NSFW: Bushwick-Based Jacq the Stripper Celebrates Exotic Dancers in Her New Coffee Table Book
The book of illustrations features the good and bad experiences of 300 strippers from around the world.
Jacqueline Frances, or Jacq the Stripper, is a stripper, writer, illustrator, and comedian. We met her after she wrote her first memoir, "The Beaver Show." She's back with a new project, a coffee table book of illustrations called "Striptastic! A Celebration of Dope-Ass Cunts Who Love Money." (Pre-order here.) It's filled with handwritten short stories, cartoons, and analyses of stripper life—from stage time to down time.
We had a conversation with her about how "strippers have been the butt of the joke since the dawn of time" and about the benefits of flipping the script and celebrating the work strippers do.
What was the inspiration for "Striptastic!"?
When I published "The Beaver Show," I had just started drawing. I wasn’t a full-time illustrator. And a lot of people who purchased the book, including my mother-in-law, said, “Oh, I thought this was a book of your drawings.” I was like, “No, it’s a memoir. I worked a lot longer on it.” But a lot of people were anticipating a book of drawings. So I figured I may as well make one.
I conducted a survey online with a bunch of strippers. I didn’t anticipate it being as successful as it was. I thought like 20 women would submit. It ended up being close to 300 women. I had to take all of the information they gave me and put it into something fun to read that was, in my opinion, a more accurate representation of what it’s like to be a stripper.
You list all of those women the back of the book. Do you know all of them?
No, I do not personally know all of them because the survey was conducted online. I’ve met plenty of them on my travels, and my stripper friends have met them. We know each other through the internet. But I haven’t met them in person, no. Not yet, at least.
Do you plan on it?
I’d like to. Yeah, I’m going on tour of the United States this summer. And I would love them to come out. And everybody who participated, I’m aspiring to draw their portrait on the first page [of their copy.]
Is this a tour for the book or a stripping tour? Do you still strip?
I still strip. But this is not a stripping tour. This is a book tour.
Is that what's it's called—a “stripper tour”?
Um, yeah. Stripper trip. Ripper trip. Work holiday. And I travel for work. Not as often recently because it’s so busy with these new projects, but I love traveling and dancing. That’s the most fun about it – you can show up anywhere and have a job. I might throw on my click clacks on tour, but I won’t have a lot of time. And the person I’m touring with, Kristen Sollee, who’s writing a book that comes out in June called Witches, Sluts, Feminists. She’s badass, but she’s not a stripper, so it’s not a stripper tour in the traditional sense.
So you’re doing a book tour with Kristen?
Yeah, we both have books coming out this spring. And book touring is fun, but it’s way more fun when you have someone to do it with. It’s called the Sex Witch tour. We’ll start in Seattle and go down the west coast to peddle our books.
A while back you started a project called “#100DaysofPleasantries.” Is that what helped start this book?
Yeah, I’ve always been creative and a storyteller, and I did some art in high school, but illustrating was something that came about by accident. The #100DaysofPleasantries project was just an internet hashtag. It made me want to do something every day, and I was sort of held to it. I’m best at following through on projects with a beginning and an end. Initially I just wanted to write down the absurd things people have said to me, or I’ve heard, at the club. Then it developed into an illustration alongside the quote. Then into single panel comics. Now you could call me an illustrator. I do call myself an illustrator. It’s miraculous what a hashtag can do for someone.
Would "the Beaver Show" and "Striptastic!" have happened without #100DaysofPleasantries?
Well, "The Beaver Show" was already happening. I was already writing it. But "The Beaver Show" was peppered with a handful of illustrations that I’d started doing as I was editing the final draft of the book. I drew the cover in my journal. I remember drawing the cover and taking a picture of it. I actually lost the original. It was more of a draft, but it ended up being the final product.
"Striptastic!" definitely would not have happened with those drawings. I didn’t think I’d make another book ever again, but here we are.
So are you going to write another book? A second memoir?
Oh, god no. I’m so happy I did that memoir. It was my 23-year-old memoir. 23 and 24 was when I was writing and experiencing it, and I’m proud of it. But "Striptastic!" is more about other women and less about me, which I think is helpful with illustration. When you’re drawing comics it depersonalizes the experience and makes it more universal, which is I think why more people have caught on to it. I’m happy I told my story with "The Beaver Show," but I don’t think I’ll need to write another memoir for the next 40 years. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to make something. But it definitely won’t be all about me.
It seems like a lot of the work in both of your books pokes fun at the men who lack tact in these clubs, but I rarely found something that addressed a way a man should act. So, how should men act? But the addendum to that question is—is that just my male ego talking? Meaning, maybe these books aren’t for me in any capacity and I’m making this male-centric.
Totally. Well, you’re a man and a lot of men want to know who they are in my book. But this book isn’t for men, no. It’s for the women who do the work. Everything surrounding the narrative of strippers is super androcentric. And that’s…that’s patriarchy. I’ve had enough of that. Our job is to pander to men, and my determination, my narrative, is about the people who do the work. We absolutely poke fun of them. Strippers have been the butt of the joke since the dawn of time. So it’s our turn to turn the table, and that’s what this book is about.
And, to answer your question about how a man should act in a strip club—it’s not just a man, how any person should act in a strip club—I actually have a free zine you can download. It’s called "How to Be Feminist in a Strip Club." It’s for anyone. It’s basic manners and understanding the layout of the club, so when you walk in you feel comfortable and equipped to participate without being a dick. Because sometimes you just don’t know, and every club is a little bit different. But there are simple tips about budgeting and where to sit and observe in the clubs. Then there are seemingly obvious rules like—do not use your phone. And questions not to ask. You know, don’t ask questions you wouldn’t ask anyone else at their job. Like “what is your real name? Did you have a rough childhood?” Those are questions you shouldn’t ask anyone doing their job, so just don’t ask strippers.
But "Striptastic!" is certainly not instructional and it doesn’t pander to the audience because that’s all we ever do is pander to our audience. It’s a celebration of us.
"Striptastic! A Celebration of Dope-Ass Cunts Who Like Money" will be released on April 7 and is available for pre-order now. The Sex Witch book tour kicks off on June 12 at Videology. Click here for more tour dates.
Title image by Rachel Lena Esterline. All other images courtesy of Jacqueline Frances.