Jacqueline Frances is kicking patriarchal ass and taking names.
By Randi Bergman
There are plenty of misconceptions out there about being a stripper (see “strippers can’t be feminists,” “stripping is sad” and so on). But fortunately, being a badass isn’t one of them. Over the past few years, Jacqueline Frances a.k.a. Jacq The Stripper has been sketching, writing and satirizing her experience on the pole, spreading the not so dark truth: it rules. In her latest book, Striptastic!, Frances illustrates the stories of nearly 300 strippers worldwide (skewering ignorant clients along the way). “If you’re looking for a redemption narrative about a woman who feels ashamed about her body and the choices she’s made, look elsewhere,” reads its description.
You could call her the patron saint of stripping culture, but don’t say that to her face; “It’s annoying that stripping is perceived as a culture before an actual job,” she says. “Young women are so stoked to wear our shoes and take pole classes before they are willing to come in and support the women who are actually doing the work.”
Here, we chat all things power, pussy and pole.
How long have you been stripping? And how did you get into it at first?
I just celebrated my 7-year stripperversay! I started for the same reason most women start: I needed the money. I was nervous as hell, but on the other side of the world (Sydney, Australia) from anyone I worried might “find out” so I went for it. Greatest decision I ever made. I’m not saying every day is a jaunt through a whirling cloud of dollar bills, but stripping has added so much value to my life.
You released a whole zine about how to be feminist at the strip club–what are the biggest no nos?
The first rule, or more of a common-sense-reminder is: strippers are people, so treat them as you would want to be treated. Consent is for everyone, and no means no. Everyone has boundaries, and everyone’s boundaries are different. Some are determined by state laws, but most are determined by the owner of the body themselves.
Assuming those tips are mostly for men, what should lady patrons know?
This is an incorrect assumption. The rules are for all patrons, and your gender has very little to do with how to go about respecting another individual in their workplace. I regret to inform you that female patrons have a pretty bum track record for their comportment in strip clubs. There is a seriously shitty trend of female entitlement in strip clubs (“I’m a girl, I get to touch you without your consent!” NO, MA’AM, YOU DO NOT). I implore ALL strip club virgins (and veterans, too) to read that etiquette guide (: You can get it on Amazon!
Tell us about your other ventures and how they connect to your stripping life.
I’ve always been a performer and a storyteller, so stripping has always been a pretty solid complement to my character. I love the stage, I love interacting with people, and I’ve always seen the humor in everything, so writing a book (The Beaver Show), becoming a comedian (I have a monthly show in New York City called Venus Fly Trap, and am touring as the Sex Witch Tour this summer) and then illustrating comics (just released Striptastic! last month) all sort of informed one another. I make what I’m feeling and the medium is always evolving.
Tell us about your new book Striptastic!
[The book] is not a glamorization of the job, it’s a celebration of the women who do the work. The mainstream narrative surrounding sex work is so fucking abysmal. Patriarchy hates us because the idea of a woman profiting off of something men think they’re entitled to for free is wildly inconvenient for a lot of men. And men hate being inconvenienced! It makes them have feelings which makes them uncomfortable which makes them angry and, well, look at America right now. I wanted to create a book that could educate people who are curious about the industry, but ultimately to showcase and celebrate the women who’ve given me so much love, strength and support.
I’m headed out on tour this summer to promote my book alongside Kristen Sollee’s Witches Sluts Feminists. In each city we’re hosting slams and talent shows to showcase the brilliance and talents of local sex witches (which includes but is not limited to sex workers). It’s a pop-up slut celebration party wherever we go. It’s a dream come true.
The idea of the side hustle is pretty intrinsic to Nasty Gal. What are your thoughts on that as it relates to stripping?
I am ALL ABOUT the side hustle. You never know what’s going to pick up. When you’re a stripper, you get rejected all the time. You never know who’s going to fall in love with you and buy a million dances. So you just have to try talking to everyone. I’ve applied that same work ethic to my creative endeavors, which makes me less afraid to try and more excited about the potential for success. I mean, @breadfaceblog just quit her job to mush her face into croissants full-time (I love her; she is a legend) so it’s good to have a side hustle as you never know what might come of it.
When did you realize that you needed/wanted to be a voice for stripper culture?
The day I started I knew it was something so different from what I’d been told. I couldn’t not write about it. Strippers are my people. I never really had a sense of community until I became one. I hated high school, got bullied in ballet class… all the things I did with other people, I never felt solidarity with them. But when I started stripping I felt like I belonged to a family. And when your family is consistently shat on, what choice do you have but to defend it? I also have a lot of privilege (I’m white, educated, and stripping is one of the legal branches of sex work) so I feel especially compelled to speak for those whose voices are silenced for fear of incarceration, losing their families, or worse.
What’s your best stripping experience of all time?
It’s impossible to distill it to a single moment, but the experience of being surrounded by hilarious, strong, and sexually-empowered women on the daily brings me so much joy.
And your worst?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’m building a Fempire. We should have a clubhouse by then.
You can follow Jacq at @JacqTheStripper and buy her book via Amazon.com.