The Ethical Stripper
By Stacey Clare
Forget everything you’ve heard about strippers: this book is an antidote to stigma, shame and stereotyping
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Life drawing class
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Map of the strip clubs of East London
Strip Club Crawl: full day
Dealing with stigma workshop
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For more than a decade, British striptease artist and activist Stacey Clare has been part of a largely misunderstood and misrepresented world of UK strip clubs. Now, she opens up about her work and experiences with this candid and critical perspective of the industry.
How can a feminist also be a stripper? Is stripping sex work? What makes sex work “ethical”?
You already know the stereotypes. The strong, independent female who strips to support her own sumptuous lifestyle choices; the smart, sassy student who strips to pay her way through university, or the savvy immigrant who sends money to her family back home. Or what about the wayward party girl rebelling against her strict upbringing, or the single-mum raising her child with precious little in the way of resources?
What about the Buddhist, stripper-turned-activist and public speaker with a fine art degree, who works part-time as a care assistant and has a passion for theatre, feminism and human rights? Heard about her yet?
WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT?
Meet Stacey Clare, the self-proclaimed “ethical stripper”. She began dancing to pay her way through an expensive education – not an uncommon route into the industry for many young women born in an era where everything has a price. With this in mind, she invites the reader to examine their own prejudices as they enter a world of assumptions and misinformation.
Her book is about feminism, sisterhood, community, financial independence, economics and legislation. It’s about exploitation, misogyny, discrimination and bigotry. It’s about strip clubs, punters, showgirls and the joy of performing. It’s about ethics and consent. It’s about sex work, emotional labour and exhaustion. It’s about the business of being objectified, how it feels, what it means and what impact it can have.
The Ethical Stripper dismantles some of the most widely held assumptions about strippers and sex workers, as Stacey rails against every stereotype she can get her teeth into. By answering questions that have plagued her since she first stepped into a pair of plastic 6-inch heels, such as “how do your family feel about you dancing?” and “how has it affected your relationships?” Stacey takes aim at the lazy old tropes that have confronted her for more than ten years on the job.
Stacey delves into her past, recounting stories that are hilarious, risqué and poignant in equal measure. Alongside her memoirs she reveals inside truths about the industry, divulging the absurdity of licensing legislation and explaining who is really calling the shots. She backs up her tales with historical and critical context, as well as the latest feminist theory on sex work to contextualise her own observations and experiences.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
This is not a kiss-and-tell autobiography. Plenty is written about strippers and sex workers yet they are often maligned during public discourse. This book is a voice for those who are normally voiceless. It rejects notions of victimhood, challenges stigma and shame, and unpacks a colossal pile of confusion and contradictions. It’s about the sex-work community’s fight for safety and self-determination, and how you can help. I want to make you think twice about every newspaper article, documentary and film you have seen about stripping and sex work. Think you know about strippers? Think again.
Stacey Clare is a stripper, performance artist, writer, activist, Buddhist, care worker, and co-founding member of the East London Strippers Collective. She grew up in northern England and began working as a stripper aged 22 in Scotland, while on a gap year from her Fine Art degree at Glasgow School of Art.
The first club she worked in taught her that a strip club could be run respectfully and that stripping could be empowering, so long as the conditions were right. It wasn’t long before she encountered conditions within the industry that were not empowering. She has worked all over the UK, Paris and Australia, and for her longest stint she danced at The White Horse, in Shoreditch, London, a family business run for 38 years.
Stacey helped to found the East London Strippers Collective as a concerted effort to unite dancers around common grievances about their own industry, including the poor representation of strippers in public and the media. She gave a TedX Talk in 2015, “The Ethical Stripper” discussing her concerns. Her book builds on her thesis.
She lives in London and shares her time between running a life drawing class (with strippers as models), theatre projects, working part-time in care, activism and writing.
These people are helping to fund The Ethical Stripper.
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