Striptease is an entertainment, by females usually, before an audience. It is often included in the theatre form called burlesque. With music and dance, the stripper gradually removes her clothing. It is a very ancient dance form, and occurs in many societies.
Stripping is done in a teasing manner, but without being obscene (for example, by delaying to take an item off). While hiding certain parts of the body with hands or pieces of clothing, stripper dances around. Sometimes, plays are arranged, the strippers are disguised as Arabic dancers, Salome, Lolita or other well-known people. The spectator sometimes identifies with the stripper. Erotic dreams and exhibitionist fantasies may be projected into the striptease.
The Sumerians had a myth of the goddess Inanna descending into the Underworld. At each of the seven gates, she removed an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry. As long as she remained in hell, the earth was barren. When she returned, fecundity abounded.
Salome's dance for King Herod is referred to in the New Testament (Matthew 14:6 and Mark 6:21–22). However, the first mention of her removing seven veils is in Oscar Wilde's play of Salome in 1893. Some have claimed as the origin of modern striptease. After Wilde's play and Richard Strauss's opera Salome, first performed in 1905 the erotic 'dance of the seven veils', became a standard routine in opera, vaudeville, film and burlesque. A famous early practitioner was Maud Allan who in 1907 gave a private performance of the dance to Edward VII.
Greece & Rome change
In ancient Greece, the lawgiver Solon established several classes of prostitutes in the late 6th century BC. Among these were the auletrides: female dancers, acrobats, and musicians, noted for dancing naked in an alluring fashion in front of audiences of men. In ancient Rome, dance featuring stripping was part of the Floralia, an April festival.
Empress Theodora, wife of 6th-century Byzantine emperor Justinian is reported by several ancient sources to have started in life as a courtesan and actress who performed in acts inspired from mythological themes and in which she disrobed "as far as the laws of the day allowed". She was famous for her striptease performance of "Leda and the Swan". From these accounts, it appears that the practice was not exceptional or new. It was, however, actively opposed by the Christian Church, which got statutes banning it in the following century. The degree to which these statutes were enforced is open to question. No practice of the sort is reported in texts of the European Middle Ages.
In the 1880s and 1890s, Parisian shows such as the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergère had attractive scantily-clad women dancing and tableaux vivants (static poses). Acts in the 1890s had a woman slowly removed clothes in a vain search for a flea crawling on her body. The People's Almanac credits this as the origin of modern striptease.
Starting in 1905, Mata Hari entered the scene. On the invitation of Emile Guimet she danced before a carefully chosen audience. The scene at the end of the show, where she was naked was a sensation. Similar performances, at the requests of Baron von Rothschild, Cécile Sorel, Gaston Menier and Natalie Clifford Barney followed. Mata Hari had never learned how to dance, and had never studied Indian and oriental dancing. Her dances were a product of her imagination. In 1917, Mata Hari was charged with espionage and sentenced to death. She was shot, on 15 October 1917, in Vincennes, near Paris.
Another landmark performance was the appearance at the Moulin Rouge in 1907 of an actress called Germaine Aymos who entered dressed only in three very small shells. In the 1930s the famous Josephine Baker danced semi-nude in the danse sauvage at the Folies and other such performances were provided at the Tabarin. These shows were notable for their sophisticated choreography and often dressing the girls in glitzy sequins and feathers. By the 1960s "fully nude" shows were provided at such places as Le Crazy Horse Saloon.
Post WWII change
After the war, in the 1950s striptease became the motor of an emerging sex industry (mainly focused on publications, like Playboy). Paris saw the opening of the high-society strip clubs, like the Alcazar or the Crazy Horse.
In modern times, the art of striptease gets lost more and more. In the 1990s, a German private TV channel (called RTL) made a strip show called Tutti Frutti. Since then, during the night, many TV stations have women, who try to get rid of their clothes (without even dancing), while they advertise some phone sex numbers (or other prime-rate numbers).
Originally, striptease was only done by women. Today, a very small number of male strippers are there. Among the most notable of them are the Chippendales.
- Toni Bentley 2002. Sisters of Salome: 31
- Zaplin, Ruth (1998). Female offenders: critical perspectives and effective interventions. Jones & Bartlett. p. 351. ISBN 978-0-8342-0895-7.
- Jeffreys, Sheila (2009). The industrial vagina: the political economy of the global sex trade. Taylor & Francis. pp. 86–106. ISBN 978-0-415-41233-9.
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- As described by Ovid, Fasti 4.133ff.; Juvenal, Satire 6.250–251; Lactantius, Divine Institutes 20.6; Phyllis Culham 2004. Women in the Roman Republic, in The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic (Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 144; Christopher H. Hallett, The Roman Nude: Heroic Portrait Statuary 200 B.C.–A.D. 300 (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 84.
- Evans, James Allan (2003). The Empress Theodora: Partner of Justinian. University of Texas Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-292-70270-7.
- Richard Wortley 1976. A pictorial history of striptease, 29-53.