A Striptease Lesson (and another reason to see Magic Mike)3comments
As a woman, I often find myself on an exercise date with a girlfriend. We may go hiking, to a yoga class, a pilates class, go running together, you name it. And with a plethora of new classes and Groupon/Living Social deals, the opportunities are endless. Men may play softball together, but women love a great Groupon deal mixed with coffee afterwards. It was in one of these situations that I was invited to go to a striptease/pole dancing class with a few girlfriends. This sounded silly and fun, so I was totally onboard when the four of us headed to S Factor for an introductory class. I thought it sounded kitschy and fun, but I learned they take things pretty seriously at S Factor. S Factor claims to be “where sexy lives.” Good to know it has an abode.
Walking into a large, dimly lit room with an abundance of stripper poles seems like something my mother probably warned me about. There seemed to be a lot of newbies and a general awkwardness about what we were about to do. For the warm-up, we were asked to walk around the room, but not just a normal walk. As we all started to move around the room, the instructor (the typical LA instructor – beautiful, perfect body, skimpy outfit; as Carrie Fischer would say, your basic nightmare) told us to walk slowly and sensually, dragging our feet with each step. Think of dragging your foot as if it had gone limp, with the top of your toes dragged behind you on the floor with each exaggerated, slow, sexy-walk step. This made me feel like a wounded animal, but then again isn’t that what real strippers are? Too much? Kind of?
Next, the instructor insisted we take out our ponytails or anything holding our hair back. I hate exercising with my hair down, but she explained that we needed to feel the sexiness of our hair, to move it around, shake our head back and forth, run our hands through your hair, etc. Think of trying to be sexy with your hair right now. If you don’t already feel a tad foolish, imagine doing this in a room of 30 women all releasing their inner sex goddess. It was this point I was reminded of the S Factor goal, “”The ultimate revelation of S for any woman, is the awakening and cultivation of her own soulfully sexy Erotic Creature. When integrated into a woman’s daily life, this Erotic Creature propels a woman forward like rocket fuel, towards whatever desire she wants to attain.”
I can’t say my sexy hair movements were propelling me forward like rocket fuel, but then again, I’m not well acquainted with rocket fuel propulsion feelings. Now, all of this would have probably been fine if it weren’t for making eye contact with three of my girlfriends.
What each woman does in the bedroom or how she brings the sexy is her own business. But displaying it for friends made me feel ridiculous. I couldn’t make eye contact with Megan without giggling like a 4th grader. And giggling was really frowned upon during our rocket fuel, slow foot-dragging, erotic creature discovery. I understand that the whole point of the class is to feel comfortable being openly sexy, and that it’s not easy for a lot of women. I get that, and think that it’s a positive message. But who acts overtly sexy in front of their good girlfriends? Women aren’t sexy for other women – sorry to burst men’s Bound-memory bubbles – but trying to be sexy feels like the opposite of being sexy. After the initial ten minutes of glass, there was an unstated understanding that we wouldn’t look or even glance at each other for the rest of the slow motion movements.
After our initial sexy-walk, hair-tossing warm up, we did get some pole and movement lessons. This is what I learned. Pole work is fucking hard. That pole is not lubed up, and it catches on your skin. Kudos to strippers for their aerial skills because my crotch and legs would look like I’d been beaten with a small pipe if I continued with that class. I’m told you get used to it, and you get better at it. There is a lot of hooking your ankle around the pole, holding on with one hand, and throwing yourself around it. You definitely feel a certain sense of accomplishment getting yourself gracefully around that pole. Because there is a big ungraceful, learning curve. As any woman who has ever tried to look sexy on a stripper pole (say, on a party bus) knows, it’s not easy.
However, there was one crucial lesson I learned about how about how to look sexy. SLOW DOWN. Do anything like you are in slow motion, and you can make it sexy. According to S Factor, you could make pouring coffee sexy if you do it slowly, with your mouth open, staring intently while running your hand through your hair, down your throat, casually touching your breast before you finished pouring coffee. Then stir that milk like you really mean it. Voila! Sexy coffee moments from S Factor.
So, why all of these dancing/stripper class memories? Well, all of this Magic Mike hoopla reminded me of my stripper introductory class. Although it does annoy me that when women strip, they require metal poles, aerial skills and ridiculous flexibility, whereas men just have to dance and take off their clothes. Once again, women do twice as much men and probably suffer at least one head injury from a pole move gone wrong. But Magic Mike? Yes, I’m going to see it. And while it’s nice that it’s actually getting good reviews, I don’t really care. I’m going as part of a fun girls’ night (we haven’t rallied like this since The Hunger Games). But more importantly, I’m glad men are stripping on film. Not because I want to perv (well, maybe just a little bit). It’s because getting naked on screen has become de rigueur for actresses to get naked on screen. In fact, playing the part of a stripper with a heart of gold will probably nab an actress an Academy Award nomination. We’ve watched countless A-list actresses (Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Demi Moore, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Salma Hayek) not to mention way too many B and C level actresses walk out on that stage, and strip. They sucked it up (and in, I’m sure) to get naked, display their sexiest moves, tousle their hair, probably learn some intense pole work and all this in a room full of a male-dominated film crew to be judged, ogled and judged again. And no matter how amazing these women’s bodies are, it’s not easy to muster your inner sexy for a room full of people.
So if Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, and more have to do it? Fine by me. But just for total gratuitous reasons, here’s the Magic Mikered band trailer one more time. You’re welcome.