AskDefine | Define ecdysiast

Dictionary Definition

ecdysiast n : a performer who provides erotic entertainment by undressing to music [syn: stripper, striptease artist, striptease, stripteaser, exotic dancer, peeler]

User Contributed Dictionary



Coined by H. L. Mencken from ecdysis (on the model of enthusiast etc.).


  • /ɛkˈdɪz.i.æst/, /Ek"dIz.I.

Extensive Definition

A striptease or exotic dance is a form of erotic entertainment, usually a dance, in which the performer, known as a "stripper", gradually undresses, in a teasing and sexually suggestive manner, to music.
Stripteases are now performed mostly in strip clubs and (especially in the UK) pubs, though theatres and music halls have also been used as venues. The "teasing" part involves the slowness of undressing, while the audience is eager to see more nudity. Delay tactics include additional clothes being removed or putting clothes or hands in front of just undressed body parts, such as breasts or between the legs. Emphasis is on the act of undressing along with sexually suggestive movement, rather than the state of being undressed. In the past, the performance often finished as soon as the undressing was finished, though today striptease artists usually continue dancing whilst in a state of nudity.
Though today, the stripper sometimes ends the performance "fully nude", in historic and contemporary circumstances not every item of clothing has always been removed, due to legal and cultural prohibitions and other aesthetic considerations. For instance, in some parts of the USA, there are laws forbidding the exposure of female nipples, which have thus to be covered by pasties by the dancer (though no such taboo applies to the exposure of male nipples) . Such restrictions have been embodied in venue licensing constraints and local laws. Also certain jurisdictions (chiefly in the USA), have forbidden postures considered "indecent" (such as spreading the legs). Shoes (often high heeled) are usually kept on for practical and aesthetic reasons. Often Health codes require shoes to be worn at all times. The costume the stripper wears before disrobing can be an important part of the act. These could be fantasy themed: such as a schoolgirl uniform, maid's dress, policewoman's outfit etc.
Along with physical attractiveness and appropriate clothing, the main asset and tool used by the exotic dancer in recent years is the stripper pole.
In addition to night club entertainment, stripping can be a form of sexual play between partners. This can be done as an impromptu event or—perhaps for a special occasion—with elaborate planning involving fantasywear, music, special lighting, practised dance moves, and even dance moves that have been previously unpractised.
H.L. Mencken is credited with coining the word "ecdysiast", using a Greek phrase which means "a person who stripteases". He did so in response to a request from a stripteaser who requested a "more dignified" way to refer to her profession.


A variation on striptease is private dancing, which often involves lap dancing or contact dancing. Here the performers, in addition to stripping for tips, also offer "private dances" which involve more attention for individual audience members. Variations include private dances like table dancing where the performer dances on or by customer's table rather than the customer being seated in a couch. For certain events, including bachelor/bachorette parties, the stripper's job often involves holding games or contests with sexual themes.
The contact between a performer and a customer is regulated in ways that vary in response to local laws and club rules, ranging from "air dances" with minimal or no contact to "friction" lap dances at the dancer's discretion.


World origins

Until the 1970s, strippers in Western cultures were almost invariably female, performing to male audiences. Since then, male strippers, performing to female audiences, have also become common. Male and female strippers also perform for gay and lesbian audiences respectively, as well as for both sexes in pansexual contexts. Before the 1970s dancers of both sexes appeared largely in underground clubs or as part of a theatre experience, but the practice eventually became common enough on its own. One of the more well-known troupes of male strippers are the Chippendales. Male strippers have become a popular option to have at a bachelorette party.
The record-holder for Guinness World Records "oldest male stripper" is Bernie Barker, who was 63 at the age of his induction.

Gay males

Gay male strip clubs feature men who appear initially in skimpy undergarments (which may be removed if full nudity is allowed) and socks. Many mainstream gay bars and nightclubs employ Go-Go boys, who gyrate and dance in little more than a G-String and shoes, and often strip completely naked for the pleasure of other men, typically for tips.

Film and other media




  • Jekyll and Hyde (1997). The character of Lucy Harris (originally portrayed by Linda Eder) works as a prostitute and stripper in a small London club called The Red Rat, where she meets a multi-dimension man named Doctor Henry Jekyll, who turns into his evil persona Mr. Edward Hyde. Lucy performs the song ‘Bring on the Men’ during a show at the Red Rat (which was later replaced with ‘Good ‘n’ Evil’ in the Broadway production, some claiming ‘Bring on the Men’ was too ‘risqué’.).

See also


  • Toni Bentley, 2002. Sisters of Salome
  • Lara Clifton, 2002. Baby Oil and Ice: Striptease in East London.
  • Shteir, Rachel, 2004. Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show. Oxford University Press.
  • Murray Goldstein, 2005. Naked Jungle - Soho Stripped Bare. Silverback Press.


External links

  • The Naked Truth (support and information website by and about exotic dancers in Canada)
  • Stripper Web (United States based exotic dancer community offering support and advice)
  • Striptease bookmark (European striptease bookmark page)
  • Strippers (Resource of information about strippers)
  • Dancer Dolls (Resource of information from real strippers)
ecdysiast in Catalan: Striptease
ecdysiast in Czech: Striptýz
ecdysiast in Danish: Striptease
ecdysiast in German: Striptease
ecdysiast in Spanish: Striptease
ecdysiast in Esperanto: Striptizo
ecdysiast in French: Striptease (spectacle)
ecdysiast in Indonesian: Tari telanjang
ecdysiast in Italian: Spogliarello
ecdysiast in Hebrew: חשפנות
ecdysiast in Lithuanian: Striptizas
ecdysiast in Dutch: Striptease
ecdysiast in Japanese: ストリップ劇場
ecdysiast in Polish: Striptease
ecdysiast in Portuguese: Striptease
ecdysiast in Russian: Стриптиз
ecdysiast in Simple English: Striptease
ecdysiast in Slovak: Striptíz
ecdysiast in Finnish: Striptease
ecdysiast in Swedish: Striptease
ecdysiast in Turkish: Striptiz
ecdysiast in Ukrainian: Стриптиз
ecdysiast in Yiddish: סטריפיז
ecdysiast in Chinese: 脫衣舞
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