Gigging as a Pole Dancer: Playing a Stripper on TV

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On the set of Lucky Number

The range of performance scenarios you may find yourself in as a pole dancer is vast. I have performed at art galleries, bat mitzvahs, stages in Vegas and even the Gay Pride Parade on a mobile pole pedicab. One of my favorite places to perform is on TV/film sets as a stripper. It’s a fun way to explore an exotic world I would never have the hustle to explore in real life.

Read on to discover how the magic happens from booking the job to completing it!

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My first TV stripper job in 2011

Booking the Job
Playing a stripper in film will usually be considered background work. This is booked through a background casting agency. The most popular background casting is Central Casting. They have branches in both NYC, LA, Louisiana and Georgia. They book everything from television shows to major motion pictures. There are others you can find through a simple Google search. Anyone can register but there is usually a small monthly fee to receive notifications. Keep in mind, background casting is done primarily based on your look. If you look the part and you are available you may very well get booked.

Playing a stripper is a little different than normal background work since a skill is required. This will give you a chance to stand out from the crowd. Make sure you have great pictures of yourself in sexy pole clothes with shoes. Have clear, quality videos as well. It is helpful to have a professional headshot. But most background casting companies actually want to see a selfie style shot so they can see what you actually look like. Know your sizes. Make your contact information clear and easy to read. Be fast, precise and concise with communication. Not being crazy is a big asset to getting on Casting’s good side! (seriously)

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CNN’s The Hunt

Day Rate 
Pay is established before the shoot date. Non-union jobs usually pay around $72 for 8 hours. But pay could be even less or nothing at all for some jobs. Union (SAG/AFTRA) jobs should pay a minimum of special ability rate which is currently $162 for 8 hours. More often than not you will receive a rate of $250 for 8 or $500 for 8 to play a stripper. If you have choreography, or levels of nudity you could receive principal rate of close to $1k which may or may not include contract and credit. You are paid more for overtime, meal penalties and extras like working overnight or around smoke. Always establish your pay before accepting the job. If you aren’t comfortable with the rate, don’t accept the job. Never assume you can negotiate for a higher rate on set because more often than not you will be disappointed.

Wardrobe 
Casting will most likely provide specific details on what to wear. If the strip club scene is taking place on network television they will have strict rules about body coverage (see: gluteal fold). Always bring options and never assume Wardrobe will give you clothes to wear. They also may not have the best options for you to pole dance in. It is much better to be comfortable in clothes you’re used to dancing in.

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Always do your hair and make-up in advance unless specifically told otherwise. You are working as background, not a day player. They will most likely touch you up. But never assume special treatment.

Nudity
This should be clearly discussed before you get to set. I personally have never done nudity when performing as a stripper on TV or film. Know what you’re comfortable with and make sure you’re comfortable with the rate. If you have any level of nudity involved, you should be working as union. General rules associated with this include no still photography and for there to be a closed set. You should be given a cover-up between takes. If these guidelines are not being followed call SAG/AFTRA.

Best Moves to Perform
Obviously sexy movement is preferred. But network television may tell you to reel it in if you get too hot for TV. If you are filming in a strip club the poles will most likely be 50mm static. Keep this in mind when planning your tricks. Also be prepared to do it again and again with each take. Don’t go hard in rehearsal. Conserve your energy for when you actually shoot. Simple is best on film, especially if you’re performing ambient pole. You’re adding to the effect of the scene, you are not the center of the scene (unless otherwise directed). You will most likely be given direction from the 2nd Assistant Director. If you are a crucial element to the scene the Assistant Director will give you notes. Very rarely will you have the Director give you feedback.

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Lucky Number set

Hurry Up and Wait
Performing on sets can feel like a foreign world if you have never done it before. Often you don’t know where or when you will shoot until the night before. You won’t know how long you will be there until the day of. Go into the shoot with this mindset. Be prepared to stay there all day. Follow directions and listen to the crew. Be polite. And when given direction, try your best to make it work. These are the people cast and crew will want to work with again. Of course if something is seriously wrong or dangerous always speak up. But in general, work with the conditions you’re given.

Have Fun! 
Being on a set is fun! The hours can be long but with a tight crew and cast it can be a great experience. I will warn though… if you have never performed as a stripper before be prepared for the possibility of conflicting emotions. My first job was a scene with Seth Meyers for a movie called I Don’t Know How She Does It. The scene involved him hooting and hollering slurs at me along with a room of other men gawking at me. I have to admit the experience was a bit jarring and felt degrading. Once I reminded myself I was playing a role I got over the initial shock. It was a ridiculous scene and part of what made it funny was how over-the-top it was.

 

I hope these tips helped you out should you ever find yourself in this position. These roles don’t come up very often but when they do I always love to jump at the chance. Have you ever played a stripper on TV?….

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