says. ‘or you couldn’t take it when you found out they just wanted to get into your knickers or turned on you when you wouldn’t let them. And we can’t go to the police if we get attacked or raped, they’d just laugh in our faces. We are vulnerable in our personal relationships too. Girls settle for violent toads who resent what they do, but live off their money, because they begin to believe all the stuff they are told about being sluts and whores and think this is the only person they’ll get. People are happy enough to use us, then treat us like dirt.’
It seems appropriate that the ﬁnal response of the women to the haranguing ' they receive during the play should be in their own medium. The Big Tease
the lowest of the low, but it’s just a job, an act. I know the difference between fantasy and reality. At the end of the day I go home and do the ironing like anyone else, I don’t go and gang-bang the audience. But I would do more if I had to, to feed my kids, it wouldn’t bother me; it’s called survival. I’ve got responsibilities, so I get off my ass and do something about it. Isn’t there a bit in the Bible about helping yourself?’
It is particularly galling to be criticised, when the job itself can be so dangerous and soul-destroying. On stage and off, Jade points to the vulnerabilty of strippers. particularly the young, inexperienced ones. ‘You can’t let the ego boost ofall these men . saying you’re so lovely go to your head.’ she i
Jade discussing dance routines with Sophie and choregrapher Liz Rankin
Sophie, student, go-go dancer and perlorrner in The Big Tease talks to Simon Yuill:
l was very embarrassed the llrst time people irom college came in, it was quite strange. They’d come in to draw the dancers and l was on. I used to work I as a lite model. People could accept artists modelling completely-this idea oi nudity tor art- but when l was working tor Tellord College, the tutor was extremely lechy and patronising towards me.
You l_e_e_l_t_h_e same awareness oi your body when modelling, except that with dancing you have to have the cross between theatrical presentation and dance and run them into realising
something that is dramatically exciting. My mother calls It character dancing, behind the theatrical, sexual
I took her along to watch me once in the Phoenix, one oi the seediest places in town. At tirst she was quite nervous and then she relaxed and said I was very good and it was like modern ballet. She trained doing Russian ballet and she's been coming along to‘ the rehearsals. She says, “i think it’s all very great, an amazing crowd at people, but they haven’th good department, maybe we could do some bar work". She says that, to dance, basically what it comes down to is that you have to ieel strong within yourselt.
culminates in the whip dance, an eighteen-minute piece choreographed by Liz Rankin, a founder member of the avant-garde dance group DV8, who is giving the show her services for free. She has studied the strippers’ routines, and the movements are all their own, but she has tried to bring them together into something more dense, more ﬂuid and more symbolic.
From her perspective as a dancer who has frequently used nudity in her personal quest against sexual ignorance and inhibition, working with the strippers has been very exciting. ‘They have such strength and performance charisma,’ she says, ‘they are totally in control of their audience, their dancing, their sexuality. . . [think there is another reason why they do it, apart from the money, which is to do with freedom of expression. I feel that the whole of society is looking for information about sex. Sex is a massive issue, massively important, that links with creativity. intellect, spiritual development, and has really had a bag put over it. It’s because it is taboo that lots ofthe violence, the things that go wrong with it, happen — because it’s not dealt with in a sufficiently open way. Bodies, body language, aren’t sufficiently considered, and yet sensuality, sexuality comes into everything.’
Rankin’s perceptions are borne out by Jade’s experience. Her dancing has allowed her to build up her own catering business, but she still does regular stag nights. ‘I still do it because I take pride in performing,’ says Jade, ‘I am in control of it all, I devise my own acts, design my costumes, I have to respond to each audience differently - it’s all up to me. I do get a kick out ofit — when I get the really good crowds who’ve got it right, who come for a laugh, to enjoy the show, end of story. Because I don’t have to do it now, if anyone gives me abuse I can just turn my butt and leave. I have developed a tough skin and I don’t stand for any hassle — all these hypocrites with their sexual hang-ups. ’
But if people were more open and honest about sex would there still be a role for strippers? Jade thinks so: ‘We’d probably be more in demand, but there’d be a lot less hassle and abuse. We could end up helping Mr and Mrs Jones’s sex life by giving them the idea of buying some suspenders.’
The Big Tease (Fringe) Grassmarket Project, The Calton Studios, 24 Calton Road, 558 5381, 14—29Aug (not Suns), 7pm (NB not The Vaults as printed in the Fringe
My godlather came in once. He saw me dancing, walked straight out, get in a car, went all the way home to my lather, banged on the door and said, “Your daughter’s gone to the devil". My lather was quite shocked, he didn’t know i was dancing, but he just tumed and said, “Well, what were you doing there?" and my godlather said, “Oh, I just went in tor a packet at tags."
The rest oi the iamily think I'm a disgrace to them. They tell me that I should marry somebody to provide tor me, but that would be just like prostituting myseli. Dancing gives me total independence. l've never been ripped oil. I’m my own agent. Sex isn't involved, not in that way.
The List 1-1 — 20 August 199219