Meet the Stripper Turning Sex Work Into Comedy Gold
When most people think of a classic ‘New York City stripper,’ the last thing they imagine is a bright, blonde-haired, Canadian girl with a penchant for the absurd – but that’s exactly what they get with Jacqueline Frances. Jacqueline, or ‘Jacq the Stripper‘, is a quick-witted and bubbly girl. She’s putting a happy face on the stripper narrative, which is traditionally framed as a depressing story of girls forced into the work. After ‘outing’ her career to the rest of the world, Frances has brought some humor to the profession in her book The Beaver Show, a memoir on her time dancing – the ups, the downs, and the bizarre (such as ‘Jim,’ her first ever client, who immediately admitted to having a poop fetish). Jacq comes across as the kind of girl that can relate to you about everything – and maybe that’s what makes her so good at her job.
Last night, the Milk Jam Room held a party for Jacq’s book debut. It was all about the girls, and it featured the best strip show we’ve ever seen. The drinks were flowing even before clothes even started flying off, with a stripper’s delight of vodka sodas, champagne, and lemon drops for those of us that like a little more zing. Once Jacq rolled up, things got really wild. Retelling (and performing) some of her stories with hilarity and a bit of sass, all eyes were on her as she introduced burlesque babe Valerie Stunning. When we complimented Valerie’s outfit, she replied, “Just wait ’til I take it off.”
We sat down with Jacq, the dancer/author/comedian, to talk about Australia’s obsession with cheap steak, her wildest persona — it’s based off of a canine astronaut — and of course, why the danker the titty bar, the better.
What was your goal in writing the book?
I wanted to humanize sex work. So many people just don’t regard sex workers as people. I also wanted to make people laugh. I’d love to inspire women to become strippers. If you hate your job and you’re just doing it to pay the bills, I’d love to inspire someone to say ‘Fuck that shit, make your money in something fun!’ You make a lot of money at it, and in your free time you can pursue other things. That’s what it enabled me to do. I could travel anywhere, and write the book itself! But that’s my dream – to hear someone say, ‘I became a stripper after I read your book.’
What was one stand out moment in your dancing career, where you felt like you really found something you loved?
There are a lot of moments like that, but there’s one that’s really standing out right now. I was about six months into working in Melbourne. It was this crazy shit show of a club. It wasn’t fancy – I don’t particularly like fancy strip clubs. I think they’re unnecessary. I think dank titty bars are where it’s at. It’s catering to a desire that is unrefined. Don’t try to put cufflinks on a pig. ‘Gentlemen’s clubs’? Come on, they’re pig pens and it’s fine that they are.
I digress – I was at this shitty titty bar, though they probably wouldn’t have called themselves that. It always smelled like cheap steak there. Australia has this weird obsession with cheap steak. You can get a $10 steak anywhere. One night, I was really busy on stage, and there was a crowd of Hungarian rugby or soccer players. They had obviously just played a game, and were so excited to be there. I just felt like Marilyn Monroe entertaining the troops. I felt so glamorous and adored. I was like a showgirl, but still interactive. The best part about strip clubs is that you’re not just watching a performance, you’re interacting with a performer. In a lot of performance art, you really don’t break that fourth wall to interact with the performers, but that’s what stripping is at the end of the day.
“I think dank titty bars are where it’s at. It’s catering to a desire that is unrefined. Don’t try to put cufflinks on a pig.”
Do you have a character? I know you went with ‘Iris’ at the beginning.
Yes! She has a ton of names though, and that’s what’s great about it. I’m always a nonthreatening girl-next-door type. I’ll say I’m from Alberta, which isn’t true, or Idaho. It’s always places that no one’s ever been, to so I can really sell it. ‘I’m just a simple girl coming to the big city. It’s so scary, but it’s exciting. I love it.’ Oh! Or I always say, ‘It’s crazy.’
One of my friends has this line that I love. We all have lines too. Over the years, you just accrue them – and we’re always stealing each other’s lines. My friend’s line is, ‘There’s a reason why they made that shirt. I fucking love New York City!’ Guys always love it. I mean, you’re in a strip club in New York. You have to love it – the beautiful women, the noise, the lights. It’s like the United Nations inside a New York strip club. Most of the girls and the customers aren’t from New York, so it’s really this shared moment of ‘New York’. This is the ‘authentic’ New York, but that’s kind of funny to say
Well, it is kind of inauthentic. It’s fake, but it never apologizes for being fake. Yeah, it’s a fantasy, but it’s still people having this very real, in your face experience. There’s nothing like it.
What’s one of the best names you’ve picked?
Well my comedian-stripper side always likes to come up with these crazy, dumb names. One time I picked Laika, but I was still in Australia so everyone kept pronouncing as ‘Leichhardt,’ which is a neighborhood in Australia, and everyone was so confused by it. It’d be like naming yourself Williamsburg here. I was actually referencing Laika, the Russian dog that they shot into space [laughs]. I just thought it was funny. It’s a pretty name, but also the name of a dog sent on a death mission.
Have you always felt like you were a performer?
I’ve absolutely always been a performer. I love that attention, I love the stage. I love the costumes and costume changes. Though with stripping, everything is a performance. When I walk out on the floor in my heels, I feel it. My posture is better. I’m walking differently. I have more confidence. I remember one day I was at work, and I was sitting wide-legged, like a man spreader. I was shocked with myself, like, ‘What am I doing!?’ I think I was on my phone and was in a whole other world – just relaxing and looking at my phone, so my posture changed. I straightened right up though, because that’s not my character.
“It’s fake, but it never apologizes for being fake.”
So we haven’t really gotten to talk about your comedy. Do you feel like that’s a totally separate character?
I actually think it’s a marriage of a lot of aspects on my life. That’s why it feels so natural to do it. It’s still nerve racking and exciting, because I care and I know it’s a tough industry. I love telling stories though. Learning how to be a comedian is really fun because it’s so nuanced. Going to open mics are really weird because you go to a basement at 4PM and just start telling people about yourself. It’s akin to going to an AA meeting, but there’s alcohol. People are sharing intimate details, and it’s really rough. Some of them are wildly offensive and sexist.
What kind of clothing do you prefer for working?
Well, I personally don’t wear stripper shoes. It’s one of my great shames, but they just hurt my feet too much. I love them though! I love the look. Outside of that, efficiency coming on and off is pretty key – as few fastening tools as possible. Other than that, as long as I don’t look gross it’s cool. You wouldn’t believe how much my opinion of what looks gross has changed. I used to want to look really classy, but there’s no point in looking classy. Women are afraid of that g-string pinch because it’s ‘not flattering,’ but men just like it because it’s your ass. That’s not how they think. Now I’ll see the pinch and think, ‘Oh it’s too tight. It looks kind of trashy. I love that.’
If you life was a song right now what would it be?
So Hott by Kid Rock [laughs]. It’s such a strip club song.
If you could get a pair of brass knuckles that say anything, what do they say?
‘What, Bitch,’ but definitely with the comma.
What’s your biggest advice to people thinking about stripping?
Just do it. That’s the hardest part.