Friday, December 27, 2013

Can Stripping Be Empowering?

A video segment I appeared in for Huffington Post has been posted on AOL Jobs, Can Strip Clubs Be Places Of Empowerment?

Watching it just made me realize how ANY place can be a place of empowerment, but sometimes only after the fact.

I didn't feel too empowered when men were belittling me back then, but I do feel empowered that I survived and managed to not be too bitter.

It's all in what we make of what happens in our lives...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ed Miliband On Page 3 and Topless Women

Ed Miliband  - The Huffington Post
Things are a changing, world.

The No More Page 3 Campaign in England is really showing how to create change. 

Start the conversation and it will spread.
There is no place in the modern world for pictures of topless women in newspapers like The Sun, Ed Miliband sensationally said today. 
But the Labour leader said he will not ban Page 3 pin-ups if he becomes prime minister after the 2015 general election.
This article on the Huffington Post UK uses a quote by me...
Blogging exclusively for The Huffington Post UK, a former topless model also advocated highlighting women's talents and abilities in the Sun, rather than just their flesh. 
"When I was 18, I used nude modeling as a way to earn money to support my acting career," wrote author and mum of three Sheila Hageman. 
"Was I thrilled and empowered by my job? Some days and jobs, yes, but the majority of my time was spent consumed by inner conflict about my choice. 
"Just because an attractive woman decides to pose topless does not mean she's happy about it," she wrote.
I've been rethinking my past a lot lately. I am trying to come to new acceptance for myself and looking for ways to embrace my sexuality, which I feel sometimes I cut off when I left the adult entertainment business.

There is most definitely a place for sexy, but it is not in a daily newspaper.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Get Naked in Seattle

Yanhong Ma’s “Venice Hotel,” 2012.

I wish I was in Seattle to see this exhibit called "Get Naked," as reviewed in the Seattle Times.
“Get Naked,” at Bryan Ohno Gallery in Seattle, comprises works by eight women who depict their own and others’ bodies in ways that are honest, graphic and elusive, writes reviewer Gayle Clemans.
I go back and forth in my mind about how and what I feel the need to express about the way women's bodies are represented.

I feel like there's something inside of myself. Something to be expressed.

I'm glad there are other women out there actually doing it--exploring female imagery in relation to sexuality and power.

I'm getting a creative itch that I don't yet know how to scratch.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stripper is so hot, she sets off fire alarm!

Photo of Go Go Amy via
Stripping can be a dangerous act, as the people at the Dundee Tattoo Convention would have you know. A burlesque dancer by the name of Go Go Amy set off the smoke alarm when she blew her flaming tassels out.

Ah, yes.

I remember the days when my flaming tassels would set off the smoke alarm.

OK, well, maybe not, but I do remember when I danced at The Blue Angel (aka Fallen Angel) that one particular performer used to set the red curtain behind the stage on fire at least once a week. This would happen in a tiny basement club with just one door out the front. If you were in the dressing room when the place was about to burst into flames, you were out of luck.

The joys of my former life.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Sexual Objectification in American Apparel Must Be the Biggest Joke Played On Us EVER!

American Apparel Unisex Flannels...Hey, it's a flannel...button up!
American Apparel likes to push the envelope in their advertising.

And by "push the envelope" I mean they like to see just how much they can sexually objectify women in their advertising to get attention for their brand, but not push it so far as to lose their female customers.

But what I find so interesting is that it feels like they're mocking their customers with some sick joke to see just how glaring they can make their scheme before someone says--What the @#$%?!

Well, Business Insider's "American Apparel's 'Unisex' Ads Portray Men And Women Very Differently," was just enough to push my envelope into the--You're joking, right, American Apparel?!

The blatant sexual objectification of women wearing flannel shirts in all sorts of sexy, come-hither poses is absurd and demeaning next to the shots of male models wearing the same types of shirts all buttoned up and shown in normal day-to-day human activities.

Hey...What did I do with my pants?
They may argue it's "Art," but to me it just seems ridiculous.

Let's smoke and wear pants with our flannels! You know, because we're men!

I can't be the only one like--what are they trying to prove? Why would women buy from a company that thinks it's fine to let men have personalities and women only have sexuality?

You know you want to buy this jacket, ladies...
I mean, come on. Enough already.

Hey dudes, like my keen jacket?
It's got to be a joke, right?


Monday, June 17, 2013

This is My Body

Photo of San Francisco protesters by PolicyMic
Some really cool events stirring around in the media this week.

The first was a protest in front of a Victoria’s Secret store in San Francisco by a group called About-Face who promote a healthy body image. Policy Mic’s article, Protesters Strip Down In Front Of Victoria'sSecret To Promote a Healthy Body Image, reported on the event:

The protesters — including one male participant — gathered in front of the storefront and striped down into bras and underwear; their message was that "not everybody needs to be like that in order to be attractive, in order to be awesome in general," said Jennifer Berger, Executive Director of About-Face.

I just love this idea. How wonderful to see the looks of joy and adventure on the faces of those protesting. This seems like the richest way to talk back to advertisements and ideologies we do not agree with—show the truth.

A healthy body image begins with embracing the bodies we have, not trying to fit the ideals created by others.

In line with that, South Bay mother promotes positive bodyimage with Facebook page, is another example of a woman staking claim to her beauty. Jessy Kissinger is a mom who started a Facebook page for moms to post pictures of themselves in their bikinis. No matter what size they wear.

Kissinger told KTVU she is happy and is looking forward to taking her two children to the beach this summer without wearing a cover-up.

Wouldn’t it be radical if we all felt so awesome about ourselves that what our bodies look like would not be our main concern? Just think about how much extra energy we would have for other adventures in life.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Feminist Stripper!

Photo of Feminist Stripper
I discovered a couple of interesting references to myself.

I've made the big time; I'm in Wikipedia. Pretty funny--that's the site I tell my students to never trust!

I'm included as a "Noted Feminist Stripper" for the Feminist Strippers category. I think I like that title.

Also, I feel enormously proud to be included with this list of amazing recommended women memoirists at Women For One.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stripper Displays Her Large...Bills

For all you wanna-be strippers out there who read the Huffington Post's piece, Stripper Posts Picture Of Night's Tips To Reddit; Internet Asks, 'Where Do We Sign Up?',don't get all excited by this stripper's the fine print!

"Menagerii" clearly states she worked a double (15 hours in heels, folks!) and that she doesn't usually earn that much.

But if you're interested in learning what it takes to be successful, here is her advice:
"You have to be in good shape, quick witted, confident, and have a pretty face. Everything else follows," she wrote.
I find it interesting to read people's comments following the articles written about this story. It seems most responses fall into one of a few categories: the snarky--Damn! I should be a stripper!, or the superior moralistic--Strippers are nothing more than whores!

I sit and ponder and really wonder...don't we all do some form of work for money, for pay? Why is using one's brain inherently better than using one's body?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Oscars is full of boobs

Thank Heavens for Jezebel.

West sums up my feelings about the Oscars after being pointed to what they consisted of by a friend.

Must-see video of the "We saw your boobs" song can be found on Youtube.

My favorite comment is probably from the Atlantic

What the jokes were, really, was stupid, boring, and empty: humor that relied less on its own patently sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. content than on admiration for or disgust with the host's willingness to deliver it. So much of comedy is about the shock of recognition, of seeing some previously unacknowledged truth suddenly acknowledged, but the only recognition MacFarlane offered was that some people say dumb things about other peoples' gender/racial/sexual identities. Which, of course, should not be shocking at all.
I guess it’s been a long time since I watched the Oscars and probably now a long time before I ever watch them again.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Should We All Drop Our Tops When We Want To Be Heard?

The Montserrat Moms Seated Together For A Publicity Photo (AP)

Two stories in the news have me questioning and really wondering what people think about stripping down as an act of defiance and attention-getting.

Inna Shevchenko, leader of women's movement Femen and “sextremist” discusses her organization’s latest stunt at Notre Dame in Femen's Blasphemy in Notre Dame. Femen is a group of women who strip topless to protest when they see injustices. Their latest performance was supposed to be a celebration of the resignation of the Pope and a rallying cry against the church.

I am one of the first to have issues with the Catholic church and its treatment of women, but at the same time it is a religion and I wouldn’t do something in a place that others hold sacred just to get my own agenda across. Their whole stunt feels tacky and self-serving.

Meanwhile, from Spain, comes another story with women stripping down in the name of something they believe in—Spanish moms strip down to save school bus: Skin to Win! by George Mallet.

In Montserrat, Spain, 10 mothers are showing some serious skin in a sexy calendar being sold to raise money in the face of Spain's austerity measures. The proceeds are being used to restore a reduction in bus service for 600 elementary school students.”

So a bunch of moms weren’t about to stand around while their kids’ school bus was taken away and they did what they thought would raise the most funds—pose for a sexy calendar.

As all the attention both of these stories are receiving shows, sometimes just doing something in the buff can get you the publicity you want to get your side of things out there or save something you need.

So the questions remain…should nudity be used to get attention? Are there some cases where it’s more acceptable and some that are just too risqué and “morally” questionable? Or should we all just strip down when we want to be heard?

Friday, February 22, 2013

What if the stripping Columbia professor had been a woman?

There’s been a lot of buzz about a certain stripping down that happened at Columbia University; the story even made it to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website: Columbia Freshmen Are Baffled by Physics Professor’s Stripped-Down Stunt by Charles Huckabee.

“First-year students in a “Frontiers of Science” course at Columbia University were shocked and confused on Monday when their professor, Emlyn Hughes, began what was to be a lecture on quantum physics by stripping to his shorts and changing clothes in front of them.”

After his performance, which included video footage of 9/11 and two people entering dressed in all black and stabbing at teddy bears with swords, Hughes states, "In order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain, and start over again."

Being an English major I have to admit I know nothing about quantum mechanics, but from what I can surmise, the professor was trying to shock and confuse students to prepare their minds for opening to what he was about to teach them.

I ‘m not surprised that so many people are balking at his teaching and thinking he’s just a loon and a liberal, but I would think the students would at least appreciate his creative approach.

Here’s a professor willing to look foolish to capture young minds’ interest. This is what lies at the heart of good teaching.

While I would probably never strip in front of a class because that would definitely be perceived differently if a woman did it and because of my background, I do silly things all the time to get the students’ interest (like singing in an opera voice to quiet the class down). It’s impossible to teach if you don’t have a student’s attention.

I am curious though how this dialogue would be different if the professor had been a woman. Would the stripping down and changing of clothes be thought of as more scandalous? Would she be accused of sexual harassment? Would she be accused of using her body to get what she wants? Would she be considered slutty and attention-seeking?

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Modest Proposal for the Page 3 Debate

For Preventing the Feminists of the World from Being a Burden to Men or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public

For those not familiar with the UK’s tabloid the Sun, the Page 3 Girls are topless women whose photos appear in the daily paper. There have been numerous attempts made by women to rid the Sun of these women most famously by the campaign No More Page 3. 

With the latest headline news coverage of a tweet and its response I feel it is time to put an end to this matter of the Sun’s Page 3 Girls. I am referring to the article on The Huffington Post The Sun'sPage 3 Girls: Has Rupert Murdoch Hinted The End To Topless Feature? by Jessica Elgot.

In a Twitter response to Karen Mason, @Kazipooh, who said “@rupertmurdoch #nomorepage3 Seriously, we are all so over page 3 - it is so last century!”, Rupert Murdoch, @rupertmurdoch, said: “You maybe (sic) right, don't know but considering. Perhaps halfway house with glamorous fashionistas.”

With apologies to Jonathon Swift, who is so three centuries ago, I believe I may have an answer to the problem.

It is quite tiresome to turn on the news and listen to all the bedraggled, overweight feminists raging on about how photos of topless women in the media lead to the degradation of women and even possibly domestic violence.

I think we can all agree that the aging and let’s be frank, shall we, ugly women who think women should not expose themselves in newspapers are tedious and so out-of-touch with what young, beautiful women want. It is not even just these so-called “feminists” that I have a proposal for, but in fact, all women of the beauty ideal age that society deems pleasing to look at.

I have thought long and hard on this subject and believe that for women to truly learn their correct position in our society that not only should the Page 3 Girls not be removed from the Sun, but that they should, in fact, be added to every print publication in existence.

The number of women deemed attractive enough for print will dictate the number of pages needed to be added to publications, hence possibly causing the need for Page 4, 5 and 6 Girls at times.

I am assured by the number of tits-and-ass-loving gentlemen of our current society that there will be ample space for all women of the correct age to be photographed, which I will go out on a limb and suggest to be between the ages of 18 and 24.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

Every woman who comes of age in our society shall have to pass through a screening process of pre-selected men who will choose which women will be deemed attractive enough to be photographed topless and shared with popular culture for the betterment of male-kind and also for helping to concretize women’s proper place on the totem pole of gender hierarchy.

Many other advantages for our society will include: the reordering of our gender identities back into their rightful places, the reminder to women that men are the ones in charge of deciding who and what is considered beautiful, the monetary reward for the models who might go unemployed otherwise, the reassurance to men everywhere that their urge to see women half naked at their convenience is not only a right but a necessity.

I can think of no objection that could be raised to this proposal other than some incessant Twitter chats begun by uppity and uncooperative womyn who may argue that this proposal is sexist and degrading and that they cannot be made to strip for others’ enjoyment. To them I would say that any other recipes for redressing women’s complaints about sexism and female degradation have failed, often at the hands of women themselves: women cannot agree even that they themselves are beautiful, but rather write endless blogs of how to boost body image and self-esteem; feminists fight amongst themselves as to what is actually “feminist” or not; women wish to be seen as equal to men, but still insist on being the ones to bear children; the beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that proves women are concerned about one thing and one thing only—becoming a Page 3 Girl.

I confess that I have no personal gain to be made from this proposal as I am way past the age of ideal beauty and would most definitely not pass muster with a pre-selected male committee deciding the value of my beauty.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Free Breasts Contest for Flat-Chested Women

Q102 radio station in Philly wants to help out an unfortunate woman this year. A woman unfortunate enough to have been dealt the serious blow of being small-breasted.

Are you looking to make some big changes in the New Year? Need a lift after the holidays? Then listen up! All you need to do is submit a tasteful picture of yourself showcasing your tiny ta-tas.

How fabulous is a contest like this for women’s self esteem? If you have small breasts, there must be something missing from your life. If you do not have the body of a porn star, there must be something wrong with you.

Photo of Q102 contestant
Who would pass up this opportunity for a new pair of free breasts?

As I flipped through the photos of the contestants I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful they already are.

Why must we continually push women to want to be something other than what they are?

While I think every woman needs to make her own choices for what is right for her, it still feels pretty disheartening for people to actively be implying that a woman’s body is flawed or somehow imperfect if it doesn’t match the standards of our culture.

When are we going to say enough is enough?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Celebrate Strength and Beauty, Not Plastic Surgery

Photo from

I feel completely unnerved by reading I Can’t Stop Looking at These South Korean Women Who’ve Had Plastic Surgery by Dodai Stewart on Jezebel.

I thought that America would have the highest percentage of plastic surgeries in the world, but apparently not.

One in five women in Seoul have undergone some kind of procedure. Most popular: Eyelid surgery, to make the eyes "more Western," and getting your jawbone shaved or chiseled down for a less-square and more V-shaped look.

I find it hard to imagine happily living in a society where getting plastic surgery is considered on par with wearing makeup.

Yes, it is wonderful to feel beautiful, but at what price?

I want to raise my daughter to define her own beauty, to embrace her own sense of style and uniqueness. To do that, I must work on living that for myself every day.

I want to model for my daughter that I am not afraid or ashamed of who I am today or yesterday. Who I am is beautiful. Who she is, is beautiful.

We define for ourselves what is beautiful.

And with that said, I am happy to announce my new website’s, This Is My Beautiful, first beautiful woman--Cherry Red Rachy
Photo of Cherry Red Rachy
 Please share and help all women celebrate their inner and outer beauty!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nadya Suleman Returns to Stripping

Phot of Nadya Suleman, Octomom, by Reality TV Magazine

Donna W. Martin writes for She Knows’ Reality TV Magazine: OctomomNadya Suleman Takes to the Stripper Pole, Again.

According to E! News, Suleman will return the pole Thursday Feb. 14 through Saturday Feb. 16 at T’s Lounge in West Palm Beach, Florida where she will give four 15 minute shows and bartend.

After Nadya Suleman’s foray into porn and stripping last year she seemed set up for awhile to take care of her children. Unfortunately, that money did not last long and she has now found herself needing to return to stripping once again to get off welfare.

Welcome to the wonderful world of stripping that I remember only too well.

When I first started stripping at eighteen I had a goal—save enough money to move to New York City to be an actress. I thought I would be stripping for only a year, but what happened instead was that stripping became my way of earning money when I felt I had no other options.

I would come and go back to it for over six years. I believe Suleman has fallen into the same trap, but on a larger scale, especially since she has so many children to take care of.

Once I had it in my mind that stripping was my fallback for fast cash, it was always there. Waiting. Calling me.

Photo of Sheila Hageman, aka Kirea
I cannot judge what Suleman feels she needs to do now because I know the feeling of thinking there is no other answer. And she is being offered a large sum of money, too, which would make this decision even more difficult.

Who are we to judge her choice when she sees returning to stripping for a few days as a way to care for her children? And who knows that we might not make the same choice if presented with it and in her situation?

And, perhaps, just perhaps, Suleman actually enjoys the attention and the acknowledgement of her worth even in a form that most people judge as wrong.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

From Porn Star to Teacher to Unemployed


A teacher, Stacie Halas, has been let go from her job in California because of her porn past. This has been an ongoing story for the past year.

“An eighth-grade teacher in Oxnard who appeared in adult films for the money before she became a teacher was deemed unfit to teach, a three-member panel of California state administrative judges has ruled,” reported NBC News.

In this day of the Internet how do say our past is past when our “past” can still be purchased on the web? Is it fair to judge people for what they did in the past when what they want to do in the present is teach?

I guess it’s not about fair, but about what people perceive about our pasts.

Being a porn actress is not illegal, so why should it take away the opportunity to do good in the present?

I obviously can see how it could be distracting for students to know they can see photos of their teacher naked, but these are middle-school students. They shouldn't be surfing the web for porn at this age.

And if they do happen to see their teacher naked, so what? If Ms. Halas is willing to deal with this added burden as she teaches, why should it be a matter to fire her for?

If it’s true that she lied about her past, I can’t say that I blame her. She was probably just trying to avoid this situation.

For all I know, I may not have received certain teaching jobs because of my past and my vocal-ness of discussing it.

Do you think ex-porn actors and models should be allowed to teach?

Monday, January 14, 2013

This Is My Beautiful Website Launch

Photo of Sheila Hageman by Keyvan Behpour

Introducing my new website project--This Is My Beautiful.

This Is My Beautiful is a safe space to share and celebrate our diverse beauty as women, a place to proudly say to the world—This Is My Beautiful!

We live in a world where what is considered to be female beauty is often predetermined and shaped for our consumption. Let’s change that by celebrating beauty in all its shapes, sizes, colors and subtle nuances.
Break the cycle of body shame and self-hatred!

Our life stories and dreams can be found in both our inner and outer beauty. There is nothing wrong with celebrating our physical beauty—our outer uniqueness! And we all are beautiful.

We need practice as women saying This Is My Beautiful and I’m proud. Too often we believe it’s egotistical to recognize and discuss what makes us beautiful on the outside. Sayings like “Beauty is only skin deep” lead us to think that being aware of our outer beauty is shallow and rude. But if we look around ourselves we are able to see and celebrate beauty in others and the world.

A beautiful sunset can remind us of a deeper beauty that lies beneath the outer container. Physical beauty can represent the beauty, the love, the passion that lies inside our hearts and souls.

Capture your beautiful, your sexy, your confidence. Nourish your soul by proclaiming to the world that you are allowed to own your beauty. Let’s affirm for each other our Beautifuls that may never have been noticed or affirmed before.

Share a photo of yourself where you exhibit your beautiful and tell us why the photograph creates that feeling for you. It can be a close-up of one of your toes or a long shot of you standing holding your child—whatever photograph you look at and feel proud, happy and in love with yourself in some way.

Please visit This Is My Beautiful and share your photo and story today!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Not Over Until the Fat Lady Sings (Or Strips)

An excerpt from Stephanie Howell’s essay Stripper Role Sparks Artist's Body Acceptance on Women’s enews is going to be my inspiration for the New Year.

Howell explains how when she was cast as a fat stripper in Gypsy that she couldn’t “escape” anyone or her body. There were mirrors, actors, audiences and she was forced to deal with her “fat” body.

“It was through performing Mazeppa and embracing fearlessness that I was able to construct a new understanding of "fat" and the "performance of fatness" in my live performances. I made the conscious decision that I didn't have to hate my body anymore. I didn't have to hide my body anymore--I didn't have to be ashamed of my fatness. That's not to say that newfound acceptance of my fat body happened overnight--it didn't. This was a slow, slow process. A slow process that began with me being grateful that I had a working and functional body--I hadn't damaged my physical body through my own abuse.”

I think when we focus on body acceptance we want it to be an instant fix, but as Howell points out, a change like this takes time to really take hold.

“Through this appreciation, I was able to see my body in a different light. Fat didn't mean "bad," "unworthy," "unlovable" or "undesirable." I began wearing clothing that fit close to my body. I wanted people to see my fatness. I would no longer be invisible. This appreciation of my fatness sparked my professional work.”

This sense of acceptance is what I strive for everyday. An acceptance of my less than perfect parts.

I wonder if stripping, in its literal sense, is a healthy act for women in this context. If we could all be forced to play the role of a stripper and end up having such a positive experience afterwards, it would be totally worth it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Erotic Ballerina Addicted to Drugs Finds Memoir

From xo Jane: Caitlin Thomas writes in WHAT IT'S REALLYLIKE: I'M A DRUG-ADDICTED STRIPPER: Empowerment comes in the front door when I can make rent in a singular evening. Yet, it leaves through the back door when I blow it all on pills.

I like this woman’s honesty, but it does make me wonder what the correct response is from the reader.

Should we be happy that she’s coherent enough to string together words?

Should we rub our hands together with glee because we knew all along that strippers were all a bunch of druggies?

Should we think it’s so cool and edgy to write about one’s own vices while in the midst of them with that oh-so-cooler-than-thou-attitude of superiority?

Or do we examine the role of memoir as it is used here to hopefully enable this woman to see her demons out in the open and perhaps start dealing with them before it is too late?

Personal writing can be used to help people in the midst of traumatic experiences process the experience and see it for what it is. Thomas’ simple act of reflecting on her experience, which she admits is stereotypical in most people’s eyes, will hopefully allow her to understand herself better and deeper.