3 Naked Ladies with Essence Alexander: Coming Out

3NL logo3 naked ladies talk about their view from the stages and laps of the 70′s, 80′s, 90′s and today. 

For as a long as there’s been music, women have danced for the entertainment and titillation of men. Scheherazade. Minsky’s Burlesque. Cage dancing go-go girls in the psychedelic 60′s. Times Square strippers, pole dancers and lap dancers. Women dance….Men watch.

This entry was originally written and posted on October 21, 2009 at 9:00 am on the now defunct dirtygirldiaries.com

This week on Three Naked Ladies, Essence Alexander sits in for Rachel Aimee.

For ESSENCE ALEXANDER, the next logical step after receiving dual degrees from a prestigious university, was, of course, dancing in upscale gentlemen’s clubs from New York to Vegas. Since 2001, dancing has enabled her to stave off “starving artistdom”. Her one woman show, Essence Revealed, reveals it all.

Editor’s Update: Essence now goes by the name Essence Revealed, The Bubbling Brown Sugar of Burlesque. She has toured and performed Canada, Europe, China and South Africa and can be seen in the documentary, RED UMBRELLA DIARIES.


Jodi Sh. Doff: Lauri, I loved your piece in Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys about coming out to your mom — but what was it really like?

Lauri Shaw: In Mother-Daughter Day, a stripper tries to win her mother’s love and approval by taking her out for the afternoon. Mom bulldozes over countless boundaries, makes a colossal pest of herself, and finally demands to know point blank what her daughter does for a living. When she gets the answer she never really wanted in the first place, she goes completely ballistic, and any warmth that was left between the two women unravels in full.

The story isn’t quite verbatim, but it’s close. After that day, my mother did her best to pretend the whole thing never happened. When I tried to bring it up, she changed the subject. If I persisted, she said, “I don’t want to hear about it.”

My father was a different story. He didn’t speak to me at all for several years. Which was a neat trick, since my parents are still married and living together. My father’s a complicated man–extremely religious and very controlling. He was also an officer in the military, a reservist, but I spent some time on Navy bases as a child.

I never had a good relationship with either of them. Stripping was probably beside the point. As a child, I got my ass beat for eating non-kosher food. So anything at ALL having to do with sex? Are you fucking kidding me? I was out of that house by the time I was 15.

JshD: Just the opposite, my dad had worked in the burlesque houses and the carnival side shows, so I somehow thought down ‘n dirty was my birthright.

LS: What sort of things did your dad say about strip clubs?

JshD: He’d always glamorized burlesque, Bettie Page, and even the underworld. My mother blamed all my wrong moves on his stories and truthfully, they were a bit of an inspiration. They knew I tended bar in a skimpy leotard, but not about the stripping until after I’d quit. Even so, they hated me working the clubs. They couldn’t separate my drug abuse and the strip clubs. But then, neither could I.

I’d wanted them to see that it wasn’t so bad, that the flames of hell weren’t licking up from the floor, so I forced them to come have a drink at the Mardi Gras where I worked. My mom had been a “good girl,” she’d never even sat at a bar before and here she was, music blasting, creepy men hunched over their drinks and naked women everywhere. I was all la-ti-da about it, but it was pretty traumatic for them. They saw seedy people & scary things. But, in the 80s, that’s exactly what it was: seedy & scary. It confirmed all their fears.

LS: Sounds like it was traumatic for them because they loved you.

JshD: My mom kept a Rolodex card listing my height, eye color, scars & tattoos — so she could claim the body when I was found dead in the streets. Seriously. She also worried about appearance. She didn’t want anyone to say anything bad about me. At 79, she still worries about that with my writing, god bless ‘er.

Essence Alexander: Writing was the catalyst for me telling my mother that I stripped. I had been writing my show about stripping. My mother knew I was working on a play, but I was cryptic about the particulars whenever she’d ask about it. When I was finally ready to workshop the piece, I told her the dates, not thinking anything of it. Then she told me she planned to come to the reading. YIKES! I knew I had to tell her now, but how?! My mother is the queen of good appearances from the conservative British West Indies. As a child, she went to church six days a week. This is a woman who didn’t allow me to have boyfriends until I was in college and she had no way of stopping me anymore. I gave the script to my “cool” aunty, her sister, to read first. “Uh, this is kinda my true story and I’m going to tell Mum.” Her first reaction was a concerned, “Does she have to know?”

JshD: I’ve totally used my writing as a way to let my mom know things. After spoiler alerts and disclaimers, she reads. Then if she’s up to knowing more, we talk.

EA: Yes, I wanted her to hear it from me and have time to digest the info before seeing the adventures of her first born in America as a stripper on stage. My aunt called me the next morning and said, “It’s your life to live and she’ll be OK or not. I love the script by the way!”

So I called my mother and said, “Soooo, while I was writing my show, I worked as a stripper off and on. But I don’t do it now.” My mother replied, “Well, why aren’t you still dancing now? Your legs broke?!”

LS: Ha! Your mom’s got serious character.

JshD: Amazing. Obviously, you expected worst…

EA: I wonder if my aunty padded my fall. I told my sister and she burst into tears because she had the movie Player’s Club as her only frame of reference. She came to work with me one night: watched, ordered Chinese food, got bored and went home. I’ve never told my father and I’m not sure my mother did either. I think parents can be OK with other people doing something but NOT their child. I would have taken it to the grave and not told my mother were it not for the show.

3 Naked Ladies with Candida Royalle: plan B


3NL logo3 naked ladies talk about their view from the stages and laps of the 70′s, 80′s, 90′s and today.

For as a long as there’s been music, women have danced for the entertainment and titillation of men. Scheherazade. Minsky’s Burlesque. Cage dancing go-go girls in the psychedelic 60′s. Times Square strippers, pole dancers and lap dancers. Women dance….Men watch.

This entry was originally written and posted on December 9, 2009 at 9:00 am on dirtygirldiaries.com



candida royalleCANDIDA ROYALLE
 changed the porn industry when she founded Femme Productions. But you have to wonder, the first time she got Naked for Money, was that her plan? The Naked Ladies talk about having a plan–or not.

Editor’s Update: Candida Royalle, born Candice Vadala, had been raising funding for the documentary WHILE YOU WERE GONE-The untold story of Candida Royalle. Abandoned by her mother as an infant, and raised in unusual circumstances, she’d become ready to tell her story through the search for a mother she never knew. Candida succumbed to ovarian cancer and passed away surrounded by close friends on September 7, 2015.


Candida Royalle: I’d been rather ‘focused’ until just after my first year of college. I was attending one of the best art colleges in the country, majoring in fashion illustration, but when the whole political – hippie – feminist movements came flooding in to our generational culture, the fashion world began to lose its appeal. Plus, I discovered recreational drugs and you know…kinda’ sets you on a new way of thinking and questioning everything you believed in.

Jodi Sh. Doff: I wasn’t questioning anything, I had no plan. I started working in the topless bars at 17 because I needed a job. I’d been hanging around hustler’s bars and thought I was a tough little chick, but I was just a kid who liked to drink. Topless bars didn’t require experience or skills beyond working in skimpy outfits. I’d been having a recurring dream, every night, where I died at 23. I believed it, so nothing really mattered…

Lauri Shaw: What plan? I was 19 when I started stripping, estranged from my family, and had been living on my own for several years already. I was just trying to live day to day and keep a roof over my head.

JshD: I’d grown up on Shindig, Hullaballo and then Laugh-In. That’s where I got my ideas about life as a go-go dancer–that was the term in the 70s. I thought I’d be a cross between the hip, swinging stewardesses of “Coffee, Tea or Me” and Xaviera Hollander’s Happy Hooker. Eventually, I figured on becoming a mobster’s girlfriend or a high-class call girl making oodles of money, being wined and dined by handsome powerful men. There was wine, men, and money, but not like I’d imagined. I wasn’t tough enough to be a Show World silver dollar girl, pretty enough to make big money at or sober enough to hang on to any of it.

LS: I expected I’d go back to college at some point, but I didn’t know what I wanted to be “when I grew up” and didn’t feel compelled towards any particular course of study. I just figured I would try to get as much cash as I could into the bank before I quit dancing. That went out the window as well once I developed a fondness for the “Devil’s Dandruff.” The whole time I was dancing, I couldn’t see more than 24-hours into the future. Half the time I wasn’t even working at the same club from one night to the next. I didn’t know what my average earnings were. I didn’t know how far I’d have to drive to get at those earnings. The most forward thinking I ever did was to maybe bag a sandwich for my next shift! I lived my entire life by the seat of my pants. I’d burn through relationships, fuck buddies… I devoured whatever was in front of me.

JshD: I thought I’d be dead by 23, so there was no point planning for 30 or 40. Same as you, I lived day-to-day. Stripping was a way for me to drink and drug as much as I wanted and just be wild. To paraphrase Gretchen Wilson “I was there for the party And I wasn’t leavin’ ’til they throw’d me out.”

LS: I feel that if I had been in my mid-twenties or older, I’d have been much more focused on the future…

CR: Well, I can shoot down your theory about age and focus, Lauri, at least in my case. I didn’t get in to the sex biz until I was nearly 25. I’d been training in dance for many years and got close to the professional ranks, summer stock and all that, but had to choose between that and art college. Well, long story short, I lost interest in all the things I’d been ‘focused’ on and took off for San Francisco where I got even more in to drugs…

JshD: What would life had been like for any of us, I wonder, if drugs and alcohol had never entered the picture….

CR: …and began living and performing with some really freaky people, some of the original Cockettes and Angels of Light. Did a play with Divine, even began singing in jazz clubs. At that time materialism was looked down on, but I needed to pay rent, so at 24 I answered an ad for nude modeling. The agent asked me if I was interested in being in a porn film. I’d never even seen one and stormed out.

JshD: I had girlfriends that did print and film but I remembered a high school teacher who’d been a Playboy centerfold. Every year someone would dredge up that old centerfold and tape it to her door and she’d be in tears. I was afraid of that kind of permanent image following me if I ever wanted to go “straight.” I guess I still bought into the white collar Prince Charming at the end of the rainbow.

CR: My boyfriend thought porn was a great idea and ended up as the lead in a big adult feature. I got to see that it wasn’t the sleazy scene I’d thought, at least not at that level, and sex was so out in the open in those days. That’s how I got in to the sex biz. In hindsight, I too wished I had remained more focused on other things I really loved to do, like dance and sing. I could’ve made a career of it. But, as Jodi pointed out, once you’re on film it’s forever, and you close many doors once you show up in an adult movie.  In the end, my foray in to porn and burlesque gave me the idea for female-centric erotic cinema, so while it began with a ‘devil may care’ attitude, I ended up achieving exactly what I wanted: a career that enables me to express myself artistically and politically, and one that financially provides me with the means to take care of myself. In fact, I’ve probably created far more of a legacy for myself than I might have trying to compete with all the Madonna’s of the world.


1 Naked Guest : Antonia Crane

Antonia Crane is one of Naked Ladies. You can read her bio here. She has her own blog, where she writes about her life as a stripper, sex worker, HIV Counselor, writer, daughter and sister. This piece was originally posted in Antonia’s blog on 1/1, it’s reprinted here, in toto, with her permission. It bears repeat reading if you saw it there already. And it’s here, just in case you missed it.

This entry was originally posted on February 3, 2010 on dirtygirldiaries.com and filed under three naked ladies.

Almost Girl: A Classy Holiday
by Antonia Crane

Some girls shove cupcakes in their mouths and those hot dogs wrapped in obscene bacon on Sunset Boulevard when there are holes punched through their hearts. I wander into hotels and casinos and offer my body to strangers for money. Not my whole body, just a little bit of it.

Maybe because I’m the girl in second place. I’m the Almost Girl. I’ve been runner up my whole life and am troubled by this. I crave attention and something sick happens to me when I don’t get it.Everything’s complicated when you’re this raw and yucky. Even casual encounters hurl me into Walgreens for Rolaids. I’d sooner douse myself with gasoline then be rejected by a man. I’ve got to win. Even when I don’t.

Growing up, I was nominated for things but never won.  Like “best looking,” “homecoming queen,”and I was a contestant in a reality TV show to win $25K which I promised my mom half the winnings for her chemo and radiation bills. It was down to the final two. Me and one guy. In those last sweaty moments before the panel, the producer whispered to me, “You’re about to win a lot of money right now.”

I sat in the metal chair, waiting.  I was high on adrenaline like it was happening to someone else. But, I lost to the surfer kid who lived with his fisherman Dad.

Mom died after that and there went the beach property in Humboldt that I was supposed to inherit.

Recently, I’ve leapt from the topless clubs on Hollywood Boulevard to Craigslist. I offer the promise of a happy ending to an otherwise dismal life for men who travel alone during the holidays. After all, the holidays mean things to people. There’s obligation, anxiety and volcanic loneliness.

People need to be touched and that’s a fact.  Touch is the first and final language and it’s the one thing computers haven’t  figured out how to replace. Casual, profound touch book ended by cash. No fights or let downs. No disappointed wives or nagging kids.

Sometimes, I show up alone. Sometimes with my friend, Elle for one excellent hour of manufactured intimacy. Their loneliness bleeds into mine just long enough to give me a hit of the attention I crave, like a baby after the nipple. Together with Elle, we provide distraction, entertainment and a hand job in the sessions. I’ve not had to go hog wild with my pepper spray yet.

Christmas night we had a client at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, where Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton smear fois gras on rice crackers and get shit-faced. A tall white guy with silver hair answered the door at the end of a long skinny hallway. There’s construction paper on the floor. They’re remodeling.

“You are amazing. Such beautiful souls,” he was tower of flesh, covered in tiny scabs.  What’s wrong with him? I thought, coveting the fruit bowl piled high with ripe figs and greasy pears. My mouth watered. I didn’t eat dinner.

“There’ sooo much love. So much love,” he said. His eyes watery.  According to Elle, he’s a powerful attorney. Oh brother, I thought.  A new age attorney.

There was something wrong with his skin. It hung on him like sick flabby meat before it’s tossed down the garbage disposal. It made me sad and grateful to be alive and not have cancer or some skin disease.

I held him tightly in a three-way hug for as long as possible. This seemed to be what he was after, at least, for a few quiet moments. I got sad and the bright room went dark.

We got undressed. I like to keep my shoes and fishnets on for as long as possible.

Elle likes to be naked. He wrapped us up in his pale freckled arms. He had grizzly hair on his neck, chest and in his ears. He laid on his back. A beached whale sunk in soft sand with his belly out, big as a watermelon.

“Are you married?” Elle cut to the chase. She has methods with married men. She likes to help teach them to bring their wives to a better orgasm. It’s stuff she learned in that crazy sex cult she was in for years in Nor Cal.

“She passed away two years ago.” He didn’t look sad. He closed his eyes on the soft pillows that have that posh memory foam stuff. “You’re so amazing,” he said again. His voiced reminded me of soft crying.

“Do you mind if I dim the lights?” I asked. Lighting is everything and I’m prone to migraines so bright lights make me cringe. I love dimmers. I’m a stripper. I make a big show out of taking off my clothes and tease it out some. The lighting has to be right. We draped and dripped our limbs over him on the bed.

That’s when I saw his feet: His big toes were rotting off at the edges, the skin chewed up. His toes were eating themselves and turning black. He had no arches at all. The blackened skin spread up his calves in violent, splotchy little bruises like tiny prunes up his legs. The surfaces of his stomach was freckled and paper thin. I wondered if he hurt. Jesus, I thought. This guy’s got Diabetes or leprosy.

Elle’s great at keeping the fantasy going. She talks dirty.“I feel like you’re inside me,” she said in his face. Her hands were behind her back. She pointed to his junk. This was her signal to me to look at him more closely. “What’s your fantasy?” she asked our man. He ate this up:

“I’m a kid in class and my teacher calls me into her office. She wants me to take my clothes off for her. She draws me and photographs me. Then she demands I play with myself. I hear girls giggling.” Elle giggles. It’s creepy but not as creepy as his cock, which upon close inspection I find the reason why we haven’t touched it yet with our coconut oil. His cock had little warts on it, tiny little red pustules. Angry red strawberry skin at the shaft. Elle’s still giggling like a horror film.

“Will you suck it?” he asked me. His eyes open slits now and his mouth open. He looks like a chubby salamander in a trance.

“Well, sure, but you have some reddish spots and it looks like even warts which can lead to HPV,” I said, crash landing the buzz-kill. I play it safe. I’m an HIV counselor.

“No,” he said. “The doctor said it’s just age. Promise. And. I have a blood disease.” He stroked his cock.

“It’s sensitive at the shaft,” he said. I’m thinking this guy thinks we are stupid bimbos. I’m thinking about the money.

“A promise isn’t enough,” Elle said, her face close to our man who was losing his smile. I’m glad she has a way of being submissive and tough. She has the body of a twelve year old but she’s direct and mature.

“Do you have a condom?” Elle makes herself more available than I do. I’m there for the money. I watch the clock. She’s into energy work and the shaman thing. She says I work too hard and I don’t think she’s wrong but I just can’t shirk my blue-collar roots. This is a service job to me.

“There’s more money in it for both of you,” he said. I jumped up at this and jogged to the bathroom,which was like a mini-spa resort. Huge shower and billion thread-count towels. Two virgin white robes hang from the door, which I consider stealing.  Several glass bottles of Evian. Guest soaps that cost more than my car.

I found two types of condoms, one with lube and one without. I think, for oral, the best tasting one will be without lube. They don’t slip and slide when I put them on. I reached into the fancy basket.

Four hundred bucks, I thought. Merry Christmas, darling.