Oh my gosh, I’m beyond stoked Piper sat down with me (well, over email. I assume she was sitting? I was!) to talk about pole dancing, stripping and her life! I could only include a tiny excerpt in the comic, and I encourage you to read the full transcript below because she’s got a lot of great things to say.
You can keep up with her on Facebook at Piper Hollis and go see her dance on Saturday and Sunday nights at Devils Point, 5305 SE Foster Rd, here in Portland, OR. Devils Point keeps their dancer schedule updated here.
If you’d like to buy one of her favorite LELO toys for yourself, may I recommend using one of our fine friends?
Lily & Elise 2 from our Friends (with benefits)
Full Interview with Piper
OJST: When did you start stripping and what interested you in it?
Piper: December 2, 2008. :) I loved dancing and stopped doing it entirely after high school. A friend of mine, Lavinia, had been dancing at Devils Point for a year. I was always a little timid about the idea (Mormon upbringing!), but really curious, and after going on the world naked bike ride (!) and figuring out how okay I was being naked in front of people, and watching how hard it didn’t combust my friend’s life up, I had a long and very in-depth talk with Lavinia and started a few weeks later. She can now be seen at Stripparaoke, as our world-famous KJ!
OJST: Do you dance anywhere else than Devil’s Point? Where?
Piper: When I started dancing four and a half years ago, I split my time pretty evenly between Devils (no apostrophe, just so you know) Point and Lucky Devil, our sister club. You get to know what environment you work best in pretty quickly, and after a little under a year liking both for different reasons, I took the plunge and committed totally to DP. Lucky is a “hustle-ier” club. When I’m working, I like to kind of just be friendly and goof around with people. I put way more energy into stage performances, and make most of my money there instead, which is DP friendly.
OJST: Did you have previous dance or gymnastics/acrobatic experience before becoming a stripper? If so, which ones and for how long?
Piper: I was in classes growing up, ballet mostly. I moved around a lot, so I was in and out of them all the time. I really loved it, but I was never incredible at ballet (and had some REALLY committed friends), so when I hit my teenage years I ended up doing some dance programs through school instead where I got to experiment with Jazz and Modern. After high school, I didn’t have that hours-a-day outlet and BAM. Stripping!
OJST: How did you become interested in pole dance, where did you learn it and how long have you been doing it?
Piper: Haha. I’ve got so many Lavinia stories. After I decided to audition (you do two songs in front of the bartender on shift, call the bar for appointments), Lavinia and her friend Hezzy took me to a park to show me a couple of basic moves on a tetherball pole (NOT the same!). We found a pretty secluded one, away from children, and I learned my first two basic spins that day. When I started at DP I was so impressed and awed by the talented girls there. Veterans like Cricket, Berlin, and Pisces were so strong and fast and I wanted to be able to do all of that. right. now. I took it from there, worked hard and threw myself at it in the beginning, but I owe all of the inspiration to do that to the girls I was surrounded by.
OJST: How would you describe your dance style?
Piper: There is a running joke at DP that some girls dance VERRRRYY slowwwly (and sensually!), and I dance like a muppet on fire. If I’m being nice, I would say that I’m …energetic? I tend to move a lot, and transition from one trick to the next in quick succession.
OJST: What is your favorite pole move(s)? (If possible, can you point it out here, on Pole Dance Dictionary?)
Piper: Like I said, a lot of my tricks are a bunch of things, all kind of done together. I’ll spin, touch down, and throw myself into the next thing before landing on my neck or something. But right now my favorite part of one of those tricks is probably what they call “The Batman” (which is a great name!) http://poledancedictionary.com/moves/345/batman/ — That’s not how I get into it, but that hold with the separated arms and the legs apart is what’s happening when I pause. Rad site.
OJST: What do you like about stripping?
Piper: I love getting to know people in my regular life, and my job is exactly that, all the time. Some of my best friends are also my coworkers, I get to exercise and teach myself new (fun, ridiculous) tricks all the time, and the money is nothing to sneeze at.
OJST: What, if anything, does stripping provide you that other jobs lack? And vice-versa?
Piper: I do not miss retail. There’s a common misconception that if a stripper is being nice to you it’s because she has to be. HHHHNOPE. I’m not paid an hourly wage, and I’m spending my time there how I want to. If you’re being an asshole to me, I absolutely have the right to tell you so. Not so with a straight job. As a sales associate, I’ve been berated by strangers for things completely out of my control, and then apologized for it. That is not a feeling I like or want to revisit.
That said, a four and a half years and counting blank spot on a resume doesn’t look amazing. I’m working on a degree right now, and that’s definitely going to help at the end, but if you’re not going to school, be prepared to hold down a job for at least a day a week if you want to avoid ginormous holes in your record.
OJST: What have you learned from stripping? Anything you can take with you to other careers or just life in general?
Piper: LOTS. Pay attention to yourself. As in, watch what you’re doing. There was a period toward the beginning of my stripping career that I was being a little bit of a shit show and was either unaware or wilfully ignorant of my behavior and how I was being perceived. It was a deep-end-of-the-pool kind of way to learn that lesson, but “reflect on yourself often” is a big one, and I’m glad that I became aware of it relatively early in my life. Another lesson is that sometimes people just fucking suck. I’ve dealt with a lot of different people working in this industry, and I’ve made a lot of really good friends. And the opposite. It was a good day when I decided that not everybody had to be my buddy, and that when someone is shitty to you, sometimes it’s not your job to be an anti-shit missionary. Let them have their own shitty shit time, and go have your party elsewhere. You’ll be happier for it.
OJST: Any great stories you want to share?
Piper: There are a lot, and I’m sure there are better ones, but here’s the first one that comes to mind: One time a bachelor party brought in this two foot long, black rubber double-ended dildo (I don’t know how or why they got it in there <--- That's what she said). They were sitting at my rack, glancing down, snickering, and I asked what was under the rack. One of them slapped it onto the stage - THUD-WUBBAWUBBA (then, embarrassed, assured me over and over again that it was brand new "I SWEAR! I SWEAR! LOOK!"). I laughed and ran it into the dressing room, poking a sitting girl in the ear with it. She grabbed it and spun it lasso-style above her head. It was SO heavy, and hurt when you got hit with it. Many a video came from that night. OJST: What are you studying in school and how much longer till you graduate?
Piper: I’m going for Web Development, I’ll be done in Fall 2014.
OJST: What are your interests and hobbies?
Piper: I’m all about video games and I love books. My days are pretty full with school right now, but I make sure to make time and revisit my old favorites. Many a customer knows that I spend a lot of my time at the club with my rubiks cube (under a minute!).
OJST: What are your favorite books and games or which ones are you working on right now?
Piper: Oh boy, I love this question! Favorite games… hmm… Okay, of all time? Eternal Darkness for the Gamecube, Portal 1 and 2 for PS3 <---f'reals on that one, the writing is incredible and the gameplay is perfect. Harvest Moon 64 for N64. Myst, DOOM and Warcraft II, all for PC <--- Those three were where I started. Ahh, memories. Favorite book of all time is Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. It’s an anti-war novel published just before WWII, and it got the author in some serious trouble. He was accused of having Socialist ties and was blacklisted from working or being published — one of the “Hollywood Ten”. The book is about a soldier who is wounded in WWI, who becomes trapped inside his own mind as a result of his injuries. You read his thoughts, basically, sometimes without much punctuation or a clear path. He remembers his life before, and figures out what war really means… I won’t say any more, just that it’s a very important book.
On a lighter note, I also really enjoy Dave Eggars, who is well known for writing A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. My favorite of his is You Shall Know Our Velocity!. I loved Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.
OJST: Aaaaand because OJST is mostly a sex toy review comic, I’ve gotta ask: What’s your favorite sex toy?
Piper: LELO. omg. I have the Elise in black, but it looks like they have an Elise 2 out with a quieter motor and more speeds! I’ve also used the Lily. I have been a SUPER big fan of both of those. They’re quiet, lots of intensities and rhythms, and can get intense without being overpowering. I like that it’s kind of ergonomic, like a mac mouse, so it doesn’t feel like I’m awkwardly twisting my hand around. I also love the matte finish, it’s soooooo soft and really easy to clean!
I’ve definitely got one of these guys as well, although I think it might be on the way out. The battery connection is a little meh, but that’s the case with a lot of California Exotics stuff. The battery covers always feel like they’re just going to break right off. It feels chintzy, and compared to the LELO toys that’s really noticeable.
OJST: Let me know if I’ve used any inappropriate language, too! Is it ok to say “stripping” or should I say “exotic dancing” or something?
Piper: P.S. “Stripper” is totally fine, and I think it would be helpful to alert others! People tend to walk on eggshells about it. I can be “performancey” all day long, but I’m still taking off my bra. If a lady gives you crap for using the wrong word, she’s taking herself much too seriously, in my opinion. Stripper, dancer, “exotic artist”, performer, and probably lots more are all totally welcome. Although, once a customer called one of us a “lady of the night”, not realizing that definitely means prostitute. Whoops. His face went beet red when he was corrected.
And that’s it! Whew!