Stigma in Entertainment

Hello friends, today I need to get a few things off of my chest and address some of the issues I’ve faced when organizing a little show of mine called TABOO Pole Show. For those of you who are just being introduced, it can be described as a sexually liberating event which includes professional entertainers from many different walks of life. Some of our performers come from the adult entertainment industry and others are professional dancers ranging in drag, burlesque and of course, pole dance. In the past I have hesitated when posting about the struggles that I’ve faced in the production of the event, because in the world of business we tend to hide the negatives in fear that some day, they might come back to haunt us.

Now, this isn’t all negative. I want to start by saying that we are so lucky to have a group of respectful, talented and open minded performers, but when it comes to some of the venues that have booked us, I’m afraid I can’t say the same. I’m used to stigma from working as an adult entertainer, in fact I almost expect it. Lately Ive noticed that many event managers just dont seem to understand or respect the vision that I have for our show. For the last few years I’ve been placed in a sex positive bubble, surrounding myself with other strong, independent and business savvy women, I sometimes forget that to the average Joe I’m just a woman who twirls around a pole and takes her clothes off for a living.

From day one I decided that I would not white wash our event, I would not “clean it up” to please a wider audience and I definitely wouldn’t discredit the roots of pole dance to make it more socially acceptable. My vision for TABOO was to show everyone that we can be strong while being sexy, we can and will be allowed to celebrate our sexuality on stage and just maybe, we could help others to feel a little bit more accepted in our current society. Unfortunately, the more I seem to push for this show to be a success, the more my eyes are opened to the discrimination and disrespect towards some of the sexually liberated in the Irish entertainment industry.

I say “some”, because it’s clear to see that other groups of entertainers just don’t face the same stigma as pole dancers. It doesn’t surprise me when stigma is so deeply rooted within the pole dance community. Some women are still trying so hard to distance themselves from the origins of poledance that hashtags like #notastripper and other whorephobic slurs are used all over internet. Some women even claim that their beloved hobby has stemmed from Mallakhamb and Chinese Pole (Which are both male dominated by the way). In my opinion , the idea that modern day pole dance could be connected to either of these sports is ridiculous. I believe that it’s just another way for society to belittle and ignore the talented women who developed pole dance on strip club stages across the globe. I mean, football and basketball are both played with round objects but it’s pretty obvious to most that they are not the same activity.

While organising TABOO in the last year I’ve been let down more than once by “professional” venues and event managers. In one of the worst cases , a venue failed to clean broken glass from the stage properly (after I repeatedly asked) which resulted in our dancers having cut knees and left to squeeze glass out of their legs the following morning. In other cases I’ve been lied to, sold false promises or flat out ignored when reporting issues. Some may think that I’m overthinking or jumping to conclusions in saying this, but believe me when I tell you that I have years of experience when it comes to reading people and situations. Before I worked as a dancer I was a door to door sales woman, My training involved learning how to read body language, overturning objections and selling like my life depended on it. (Working on 100% commission, sometimes it did)! I once used the same selling techniques that venues have tried to use on me. I can see through the facade and believe me, from working as an exotic dancer, I can sure as hell tell when someone is silently judging me.

If you’re new to the idea of event organising, allow me to paint you a picture. First of all, I have the responsibility of hiring performers to dance at the show but I also need to pour a lot of time and money into promotion and advertising. For the weeks, and in some cases, months leading up to the show I’m creating posters and flyers, advertising online, organising music, themes and design, arranging poles for our dancers to perform on and then after that, with the little time that I have left, I am trying to choreograph and prepare for my own routine for the event . (Oh, and this is all outside of my time working at the club and teaching pole dance). Now imagine dealing with an unprofessional venue after all of the unpaid hours I’ve spent making sure the night runs as smooth as possible?! If my love for the show wasn’t as strong as it is I would have given this up a long time ago.

So, what does the future have in store for our wonderfully sexy and liberating event? Only time can tell but I will continue to search for a safe and professional venue. TABOO’s dancers and audience are our number one priority and it’s important that they enjoy each and every event. I won’t stand for any venue belittling everything that I work so hard for and thankfully, I can see that slowly but surely our little island is waking up to the idea of sexual freedom and expression.

Are you a performer who has experienced stigma in the entertainment industry? Please get in touch by using the contact form below. I’d love to hear from you!

2 Replies to “Stigma in Entertainment”

  1. I am so on the same page as you. I’ve been an exotic dancer and feature entertainer for 17 years. I also perform Egyptian belly dance with fire. Well when I lived in miami, I decided to apply for a position to teach pole dancing at a studio. I was hired, made to promote the studio for 6 months while it was being finished, then when it was ready to open, I was FIRED! The reason I was fired…..”because I’m a STRIPPER”!!! The owner knew upon hiring me that I was an exotic dancer, and it is of course POLE DANCING, so I was outraged at this discrimination! The woman who fired me (as she did to several other girls ) stole all of my ideas which I worked very hard to put together! I felt used and angry and just plain disgusted with this nonsense . To add fuel to the fire, she gave me a whopping $200 check for the work and promoting I did for the studio over a 6 months span of time . I was more than a little bit insulted. The work I put into that place was worth much more than 200 dollars! Not to mention she completely made me feel worthless bc apparently I’m not a credible “human” I’m a Stripper. So the question is : HOW THE HELL DOES A POLE DANCING STRIPPER (with 17 years experience ) GET FIRED FROM A STUDIO THAT TEACHES POLE DANCING!!??!!??!! this happened in 2011 and I’m still upset about it!

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