotype. There is, however, an archetypal commonality in their presentation and the experience performers face on the job. The impact of these experiences are far reaching, and can continue to affect how the stripper approaches aspects of her life long after her days of actively stripping have concluded. Research on strippers has examined erotic dancing as a type of sex work in larger sociocultural context, gender, sex roles, and perceived appropriateness of behavior. Findings include that while both men and women prefer sex in a relationship, men are more accepting of casual intimacy and sex than some women. The male sexual desire being more likely to allow for casual sex makes men more susceptible to the fantasy intimacy that exotic dancers sell than a female audience, but there are always exceptions. Some women tend to fantasize about partners and relationships, while some men are more commonly contented through lust and physical gratification that strippers can offer through personal attention or possibly private dances.
In the 21st century, as adult themes and work are becoming more commonplace, more of the population is attracted to this type of work. For example, a University of Leeds study, published by the British Journal of Sociology of Education, revealed that as many as one third of "strip club dancers are students, with many using the cash earned to support themselves throughout their studies" and likely to come from middle class backgrounds. The study also stated that "students were now a 'core supply group into the sex industries', with clubs even targeting freshers' week events with recruitment leaflets." This is supported by a 2014 story in the New York Daily News regarding San Francisco strip clubs taking out recruitment ads in the university newspaper for the University of California at Berkeley, The Daily Californian. One distinction made is that many view working as a strip club dancer as a short-term means to address financial needs, while others view it as a profession and go on to other types of sex work such as performing in adult films.
Research suggests that exotic dancing can pay well, but often at a significant cost to the stripper. The reason for this is because of the negative stigma associated with exotic dancing. When revealing one's occupation, a person may be seeking immediate social acceptance from others. However, when an occupation is considered illegal, immoral, or improper, social acceptance is not granted. Dancers manage this stigma by "divid[ing] the social world" by only revealing part of their identity. By revealing only a part of their identity, strippers attempt to avoid being characterized by the stigmatizing attributes associated with exotic dancing. Within the context of the strip club, dancers sometimes give the impression that they are revealing private information, or backstage information to a customer in order to play the confidence game for increased profit.
A customer often wants a dancer to "drop the act," which makes the customer feel special and desired. Dancers are aware of this customer desire for increased confidence, and a dancer therefore will give off the impression that a customer is seeing her true self, when in reality it is just part of her act. Dancers also maintain their "front" by creating a carefully crafted illusion of attractiveness and sexual appeal for customers in the club. Dancers use props such as make-up, clothing, costumes, and appealing fragrances to complete their character. Customers rarely if ever see the preparation of these props; they are denied access to the backstage of a dancer's performance through the layout of the club. Though the experience as a stripper has been documented in journalistic and academic research to have lasting negative impacts on practitioners, being a stripper does not preclude a balanced life while in the business or personally satisfying future.
Boundaries and etiquette
Outside of the club, dancers are indistinguishable by appearance from the general population and no more likely to be the targets of acts like violent crime than similar females. Inside the club personal boundaries are frequently crossed between strippers, customers, and other club staff. Research indicates that at some point a dancer has felt exploited by customers, management, or other dancers. The most common complaint from dancers is being portrayed as an object or instrument rather than a person. While dancers feel this exploitation, and are affected by it, they also admit to exploiting their customers. The dancers are using the customers for money, employing all of the resources at their disposal to do so. They sell the fantasy of sex but do not typically follow through with the act. Interviews with strippers have revealed that the customers are generally viewed as "suckers" for giving the dancers money just for their physical attraction. Dancers, in an attempt to acquire a tip or monetary reward, will sell more than attractiveness and fantasy. They portray feelings of intimacy and emotional connectedness for their customers, and most of the time they are overstated or false. This stage persona is different from who they are backstage, even if it incorporates aspects which mirror their true personality.
Sexuality and gender bias
Strip clubs have a reputation for deviant activity, such as illegal drug use and prostitution. By association exotic dancing is generally considered deviant as well. Research on linkages between lesbianism and stripping, still classified as deviant behavior in conservative social climates, has asserted that "some exotic dancers become lesbians because of their isolation from effective social relationships and their overall dissatisfaction with males". Women enhance and broaden their sexual activities through lesbian relationships, then carry those attributes into their workplace personas. Female exotic dancers are continually exploited in the club, if not outside as well by men. As a result they may develop hostile and frigid attitudes towards men, potentially finding greater sexual fulfillment in lesbian relationships.
Ethnographic research has observed that strippers, regardless of sexual preference, have a tendency to treat female customers differently than males. Because of the non-physical motivations ascribed to female intimacy, dancers select women to approach who are smiling and sitting comfortably with open body language such as uncrossed arms, actively participating with the crowd, laughing and engaging with fellow customers, and applauding for dancers at the main stage also increase the likelihood they will be approached. Dancers tend to avoid women with unfriendly facial expressions or visibly hostile body language, again regardless of sexual preference. In order to become approached, men must indicate financial potential through their appearance. Women must demonstrate their good attitude and willingness to participate in club activities. At that point, a woman's perceived profitability is also a factor in a dancer's decision to approach a female patron. The presence of male companionship has been cited in research as an indicator used by dancers to gauge the profitability of a female once she is perceived to be a customer.
Organizing in the Workplace
As the sex industry has grown and become a more established sector of national economies, sex workers - strippers included - have mobilized to negotiate or demand workplace rights. One means of collectivization pursued by strippers is the formation of labor unions, which involves formal membership. These strippers' unions have tended to focus on economic and workers' rights rather than civil rights, which constitutes a significant departure from the advocacy groups for prostitutes' rights that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Some strippers, although not necessarily the majority, are not interested in unionization or other forms of collectivization because they consider dancing "an individual profession" and prefer to seek success through competition, not cooperation, with their coworkers. The stigma attached to sex work also creates another obstacle to organization because many strippers and other types of sex workers are uncomfortable with declaring their profession publicly, even in a movement to improve their work environment and benefits. Likewise, many unions do not wish to associate themselves with the stigma of sex work.
One potential critique of the organization of strippers and sex workers of other types is that people in management positions in these industries, who are in a position to perpetuate the exploitation that sex workers face, can infiltrate these labor organizations and lobby for the maintenance of a status quo
The Striptease Artists of Australia formed in 2002. The SAA successfully negotiated an industrial award with the AIRC in 2006. Despite this establishment of an industry-wide minimum standard for labor rights, changes to employment legislature under a Conservative government enabled employers to utilize loopholes such as employing strippers as sub-contractors. Another group, the Scarlet Alliance has been involved in advocacy and projects geared towards improving the standing of sex workers since its inception in 1989. While labor rights are an important part of this group's agenda, it is not a labor union.
In the 1980s, the Vancouver Exotic Dancers Alliance formed and was active for about a decade. The VEDA primarily operated through establishing funds to help economically struggling dancers; there were also stripathons to raise money to donate to charities to promote goodwill, but .
The Canadian Guild for Erotic Labour was established in 2004.
The United States
The Lusty Lady of San Francisco is a notable example of collectivization of strippers in the U.S. When the strippers of the establishment successfully unionized in 1996 through the Erotic Dancers' Alliance, the owners of the club closed it. In response, the strippers formed a cooperative in 2003 to run the club themselves, now renamed the Looking Glass Collective.
Strippers and the law
From ancient times to the present day, striptease has been considered a form of public nudity and subject to legal and cultural prohibitions on moral and decency grounds. Many U.S. jurisdictions have specific laws on the books related to striptease, with more being added increasing both complexity of enforcement and impact. For example, the classification of dancers as independent contractors has been challenged in court, successfully in Massachusetts in July 2009. One of the more notorious local ordinances is San Diego Municipal Code 33.3610, specific and strict in response to allegations of corruption among local officials which included contacts in the nude entertainment industry. Among its provisions is the "six foot rule", copied by other municipalities in requiring that dancers maintain a six foot distance while performing.
Touching of strippers is illegal in many U.S. states. However, some dancers and some clubs condone touching of dancers during private dances. This touching often includes the fondling of breasts, buttocks, and in rare cases the vaginal region. In some locales, dancers may give a customer a "lap dance", whereby the dancer grinds against the customer's crotch while they are fully clothed in an attempt to arouse them or bring them to climax. Other rules forbid "full nudity". In some parts of the USA, there are laws forbidding the exposure of female nipples, which have thus to be covered by pasties by the dancer (though not applied to the exposure of male nipples). In early 2010, the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan banned fully exposed breasts in its strip clubs, following the example of Houston, Texas who began enforcing a similar ordinance in 2008. The Detroit city council has since softened the rules eliminating the requirement for pasties but kept other restrictions. Both municipalities were reputed to have rampant occurrences of illicit activity including prostitution linked to its striptease establishments within their city limits.
In Britain in the 1930s, when the Windmill Theatre, London, began to present nude shows, British law prohibited performers moving whilst in a state of nudity. To get around that rule, models appeared naked in stationary tableaux vivants. To keep within the law, sometimes devices were used which rotated the models without them moving themselves. Fan dances were another device used to keep performances within the law. These allowed a naked dancer's body to be concealed by her fans or those of her attendants, until the end of an act, when she posed naked for a brief interval whilst standing stock still, and the lights went out or the curtain dropped to allow her to leave the stage.
In 2010, Iceland outlawed striptease. Johanna Sigurðardottir, Iceland's prime minister, who is an open lesbian, said: "The Nordic countries are leading the way on women's equality, recognizing women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale." The politician behind the bill, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, said: "It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold."
In popular culture
The image of strippers as known today evolved through the late 1960s and 1970s in the U.S. and international cultures which embraced Americanized striptease, introduced into popular culture by the genre-defining performances of Carol Doda at the Condor Club in San Francisco, California.
Film, television, and theater
By the 1980s, Americans began to love the pole dancing and highly sexual imagery associated with today's performers was widely accepted and frequently portrayed in film, television, and theater.
In addition to lesser-known videos such as A Night at the Revuebar (1983), the 1980s also featured mainstream films involving strippers and their work as part of the central narrative. These included Flashdance (1983), which told the story of blue-collar worker Alexandra (Alex) Owens (Jennifer Beals), who works as an exotic dancer in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania bar at night and at a steel mill as a welder during the day. Blaze (1989) features Lolita Davidovitch as notorious stripper Blaze Starr. Starr herself appears in the film in a cameo role. Exotica (1994), directed by Atom Egoyan, is set in a Canadian lap-dance club, and portrays a man's (Bruce Greenwood) obsession with a schoolgirl stripper named Christina (Mia Kirshner). Showgirls (1995) was directed by Paul Verhoeven and starred Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon. Striptease (1996), was an adaptation of the novel starring Demi Moore. The Players Club (1998) starred LisaRaye as a girl who becomes a stripper to earn enough money to enter college and study journalism.
In Jekyll and Hyde (1997), the character of Lucy Harris (originally portrayed by Linda Eder) works as a prostitute and stripper in a small London club called The Red Rat, where she meets a multi-dimension man named Doctor Henry Jekyll, who turns into his evil persona Mr. Edward Hyde. Lucy performs the song "Bring on the Men" during a show at The Red Rat (which was later replaced with "Good 'n' Evil" in the Broadway production, some claiming "Bring on the Men" was too "risqué"). In Neighbours (1985), the character of Daphne is originally a stripper at Des's bucks party, and eventually goes on to marry him. Married... with Children (1987–97) often featured Al Bundy, Jefferson D'Arcy, and the NO MA'AM crew spending a night at the Nudie Bar. In The Sopranos (1999–2007) business was often conducted at the Bada Bing strip club.
Distinguished among Web entrepreneurs is Danni Ashe, former stripper and CEO of Danni's Hard Drive, a pioneering adult web site which generated millions of U.S. dollars in the early days of online pornography. By 2001, the website had made a profit of $6.5 million the previous year and was estimated to be worth 30 million dollars. Ashe was considered the most downloaded woman on the internet with her image being downloaded a billion times. She is the only woman in the world who appeared on the cover of both the Wall Street Journal and Juggs magazine. Ashe's business grew, allowing her to hire staff and models. By 2003, she had 50 full-time employees, a studio in Los Angeles (16,000 square feet (1,500 m2)), and an archive containing hundreds of thousands of photos, and thousands of hours of video. That year, Arena magazine ranked her fourth among the "50 Most Powerful People in Porn" list.
Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000) is a feature film starring Daryl Hannah. The female cast of the film researched the film by dancing at strip clubs and created their parts and their storylines to be as realistic as possible. The Raymond Revuebar: The Art of Striptease (2002) is a documentary, directed by Simon Weitzman. Los Debutantes (2003) is a Chilean film set in a strip club in Santiago. Portraits of a Naked Lady Dancer (2004) is a documentary, directed by Deborah Rowe. In Closer (2004), Natalie Portman plays Alice, a young stripper just arrived in London from America. Crazy Horse Le Show (2004) features dance routines from the Crazy Horse, Paris. I Know Who Killed Me (2007) stars Lindsay Lohan as Dakota Moss, an alluring stripper involved in the machinations of a serial killer, and features a long striptease sequence at a strip club. In 2009 a DVD called Crazy Horse Paris featuring Dita Von Teese was released. Barely Phyllis is a play on Phyllis Dixey which was first staged at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield in 2009. Stripsearch (2001–), an ongoing Australian reality television show which centers around the training of male strippers. Degrassi: The Next Generation (2007), in the two-part season 6 finale titled "Don't You Want Me", Alex Nunez resorts to stripping after she and her mother do not have enough money to pay the rent on their apartment.
Books and printed media
Several books have been written about strippers and their work, including personal accounts and even academic studies by strippers themselves. References to strippers as characters or plot devices are too numerous to name.
Partial list of contemporary books on strippers:
- Burlesque: Legendary Stars of the Stage by Jane Briggeman (2004), ISBN 978-1-888054-94-1
- Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, by Diablo Cody (2006), ISBN 978-1-59240-273-1
- Get Naked: Stripping 101, by Tom McCarthy (2010), ISBN 978-0-615-36585-5
- The Gold Club: The Jacklyn "Diva" Bush Story: How I Went from Gold Room to Court Room, by Jacklyn Bush (2003), ISBN 978-0-9725941-2-7
- Ivy League Stripper, by Heidi Mattson (2005), ISBN 978-1-55970-770-1
- Naked in the Promised Land: A Memoir, by Dr. Lillian Faderman (2003), ISBN 978-0-618-12875-4
- Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America, by Lily Burana (2003), ISBN 978-0-7868-8675-3
- Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee, by Noralee Frankel (2009), ISBN 978-0-19-536803-1
- Stripping, Sex, and Popular Culture, by Catherine M. Roach (2008), ISBN 978-1-84520-129-6
Music and spoken word
Strippers have been the inspiration for a number of musical artists, with several of the songs resulting in hit singles. An instrumental, "The Stripper", was a No. 1 hit on the U.S. pop singles charts for David Rose and His Orchestra in 1962. That song pre-dated the opening of what is considered to be the first modern strip club, Condor Club on Broadway in the U.S. city of San Francisco, California. "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner was an international hit and her second highest charting single reaching No. 7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Girls, Girls, Girls" by Mötley Crüe and "Panama" by Van Halen were also Top 20 hits for their respective groups on the U.S. charts. As with many entertainment genres, as the years have progressed references to strippers and stripping themes have become more explicit in lyrics.
T-Pain had a No. 5 hit on the Billboard chats with "I'm 'n Luv (Wit a Stripper)" in 2006. Hip hop artist Flo Rida had two No. 1 hits in the U.S. in the 2000s with "Right Round" and "Low". For both hip-hop artists, the depictions of strippers and expressions of lust are far more explicit than in songs released in earlier music eras. This is not limited to hip-hop, with contemporary songs in other styles of music sharing similar traits. "Worked Up So Sexual" by The Faint is graphic in its depiction of dancer rivalry (older dancers gag at what new talent seems to mean, smaller tits and younger limbs) and customers longing to bed them. Public acceptance of the music has not faltered, and many dancers perform to these and other songs depicting women in subjectively negative ways while on stage.
Online services and forums
There are many web-based forums available online where strippers are able to share information about their trade and commiserate. The most notable of these is the Stripper Web Exotic Dancer Community. The "pink" site is primarily focused on dancers. Non-dancers are given access, but are generally not given much latitude in their interactions with strippers on the forums. The "blue" site was established specifically for customers to have a forum to discuss their perspectives where dancers are likely to look.
Major strip club directories and portals online also have forums features built in for individual clubs and general discussion. Since strippers are the primary draw to strip clubs, the majority of the conversations gravitate toward dancers and dancer-related issues. The Ultimate Strip Club List is the most comprehensive independent strip club directory, and has individual strip club forums and general forums for discussions about and with dancers. Strip Club List is the largest industry-affiliated site, with club specific forums open to the public as part of its Strip Club Network. It also has a separate site for general forums. Both of these customer-oriented sites have entertainer participation in the forums. Strippers with ready access to the Internet away from work have also adopted social media and networks as a less intrusive way of maintaining connections with customers directly. Others have used the Internet to generate revenue by performing via web cam, recording premium content, or running their own subscriber-based web site. Online erotic content is generally classified as pornography, whether or not sex act is portrayed.
- Bikini barista
- Bubble dance
- Gown-and-glove dance
- List of strippers
- Pole dance
- Sex workers' rights
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- How To Become A Male Stripper, by Megan Hussey
- Take It Off! The Naked Truth About Male Strippers, by Taylor Cole & Justin Whitfield
- Media related to Striptease at Wikimedia Commons