Strippers get real about sexist double standards

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Male strippers from the movie Magic Mike

“If a woman strips for money – she’s a slut. If a guy strips – he’s a legend.”

“That is the absolute bottom line”, says Jay*, 30 who has been a male stripper for couple of years now.

“There is a big difference between how male and female lap dancers are perceived. I think a lot of it has to do with the way the audience goes about a dance.

“Male customers would usually text the female dancer afterwards and ask her for something more, whereas women from the audience would rarely pursue a flirt with the male stripper”, Jay explains.

Despite powerful speeches from role models like Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie fighting for gender equality, and often succeeding in changing people’s perception about feminism, in the striptease industry sexism double standards defy how male and female performers are viewed by the public.

Stripper – turned – businesswoman Amber Rose says it’s “not fair” that there is such stigma for women, but men are being praised for stripping in an interview for Cosmopolitan South Africa.

Jay works for the stripper agency Party Strip in Manchester and says there is quite a difference between the type of shows male and female dancers provide and maybe that’s why there is such a gap in the public’s perception.

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Strip show from Magic Mike

He says women in the industry have to work much harder and tolerate a lot more than men do.

“Male strippers are usually hired for fun. My act is a mix of comedy and stripping, so I go there, do my performance, people laugh and I leave.

“I try to keep it all very funny and entertaining, but I think for women dancers it’s a lot more difficult because the business we’re in is entertainment – it’s not exrated, but a lot of the time men expect it to be”, says Jay.

LISTEN to what his act usually includes to make his performance dirty, but also keep it lighthearted and funny:

Wes*, 27, who works for the same agency in Manchester says that despite the difference in the show, male stripping is very much like female stripping – it’s a job: you just want to get it over with and take the money you’ve worked hard for.

“In this aspect I think it’s exactly the same.

“To me it’s purely a job – I don’t think ‘Oh, I can’t wait for this girl to touch me’.

“Unlike women dancers, we do allow touching. We don’t particularly enjoy it though, especially when customers get aggressive and tear you clothes or scratch your back.

“At the end of the day, I’m there to do a job, not to be abused.

“But in this kind of sense, women tend to be more protected by club rules which forbid any sort of touching. So the double standard works the other way around as well”, explains Wes.

Elena, 26, who works in a gentelemen’s club in Manchester, agrees that sometimes men performers have to tolerate much more, because to the general society it’s acceptable for women to touch men, but not vice versa.

“Women have society on our side, whereas for men it’s much more difficult sometimes”, she says.

LISTEN to what Elena says about the difference between male and female stripping:

Jay says that men also have the wrong idea about what it’s like to be a male stripper:

“Guys think we love dancing in front of women because of all the attention we get, and you do enjoy it in the beginning, it feeds your ego.

“But the novelty soon wears off.

“People think it’s a dream job, but it’s really not – it’s actually very hard work.

“And eventually, it’s just like any other job: I want to do what I have to do, get some Chinese food and go home.”

Jay and Wes say that male strippers make good money, but most likely not as much as women.

They both agree that while there are quite a few gentlemen’s clubs in Manchester where female dancers can work regularly, bookings for male performers could be quite infrequent, so they usually need to have a day job as well.

Here is a map of Greater Manchester’s top lap dancing clubs:

 

**Names in this article have been changed to protect sources’ privacy.

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The strip club:”BEST” workplace

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Stripper dances on pole

Mother – of – three says quitting the police force to become a stripper is “the best decision” she could have made.

Hannah Havers left her post of 12 years as a police officer in Thames Valley to pursue a career in lap dancing.

Mrs Havers told Strip Magazine: “Going back to lap dancing is the best decision I could have made. I wish I had done it 10 years ago.”

Despite tougher ‘sexual entertainment’ venues (SEVs) legislation and stricter licensing rules, the striptease industry in England seems to be booming more than ever.

With a second strip club within 200ft of the Queen’s favourite residence, Windsor Castle, and women like Mrs Havers leaving their day jobs to become lap dancers, stripping is no longer a job for the broke and desperate, but a career choice with better opportunities and more time for family.

Read the full story here.

Stripping is one of the oldest professions in the world as this timeline of the history of striptease shows.

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Woman strips

 

Rochelle from Leicester, 29, took stripping a step further. She dropped out of her Music course in Manchester Metropolitan University, started working in strip clubs and never looked back.

Now, 10 years lates, Rochelle owns Showgirls International, an agency for lap dancers in UK and abroad.

Rochelle has a pool of girls with different requests and an extensive portfolio of clubs around the world.

She said: “I have 10 years of experience as a dancer in Manchester, Germany, Norway, Austria and Australia and my agency works with clubs I have danced at and know are reliable and offer good conditions.

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Rochelle’s agency’s logo

“The girls like to feel valued and because I was one of them, I still consider myself one of them, I have a good insight into the business, know how it works, have a lot of contacts and take really good care of my dancers. I understand them and this is why they know they can rely on me.”

Showgirls International not only mediates between dancers and the clubs, but also helps with visas, flights and accommodation when abroad.

Rochelle explains: “Before the recession you could make incredibly good money regularly and have a steady income every year.

“When the recession hit I was still dancing and what I used to make on a regular Monday night turned into a really good Saturday night.

“Since then, the only way to make consistently good money as a stripper is to chase it all year around, for example, spend the summer in the UK, but go to the ski resorts in Austria in the winter.

“You go where the money is. Canada and Australia are renowned for the best money and working conditions, so a lot of girls try to spend as much time there as they can and it really is easier to have an agent back you up and fight your case with whatever problems you might have. ”

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Dancer performing

A study, conducted by the top stag do organisers PissUp.com, reveals that Lancashire comes third in place of the counties in England with the most strip clubs per person. With 30 venues and a population of 1,169,300, Lancashire scores 2.565 strip clubs per 100,000 people.

Here is the league table from the study with the top 20 counties.

Rochelle’s agency is growing fast and it has opened new doors for her – she now gets paid to do additional web and writing work for different websites as well. She still doesn’t make quite the same money as when she was a stripper, but says she definitely prefers the lifestyle:

 

“I really don’t miss the late hours, the same conversations with the same kinds of people and the brutal and exhausting hard work.

“Still, there is no way I could have built the agency to the standard it works today, had it not been for the dancing. So it has been both a blessing and a curse for me.”

Daniela Yovova, 23, from Manchester, works as a bartender in one of the city’s premium stip clubs – Baby Platinum.

“When I started, I was surprised how nice it was to work in a gentlemen’s club – the place was run mostly by women and we all felt very secure”, Daniela shares.

“It’s one of the best places I have ever worked at.”

She says it is very easy to get sucked into the business though when you spend so much time in this environment:

“A lot of the girls start working as waitresses or behind the bar, and later they would go into dancing.

“All of them love it and they never look back because in one night they could make the money I could earn in a week”, Daniela explains.

LISTEN to what she has to say about working in the striptease industry with your clothes on:

 

Daniela has thought about coming outside the bar and moving to the pole countless times, especially when she knew she would only go home with £50, while the dancers – with £1,000 or £2,000.

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Dancers’ silhouettes

“A very persistent customer wanted to pay me to dance for him and I was actually willing to it, but without taking my clothes off completely.

“He insisted for me to be naked, so I said ‘no’. It is always the idea of my family that stops me.

“I think this is the difference between the actual dancers and me: you like the idea of the job and the money, but something inside always stops you.

“You can make really good money as a stripper and it’s not such heavy work, but it’s definitely not for everyone”, says Daniela.

 

Stripping:”It was like riding a bike before I could walk”

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I went to a strip club in Manchester with my bestie and the strangest thing happened – I made friends with one of the strippers.  

So I pay the £10 entry, get warned that any use of mobile phones and recording devices inside is strictly prohibited, and I’m in a strip club for the first time in my life. I open the door and it takes me a moment to take it all in – a dark room with a lot of small tables with cosy booths and a big bar, illuminated by shades of red light, but most intriguingly – a group of about ten women dressed in the most revealing lingerie and 6-inch high heels smiling at me and my bestie like they’d been waiting for us all their lives. It is the most welcoming atmosphere I had been in in a bar.

Me and my friend Zornitsa take straight to the bar, mainly because we’re not exactly sure what else to do or how to act. As soon as we have a drink in our hands, two of the dancers come closer and start chatting us up – it’s kind of like being hit on in a night club, but by women.

That’s when I meet Patricia*. She says: “You wanna know what it’s like to be a stripper? I’ve been in the business for 25 years – I’m your girl!

“But if you want to really understand what it’s all about you have to experience it yourself.”

And then she took my hand and took me downstairs to the private dance rooms. Before we knew it, Zornitsa and I were sat on a couch in an intimate room and there were two beautiful women dancing for us, slowly getting undressed, while our pulses were racing like crazy.

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Dancer performs striptease

We kept looking at each other and then at the dancers with the silliest smiles on our faces. We are both heterosexual and never even had a “thing” for a girl, but we were high on adrenaline and it all felt very sensual, empowering and sexy.

“I am like anybody else, you know”, Patricia said to me after the dance.

“This is my job and I’m here for the money.

“As a stripper I earn as much as a doctor, but I get to dance, keep in shape and have some fun.”

Patricia is 44, from Manchester, and has been dancing for more than two decades in England and abroad.

“When I was 19 my father died and I really needed money fast to support myself and my mom. So I started working in a brothel as a prostitute. It was good money, but it was awful and I hated it. I had zero self – respect and started taking drugs to get through it all for about two years.

“And then one day I couldn’t take it anymore – I quit and I got a job as a stripper and it was the best decision in my life! I  make almost the same money, but there is no touching and all I have to do is dance.

“It was like riding a bike before I could walk!”

 

Patricia has two children – a 13 – year – old son and a daughter, Chloe, 21, and says she is just a ‘regular mom’:

“Every Sunday we have a family day out – this week I’m taking them skydiving. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for stripping.

“I have my own house, Chloe just finished university, has no student loan to repay and I’m helping her start a business. As long as I am providing for my kids, I don’t care that I have to dance naked for a couple of hours every day.”

Here are a few interesting facts you didn’t know about stripping.

Patricia explained that this kind of job is not for everyone. She said you have to be a dancer, an actress and an entertainer all in one. But you have to be very strong at the same time and know why you are there – for the money.

“You have to keep your eye on the ball and remember that you are doing it for your family.”

Patricia says that being a stripper is “like putting a mask on” and that she is completely different outside of her job.

Still, she thinks that her job interferes with her love life.

“I have had two serious relationships, but I was never truly in love, because I could never open up completely to my partners – I used to tell them I was a bartender”, Patricia says.

She has been saving money since she started stripping and has been investing in different businesses. She wants to retire at 50 and simply enjoy the life stripping has bought for her.

“But I am honest to my children – they aren’t particularly happy that their mother is a stripper, but they accept it and are proud of me for giving them the life they have now.

“I have learned to be proud of myself too, but I wouldn’t choose this kind of lifestyle for my daughter”, Patricia reveals.

I leave the bar a little drunk on alcohol and sexy women and a lot turned on. And I have no idea why.

I’ve never been into women and I only got the dance for the purposes of this article, but there was something very sexy and empowering about it, and the fact that this is not something I do every day made the experience all the more exciting and erotic.

It’s probably not for everyone, but if you ever had the slightest interest in what it’s like in a gentlemen’s club, leave your prejudices at home and give it a go – you might find yourself liking it more than you expected.

If you feel shy to go alone, grab one of your more free – minded gilfriends, read this woman’s guide and hit the clubs.

 

**Names in this article have been changed to protect sources’ privacy.