Is working as a stripper honestly empowering? I hated the popular belief that sex workers were oppressed and without agency, victims in need of rescuing. When I started stripping in the back bar of a Christchurch brothel at 18, I was in control of my decision to get nude — or so I thought. An arts undergraduate, I had no pressing need for money, the reason usually cited for entry into the sex industry — an umbrella term that encompasses stripping, web-camming, escorting, prostitution and porn. My parents paid my rent, my Kentucky Fried Chicken and my living expenses. Rather, I was seeking transgression. I also wanted the independence to make my own choices. Stripping delivered, on all counts. On the neon-lit stage of that back bar, I let loose my inner extrovert.
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A striptease is an erotic or exotic dance in which the performer gradually undresses, either partly or completely, in a seductive and sexually suggestive manner. In Western countries, the venues where stripteases are performed on a regular basis are now usually called strip clubs , though they may be performed in venues such as pubs especially in the UK , theaters and music halls. At times, a stripper may be hired to perform at a bachelor or bachelorette party. In addition to providing adult entertainment , stripping can be a form of sexual play between partners. Striptease involves a slow, sensuous undressing. The stripper may prolong the undressing with delaying tactics such as the wearing of additional clothes or putting clothes or hands in front of just undressed body parts such as the breasts or genitalia.
This is how it works: the first lap dance is free. The second one is 20 bucks. Dancing has helped many of us through our adult lives — paying for school, families, fledgling careers as creatives — but it is also exploitative. Relegated to the fringes of the workplace, in part because of stigmas surrounding sex work, we are invisible. We have zero security. Strippers, or dancers, as some of us prefer, are women on our way to somewhere better or different, twerking topless in a club that will never have our backs — a club that will demand arbitrary fees from us and skim a share of our hard-earned tips all night, caring little if we are here again next week or if we vanish. Inside the club where I work, hieroglyphs are painted along the walls; a bust of Nefertiti juts out above a doorway near the restroom and an elegant sphinx statue crouches behind the bar. Next to the pool table, fish tanks glow — splashes of life in a dim bar that smells like sweat and vanilla body spray.