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  • Valerie Stunning

Stripping Vs. Burlesque

“My boyfriend is very supportive when it comes to me doing burlesque but Hates that I want to be a stripper. He says he doesn’t like it because he didn’t meet me as a stripper. How do I deal with him being unsupportive? I don’t want to throw away 7 years together but I’m paying my own bills and stripping is what I want to do. I even bought a pole :)”

— Stripper Hopeful


 The following is not an amphetamine fueled tangent but rather a necessary prelude to the answer I have for you. It may help clarify where your "very supportive" boyfriend's ignorance is coming from.* Because lord knows there've been many margaritas guzzled, while attempting to intellectualize and argue whether stripping on a Burlesque stage makes you a Stripper. * Having professionally stripped as a strip club and burlesque stripper for the past 6 years I have some knowledge on the topic. The Australia Burlesque Festival On one hand, There are a portion of new-wave Burlesquers who feel because they've put so much blood, sweat, and tears into creating elaborate costumes, sets, and story lines for their acts, that to call them a Stripper devalues said efforts.  Such passionate disassociation, may be a result of the contemporary use of the word Stripper being bitterly associated with an entertainer who seemingly has done a fraction of the work, yet is able to sell their fantasy for (often times) a lot more dough. Perhaps if said Burlesquers knew more about the strip club industry they'd be less dismissive of a Strip Club Stripper's work? It may also be that we've finally found a way to normalize a genre of striptease enough so that we can incorporate it into polite dinner conversation and market it to people who'd otherwise cringe at the idea of stripping. And this makes said Burlesquers want to shun a job title that comes with such negative press? But much like the suave magician who pulls a card out of your ass without you ever feeling it and makes you wonder if it's been in there all along because of how smoothly she executed the illusion-  There's something to be said about a good Stripper, regardless of production value, making the job look easy.  Do we have to shun a word that started as a simple job description before it was heavily stigmatized to validate our artistic achievements? 


Do we find that validation within ourselves, fully embrace the evolution of our culture and continue to collectively fight the good fight?

*This is not to say all burlesquers who haven't stripped in strip clubs are quick to disassociate themselves with Strip Club Strippers. Many performers I know proudly hybrid strip club choreography and/or incorporate raunchy elements into their shows.  It's also not to say that all Burlesquers who don't embrace raunch disassociate themselves from the term either.

AND it's not to say that those who do disassociate themselves with the term are bitter about the pay difference. 

I am specifically talking about those who do and who are, to help illustrate the where and why your boyfriend may be fine with one and not the other. Because this has been an age old debate.  On the other hand,

There are a portion of Strip Club Strippers who are reluctant to share the Stripper title with Burlesquers. Because, it can seem those who now embrace it are only eager to be a card carrying member due to SCS's new found street cred/burgeoning cool factor. This may also be a result of being sanctimoniously shit on by Burlesque performers and fans (along with most of society now that I mention it), for our savvy ways of inspiring men to empty their wallets in exchange for a seductive pole dance and/or dry hump.  Which has greatly devalued the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into honing a well executed pole trick and/or hustle. But much like the underground band you were a loyal fan of since day fucking one, who then went on to become a house hold name-  Do we shun the new found pride within our Burlesque sisters and brothers, just so we can boast about how back in the day we were 1 of the 6 people (aside from the other bands playing that night) going hard in the audience?  OR Do we live and let live, embrace our new allies and continue to collectively fight the good fight? I digress. In my opinion, if a bear shits in the woods, then anyone getting paid to take off their clothes while rhythmically gyrating to music is a stripper.  INCLUDING YOU. 


Tell your boyfriend that you love him but that change is crucial to your self development and the continual growth of your relationship.  Suggest doing some fun Stripper homework together to help educate him on the history and evolution of burlesque stripping into contemporary strip club stripping.  Read books, watch documentaries and PATRONIZE A CLUB!

And if that doesn't inspire him to change his tune & he remains unsupportive, you will have to decide if compromising mega-important things, like how you choose to earn your living is really how you want to live? 

It may be time to acknowledge that anyone who doesn't respect and honor your efforts in funding your life and dreams, is a giant waste of cock-blocking time. 

Xxo, Val


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