Stripping Down to a Science
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The striptease isn’t something one might typically associate with an media conference. Nor, perhaps, would you expect the elements of an academic lecture while taking in an exotic dancer. But this unorthodox cross-hair set the scene for Je Baise Les Yeux, an Edgy bill that explores the social mythologies of this timeless dance through the smart and sassy voices of three stripper panellists and one male host.

A performance by Gaëlle Bourges rounded out by Marianne Chargois, Gaspard Delanoë and Alice Roland, the piece breaks down the terms of the striptease as quite intellectually fundamental. There’s a style, actually, that more-or-less consists of a three part formula: First is the dance—the stage presence and assertion of individual mojo. Second is the disrobe. Finally, the masturbation sequences.

The artistic direction is entirely up to the peeler herself, however, and will sometimes change depending on the audience (because getting kinky naked to industrial music isn’t necessarily everyone’s style). Qualifications and backgrounds of each stripper is different, as are her most regular clients.

Oh, and that’s right: the spectators are always referred to as ‘clients.’ Nothing more, nothing less.

And so, the politesse and nuance of a sex world that permeates our culture—yet which we scarcely discuss in such socio-intellectual, panel-discussion-with-stripper ways—takes form.

What is the erotic? What is the difference between a strip tease and a peep show? Can you talk about costs? Who, exactly, are the clients that keep this industry going? How has your perception of men changed after you started stripping? Do you take it all off?

These are some of the many queries the host ask the women, who sit at the conference room table in various degrees of undress and performance.

But what makes Je Baise Les Yeux so engaging is both the autonomy and intellect of the women during their interview—coupled, of course, with their absolute corporeal prowess and impressive gyration/contortion control. Through show and tell, the three women manage to break through some of the held-fast ideas we continue to have about the work of strippers.

And peel upon peel, prose upon prose, a candid portrait of an under-appreciated artisan emerges.

For all of its focus on the explanation, Je Baise Les Yeux stays stimulating by using actual stripteases to punctuate the dialogue and discourse—where we are privy to yoga-esque body contortion moves that so captivated the audience, all you could truly hear in the huge room was the sliding, flexible limbs along wooden floors.

Arching her feet into a pair of impossibly tall, platform, black faux leather high heels and wrapping a band of pearls around her neck, she repeats the body mastery and its transfixed beauty for the second time. Cue that industrial music and suddenly the yoga routine takes on a raunchier edge. A hanging pearl slips between her lips, she adds a few slow gyrations to flexibility—complete with the classic O-face—and there she secures strip science step number one: mojo.

What clients want and what clients pay for, the women explain through striptease number two, harks back to the repetition of motions. In a three-part pantsuit, hat and vest, a dancer gracefully disrobes (step one and two) before explicitly demonstrating the masturbation technique (number three).

A circular, single finger on the clit, followed by a moan. Light anal penetration with the same finger, followed by another moan. These are the sequences of stripper-stimulated sex. We also learn that when deviating from the standard, whatever the move, there are some fundamentals to a good show: conceal, reveal. Flash, then cover. Legs opened, legs closed. Sleaze, then tease.

The choreography of a climax is a science, really.

Though the question of “is this feminist” is the one that left with the audience near the final Q&A period (texted in by the audience during the whole shebang), one thing is certain: globally, great numbers of men are spending hundreds and hundreds of hours, evenings and dollars at the peelers and this is a profession that isn’t going anywhere.

Consummation of pornography, of the fetish, of women as a sexually stimulated and complete object of fantasy—along with its inherent jealously, excitement and insatiable urges that go with it—have convinced the three with a laugh that dirty detox might not be such a bad idea for the addicted, but it pays the bills.

And while some might say it’s just as terrible to spend your money on sex and striptease, others argue something like Disneyland or an egregiously expensive piece of contemporary art is just as morally bankrupt.

The beauty is in the business of the beholden.

Watch the teaser for Je Baise Les Yeux By Gaelle Bourges HERE!

And consider: If you could ask a stripper anything, what would it be?

If you enjoyed tonight’s performance or want the chance to take in another artistic exploration of the performativity and politics inherent in stripping and sex work, get your tickets to Les Demimondes — The Scandelles on March 31 and April 1 at Studio 303 before they sell out!

Une réponse pour “Stripping Down to a Science”

  1. […] For a much better description of the performance see this blog post! […]

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