Go ahead. Laugh. Prove yourself one of the mindless majority that clings to dated notions of strippers (hereupon known as "exotic dancers") as uneducated sluts and drug bimbos. Then brace yourself for the naked truth: In the gospel according to Jewels, exotic dancing isn't cheap and it isn't dirty; it's just entertainment and even art--art practiced by an increasing number of goal-oriented single parents, college students and other assorted dreamers of brighter futures.
What, then, to make of Jewels' Exotic Dancing Guidebook, this magnum opus, this almanac of the bare-all recently accepted for publication and destined to join the ranks of character-instilling tomes on acting, writing and life itself?
"I'm really hoping I'll make a mark with this book," Jewels says.
Her testament covers the same ground she has uncovered in her work as an image consultant for fellow dancers--business technique, sales strategies, customer relations, what to cart around in one's tote bag. There are chapters on stage makeup, club contracts, people who go to adult establishments, time management, dance positions, how to avoid burnout and the weighty "Understanding How Liquor Regulations Affect Adult Nightclubs and Exotic Employees."
"Research," she writes without elaborating, "shows you have only seven seconds to make your first impression!"
So, a little bit about Jewels: According to her resum, her first impressions are 36/24/36, or at least they were before recent enhancement surgery. Born in Reno, Nevada, she has doffed costumes in Las Vegas, Southern California, Phoenix and Tucson, where she attended Catalina High School. She is coy about her age, but suffice it to say she does not remember John F. Kennedy's assassination. She lives in Tucson with her 10-year-old, high-achieving daughter Gabriella, with whom she participates in many community functions.
"We've done so much volunteer work and been involved in so many good things," she says. "And basically, it's all been funded through table dances."
That same goodwill was behind her decision to pen this book, the terms of which she is still hammering out with Noble House of Baltimore ("A division of American Literary Press, Inc."). Jewels means to educate her undulating sisters who otherwise would be left alone in this competitive business, as she was, to blindly learn the ropes, or other props of their choosing. (In Chapter 3, she lists such options as honey, chocolate syrup, fluorescent body paint, jungle scenery, fire shows and water-filled kiddy pools.)
But also she wants to share with you, the American public, what she has learned, to break down long-held taboos about the craft, to question societal repression of sexuality. She went to a writers convention, she says, and her manuscript was never put down--it got passed around and around, like a joint. It is for men who want to understand the exotic dancer's point of view (and to find out whether it's illustrated); it is for women who want to try it at home.
"Actually," Jewels says, "it's a book for everybody to read."
Jewels teaches that the exotic face is bold, self-assured and richly groomed. She recommends the use of a Loofah sponge as a body-washing treat. In her dancer's guidelines, she admonishes: "In case of an error in the music, do not, for any reason, stop dancing onstage to make a comment or complaint to the DJ."
And in Chapter 10, "Methods to Use on the Job for Success," she advises: "Sit with customers. When you sit with customers for more than a song or two, however, they do not need to buy a dance from you. So while you are sitting there free, you are wasting your marketing time on the floor. This is not income-producing, which is the very essence for your being there."
From the lexicon:
For me, erotic dancing is the scent of an oil fragrance, it is shamelessly enjoying running my fingers through my soft, satin-textured hair. It is a shade of lipstick gliding smoothly across my lips, the look of a picked wildflower wilting in my hand, the feel of water trickling about my feet as I stand in a river bed ...
Our attitude empowers us to guide audiences toward wanton behavior. Exotic dancers sway, bend, tilt and kneel in front of a viewer, seductively and rhythmically moving to the beat of a song with the same unhurried but determined manner while unfastening the tightly hooked silk bra and gently releasing the fabric away from the breast, while knees, ankles, bellies, backs and butts remain bare. The viewer ... believes there is no greater beauty than the exhibition with a certain state of nakedness ...