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Stripped: Private Dancer

Some of us work crappy retail jobs to pay rent, others dance naked

 by Mani O'Brien
 published on Thursday, November 10, 2005

<em>Photo courtesy of KRT Wire</em><br>
Luke Lowrey used to spend his nights performing at Dick's Cabaret in Phoenix, now he's a full-time student at ASU and only strips occasionally for private parties, he says./issues/arts/694849
Photo courtesy of KRT Wire
Luke Lowrey used to spend his nights performing at Dick's Cabaret in Phoenix, now he's a full-time student at ASU and only strips occasionally for private parties, he says.
 

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Luke Lowrey talks about his three-year career as a stripper like it was a typical part-time job.

"I never thought I would be doing it this long," he says, flashing his straight white teeth.

Lowrey says became an adult cabaret dancer when he was 18 to pay his rent.While some people work at Abercrombie & Fitch for minimum wage during their teens, Lowrey worked at Dick's Cabaret, making an average of $350 per night.

Lowrey speaks slowly, deliberately. His fingernails are clean and bitten down to the flesh. He has a small frame, but his well-defined biceps peek out beneath the sleeves of his red T-shirt. He hardly embodies the image of the stereotypical Chippendale's dancer.

Lowrey says he spends less time stripping since he decided to return to college. He is now halfway through his first semester at ASU and says he now only strips occasionally at private parties.

"I always told myself that I'm not going to be 21 and not be in college," he says.

At ASU, Lowrey seems unconcerned about what people think about his stripping. In his English 101 class, he wrote an essay that analyzed the difference between the stage and private booths at a strip club, and he freely discusses his experiences with his class. He can't think of a moment in which people have been taken aback by his stripping.

"I think I just present myself really well," he says. "People know that I'm not some dumb stripper. I do have an education; I'm smart."

He says that his stripping is interesting to a lot of people and that he has taken curious students to the strip club to show them what it's like.

Lowrey talks easily about his experiences as "Devon," dancing naked to well-rehearsed routines for a predominately male audience. He says his most popular number was his cheerleader routine, where he stripped to Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey." He talks about the negative experiences, too -- like when clients would break the club's rules about not touching strippers in certain areas. Lowrey once slapped a client for touching him inappropriately.

"If clients broke the rules, I would try to push their hand away playfully at first and try to make it funny," he says. "But if it happened again, I would have to stop the show."

Stripping was more than a way to make money, he says. To him it was a professional career.

"Some people could argue that any form of stripping isn't classy, but there is a way to do it that I think that can be classy," he says. "I wanted to be a dancer; I wanted to be a professional."

These days, Lowrey is adjusting to life as a college student.

"Part of me thinks I might have gone to school too quickly even though it was three years," he says. "Just because you do need to make a transition from certain lifestyles."

Living a "party lifestyle" for Lowrey meant sleeping in until 3 p.m. He had a close group of friends that he would shop with for costumes and practice routines and pole dancing with. After a night of stripping, they would take late-night trips to Denny's for breakfast and browse the aisles of Wal-Mart, he says.

Now, Lowrey is more concerned with studying and working at his part-time job at ASU than with shopping for stripper gear. Another part of adjusting lifestyles has meant settling for a cut in his paycheck, Lowrey says.

"It is a necessity to come out of the dancing career. You are never going to be dancing for 10 years and be successful," he says. "But you get jaded because you have to go back to making $7 or $8 an hour when you were making a lot more."

Lowrey says he knew his career wasn't a lifetime commitment, but he would still strip at a club if he could.

"Stripping can be a very good choice for a student because it's very good money, and it is very powerful to be a stripper," he says. "When it's done right you are able to express yourself and meet a lot of people."

Reach the reporter at mani.obrien@asu.edu.



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