The act of professional stripping has always been a subject of fascination for the general public, with films like Striptease (1996), Showgirls (1995) and Flashdance (1983) cementing exotic dancers as cultural icons – and having girls across the country practicing pole dancing in their living rooms.
As the phenomenon cements its entrée to the mainstream with increasing certainty (we’re all aware of the increasing popularity of pole-dancing classes, for example), it seems like more and more films are celebrating the sensuality, power and liberation which the act can engender – rather than portraying it as the seedy last resort of the desperate woman.
In terms of the male striptease on screen, what began with the touching and funny The Full Monty seems to find its culmination in Magic Mike, the tale of a young guy who works as the main attraction of the Kings of Tampa, a group of male strippers in Florida. While the film does have its dark side, the sense of comedy – not to mention the super-hot male stars of the film – prevails, and it’s the memories of fun, music and sizzling sex appeal that remain over any seedy underbelly.
Then there’s the ever increasing number of music videos featuring prominent songstresses (think Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Britney Spears) celebrating the empowerment of stripping. Rihanna’s “Pour it Up” video, for example, which shows her as a bold and powerful woman in control of her sexuality, desirability, and money.
Meanwhile, on a more humorous note, there’s Jennifer Anniston taking a light-hearted turn as a stripper in the 2013 comedy We’re the Millers – with simultaneously sexy and hilarious results.
What these movies seem to tell us is that taking your clothes off onstage is becoming more of a chance to rejoice in a person’s sensuality, the human body – and most of all, have fun!