I woke up to this sentence in my inbox last Tuesday:
Next week we will dance in the stripper shoes if you are ready to go there.
No, I haven’t ditched my day job—a few weeks ago I embarked upon my S Factor journey, slipping into a dark dance studio with seven other women to discover our “erotic creatures” under the glow of the red light (check out my first post here). A few classes in and we’re upping our game—literally. About six inches or so.
“Every style of dance has a shoe,” Kathy Ann explained in class the next day. “This is just the shoe for this particular kind of dance.” My brain flashed to my childhood closet and the historical montage of my dance career therein: ballet slippers, jazz hi-tops, character shoes, ill-advised tap flats… Stripper heels should fit right in.
Choosing my first pair o’ pole dancing footwear should be a walk in the park, right? It all looks uncomfortable, so I think I’m just debating over aesthetic… Patent leather or plastic? Leather straps or rhinestones? Six inches or—good grief—seven? My enthusiastic classmates started trying on the shoes offered in the S Factor lobby—lacing up shiny boots, slipping into gold Mary Janes—and buying them. “They fit, I feel hot, check please.” But sitting in a sea of open shoeboxes, I found myself completely and positively perplexed. Why is this so difficult?
(Notice how I can’t even unquote “sexy”. Talk about repressed.)
It’s true. Scroll up from the historical montage of dance shoes on my closet floor to the top drawer of my dresser and you will find a historical montage of boyfriend-lingerie. That is to say, lingerie purchased for and/or by a boyfriend. White lace from that guy. Cotton boy shorts for that one. A black slip from last Christmas and a peach-colored one from the late 90s. YES, I NEED TO CLEAN OUT MY UNDIE-PANTS DRAWER (and for the record, I’m not talking about my dailies, just the celebratory unmentionables).
The point is, I can’t remember a single time in my life when I went out and purchased a little some’in some’in for myself—like really, for myself. Cause I wanted it, and not because I wanted to get my shimmy on with a guy who, let’s face it, would probably be happier with that lingerie on the floor. And that totally pisses me off. I imagine if a girlfriend were telling me the same thing, I'd get all high-n'-mighty with a don't-let-your-man-dictate-your-sexy speech. And here I am, just like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride. I don't even know what kind of eggs I like.
So no wonder, when faced with three shelves full of stripper heels—that were not for anyone but me and my S Factor brethren—I felt like I was answering a long avoided and totally important personal question: what is my sexual identity? (Or, if you wear a sexy shoe in the woods and no one is there to see you, is the shoe still sexy, what kind of shoe is it, and do they have it in a seven and a half?)
With my dear friend Sara by my side—cause who doesn’t want to go stripper shoe shopping in the Tenderloin at 2:00pm on a Tuesday—I opened my mind, rolled up my jeans, and got my shoe(s) on. God bless the lovely owner and store clerk at Foot Worship in San Francisco for their collective patience, cause I tried on everything. Cork platforms with lace-up straps. Silver peep-toes a la Dirty Dancing. Clear heels with a slot in the sole labeled “tips,” check and check. And like the sad state of my undie-pants, at first I was completely caught up in how they looked to everyone else. Hip? Edgy? Innocent (well, considering)? Each pair made me feel a little silly, a lot taller—and slowly but surely, HOT.
By the end of the hour I had narrowed it down to three pairs: the classic clear lucite, black leather with buckles up the front (pictured above), and—my favorite—silver with a f-ckin’ fake goldfish in the sole. Yes, a goldfish. Floating about in some fluorescent blue liquid substance masquerading as water. And they were on sale!
But, committed to the experience and convinced that maaaaaybe I’d be distracted by the sloshing of toxic materials in my shoes whilst getting down with my sexy self, I opted for the first pair. The classics. Clear lucite, ankle strap, peep toe—and yeah, six inches. This was not the pair I thought I would like, not by a long shot. I actually didn’t try on the clear plastic selection until I’d exhausted the leather and rhinestones—they just seemed kinda boring to me. And trashy? Can I say that about stripper shoes? Yeah. I don’t know. From the shelf, they didn’t speak to me.
I don’t know if this is obvious—stripper heels are as much art as they are science, after all—but clear shoes disappear on your feet. They make your tootsies look like they’re floating, like your gams are a mile long… They are, in fact, a clean canvas. The sexy in this shoe is YOU.
I’m not sure what this says about my sexual identity, which is exactly what we’re exploring in class. When the lights go out and your eyes are closed and no one is watching, what’s at the heart of your erotic creature? Maybe it’s that I just desire more of a clean slate through which to figure that out. Fewer bells and whistles, straps and sparkles. Fewer labels and masks. Less montage o’ boyfriends. More… me.
What about you? Have you ever purchased lingerie or any other clothing that makes YOU feel sexy, without the input—theoretical or otherwise—of your partner? What is your sexual identity? Any of my S Factor sisters have a similar experience buying your shoes? Anything surprise you about your erotic creature?
(Parts 3 and 4 in my S Factor series to come!)
Going back for the goldfish,
*Camera phone will not allow that last image to rotate, despite my best efforts, but the result is too hilarious not to publish as is. You're welcome.*
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