I think I mentioned in an earlier post that in my 20s, I had a sideline as a freelance (pardon the pun) male exotic dancer. It wasn’t difficult to get into. I’d done amateur musicals and nude modeling and taken a modern dance class in college. Given what the rest of my life was like, I considered it an antidepressant. Reaching out for bits of endorphins and some kind of approval. I literally had nothing else going for me. I invented a way to keep the self-destructive demons away. Perhaps a nonaddictive and nondestructive narcotic.
Given my proclivity for discarding clothing, this idea proved irresistible.
Some NSFW content up ahead.
I picked up a two deck boom box that allowed me to edit and cut a couple of tapes. It took 8 D-cell batteries. I then set out to create tapes with my favorite sexy songs on them.
The Stripper is the classic that everybody associates with stripping. It was written in 1958 and almost accidentally released in 1960.
Another good song was “Call Me,” by Blondie. In case you don’t remember, it was the theme from the movie “American Gigolo.” This was Richard Gere’s breakthrough role as a world-class male prostitute specializing in older women. He played the heartless heartthrob who finally learns to care about other people in the end.
This was my favorite. Heart was my absolute favorite group of the time. “Magic Man,” with its suggestion of sexual seduction and obsession was a big turn-on for me as well as the audience.
Of course, I had to have many songs on different tapes for different length shows. Sometimes I had to playact a role between sets. What I did ranged anywhere from maybe 15 minutes to an hour-long performance. Usually I stripped down from an elaborate outfit. Sometimes I started out already in an minimal costume or nothing at all.
A couple of times there was a real stage. Most often it was a living or rec room in a private home. Maybe a back yard. Sometimes it was somewhere really public. Sometimes it was somewhere really strange. All grist for the happy memory mill!
The levels of exposure and eroticism customers wanted varied quite a bit from flashing a g-string under a cape to naked and… uh… extremely aroused and sensual. Agency employed strippers aren’t allowed to go that far.
To reach my audience I had to advertise. Back then we had several advertising papers, such as the Pennysaver or the Greensheet Shopper. They’d print a small article about nothing much just to qualify as a newspaper but the entire body of it was nothing but advertising. If you were a business or if you wanted a display ad, you’d have to pay but a private individual could run a free classified ad. I also put up flyers on bulletin boards and left cards at party shops. Rented an answering service with a physical mailbox. That got me all the results I could handle.
Bachelorette parties were big, as were divorce parties, (something I’d never heard of) and surprise birthday parties. A couple of times did it for a large audience on stage.
Being essentially homeless and alone, I had low overhead and worked for far less than the various agencies that had sprung up. There was a big market of middle and working-class women that were under-served and couldn’t cough up the $500+ fees of professionals for just a 15 minute show. I was also happy to do stuff the other businesses wouldn’t. Full monty stuff.
I believe the science fiction author Isaac Asimov invented the term ecdysiast for a stripper. Women have been removing their clothing in dance form as entertainment for men for as long as there has been dance and clothing. Men returning the favor is a fairly recent development.
Celebrating female sexuality has been taboo for just about forever. The first male stripping that I am aware of emerged in the early 70s in NYC. From there it spread like wildfire. By the end of the 70s, Chippendale’s opened in Los Angeles and attracted huge audiences. From there, many small hole-in-the-wall operations sprang up for straight women, couples, and even gay males.
The city’s initial response was to attempt to shut these venues down. The problem was that as long as there was no contact between dancer and audience, there was no law being violated. Lewdness in public was illegal but as long as you meet the minimum clothing requirement or are otherwise concealed (like a fan dancer) you’re ok.
Chippendale’s policy was not to have nudity or even much lewdity. High energy ecchi rather than slow burn hentai. They targeted a mass-market audience who might be skittish about such things. Initally, they wore a cuff and collar outfit with a matching tuxedo-style thong. Later this became much less explicit tight-fitting spandex pants. I copied this and modded it to go with a tuxedo g-string. I added a top hat, gloves, and black ballet slippers. To finish off the outfit there was a full-length black and white cape with a cowl and a black walking stick with white tips. (And other clothes under the cape to be removed.)
The Chippendale act has long since moved to Las Vegas where a lot more grabbing of the merch is allowed.
Some lessons I learned from this sideline…
Pick music that feels sexy to you.
This is another one of my favorite stripping songs, “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer who was a disco goddess in the 70s. I’d typically save it for near the last of the show and dance very slowly to it, with maximal erotic content.
Another good song for that is “Sex,” by Berlin. If a song is fast, you don’t need to keep up. Move at 1/4 speed and make it sensual. I am simply horrible and clumsy if I try to dance quickly, so slow is the game.
Think about lighting. You will usually be stuck with ambient. If you have the option, go with low and warm. (I’d do candle light if I could.) OTOH, if you have the right place, a strobe or a glitter ball or one of those rotating lights that sends spinning dots of color around is cool. Just need a place to put it that has good coverage and minimize the ambient. Be wary of strobes. If they are too bright relative to the background some people have seizures. Stay out of the 3-30 hertz range where most of the risk is.
Whoever hires you may be willing to help with lighting and props.
Clothes aren’t just coverings, they are tools. Accessories are tools. They are props for your performance. Use them creatively.
My favorite routine was to be dressed as a magician. It goes well with “Magic Man,” the song. There’s also a Phantom of the Opera outfit which was “Magic Man” plus a mask. I have also done Santa Claus, a biker, and a religious proselytizer on his mission. (The reaction to those was hilarious!)
Taking off clothing gracefully is a big problem. Clothing needs to just fall off. Or you can “rip” them off but they still need to come off instantly. Pants are the worst. Can’t think of a single way to remove them gracefully so I wore them loose enough they’d just drop straight down. Then step out and kick them aside. There are specialty pants that rip off with Velcro.
I tend to fumble with buttons and hooks and snaps but you can counter this by undoing them very slowly, making it a part of the tease. Velcro has a distinct sound. Bows are perfect. My cape had a bow in front, my g-string a bow in the back. A big bow that I or the audience can easily tug on and release. I used that once in a strip at a science fiction convention. And again in an adult dance party at a Mensa convention. Dance around and dare people to pull on it.
Your job as a performer is to create a mood in the audience. Ideally to generate a positive response. It might be just for laughs or you might want to heat them up. At its best, stripping is a slow burn. You might strip down for a number, disappear, and reappear for the next number having put something back on. Like a ball bouncing down the staircase, it doesn’t happen all at once.
Your skill as a dancer is a secondary consideration. Enthusiasm counts. If you are enjoying yourself, it is contagious. You have to do a bit of choreography and have a plan in mind of exactly what the performance will be. You need to stay vaguely with the beat but precision isn’t the top priority. Practice your moves, don’t improvise. Big gestures in the performance need to correspond to big moments in the music. You need to look somewhat fit but you don’t need that lean Chippendale’s look. Unless you’re at one extreme or the other, size doesn’t matter. “Manscaping” is optional. Most women do not need a well-developed 12-year-old, a bag of muscle with 5% body fat or Long Dong Silver to enjoy the show.
Practice practice practice! Ideally with a supportive audience. I spent some time getting instruction from a lady stripper. I watched other stripping routines. I had a couple of friends I could experiment on. Having a large mirror and an open area is great. That semester of modern dance in college came in handy. I wasn’t any good at it but it gave me ideas.
Even though birthdays come at all times, ninety percent of your business will be Saturday.
You can perform with music that isn’t considered dance music. The music itself creates the mood. You don’t need to dance “to” the music if you can illustrate the music’s story.
These guys did not have perfect bodies or dancing skills.
Scout the location if you can. Private residences are often cluttered and crowded. Ask them to turn the temperature down a bit and move the furniture out of the way. Yup I said “down.” Cool air tightens things up a bit, plus you’ll be exercising and generating your own heat.
Be clean & smell nice, but don’t worry about working up a sweat. Do it right and they’ll be sweaty too. Let your pheromones be part of the show.
Choreography is vital. Timing is vital. Unless you really do know how to perform an extemporaneous dance, don’t. You’ve got X amount of time to get your kit off. Maybe even doing multiple sets in a performance. At least 2/3-3/4 of that will be ‘tease” time. It is the tease that drives them wild. The last dance (or two or however many encores they want) is the finish. What can you do with 10 minutes? How about an hour? How do you structure it if there is no official end time?
Divorce parties are the rowdiest. A private party with unruly drunken females is either something you look forward to or something you’d want to avoid. 🙂 After a few drinks (or hits on the pipe) they’ll probably encourage you to do erotic-plus.
I can see how this could be a risky occupation. I went along with a lady dancer as a bodyguard/chaperone a few times at her request because the scene “smelled” dicey.
One time I did a B&D themed party where I was supposed to pop out of a gift wrapped box in chains, a big collar, a little collar and a leash (I leave it to your imagination as to where it was connected.) I was offered such potent psychoactives before it began I was pure rubber, saw streamers, and was not fully in control. (Might have been my best dancing.) Nothing bad happened (I made a fool of myself. They loved it.) but if it had been a group of unscrupulous dudes… That one deserves a post all its own. In fact, I did several gigs worth a post all their own. Probably will never write them. Nobody would believe me.
I also did two different gay parties only to discover both times there was only one guy there. I just walked away. Once I did a strip on the front lawn of a house in the middle of the night. My last strip was for my own 30th birthday party.
Not everyone can be so nonchalant about it. Private Dancer is about the darker side of the job.
I never initiated contact with an audience member but there are always those who want to grab and grope or rubber band dollars around my… well, you get the idea. I was young and uninhibited and it was part of the fun. Being a tease about it was a part of my fun. Depending on the party, I might just smile and dance away if they got too grabby. Or not. Let’s just say there was no intercourse of any kind, nor any bodily fluids expended. When the show was over I went home.
Don’t ask me why I didn’t go farther with the clientele. I’m not sure why myself. The option was sometimes there and I had no moral code against it. I just never pursued it. Maybe I was too much of a geek. Maybe I was looking for something other than purely sexual release.
And now, what you have all been waiting for. Recently uncovered video footage secretly created at one of my stripping performances has hit the internet via ticktock.