Young, Sexy & Well HeeledSunday, November 26, 2006
One of the most influential critics of the 1920s and 1930s was H.L. Mencken. He created the expression Bible Belt to refer to the ultra conservative South and while bootleggers reached auspicious heights as booticians, the middle class was reduced to the booboisie. So in 1940 it was a Baltimore stripper that asked him to come up with a unique word to raise the tenor of her profession. Georgia Sothern wrote to Mencken, "I am a practitioner of the art of strip-teasing...there has been a great deal of...criticism leveled against my profession. Most of it...arises from the unfortunate word strip-teasing, which creates the wrong connotation...if you could coin a new and more palatable word to describe this art, I and my colleagues would have easier going. I hope...(you) can find time to help the...members of my profession."
Mencken replied to Ms Sothern, "I sympathize with you in your affliction. It might be a good idea to relate strip-teasing in some way to the...zoological phenomenon of molting,...which is ecdysis. This word produces...ecdysiast."
Young, Sexy & Well Heeled - that was the title of Les Wiseman's "business"article on the vancouver stripping industry in the March 1982 issue of Vancouver Magazine. At the time Les and I spent a considerable time (when we weren't extremely busy trying to make ends meet)in strip parlours or strip joints. We followed our favourite strippers from one joint to another. We determined that there had to be a way of conning Vancouver Magazine editor, Mac Parry into assigning us to do a piece on the subject of stripping. Les found the angle which Mac immediately accepted. The article would have to do with following the money trail of the business. It was to be a business story. One of our fave dancers was Danielle, she of the rose tattoo on her upper left thigh. A few years later she took her S+M act (complete with lots of fake blood) to the first ever Golden G String Convention in Las Vegas and shocked the then tame Vegas audience.
In an attempt to be objective, Les interviewed the ecdysiasts at the old Vancouver Magazine office on Davie and Richards. From left to right that's me, Les, Danielle and Mac, almost under the table.
The other article I was working on was Sean Rossiter's story, One Cat's Fight Against Cancer. It was a personal story about his own cat. While watching strippers at the nearby Cecil Hotel, I remember vividly Mac telling me, "Alex, go home and photograph your cat. Make sure his whiskers are razor sharp. We are going to put him on the cover." For a while there was the idea of producing a March issue with two different covers, one with the cat and the other with a stripper languidly blowing bubbles in a portable tub at the Drake Hotel stage. In the end publisher Ronald Stern nixed the idea.