What was the inspiration behind Peepshow Paradise and stepping into the digital realm?
Peepshow Paradise came together in a very organic way during a chaotic time (and in the middle of this ongoing pandemic). I wish I could say we (two fellow dancers, Kenzie, Samantha and I) meticulously planned out this empowering project for and by strippers, when in reality it was us panicking to put our own event together in the course of one week after our club canceled the virtual party we were working on together for months in July. We wanted to keep the party going not just because of our own anxieties around scarcity, but also because we felt it was cruel to cut off a stream of income for so many of our fellow dancers who have also been struggling to navigate online work after clubs closed or can’t go back to work because of the health risks.
What has been the biggest challenge transferring from the physical to the digital world in terms of dancing?
Honestly, the money. Because we’re not physically sitting our asses on a lap with the guarantee of $20 per song, the exchange isn’t as straightforward. Dancing in the virtual club, like stage work, doesn’t really have any guarantees, and you can dance your set for an audience of 15 and receive zero tips. Granted, I understand that the value is different, since the element of physical touch is removed, but customers from the club who ordinarily would’ve spent at least $100 for an interaction are coming in and sending $5 tips through Venmo instead. And maybe it’s because the economy fucked them the same, but also probably because they inherently see less value in online work.
Aside from the lower rates and inconsistent cash flow, which to be fair happens at IRL clubs too, it’s a lot harder to dance solo sets on a bed, couch, or in a random corner of your apartment in a sexy manner than you might think — at least for dancers who aren’t as accustomed to stage work or don’t have poles at home. Without the IRL interaction… and friction, it’s way harder to know instinctively whether or not you’re doing a good job.
You're such a great host, and I love that you get in on the action. What's your favorite part of the weekly shows?
I think my favorite part of it is the ethos of teamwork we’ve created with the online club, since it brings together strippers, dancers, and camgirls who would otherwise be working solo. I love how supportive everyone is of one another and our club.
I also love it when our customers tell us that we successfully recreated the club vibe online and that being at our parties makes them feel like they’re back at the strip club. Even for me, I feel like our weekly parties have been a really fun, hot, social environment and have been the one thing that gives me the feeling of debauchery that I can’t really find (safely) anymore during the pandemic.
How is it different being able to collaborate with womxn/femmes versus dealing with the male hierarchy of the club?
I mean, at the risk of never getting hired back at a club, it’s just so freeing not working with trash men who are just looking to exploit and sexualize dancers without their consent.
Do you see a future for femme-run clubs or all inclusive clubs, post pandemic?
Absolutely. With so many clubs still closed and some probably shuttering forever, strippers have been forced to (or empowered to) take over the means of production and create their own platforms, businesses, customer lists, etc. I feel like we’ve already seen this agency growing online, with so many dancer-run queer, diverse, and inclusive virtual clubs like Cyber Tease and Octopussy Lounge, which originally began as an IRL party in Miami. Stippers are born hustlers, so I can only imagine this expanding post-pandemic, whenever that may be.
What is the thing you miss most about the real club?
The money... the feeling of a cash stack at the end of the night. Big sigh.
Also, I really miss the anonymity and freedom. In IRL clubs, it’s easier to walk in, put on your stripper persona, and not run into anyone you know or have your privacy breached. Really successful dancers have a rolodex of customer contacts and a social media presence, but it is also totally possible to just transiently go through clubs with a much lower possibility of having your secret discovered or being outed — that is if you aren’t “out” as a stripper.
What's the most complex element about existing in the digital sphere?
I actually find online extremely limiting. The internet can be a real minefield for people in the sex industry to navigate, where simply using the wrong hashtags or getting noticed by anti-sex work trolls who report accounts that have anything to do with SW can get you shadowbanned or deplatformed. Since we started in July, we’ve been barred from using two different newsletter platforms, because of terms and conditions that very broadly ban adult services and porn. My personal IG account has been shadowbanned and posts have been removed, even though my photos are all pretty PG-13 in comparison to what I see on the platform.
What are your hopes for the strip club industry, post pandemic, or even in your own personal utopia?
I just want to see a SUGAR club and more femme-owned and inclusive spaces that break out of the current “traditional” model of strip clubs we’ve been beholden to for so long. Also, maybe we can raise the price of dances from $20/song finally? I mean inflation has made sandwiches and rent more expensive, so our time should be too.
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