Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The History of the Striptease....

The word striptease has immensely evolved since its original conception. As I'm certain you could guess. The whole purpose behind the "original" striptease was to evoke a physical response (one that also led to the hand going into the pocket. And no, not for THAT but to fetch money). Evoking a physical response from men doesn't really take much. A bit of ankle. A bit of an arm. Ah, yes. Days gone by. Then the men expected more. Much, much more. And women, in the name of money were more than happy to oblige. Of course this means that the form of the striptease not only evolved, but the men themselves (for better or worse? Hm....). Maybe I should commence this little topic from the beginning, yes? 

Above all else, the art of stripping had been originally created for entertainment purposes. What better venue of entertainment for a man than a woman and her body? Yet the idea which had originally created the striptease was not meant to be a form of legal prostitution, but to allow the men in the audience an erotic, entertaining and artistic fantasy which afterward would allow the men to return home to their wives and children with their penis in tact (or shall I say morals in tact?). So when exactly did it all begin?

There seems to be no definitive answer to this, but the word itself did not begin to see use until the 1920's. Though it did existed earlier,but was simply known as something else. Most history points toward the theatrical venue known as the burlesque. Which means the term striptease and burlesque became fused together during the 1920's. And though we think of can-can girls and so on when it comes to the history of burlesque, you'll be surprised to find that the origination of the striptease itself is rather an American product coming from popular theatre in the 1860's. So while jolly old England became all the more staunch under the rule of Queen Victoria, America was embracing the wild west from coast to coast, saloons and all.

 Of course, with a bit of reserve for all those Puritans as we American folks never jump head first into anything without dipping our toes into the water several times. To see if the temperature really is what we think it is. For Americans still wanted to keep the idea of a woman contained. After all, if an ankle could cause a man to hand over his horse and carriage, the thigh could only cause him to hand over the house and children. Heaven forbid! So all sorts of tricks were devised to draw men into watching these "burlesque" shows under the guise of "entertainment." Things such as full body stockings known as "fleshlings" started making appearances. Simply think of over sized pantyhose pulled over the length of a corseted body that came in shocking colors of flesh or white. All giving the illusion that the man was watching nude women prance about the stage when in fact they were very well clothed. Of course giving men a bit too much entertainment always has given the government cause to get involved.

When women grew even more creative on stage (with the help of the male bosses offstage, of course) senate bills were promptly being proposed in the 1890's in an effort to hold back the inevitable. They tried to fine such performing women $5 to $100 for their involvement in burlesque. The crime? Horrid lewdness, of course. Never we mind fining all the blasted men that attended these venues...it was all Eve's fault to begin with, remember? As times changed, allowing more freedom on stage, so did the acts going into the 1920's. Fleshlings were tossed aside and fans and bubbles and birds were introduced as a substitute. Which of course is where we begin the striptease that we know of today. A woman steps out on stage covered in balloons and playfully pops one at a time as men yell out for her to keep right on popping. When the last balloon is done away with, that is when the men realize the fantasy is over and she is actually wearing tassels and a pair of underwear. I have to admit, however, that the bird act rather fascinates me. I love birds. I truly do. But to have them draped upon a body during an act could only lead to shitty results. Quite literally. Yet for some reason the men loved it and continued to love it up into the 1950's. The question is, how was it possible to train the birds to behave so that they fly off one by one? That is indeed an act to behold. I wonder, however, if there ever was a show in which all of the birds simply up and took off disappointing the whole audience with one go. In the end, however, I found that there really was no bounds when it came to the striptease once we found ourselves past the 1920's.

Underwear and tassels were about all that was left by the time the striptease was in full swing. And this may surprise you to no end, as it did me, but the striptease as we know it, disappeared in the 1950's. Pornography and strip joints took over, leaving nothing else to the imagination of a man and creating a whole new generation. So saying all that I have, I happily turn this over to you. I'm looking for a total of 10 responses before I give my own. Do you know the difference between a strip joint and a striptease? A hint, it has nothing to do with the amount of clothing...


Gerri said...

Interesting blog, Delilah. I would guess that a strip-tease is the act of teasing the audience while you strip. A strip-joint would be a place where you go to see someone strip off their clothes.

Jesssie said...

I don't know the difference but I look forward to hearing it from you. Thanks for the education!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Delilah - this was fascinating! My visual picture of dancing with birds isn't pretty though! ha ha

To answer your question...gosh I hope this is right considering I work next to the "Lusty Lady" in Seattle, although (clears throat) I've never popped in there. I'm under the impression a strip joint is the venue/bar/club with dancers, and strip tease is the dance itself?


Anonymous said...

The tease would be the act, the joint would be the venue, right? Not sure. Can't wait to hear more. Wished you blogged more than twice a month, too!

Eliza Knight said...

Fascinating blog Delilah!!!

I would say the difference is...a striptease is meant to be sensual, a tease, like foreplay, building up to big bang. A woman at home (or a man) can give their lover a striptease, and it is an erotic thing.

A strip joint is generally where women come out strip naked, straddle poles, shake their booties and other things in mens faces, beg for dollars, do other lewd things.

I guess for me the difference is class. A striptease seems more sensual and classy than a strip joint, where I think of 'pimps and hoes.'

BTW, your new Lord of the Month is absolutely delicious! Where did you find him? He seems straight out of every woman's fantasy, or at least most of the women I know :) I need to go wipe the drool off my face.

Shannon Robinson said...

Great post Delilah! Made me laugh and was intriguing. Its very interesting to learn about what happened "back in the day" with this type of activity. Thanks for sharing!
I have to agree with the other ladies who posted - strip tease seems more like the act of stripping, while strip joint sounds like the place.

Anonymous said...

Hi Delilah,

Great post. Sure an interesting subject. I agree with the other posts--the "tease" is all about the dance and the "joint" is about the place. I wonder when Gypsy Rose had her day--was she a product of the 1920s? She's about the only "famous" striptease artist I've ever heard of.

Kathryn Albright

Delilah Marvelle said...

Thank you to everyone who posted!! All of your answers are close but not close enough. Eliza, the Lord of the Month was brought to you by the Dark Lords. Veronica Towers. He is but one of the models for their wonderful books. I intend to invite more of these Lords, I assure you!
Now I know there isn't a total of 10 responses as of yet, but like a child on Christmas day, there is simply no way I am going to sit here and not open this present. So. The difference between a stripjoint and a striptease is this. A striptease is theatrical and laced with personality, not necessarily involving nudity. Though it may. It is an artistic venue also known as the burlesque. A stripclub on the other hand may or may not have characteristics of a striptease, but in the end, the point is not to entertain the men but to sex the men. Lap dances, grinding, a pole between one's legs, all emulate "the act." While the striptease glorifies the body by making it an act in and of itself. Now Kathryn, Gypsy Rose was in fact classic burlesque. Bravo for knowing that! Her mother pushed her into the burlesque venue when Rose's younger sister who was the main hopeful act for the family took off to get married at the age of thirteen. And seeing the great depression was looming on the horizon, money was even more important to the fatherless family. So Gypsy Rose (her real name Lee) had her sister to thank for her career that started at the age of 15. Had her sister not gotten married, Gypsy Rose may very well have faded into the background. Instead, she soared into stardom and huge venues because she was witty, funny, and above all dripped entertainment from her head to her toes.

Eliza Knight said...

Fabulous Delilah! Thanks for sharing! You know after I read your blog the 1st time, I asked some of my girlfriends what they thought and a few of them said exactly what you said here. Can't wait till May 1st!