Navigating six-inch heels on stage with smoke in your face takes practice. Sporting a smile while dancing to Me So Horny in those heels, and you’ll need a cocktail.
One of the unique challenges I faced during my ten-year career as a stripper was pretending to like certain types of music. Like suffering through a bad date, you realize something isn’t your taste but you smile politely and muddle through.
A typical Saturday night set on the main stage was shared with three other women, each providing the DJ with very specific song requests. I was always the Enigma or Nine Inch Nails girl with an occasional PJ Harvey thrown in for good measure. Pair that up with the Bel Biv Devoe and Naughty by Nature chicks and let the muddling ensue. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate a little Ice Cube with my INXS; I just didn’t feel sexy dancing on stage with them. I always felt like an extra on MTV’s Beach House.
My personal taste in music was a bit more edgy and alternative than what was played on mainstream radio. In classic narcissistic fashion, I took full credit for introducing the localmasses to PJ Harvey’s Down by the Water. The song made absolutely no sense to me, but it made me feel sexy as hell. My style on stage was ALL Bob Fosse inspired, so the percussions were the perfect backdrop for the wanna-be Broadway dancer in me. When I was eleven, I was obsessed with the movies All That Jazz and Cabaret. Go figure.
Some may be surprised to learn that there were a few of us strippers who actually cared about what music we danced to. I can’t speak for the gals today, but back in my day (it’s official, I’m old) most us were known for our performance shows. Don’t get me wrong; the American Ballet Theatre wasn’t banging down the door, but there were costumes and choreography, and some of them were goddamned amazing. I used to sit in awe with my 21 year-old eyes popping in wonder at such beautiful women and their talent. A couple, more seasoned gals in their late 20’s come to mind.
There was Greta, a petite but solid blonde woman who walked on stage donning an old-granny mask, baggy clothes and a cane while The Beach Boys, Little Old Lady From Pasadena blasted through the speakers. The audience would cheer in excitement mid-song as Greta peeled off her mask, revealing her stunning face. Cheering continued as the body of a goddess emerged from the baggy clothes and the money would literally fly on the stage as the men stood in awe. Greta was the embodiment of classic blonde beauty and top-notch physique. Think: Brigitte Bardot meets Jessica Biel.
Loretta, a raven haired vixen from the island of Kauai (and 1983 Penthouse Pet of the Month), was another showstopper; a feature dancer performing just a couple of times a year. Buzz in the air about her arrival equated to the club filled to capacity. I don’t know if Loretta invented chair show choreography, but she kicked serious ass with it on stage.
I remember being star-struck by this exotic beauty who loved her pot and was never shy about it. If the smell of a burning joint bothered you, you knew not to hang out in the dressing room when Loretta was in town.
Loretta’s Penthouse Cover – 1983
Each time I watched her show, I was mesmerized. In addition to Loretta’s flawless, ivory skin and thick wavy hair (think Dita Von Teese) the oversized tattoo on her left thigh kept my gaze. I remember thinking only someone really hot could get away with a tattoo that large on your thigh. She made it work. Not too many women could pull off Flawless with half their leg marked in ink (in 1987).
One night in a local bar, some random guy came up to me asking if I had a large tattoo on my left thigh. I almost kissed him.
Greta and Loretta were just a two of the many women from my dancing days that helped my inner goddess emerge purely by inspiration. And although my stage performances are long behind me, their spirit of owning the room still carries me through the many thresholds of circumstances in my life today.
One of the great tragedies in the stripper community is that long after you hang up your garter and g-string, there’s a part of you that never really steps off stage – and you want so badly to connect with other ladies who shared in your experience. Unless you know their legal names, the chances of finding old friends through an internet search is next to impossible. But perhaps not knowing whatever became of people from your past is a blessing – our memories remain where they are meant to be – in the past.
Still, I can’t help but wonder, and throw gratitude to so many women who, because of their confidence and grace, helped shape the old broad I am today.
Thanks ladies. Wherever you are.