First Of Million-Plus Alt-Weekly Stripper Stories
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July 5, 1962, Vol. VII, No. 37
Interview with a Stripper
By John Wilcock
While working on a magazine piece recently I encountered Libby Jones, a statuesque blonde with a college degree (B.A. in English lit., University of Washington) who makes a living as a highly paid stripper. There were many questions I wanted to ask Libby, so I persuaded her to sit for an interview, which I taped. Some of the questions and answers follow:
Do you admit to being a stripper or do you normally keep this fact to yourself until somebody brings it up?
No I admit it completely. As a matter of fact I even resent some of the titles such as ecdysiasm and exotic dancing and all this sort of paraphernalia, because basically it's that simple. I don't go out of my way to tell people, but I make no attempt to hide it.
What question do you get asked the most frequently by strangers -- people at parties, for example -- who find out?
The first stock question is how did I get into the business, which to my mind is completely incidental. One girl gets in for one reason, one for another. Sometimes it's a monetary situation -- the girl was perhaps making $35 a week at the ribbon counter in Woolworth's, and this is a tremendous change for her. She can start at perhaps a hundred and a quarter a week, and this is a phenomenal income.
Is the stripper herself aroused by her act?
I would say that if she were -- and this is something that the audiences hate to hear because they want me to say that I'm feeling all kinds of sexual traumas -- a girl is not going to be a good performer. Primarily you must think of the coordination of your routine, you must listen to your music, you have to attempt to convey or find rapport with your audience, you must be terribly, terribly concerned about what the audience is doing and thinking ... Any performer must. But my little fans are so unhappy when I tell them this that I've gotten to the point of telling them what they want to hear.
How much can a top stripper make? Do you have any objections to talking about it?
No, I don't mind. There are 7000 strippers in this country with maybe only 10 making big money. Lili St. Cyr's tops, at anywhere from $3500 to $5000. Tempest Storm averages about $2000. I'm third, with anywhere from $1500 up to $2000, but only occasionally. Now I'm trying to maneuver a way into the supper clubs that have never used a stripper before. But of course there I'll have to do a different type of act; I'll have to do material, something to bridge that gap. I want very much to do satire, social satire, but it's going to take awfully clever writing.
Did you see "A Cold Wind in August"?
No, I didn't.
Well, it was about a young kid who became infatuated with a stripper, later discovered her profession, and had a stormy scene in which his heart was broken. He called her a whore and left her.
Oh there is certainly a parallel in many people's minds -- a stripper/prostitute being one and the same. Now granted there are a lot of flaws with the people in my profession, as assuredly there are in other people, but the rate of prostitution is extremely low...
You never had to leap out of a birthday cake?
No, I don't know how I'd fit.
I take it you don't find anything unhealthy in the girlie magazines with the nude pictures?
As a matter of fact, with the matriarchy we have in this country and the tremendous amount of homosexuality that our mothers are making, it seems to me that if we were to allow the little boys to look at the girlie magazines it might be far healthier. Sadism has replaced sex in this country. They don't mind telling a 6-year-old boy 10 different ways to kill a man. This is fine. They'll even buy him a toy gun so that he can play and experiment. But to have him look at a girl's legs when he's 16 years old -- this is horrible. Which is idiocy...
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956. John Wilcock is still going strong at ojaiorange.com]