Career Paths for Strippers


Changes in the Stripping Industry

The stripping industry, like so many other aspects of the adult entertainment world, isn’t what it used to be. Valeriya Safronova’s excellent piece in the New York Times is bang on about the tough working conditions of “dancers,” as they’re usually called. And full-speed ahead for efforts to unionize and get the anti-harassment laws enforced. The only problem with the piece is that it treats stripping as a destination rather than as a way-station.

Few women strip for decades. They move on. And what many move on to is working as models in the porn industry, where stripping is a frequent source of talent. It makes sense: strippers acquire a sense of autonomy about their bodies and become confident of their ability to manipulate men — both of which are positives in the adult industry. The only reluctance in the adult industry about dancers is that the dancers often end up contemptuous of — if not actively hating — men, and this repugnance may come across on camera as they interact with male models.

From Stripping to Porn…and Back Again

Working in the adult industry is very different from dancing. The working conditions are not fantastic, but they’re better than stripping, because the director has to pay you a thousand bucks a day whether the film gets shot or not (let’s say the male talent can’t get wood).

The wheel then comes full circle when you, as a now successful porn star, return to stripping, but this time as a “marquee dancer.” You’ve become famous as a result of the popularity of the porn flicks you’ve shot, and now that your name is on the marquee.

You can really clean up with the club owners. They might provide a bodyguard for the duration of your visit, and men and women will come from miles to see you. Your function is definitely not to interact sexually with the clients (unless you want to afterwards at high rates), but to get them so turned on that, at intermission, the house dancers can circulate and offer lap dances.

What Can Ex-Strippers Do?

There are two other career paths for ex-strippers.

One is escorting. A lot of back-and-forthing takes place between the adult industry and escorting — where the money can be excellent, you are in full control of your working conditions, and guys are respectful. They wish to boast, “Hey, guess who I had sex with last night? Hotty Backsides!” (“Hotty Backsides! A loser like you had sex with Hotty Backsides? I don’t believe it!”)

Similarly, you can migrate directly from stripping to escorting, full of “body positivity” and ready to rock.

The other career path is webcamming. Anecdotally, many women in webcamming have backgrounds as strippers. The problem in webcamming (and this applies equally to porn) is that someone may take a screen-grab and post it to your mother’s Facebook page. But Safronova tells us that the strippers are mobbed by photographers anyway, so either they aren’t worried about what their mothers will think or the whole Zeitgeist has become so relaxed about sex work that the moms will be proud and show the photos to their friends. (This happens in the toy business.)

A lot more women than men are into same-sex fantasies. And it is encouraging to hear that women increasingly turn up in strip venues to take this other side of their fantasy lives for a walk.

The whole sex industry is rapidly changing, from a venue for Dirty Old Men to something for the whole family, and stripping is changing with it.

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