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The Tasteful Nude The Tasteful Nude

The Tasteful Nude Says Farewell—to this Column, Not the Strip Club

The Tasteful Nude Says Farewell—to this Column, Not the Strip Club:

Welcome to The Tasteful Nude, in which stripper, comedian and writer Kasey Koop gives us a point-blank look at life onstage and backstage in L.A.’s strip club scene. Today, we bring the series to a close, with some final thoughts from Koop on what she’s learned in the club.

Whenever high school gets brought up, just about everyone claims to have been a “floater”: someone who bounces between cliques and circles without cleaving to any single one. I was a floater, and I still am. Docking with groups and lovers just long enough to itch for freedom, stumbling into different tribes, falling in and out of love (usually over the course of a drug high and come-down) and saying yes too much have colored my L.A. years and landed me here in the strip club. If someone had told me, a year ago, that I’d get to write a column about my misadventures in stripping for Playboy, I probably would’ve been too thick in the haze of alcohol detox to understand a word. In all sincerity, the opportunity to write The Tasteful Nude has been surreal and glorious. Making the inner workings of such a misunderstood and stigmatized lifestyle accessible to the public has been a gift that, at times, I didn’t feel deserving of.

Stripping has afforded me a whole lot more than the car I started doing it for. From confidence in my body and personality to female friendships to a healthy outlet for my sexual energy, it’s the closest I’ve had to a job with benefits. Fears once kept me from dancing—the primary one being that selling sex would render me undateable. This fell by the wayside once I realized I had been single half a decade anyway. Sometimes I don’t think I’m meant to find love. Life provides me with all the elements of a boyfriend: guy friends to flirt with, customers who compliment me, girlfriends who offer heartfelt conversation, best friends who look after me and my mom playing hard-to-get with her approval. Patrons ask how a girl like me is single. Because the only way I can trust a man is on a leash? Because I once started a fight with a guy to see if my then-boyfriend would defend my honor?

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I don’t purport to speak for all sex workers, but I’m grateful to help undo a few stereotypes by telling my story as a comedian and Manic Pixie Dream Whore who happens to strip. I’ve received messages from strippers thanking me for my representation of our industry and men who were flabbergasted by the depth of my writing. I’ve been visited at work by millennial fans of the column, male and female, who thanked me with cash. Above all, I’m excited I made my stripper family proud. My regulars and coworkers lifted me up when everyone else had understandably evacuated the forest fire of my life. Stripper integrity—staying fiercely true to oneself no matter what—pushed me to be my truest self.

The job of stripping, which consists of dancing and flirting, is cake, but the stigma surrounding it is dangerous. Quite literally: It has long been used to justify violent crimes against us. Outside of physical harm, the most damaging part of this perfectly legal profession is the tendency to look down on us like we have no agency—the pressure to lead a double-life while serving as society’s projected sex shame.

Everyone wants to be a stripper. At least, that’s what people tell me when they find out about my occupation. They say they’d do it if they had the body, the rhythm, or if they were female. In reality, stripping is not some dark art; anyone can get into it, but not everyone has thick enough skin. Men imply that stripping is the easy route by saying they’d do it if they were girls. Rest assured, you would all be housewives. Not that raising children is a breeze but it is a more widely accepted lifestyle.

Strippers are tough for a reason. As fun as the job can be, it’s not for the faint of heart. When girls ask me how to become a dancer, I tell them: If you don’t have the courage to audition, you probably won’t have the balls to stick around. You have to know who you are and have the wherewithal to discern who to associate with and how to create boundaries—because make no mistake, there are no background checks. Nobody holds your hand through being a baby stripper. You earn your rank all on your own.

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Everyone wants the freedom of expression but not the judgments that accompany it. I’ve seen every variation of stripping, from pole athletes to burlesque dancers to kooky performance art onstage, where an audience member brushed me off at my place of employment by saying, “I’m here for the anti-stripper show.” If sex is a weapon, a woman who knows her sexuality is a soldier, and a woman who sells it is a green beret.

I may always feel like a floater, but I’m less lost than I was before I started stripping. I’ve learned how to stand up for myself and that there is no shame in embracing my sexuality. The other night, a man at the club exploded when I told him not to point his camera at me. “You women think you’re feminists and empowered now!” he screamed.

I am, in fact. On both counts. And my work won’t end with the closure of this column. A ho never gets tired.


Find all 21 installments of the Tasteful Nude here.


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