The Pole: A Look Into The Life of a Stripper

What do NeNe Leaks, Brad Pitt, Lady GaGa, Eve, and Javier Bardem all have in common? They were all former strippers.

After years of rumors, NeNe Leakes let it leak that she used to work the pole and even went by the name “Silk.” She says she needed to do it to provide for her son and to rebuild her confidence. Brad Pitt was a member of “The Dancing Bares,” an all-male amateur strip group at his Missouri College. Lady Gaga has said, “I was working in strip clubs when I was 18,” she said. “My act was pretty wild. I’d wear black leather and dance to Black Sabbath, Guns N’ Roses and Faith No More. Very rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t like to talk about it too much, but there were drugs, serious drugs.” Her stripping past helped Eve become a household name. She talks about it in her song, “Heaven Only Knows.” At around age 20, Javier was struggling to make ends meet, so he turned to amateur night to make some money.

Brief History of Stripping

According to strip-magazine.com, the first recorded striptease dates back to a myth from ancient Sumerian times involving Inanna, the Goddess of Love, and her descent into the underworld to find her lover Damouz. At each of the seven gates, she removed an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry. As long as Inanna remained in hell, the earth was barren. When she returned, the earth again became abundant and fruitful. The first strip-tease act in this era was on the English stage and was performed by a man. It occurred in the popular play ‘The Rover’ (1677) in an amorous scene where an English country gentleman undresses and goes to his bed in his shirt, and drawers.

In an article from learntostrip.com, they give a further history on the subject. The Can Can originated around 1830 in Paris and arrived in North America in the 1920s. It is a provocative lifting of the skirts for a view of petticoats and, later, bare legs beneath. In the 1920s-30s Sally Rand mesmerized her audiences using the illusion of nudity with her famous bubble dance and fan dances. In the 1970s most feature performers were also porn stars like the sultry and hyper-sexual Marilyn Chambers. She took it from the big stage to the silver screen and did more than just “take it off”. She was the first porn star to shave it bare down there.

The modern-day lap dance was first introduced in NYC clubs in the 1970s and then San Francisco in 1980 the lap dance has changed the face of striptease forever. Clubs no longer had to pay their dancers to work because the patrons were happy to offer the dancers tips in exchange for their personal “performances”. Often lap dances involve bringing the patron to orgasm via frottage (rubbing against him). Modern day strippers all have to work for tips now. Stripping often involves a combination of table dances and lap dances with dancers expressing very little creativity in costume or props. The tease has all but vanished from the dance and there are no more “big name” feature performers.

What people think about strippers

When people think about strippers they either think of drug induced dancers with clear heels, a G-string and daddy issues or some overly dramatized depiction from a movie such as Striptease. Strippers steal your boyfriends/ husbands. They are dirty and carry diseases. They have sex with everyone that pays them a little extra. We need to save the strippers. They need Jesus.

Many of these thought are unfair. Sometimes strippers entertain so that they can get some money. Some want to get attention. Some even just find it empowering. After watching the documentary series “P.O.P. Power of Pussy” by Christmas in July 1982, an Atlanta based multimedia production company, they talk about what it is like working at Magic City. Magic City is one of the most famous strip clubs around. An Article from Vice.com states that the documentary serves as a means of allowing people to see strippers not as disease-infested creatures of the night, but strong artistic entertainers who grind to get what they want in the world on their own terms. This behind the scenes look gives you insider insight into the fears these dancers have starting out, the situations that brought them to stripping, and how they’ve gone beyond simply taking their clothes off to create a form of entertainment that brings together many different types of dance.

A Talk with a real stripper

Her stage name is Rhian. Rhian is now 19 and started stripping when she was 18. Rhian started stripping as a means to gain financial independence. When she was growing up she didn’t have a lot of money for new clothes, a car or even a good school. Stripping was her way to get a life that was better than it was before.

Though only a small circle of people know about her stripping career, some people are supportive of Rhian’s decision to strip but the way people react allows her figure out who her real friends are. She says many girls come to her on her blog and ask if stripping is right for them. “My answer is usually the same — if you have to have someone else tell you what to do with your body, the job isn’t right for you. You have to be strong, motivated, and persistent.”

The worst experience Rhian has had was when a customer exposed himself to her in a private room, and when she tried to leave he called her a “cunt” and grabbed her throat. Luckily, her manager was able to help her immediately. The Best experience was when a customer noticed her self-harm scars and then insisted that she go into a room with him. He spoiled her with money and compliments. She didn’t have to dance, they just sat and talked.

Rhian actually loves stripping and doesn’t understand how the way she utilizes her body and talents is viewed differently than an actress that does a nude scene in a film. She also doesn’t believe that it is a strippers fault if a relationship is broken up. She state that they men come to her. This means that there is already something wrong and she is not making the man do anything, she is just doing her job.

When she strips, she feels empowered. She thought that the American Dad episode about strippers was good because of the empowering element of it. “Obviously there will always be stereotypes present in media, but every now and then a show will break through them.”

While many people will still have their perspective on strippers and what they do, at least I can say that after this article that I am a little more educated than I was before. If you want to watch that documentary series it is at bottom of the article. Until next time!

Power of Pussy documentary series- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdauyFhjaz0&feature=share&list=PLkIQzk2RR6WwiA86RGJsz9ucA6kXgPTll

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