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.
9 thoughts on “Music and Chair Shows: Reflections of a retired stripper”
I completely relate. I’m fortunate in that I was able to forage several lasting relationships from my stripping years. And, thanks to Facebook 🙂 I found a few others who were kind of like my ‘big sisters’ when I was first starting out. It’s funny because when I was still dancing, I’d always try to remind myself that these women are not my friends. None of them give a damn about me, so why should I give them the time of day. I was wrong on some of those counts. Love the post, Christine!
Thanks SX! I’m not sure how I missed your comment back in September.. sorry for the delay in response!
Facebook has reunited me with a couple of amazing sister-friends! I still wish I could find more… but who knows.. maybe they will Google and find me. 🙂
Reblogged this on The Southern Strip and commented:
Great insight from a fellow former dancer – a blog definitely worth checking out!
Oh – thank you! I will!
I worked with Loretta Ybarra at Femme Nu in Honolulu and knew her personally. I had come from ballet and modern dance roots. Dancing in Honolulu at the time was all nude and no contact so I developed my own style of exotic dancing. I was a very sexual and sensual young woman of 21 at the time. This type of dancing was very liberating as it was my outlet of expression as well as how I was making my money. I knew upon meeting Loretta that she had been in Penthouse and that she had been working in Alaska. My first impression of Loretta was that she was a bit loud and a bit obnoxious. I was one of the top girls at Femme Nu getting paid top dollar per set and making well over $750 a night. When she arrived she thought she was taking her place back as she had started her career there. Well that was not going to happen. We girls had been in Playboy and other publications that matched her repertoire. I was a Playboy Girl Of Summer and also was a Reef Brazil Model. At 5’7″ my measurements of 36C/D-24-36 were all natural. I still am this size to this day at 46 because I work out, eat right and can’t stand drugs. Ewww! I also have had four children. I had heard Loretta was a “force to reckon with onstage”. However, when I saw her dance she acted like the men owed her something and that the girls onstage needed to get out of her way. I was not impressed. We girls had a code. We stuck together. I don’t know how they did things in the 80’s but in the 90’s we were not in a competition. We were all friends and we all had each other’s backs. Except of course the drugged out girls who came and went. We called them “the bathroom girls” because they would hang out and get ready in the bathroom for some reason. I remember one of the newer girls getting pushed by Loretta onstage over a dollar. Maybe Loretta was in her fading out phase of the game as she was in her mid thirties at the time and had gained quite a bit of weight. She was not a small woman. Her piggish and might is right attitude was not going to get her anywhere. The girls told Yoon Hee the Korean boss lady that we would not work with Loretta and she was moved to days then eventually she went next door to the Lap dancing club that did not serve alcohol. It was no love lost for the girls of Femme Nu. I heard Loretta eventually moved to Kauai and started a lounge singing career. She did have a beautiful singing voice. I met a man who is an Entertainment Lawyer in 1996, married him and moved with him to Malibu where I now have my own dance studio and teach all types of dance including Pole Dancing. All the women of the world now want to be a stripper. Although most of them have no idea how to get in touch with the inner Goddess. I try to teach them but it is something that either you are born with or you are not. It is not easy for some to get the moves down either. The real deal is doing both of these things while getting a roomful of men to hand you their money too. Keep practicing ladies!
Vixon! I think I may know you! 🙂 Please DM me. And THANK YOU for taking the time to read and comment. I am sorry it took me so long to reply. xxoo
Hi I read your article I knew Loretta when she lived in cailfornia I’ve been trying to find her we where very close. If there is anyway you can get my email to her or something I really do hate to bother you with this but it’s really important to me that I at least get to talk to her. Thank you so much.
Hi Evelyn – I’m so sorry. I have no idea how to contact her. I have not seen her in almost 30 years. 😦
Thank you for getting back to me I appreciate it. I do thank you for giving me more insight to her life in your story I enjoyed reading it. I will keep trying to find her. God bless you and thank you again.
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