Taking it All Off
by Kiersten Hallie Krum
I spent most of my weekend writing a strip scene for my work in progress. Well, not a standard strip scene; my heroine has a burlesque act that is key to how she expresses her sexuality.
Originally, when I was mentally mapped out the skeleton of this book, I’d envisioned her as a straight-up stripper–erm, erotic dancer–but my friend and critique partner made this face when I suggested it. You know the face. Yeah, that one.
I’d envisioned an empowered heroine who took her clothes off not in some inner city titty bar or in a skeevy road house, but in a classy club where she turned the whole potentially debasing experience into an expression of her sexual power. When I told my CP that, she made The Face. “You’re going to have a hard time selling that.” See, my CP has had a very, very eclectic life, one which somehow involved getting to know a group of strippers (I’ve yet to get her to drink enough red wine to tell me the whole story.) If she says it’s not gonna fly, I believe her.
Unwilling to give up easily (surprise!), I turned instead to burlesque. I like burlesque; I enjoy me a good show especially one with a flair for the dramatic. Burlesque manages to turn the tawdry into deliciously naughty. It’s classy and sexy and fun. Painted with the tones of old circus shows crossed with vaudeville and dance halls and decadent turn-of-the-20th-century clubs like the Moulin Rouge, burlesque is a damn good time. Added to that, yes, it is empowering. I’ve watched documentaries on modern burlesque shows, current burlesque classes, and the history of burlesque. I’ve seen testimonials from women recovering from emotional and sexual conflict and abuse who cautiously are re-learning how to value their selves and their bodies through burlesque. I can’t possibly understand it fully, but I find it fascinating and inspiring.
It’s a sad state of society that male striptease doesn’t bear the same stigma that accompanies women strippers. Certainly, the successful movie Magic Mike painted the male revue as a fantasy for the women patrons, the boyfriends they never could have in real life. I’m interested to see how and if the recently released the documentary by actor Joe Manganiello, La Bare, a behind-the-scenes feature on the lives of male strippers, supports or disproves this image. (It also features model Ruben, stage name “Angelo”, who was an Ellora’s Cave Caveman cover model and who was gunned down while defending another man outside a Dallas club in 2012.)
But until then, I vicariously burlesque.
Do you think there’s a difference between stripping and burlesque or are we just kidding ourselves? Will Romancelandia be able to handle a heroine in non-erotica/erotic romance who takes her clothes off for money and doesn’t apologize for it?
Follow Lady Smut. We never lose our flair for the dramatic.