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Question and Answers with authors Jennifer Axen and Leigh Phillips

  • slipWhere did you come up with this idea?
    We were helping a friend who was making a documentary film.  Two of the subjects were strippers working at a club in San Francisco. Since we both have a background in research we thought it would be fun to tag along and help out with the shoot. The dancers were really friendly to us and even invited us to chat with them in their dressing room. We listened to them chat about boyfriends and money and parties and of course…naked beauty tips. We felt like we had stumbled into this secret society  - a goldmine of information. Having experience in research and writing, we decided to make a go of it. We wrote a proposal and a sample chapter, shopped it around a bit and Chronicle picked it up. The rest is history.

  • How did you find these women?
    One of our biggest challenges in researching this book was coordinating interviews. First of all, there is the access issue. We starting out by “cold calling”, going into clubs and asking to speak with dancers (thinking, incorrectly, that all strippers would welcome us with open arms the way they did the first night). In truth, many of them initially rolled their eyes as if to say “If I had a dollar for every “writer” that wanted to interview me about my life…”. We quickly realized that it was best to work from referrals. We started by talking to friends of friends of friends. We tried to make the interviews as easy as possible for the women – meeting with them at the clubs, in their homes etc. We also supplemented our interviews with e-mail and phone conversations. In addition to the one on one interviews, we spent a lot of time in different clubs observing what worked and what didn’t for the different types of dancers, interesting or unusual outfits, great moves and lines.  We studied how the crowd reacted to the variety of styles and attitudes the dancers presented on stage.

  • How did the dancers/clubs react to you?
    Club owners were often suspicious of our motives. I guess it’s not often you find 2 “unescorted females” waltzing into a strip club. For a while, we were bringing our notebooks with us when we did observational research. Then one night, a bouncer approached us and asked what we were doing. Later we learned that clubs are often patrolled by an organization called ABC – Alcohol Beverage Control. ABC monitors to make sure no lewd or lascivious acts are taking place in a club that sells alcohol. Little did they know we were just frantically writing down sexy moves to pass on to our readers!  Most dancers really enjoy having women in clubs, but others see it as a threat to their nightly earnings.

  • Describe a strip club for those women who have never visited one.
    It all depends on the type of club you visit: topless, burlesque, fully nude, gentleman’s club. We found that we liked topless and burlesque clubs the best because there was more of a whimsical feel rather than the sort of intensity that comes with a fully nude club.  I would encourage women to grab a girl-friend and check out their local clubs. When you find one you like, it’s a great place to grab a drink – everyone looks better under those club lights!

  • Who was your favorite dancer and why?
    We met so many great women it’s difficult to say who was our favorite. Each dancer had their own special niche which made them special. That’s really the point of the book. Of course, Brynne Dearie, the stripper who wrote the introduction to the book, really embodied the kind of confident, devil may care spirit we wanted the book to convey. She was full of great one liners and philosophical quips – looking at stripping from a sociobiological perspective.

  • What’s the single most important tip for looking great naked?
    Feeling good about yourself.  The main points emphasized in the book are working with what you’ve got, instead of wishing you were someone else, and focusing on self-confidence and having fun.  It is rarely the most attractive dancers who get the most attention, it is the one’s who have the most confidence and seem to be having a great time.  That said, we have uncovered tons of ways to help boost your confidence whether that is covering stretch marks, emphasizing your figure in the most flattering way or discovering a new hair and make-up look that makes you feel your best.

  • What tips have your tried yourself?
    We have tried most of the tips ourselves – or we made our friends try them for us.  We threw a couple of parties and invited our girl-friends to come over and test the tips.  We had a great reaction from a lot of the skin tips and cellulite tips – they seem to concern women the most.  When we started the research phase of the book we surveyed a lot of women to find out what they would most like to read about and then we worked from there.   We tried out the make-up routines and the hairstyles and wigs – anything that didn’t seem to work, we left out of the book.  Of course, a lot of the tips we tried on our own and I can tell you that the results have been impressive!

  • What naked beauty items should every woman have on hand?
    Lip tint works well for coloring your lips, amongst other things.  Vaseline is great for glossing and for removing make-up or emergency hairstyling in a pinch.  Concealer is also a must, and some kind of perfume. And mints or gum.

  • Will this book really work for all women?
    We wrote the book with real women in mind, and the women we met were ‘real’ women – with cellulite and all.  The book focuses on working with what you have and feeling beautiful from the inside out.  It’s about feeling sexy in order to be sexy – regardless of how much time you have or how much money you have.  There are a lot of great tips in the book that will work for women of all ages, all ethnicities and all shapes and sizes – like finding the perfect lingerie look for your shape, or the most flattering shape for your bikini line.  We were looking for things that don’t take much time to master, and that anyone can do – you don’t have to be an expert make-up artist or dancer or interior decorator to do any of the things in the book.

  •  What would you tell a critic of the book – someone who found it offensive?
    As authors we were conscious of being respectful to the dancers we interviewed and the women who read our book.  Everyone gets naked at some point and that should be something that’s fun, not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about.  Why should we feel that way?  The book is filled with useful and unique tips and focuses on feeling good about you, not on changing you.  As for interviewing strippers – we just went to the experts!