Throughout this series, we are asking our community to help make us smarter. All questions provided by you and for you.
Stripper: Hi, my name is Maddie. I'm a dancer.
What are your pronouns?
Stripper: My pronouns are she/her or she/slut.
What does it take to become a stripper of the year finalist?
Stripper: So, the sexual freedom awards are about people that inspire the community. I was nominated for writing a dissertation about stripper fashion.
Was that also your academic subject of study?
Stripper: Yep, fashion history.
What connects fashion and stripping?
Stripper: The biggest thing would be the shoes, the pleaser shoes. Those are always worn by strippers and the most comfy shoe. And then that kind of adopted into the fetish scene as well. And just throughout history, fashion has taken inspiration from sex worker dress ever since the beginning, really.
Do you have a pet?
Stripper: I do! I've got a little bunny, it's called Marshmallow.
How does censorship affect you?
Stripper: Censorship affects me and my community in a really big way. We can't post on Instagram or Facebook. Anything about our jobs, anything that counts as soliciting. So, no direct links to OnlyFans, not even nipples, and even Twitter now is cracking down on it. I've just been banned for life from Twitter, even though I didn't actually post any nudity. So, that's a lot of my main income gone and I'm trying to recover that now in some other way.
'Radical Feminists' vs Equality
Stripper: Their idea of women's rights is actually just taken away a woman's right to choose to do sex work. By trying to shut down everything, you just push it underground. Therefore, they're putting women in more vulnerable situations than they would be if the industry was fully decriminalised and regulated.
Are regulations heading in the right direction for SWs?
Stripper: Unfortunately, not. They're trying to introduce the Nordic model here, which is where the client was criminalised. And again, that does the same thing, it pushes it all the underground. I don't think we're there anytime soon, but I'd like to hope that things will change in the future.
Is there a community amongst strippers?
Stripper: Yeah. I think people don't realise how big and how uplifting the stripper and sex work community is. We've got the East London Strippers Collective. I've been with them ever since I moved here actually. And they've been like family to me. It's really important, I think, to be able to survive the social stigma, to have that support from your peers.
Looking at your Instagram, what's the relationship between strippers and cakes?
Stripper: There is none. I just had to do a last minute show and I didn't know what else to do. And I liked baking and I liked twerking. So I thought I'll just sit on it.
Do you have any secret to boost your confidence? Any secret move?
Stripper: Just try and stop giving a fuck about what anyone thinks about you. Once you do that, you feel much more free to be yourself and find your niche. Your own style, what you're interested in, and just be fully you.
How do you make sure you are safe?
Stripper: Short nails and big shoes.
What is the most challenging thing about having a job in adult entertainment?
Stripper: The social stigma around it. It makes it really hard to talk about your work without being judged constantly. Whether that's by family or wider society or politicians. I think that's definitely the hardest part of it.
If you could change one thing in your industry, what would it be?
Stripper: There are so many things I would change, but I think we can start by having clubs run by sex workers. That understand how we work. That don't exploit us. That's the problem with the industry, is the way that it's run. It's not the industry itself. It's not the work itself. It's just how it's currently run and regulated.
Do you feel heard by the regulators?
Stripper: Nope. They never listen to actual sex worker voices. They try to speak for us. And that's how, unfortunately, a lot of laws get formed, just by listening to these - I wouldn't call them feminist groups because they're not - but they listen to them speak over us and for us, instead of acknowledging that we are our own people, and we have a voice, and we know what's best for us.
How would a strip club of the future look like?
Stripper: It will all be run by strippers in more of a community kind of setting. So, no greedy bosses, no house fees, no illegal fines, and more workers rights.