Like so many beautiful, strange, unattainable women, I found her on Instagram. Unlike so many women, "Jacq the Stripper" is a pole dancing, customer-hustling, writer, comedian, artist and all-around smart ass, and I liked her immediately.Her doodles of brief customer or coworker quotes, named, "100 Days Of Pleasantries" caught me with its impressive ability to capture the pointless poignancy of so many strip club interactions. In honor of her new book, "The Beaver Show", I caught up with Jacq the Stripper.
Who are you?
On the internet, I am Jacq the Stripper. In the club, I’m a number of other girl-next-door names that are generic and non-threatening. My real name is Jacqueline, although most people find that ‘uncomfortably formal’ and so they go with Jacq. I’m a stripper, illustrator, stand-up comic and writer. I just wrote a book. It’s called The Beaver Show, and it’s the crass and inspiring saga of my life as a traveling titty-shaker, and how stripping has made me a better, more compassionate and financially stable person.
I FUCKING LOVE THAT. Stripping really helped pull me from my shell, too. How long have you been stripping?
I started five years ago in Sydney, Australia. It’s been a bit of a round-the-world jaunt since then.
What are your coworkers like?
I wish they were better, man. I mean, my New York colleagues aren’t terrible. We are all very polite with each other. I have a handful of amazing girlfriends at the litany of clubs I’ve worked over the years, but we all know not to be too trusting of anyone, especially not right away. And since I’m such a fleeting figure in most places I work, I tend to make curious acquaintances, but we rarely keep in touch. This bums me out, as there is nothing better than going to work where your fellow strippers and management are like family. I’ve worked at clubs where it felt like home and that was a really special time in my life. But having friends at work also made me lazy. I would rather hang out with them and talk shit in the dressing room instead of hustling.
Do you have a preference for your interactions?
So the standoffishness of New York and has been good for my bank account. And I don’t necessarily mind it, because there’s not obligatory small-talk, which I’m so not into. I feel like the cool professionalism of New York strippers is a very realistic way to approach one’s work life. The girls I work with are compassionate, crass, honest, fun as hell, and remarkably business-minded, but there’s a respect for privacy that I’ve always admired. It’s weird though, because the other side of that coin is that it’s our job to probe clients until we find a pressure point that turns them into ATMs. And we get pretty fucking invasive.
Where else have you danced?
Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne, New Mexico, New York, Vegas, Myrtle Beach and the oil fields of Alberta, Canada. Oh and Bangkok, too, but it was more like Mouseketeer go-go dancing and not sexy-naked dancing.
What is a typical stage set like?
In New York they are SO FUCKING BORING. I’ve been dancing here for quite a while now, and the New York hustle is not about showwomanship; it’s about hustle and secrets and finding a man who should probably see a therapist but he’s sitting with a black Amex under your ass instead. But I find this psychology fascinating. Strip clubs are these profoundly fake and yet remarkably honest environments where strangers can be brutally frank with one another without the fear of the oftentimes severe consequences that honesty brings. It’s a totally different dance.
Which is why I refer to the serious lap-dance hustlers as "underwear therapists". We are literally unlicensed, and yet incredibly astute listeners, and decoders.
The constant probing is a lot of tedious work, so why waste energy on stage when no one’s going to tip you, anyway? We are business women, after all. It’s inefficient to give a fuck about your stage show when it’s only going to make you sweaty and gouge fifteen minutes out of your prime hustling-time. A lot of New York strippers pay an off-stage fee to avoid having to get up there and dance for literally no money. Occasionally, someone will come up to the stage and sprinkle you with six dollars, but the rest of the time they just want a thorough dry-hump or several hours to talk about their crumbling marriages.
That’s disappointing too; so often on television and movies we see the same slow gyration, but it makes sense to save energy if nobody is tipping you to beat up your body.
Australia was fun for stage shows because the clients loved pole tricks and bendy moves, but ultimately most Aussies just want to stare really intently at your vagina. On the first day I found this really uncomfortable, but then I was like, THIS IS HILARIOUS AND INSANELY EMPOWERING. Just... the obsession and focus with which they would literally STARE at my vagina was such a trip of a metaphor for life for me to learn at the age of 23. I can’t imagine who I’d be now had it not been for all those guys who wanted for pay just to look at something I’d been conditioned for most of my life to feel ashamed of.
And buttholes. Don’t forget about buttholes.
The obsession with buttholes is staggering.
When I danced in Santa Fe, New Mexico, stage shows were fun because you danced on a really shitty stage with a pole that jutted out of a wooden platform like a no-parking sign. It wasn’t fastened at the top, so climbing it was always risky, and therefore exciting. If you put too much effort into a spin, you might go flying. Because it was such a tiny club, you could pick all your songs right before you went on stage. This is a privilege I NEVER get in bigger cities where you can request a genre and maybe the DJ will play one song you like and the rest will all be horrifying Pit Bull remixes.
HAHAHAHA PIT BULL.
In Santa Fe, you dance to whatever you want, and if a guy likes your moves, he is welcome to approach the stage and shower you with singles. Here’s the clincher, though: You have to literally back your ass up into him and assault him in every way you know how in order to keep him throwing those singles. They want you to wrap your legs around their necks, gyrate against their dicks, smack your tits in their faces... in front of the entire club. The more violent, the better. It’s almost like public flogging. And then the VIP lap dances are strictly (and I mean STRICTLY) no-touching and no crotch-to-crotch contact. They are profoundly tame. New Mexico is one giant, eerie, magical paradox. I love it there.
It would seem that each city, or club even, is it’s own microcosm. They rules, the roles, the unassigned behaviors of the patrons and the dancers.
I miss dancing on stage and really going for it, though. I love traveling to cities where that’s what it’s all about. Just going fucking nuts, getting sweaty, and making bank. I’ll never tire of dancing to Marilyn Manson’s The Dope Show, climbing up high, surveying the doting fans, and then rolling around on the stage, just getting WEIRD.
How did you get the idea for your 100 Days project?
I stumbled across a hashtag trend on Instagram called "The 100 Day Project," heralded by The Great Discontent. It’s about creating one thing every day that’s small and manageable. It’s about taking away the pressure of trying to create something perfect and instead just creating. I’ve always written down the silly things I hear at work, so I thought this project would be a great impetus to try illustrating them. I soon realized how much I enjoyed the act of sitting down and drawing.
Storytelling as a sex worker always has to be a little bit creative, since photography and video is still so taboo, and that’s how most people are telling their stories these days. I, personally, love the no-photo aspect of the business. It keeps it timeless and I feel like I’m infinitely more present when I’m not trying to immortalize every moment of my fucking life with an Instagram post. I love Instagram. it’s shameful how much I love it.
I feel ya.
But I am so grateful that 99% of my work environment strictly forbids any of that shit. I like telling true stories, and I feel like I can do that with illustration. Like, I’m not particularly ‘good’ at rendering the likenesses of people. So I keep it simple, which makes me really focus on the simplicity of what people say and feel in a really intimate, fun and often drunken space. After this book launches (it’s mostly writing, but it does boast a number of never-before-seen illustrations), I want to get back to drawing every day. It feeds my soul. And makes people laugh. And those are like, my two main priorities in life.
But first, the book! It’s so real and exciting and I can’t help but toot my own horn about it because I’ve put so much into it and it’s finally DONE and ready to share with the world.
I can’t wait to see it.Where can everyone follow/find you?
Website, blog, stand-up dates and illustrations: www.jacqthestripper.com
Kickstarter: The Beaver Show
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