ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Art of the Striptease, a Venerable American Entertainment Genre

Updated on August 19, 2015
The Chippendales
The Chippendales | Source
Sally Rand
Sally Rand

The Art of the Striptease

Although the art of the striptease can be traced to early Babalonia and Salome's Biblical dance of the seven veils, the origin in the United States was in late 19th, early 20th century vaudeville burlesque and traveling carnival shows. Gypsy Rose Lee and fan dancer Sally Rand were the super stars of the nascent art of stripping. Until male strippers emerged as entertainers for women in the 1970s, strippers were invariably women performing for male audiences. Pole dancing which added an acrobatic element to the genre came on the scene in Las Vegas in the 1980s and spread to strip clubs around the country in the 1980s along with table dancing and lap dancing.

Hollywood has produced numerous movies about striptease notably starring Mary Martin, Rita Hayworth as Salome, Barbara Stanwyck as Gilda, Demi Moore, Kim Basinger, Lindsay Lohan, Daryl Hannah, among others. H.L. Mencken reportedly coined the word "ecdysiast" upon a request from Gypsy Rose Lee for a classier term than stripper for her artistry.

Not surprisingly, strippers have had a history of conflicts with the law. Gypsy Rose Lee's shows experienced police raids a number of times. Conservative Judge Richard Posner concurred in a famous 1990 federal circuit court decision involving stripping at the Kitty Kat Lounge in South Bend, Indiana, which extended First Amendment protection to nude dancing--

"Posner's own considerable candor has made for some highly unusual opinions. Back in 1990, the judges of the Seventh Circuit decided the case of Miller v. Civil City of South Bend. At issue in Miller was the constitutionality of an Indiana public-indecency statute prohibiting "the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple, or the showing of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state." Darlene Miller and several other nude dancers affiliated with the Kitty Kat Lounge of South Bend, Indiana, challenged the constitutionality of the statute on grounds that "non-obscene nude dancing of the barroom variety, performed as entertainment," was a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment.

"The court decided in favor of Miller, and Posner concurred with the majority on the grounds that nude dancing is a form of expression entitled to limited protection under the First Amendment. But his separate opinion was very much his own. It seemed he was not particularly interested in the legalistic arguments advanced by either side in the case:

The true reason I think for wanting to exclude striptease dancing from the protection of the First Amendment is not any of the lawyers' classification games... such as expression versus nonexpression, ideas versus emotions, art versus entertainment, or speech versus conduct. It is a feeling that the proposition, "the First Amendment forbids the State of Indiana to require striptease dancers to cover their nipples," is ridiculous. It strikes judges as ridiculous in part because most of us are either middle-aged or elderly men, in part because we tend to be snooty about popular culture, in part because as public officials we have a natural tendency to think political expression more important than artistic expression, in part because we are Americans — which means that we have been raised in a culture in which puritanism, philistinism, and promiscuity are complexly and often incongruously interwoven — and in part because like all lawyers we are formalists who believe deep down that the words in statutes and the Constitutions mean what they say, and a striptease is not a speech. But the element of the ridiculous is not all on one side. Censorship of erotica is pretty ridiculous too. What kind of people make a career of checking to see whether the covering of a woman's nipples is fully opaque, as the statute requires?... The history of censorship is a history of folly and cruelty.

"Back in his chambers in the Everett M. Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago, Posner smiles his coy half-smile as he remembers the case, which led to his 1992 book Sex and Reason. "I was curious about the origin of nude dancing, and where it came from, and whether it was connected to Salome's dance, and so on," he recalls. "I think I was the only judge who looked at the [video] tape [of the dancing]. I thought it was important to see what could be systematically known about these practices." In the end, Posner was less interested in adroit legalistic hairsplitting than in the brute facts of American society. "In the America of 1990," he concluded his opinion, "the project of stamping out nude striptease dancing is quixotic. The power of government is relative to the desires and values of its people. The State of Indiana cannot take the erotic edge off American culture." The state's anti-nudity statue was simply not pragmatic."

[Lingua Franca Volume 10 No. 4, May 2000]

Posner's decision notwithstanding, legal disputes continue over local and state efforts to prohibit or regulate establishments offering this venerable and popular form of entertainment.

Gypsy Rose Lee

Strip Tease YouTube Video


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      The Pink Pussycat internationally famous for its attached institution of higher learning, the Pink Pussycat College of Strip Tease, familiarly called the Navel Academy of the West.

    • isinson profile image


      8 years ago

      One for the Ladies video was funny! I didn't see that one coming

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Ha! Ha!

    • drcrischasse profile image

      Cristopher Chasse 

      8 years ago from Boston

      Always enlightening Ralph.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Here's one for the ladies.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 

      10 years ago from Around the USA

      LOL, didn't see that one coming!

    • Mark Knowles profile image

      Mark Knowles 

      10 years ago

      LOL - good one ralph.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Lol, really funny strip video haha :)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      gypsy rose lee :heart: 

      lolol at the vid!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)