TAKE OFF – Striptease for Queers
On the occasion of the 13th Pornfilmfestival, which took place here in Berlin last week, I met two great people for an interview, who gave a workshop next to the event. »Take off – Striptease for Queers«, is a workshop that was created by Finn Peaks, Lori Baldwin & Rebekka Lightline. I wondered how the idea for this project came about and was curious to learn more about their fascinating personalities. During my research I got stuck with the performance ideas of the two already and was looking forward to our upcoming meeting. This article gives you a deeper insight into the concept of their striptease workshop.
Anne: Lori and Finn, how did you get to know each other and how did Rebekka get involved?
Finn: We met at a birthday party with friends. And flirted, offline as well as online. I was interested in Lori’s projects, then the idea came to work together.
Lori: I met Rebekka in Budapest. We shared an apartment and started a joint project (Kim and David). Later on Rebekka moved to Berlin. Last summer we met again and thought about how we could bring the old project into new forms and so the idea »Striptease Party« came to life. With Finn 3 energetic dynamics collided and so the original idea »Striptease Party« became the workshop »Striptease for Queers«. It was clear, there is exactly this one gap that has to be filled.
Anne: What does your workshop contain? How can I imagine that?
Lori: First of all you can say that there is no right or wrong in stripping, the way you feel it is right is perfectly right. We create a safe stage on which people can simply experiment and play, it’s not about technique, even if we like to give tips, but rather about supporting each other and just letting go. The natural flow of the body is observed, something that comes from within, the power of the inner strength/
energy. Stripping should not be taken too seriously, of course you want to look sexy, but you can also just laugh and make small mistakes, you can also create alter egos, it can just as well be a role play. All the physical tools are given and can be used in a variety of ways.
Anne: It’s called “Striptease for Queers”, so am I not allowed to participate?
Finn: Every body and every gender is allowed to participate, but it is a workshop which explicitly invites queer-identified people as there are simply no such spaces yet. So we created a safe(r) space for all those who would like to join in. Anyone can show up as they like and of course you are welcome to join us, too.
Anne: Will the workshop be continued in this form?
Lori: Yes, because there is a lot of demand, maybe also a continuation/expansion with lap dance etc. The last 3 workshops were about the basics, but I’m curious to focus one workshop completely on creating a persona, developing a routine, giving feedback to each other, bringing in dominant and submissive elements or trying kinky striptease. There is so much more to explore. The idea to transition the workshop into a party afterwards is new and will be implemented soon. To start with the workshop and its participants and then continue with a big striptease party where everyone can be participate, a public party. In order to go into practice more often, I could imagine an event of one workshop per month or more in the future, for instance.
Finn: Regular workshops would also be better for us to develop our own performance, really take the time to prepare and exchange routinely.
Anne: How did you come up with the idea of presenting a workshop like this?
Finn: To challenge the idea of thin women who dance for straight men in clubs (which is also fine), but then there is also our queer community and I thought about stripping for my own people. So I created different performance approaches beyond the classic sensual image. Here you can also laugh casually, I love combining sexy with silly.
Anne: How do you feel after the workshop?
Lori: I am so grateful for this opportunity, there is so much good energy and appreciation coming from it. You can feel that it was just the right decision to bring this opportunity to life with the workshop.
Finn: Yes, the energy from the last workshops was great, after the workshop the whole room shines, a sexual tension but also an energetic release is literally tangible. You can see that in the end people are very happy and appreciative that there is a place where you can just undress without thinking much.
Anne: We are here at the Pornfilmfestival. What is your impression and how did you come to integrate your workshop in parallel?
Lori: That was Finn’s idea, because he is involved in the Pornfilmfestival and our workshop fits perfectly. It’s a great event when you think about it – sitting in the cinema in broad daylight watching porn with all the others. It’s kind of liberating and a positive energy is noticeable in an atmosphere of people who are all more or less in the same business, for me it has almost a healing component.
Finn: It’s a universe you dive into and then you realize a week has passed and it was so intense, you hardly get food or sleep in that time but you get so much love and respect no matter what projects you do, whether as a filmmaker, actor, musical artist, whatever. It’s a special atmosphere that lives from a lot of appreciation, meanwhile we’re already celebrating the 13th festival. By the way, this year I can not only be seen in the films of the festival myself, but I will perform on stage.
Anne: Do you have a message that is personally dear to your heart, that you want to get out there regarding your workshop?
Lori: While none of us are professional strippers or have worked in strip clubs, its important for us to acknowledge the work of the people that do, and that we are of course borrowing from in some way. There are many queers working as professional strippers, and we absolutely do not want to discount their experience or profession; we maintain a lot of respect and appreciation for their work! I can imagine that working in the mostly hetero-dominated industry must have its challenges, especially for a queer woman. »Take Off« is built as a safe space for all (queer) people to come and strip, regardless of experience, and we welcome the presence of professionals, beginners, and everyone in between to share their skills and build the space with us.
Finn: We would also like to emphasize the accessibility of our workshop – it is donation based and no experience is needed. Anyone can be a performer, you don’t need to have 10 years of dance or acting training, you just have to go in, trust yourself and then you notice of what you are capable to do and slowly evolve.