Friday, March 30, 2012
True Stripper Stories Wanted
The story of Texas journalist Sarah Tressler began when rival newspaper Houston Press’s writer Richard Connelly detailed Tressler’s two seemingly disparate careers—writing for the Houston Chronicle’s society pages about ladies who lunch and writing as the “Angry Stripper” about ladies who strip.
Tresslar allegedly “flaunted” her stripper money around the newsroom angering other journalists for risking the newspaper’s reputation if the truth came out.
Perhaps someone spilled her secret to end Tresslar’s display of wealth; unfortunately, the story breaking may have had an opposite effect than intended. Now Tresslar’s popularity has spread and you can be sure she’ll be penning the story she’s clearly wanted to write—but what is her story?
It seems the news has already written her story for her—Struggling journalist who was fired for stripping. But we should hesitate before we tie her life into a neat package for her.
I’ve lived my entire adult life having my story told for me, until I decided to write the real story.
I was a stripper for half-a-dozen years—from some run-down go-go bars in Connecticut to New York City’s top gentlemen’s clubs like Scores. And yes, I’m a writer, too. And after I quit stripping, I went on to graduate as my college’s valedictorian.
Just because a woman chooses at some point in her life to strip does not mean that is all she is. And while I agree the world doesn’t need just another “stripper story” as I had countless agents tell me, there’s often much more to the story that a stripper has to tell.
Part of the misconception about strippers who write is that often we are presented in just that one way; we become compartmentalized and shown to be only able to write about the stripping world and nothing else. Perhaps this is part of the surprise about Tresslar also writing about high society—she’s a stripper! How could she write about other issues not related to g-strings and lap dances?
Imagine people’s surprise when they discover I was a stripper and I had a 4.0 GPA! That’s some major cognitive dissonance going on there.
And while my memoir Stripping Down deals with memories of what made me the woman I am and the woman I had been through reflections on my past as a stripper, there was a larger intent in the writing. I revisited my topless past to discover and make sense of my relationship to my body and to challenge the meanings and definitions I created for myself.
I stripped down to what really mattered—health, time, and family. I wrote as I took on the new roles of mother, caregiver and wife. While helping my baby daughter take her first steps, I nursed my mother through the final stages of breast cancer, which triggered an exploration of female identity and body image.
I propose that every thinking stripper out there get to writing and start representing the stories that lie beneath the surface of strip bars and stilettos. And not just strippers. Any woman who has ever felt her story was already written for her should explore the truth of what it is to be a woman and the different roles we play.
Let’s share our stories with the world. Show that we are not all alike and cannot be so easily categorized and blamed.