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 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.