We spoke to Jacqueline Frances (a.k.a. Jacq the Stripper), the author of "The Beaver Show," a new memoir about being a gay stripper, about all the weirdness that goes along with the job.
While there are lots of things a newbie stripper could potentially stress over, Jacqueline Frances remembers having a singular goal when she first "flashed her gash for cash": not farting in her client's face.
"I am focusing on harnessing all of the energy of the universe to keep myself from blowing gas in the face of a man who whispers to horses and have deemed my vagina the eighth wonder of the world," the 29-year-old writes in her memoir The Beaver Show, for which she's currently doing a book tour. "In the months to come, I will become highly skilled at refraining from farting when putting my body into positions that are emotionally harrowing and also biologically conducive to relieving flatulence."
Frances, a.k.a. Jacq the Stripper, is shy about nothing. Sitting at the Beaver in downtown Toronto in leopard print leggings and a loose black shirt, the platinum blonde jumps from discussing body odor to the stigmatization of stripping in the same breath.
After growing up in the suburban town of Caledon, Ontario, Frances studied literature at McGill University, took up an advertising job, hated it, and quit to go traveling.
"I was actually go-go dancing in Thailand... It was super cheesy but it was really fun. I was getting paid to entertain, which I loved," she told VICE prior to her stand-up comedy show last week. "And then I moved to Sydney on a whim, but Sydney is fucking expensive. So it took me like a week or two weeks to just be like, 'Fuck this shit, I'm gonna be a stripper.'"
Now based out of Williamsburg (where else?), Frances has more recently added stand-up, writing, and illustrating to her list of credentials. VICE asked her what it's like to be a gay, married stripper; how male clients differ around the world; and if she's gotten more "asshole-confident" over time.
VICE: The money is what got you into stripping, but what's kept you in it?Jacqueline Frances: The freedom. The hilarity. It's a funny job. Sexuality is fascinating. How people act when they're horny is funny and real and tender and it's just great. It's a great environment and the money is great. I can work whenever I want.
What are some of the weirder kinks you've come across?
Armpit obsessions. I just remember standing there. It was literally a two-hour [private] room. He was just talking about my armpits and I had just never thought of armpits as sexy. My body image and my self-confidence in my sex life got so much better when I started stripping. I'm insecure about all sorts of things, but then someone tells you something that you don't necessarily think is great and they think it's beautiful. That's validation. I have fat ankles. And this guy was like, "Your ankles are so beautiful." And I was like, "This is great."
You mentioned having this self-consciousness about your vagina smelling off or about your asshole. What's your grooming routine, and do you still worry about that shit?
Do I worry about it? No. Pussy smells so many different ways depending on the day. I don't want to stink; only my left armpit stinks. A lot of women do a ton of grooming. I'm like the laziest stripper ever. I shave my legs and I shave... I don't want hair popping out of my G-string. It's just not in style unfortunately. I actually really love bush. I think it's so hot, and I wish I had more, but the G-strings we wear are just so small. You just can't go that big. What's great about fishnet stockings is you don't have to shave. And if the club is strictly no touching, you never have to shave.
Being gay, what's it like having a clientele that's primarily made up of men?
It's easier, 'cause I'm not looking for a husband. Sometimes with stripping you can be pretty disheartened with how the male ego acts in a really drunk and horny situation. This guy said to me, "If I wasn't married, I'd stalk you." And I thought, This is awful. I find this humorous, but if you actually think about him being married and thinking a flattering thing to say to a woman is that he would stalk her, that's terrifying.
Do you ever check men when they say or do things like that or do you have to swallow it because it's your job?
I reprimand them, heavily. It's very satisfying. And the more I dance, the more I do it. The other day I was like, "Do you have children?" and [the client] was like, "Yeah, two." I said, "You better not raise them to be the piece of shit you are." Then I left. Because he had touched me when it was inappropriate and that's inexcusable. I feel a lot safer reprimanding men at work than I do here, because when you walk into the strip club, you're walking into my house. If I confronted a man walking down the street here, I probably would not because I would fear for my safety.
Do you find, having stripped in Australia, Canada, the US, there is a difference in the way men treat you?
Absolutely. In Australia, strippers are dope, strippers are totally acceptable, everyone loves titties, it's something you do after the football game. It's not as frowned upon. Dancing in Canada, it wasn't that frowned upon either. In the States, it's tricky because America loves titties but it's so controversial which makes it more lucrative for me. Nipples in public are a thing, breastfeeding in public is a thing. People still assume I'm a sad, tragic mess because I'm doing this.
What about in the Alberta oil patch?
There, you're an imported goddess to shine your light on all these men who work extremely hard. And you feel that way. They're lonely, they're like super lonely, hardworking men who don't really know which way is up. They work crazy hours and make a ton of money and there's just not a woman in sight.
How does your wife feel about your line of work? Does she ever watch you strip?
She's only come once. She comes to all my standup. I like being anonymous at work. I think that's what makes stripping great for a lot of us: You're just a fantasy girl. I don't want to dry hump someone I know. It's so much fun when it's a stranger.
Does it ever turn you on?
Yeah totally, sometimes. Not every day. But I like my job. I don't like the idea of actually fucking all these people, but fake fucking them is hilarious—it's awesome and it's sexy.
Do you feel like you ever get heat from feminists?
I identify as a raging feminist. And there are all sorts of different feminism and not everyone has to agree with me. I believe what I do is feminist. I support all of the women around me who are doing what I'm doing. I love them, I cherish them, and I think we respect each other. I think that is inherently feminist. Strippers are feminists but other people aren't letting us into their club sometimes. I think it's changing. I think sex workers are coming out and talking about their experiences and doing really rad things.
How do you compare being on stage stripping to being on stage doing stand up?
I love them both. Stripping is really great but I only like stripping for strangers. I don't want to strip for people I know. Because acting like I want to fuck someone who I know is weird. But acting for an anonymous crowd being sexy is fine. And comedy is great 'cause I can bring all my friends and I want them to be part of that. Stripping is super powerful, comedy is super powerful. Comedy is great because every other comic has a stripper joke in their back pocket, and now it's my turn to get up there and squash all their shitty stripper jokes.
Why did you want to write a book?
I never want to write a book again. It's so hard but I'm really proud of it. I've always just really enjoyed telling stories. I kept a really detailed journal and I thought, I have to start a blog about this. It was too interesting for me and what I was learning about myself. So I started the blog and I just really liked it and I realized I didn't want to stop stripping. When I realized I really liked it was when I wasn't ashamed of it and what I thought about stripping before I became a stripper was so fucked up and sad and my experience was completely the opposite. I felt like it was really important to tell that story because the narrative of strippers in mainstream media is shit. It's awful. We are the butt of every joke. Dead hooker jokes, dead stripper jokes. I'm over that shit. I want to be part of a culture that changes that.
This interview has been edited for style and clarity.
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