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Strippers in the Attic podcast, Buffy
Buffy, Strippers in the Attic

This myth-busting podcast explores the joys of being a stripper

On Strippers in the Attic, hosts Heaven and Buffy offer a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like working in a strip club, and shatter outdated misconceptions about sex work

“2020 has turned my life upside down, as it has for many people,” says Heaven, a 29-year-old stripper from north London. “The career I once had was completely pulled from under my feet.”

While many office and hospitality workers have been able to take advantage of government relief amid the pandemic, sex workers have been left behind by a system that refuses to acknowledge their existence. As strict lockdowns continue to bring the world to a halt, strip clubs have been forced to close their doors, leaving many without a source of income. 

With their livelihoods on temporary pause, Heaven and Buffy, a 37-year-old stripper from North America, have used this time to create a podcast reflecting on the career they love so much. Titled Strippers in the Attic, the series explores the joys of working in a strip club, offering a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like once the lights come up and the punters go home.

After meeting in an east London strip club seven years ago, Heaven and Buffy went on to travel the world together, embarking on careers that span 11 and 19 years respectively. “Both of us had been keeping a record of all the funny experiences we’d had at various strip clubs, and the interesting characters we met along the way,” Heaven tells Dazed. “We needed a space for all these personal stories to live.”

In their six-part series, Heaven and Buffy tackle everything from their first auditions to the dos and don’ts of going under the knife in the name of stripping, and reveal what it’s like to spend Christmas Day in a strip club.

The pair are also determined to shatter outdated misconceptions about stripping with the podcast – crucially, the archaic notion that strippers don't enjoy what they're doing. “I hope listeners get an insight into our world,” says Buffy, “and find that we’re not so different from one another.”

The strip club doors might be closed, but the VIP room is open. Here, we speak to Heaven and Buffy about how they got into stripping, what listeners can expect from the podcast, and how the pandemic has impacted their careers.

How did you both get into stripping? How long have you been doing it?

Buffy: I was 18 and had just moved to London from a suburb of San Francisco. After getting fired from three jobs in a row, I thought becoming a stripper was the most logical option. Turns out it was the best decision of my life, as 20 years later – although I’ve semi-retired – I’m still a stripper!

Heaven: I’ve spent the past 12 years in the industry, having got my first ever ‘stripping’ gig at the age of 17. I’d been hanging out in the alternative clubbing scene for a couple of years when I was approached and asked if I’d like to be part of a striptease duo at a fetish night called Club Antichrist (in Vauxhall). It was my dream job to get all glammed up, dance on stage, and actually get paid for it. Soon enough though, the owners found out that I was 17 and promptly fired me, asking me to come back when I was 18 – but by that time, I’d set my sights on the real deal, so I headed into Soho in search of a full time job as a stripper.

How did Strippers in the Attic come about? Can you explain the meaning behind the name?

Heaven: Buffy and I have been friends for many years. We met in an east London strip club and went on to work and perform together internationally. Both of us had been keeping a record of all the funny experiences we’d had at various strip clubs, and the interesting characters we met along the way. We’d often exchange tales and roll around on the floor in fits of giggles; we needed a space for all these personal stories to live, and so Strippers in the Attic was born!

Buffy: As for the name, I was obsessed with a series of books called Flowers in the Attic when I was around 13. They were probably not age-appropriate, but I thought I was terribly sophisticated at the time. When lockdown happened and we decided to record the podcast, our attic was the best space to record, so we thought it was meant to be.

“The podcast is an open-armed welcome to a world you may know very little about. It’s a chance for us to share all of our stories, while hopefully humanising a group of often-overlooked and marginalised people” – Buffy

What’s the main mission of your podcast?

Buffy: The podcast is an open-armed welcome to a world you may know very little about. It’s a chance for us to share all of our stories, while hopefully humanising a group of often-overlooked and marginalised people. I also love making people laugh.

Heaven: We’re here to share our personal stories with a wider audience, because they deserve to be told. If we can show people that strippers are not the stereotypically bitchy, downtrodden, drug addicted, daddy issue loners that most film and TV shows depict us to be, then our mission is complete. That cliché is so outdated; the truth is, you probably know a stripper or a sex worker, you just don’t realise it. Strippers and sex workers are siblings, parents, friends, and real people, let’s start viewing them as such.

What kind of stories listeners can expect?

Heaven: We kick off the new series with rip-roaring accounts of our first ever strip club auditions. Buffy talks us through the first time she realised she had hair in unexpected places moments before stepping out on stage . Later in the series, you’ll hear the true story of the time I met a vampire in the club. We also run through the dos and don’ts when it comes to becoming a baby stripper, and talk about the way glitter is sometimes referred to in the industry as ‘divorce dust’.

Buffy: And because it’s that time of the year, we also have a whole episode where we discuss Christmas shenanigans. Christmas Day working in a strip club is its own special experience!

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about stripping? What myths do you hope to bust with the podcast?

Buffy: That we hate men (we don’t); that we are ashamed (we aren’t); and that we make thousands every night (seriously, we don’t).

Heaven: The main misconception is that strippers don’t enjoy what they’re doing. Sure, everyone has good days and bad days at work, but that isn’t exclusive to sex work. We hope people can hear the joy in our voices when we reminisce over some of our favourite stripper memories. The other myth we want to bust is that stripping is only ever short-term. (There’s an idea that) if you’re a stripper, you must be studying and putting yourself through school. People like to assume that you’re doing a noble thing by stripping for a particular reason, because it makes them feel better about a job they’re often judging you for. In fact, both Buffy and I have been career strippers, very much through choice.

Have you discovered things since starting the podcast that you weren’t originally anticipating?

Heaven: On the technical side of things, I’ve learned that you should always check you’ve pressed the record button when you’re making an episode! Oh, and don’t let the sound of your own voice get you down. Jokes aside, I’ve learned that if you think you have a great story to share with the world, then you should share it. Don’t let the fear, judgement, or disapproval from others hold you back; people are far more receptive than you might think, they genuinely want to hear you.

Buffy: It’s so exciting, we’ve just launched but there already seems to be a bit of buzz around the podcast. Before you announce something to the world, you’re never sure how people will react, but I think and hope that we’ve made something that people want to listen to.

“People like to assume that you’re doing a noble thing by stripping for a particular reason, because it makes them feel better about a job they’re often judging you for. In fact, both Buffy and I have been career strippers, very much through choice” – Heaven

How has the coronavirus crisis impacted your work? How do you hope the industry will change post-pandemic?

Buffy: I lost out on my yearly Las Vegas trip, which would have earned me money that I then lived off for most of the year – so it’s been a major challenge in that respect. Online sex work is not for me personally, but has been a lifeline for so many strippers, especially since the government has barely even acknowledged us. 

Heaven: 2020 has turned my life upside down, as it has for many people. The career I once had was completely pulled from under my feet, but there’s been no mention of it by the government. In true, resilient stripper style, I set my mind to transferring my skills online. However, in the wake of new rules regarding censorship, it’s not been easy; many women like myself are promoting themselves on social media, only to be censored and deleted. I count myself lucky to be able to make a living online, as it’s simply not the case for a lot of sex workers, who could be in danger if their identity is revealed. 

A lot of sex wokers aren’t able to claim any benefits from the government because of the nature of their jobs, which has left many in a very vulnerable position. Thankfully, there’s organisations like SWARM and NUM, which are doing all they can to support sex workers through this drastically challenging time.

What do you hope listeners take away from Strippers in the Attic?

Buffy: If you’re not a sex worker, I hope you get an insight into our world, and find that we’re not so different from one another. If you’re a sex worker, I hope this podcast serves as a reminder of how brilliant you are, and how fascinating the world we inhabit can be – and I hope we help you remember all the fun pre-COVID times.

Heaven: We’ve told these stories to countless people, and every time we’ve had the same twinkly-eyed reaction of awe and intrigue. It’s a world away from most people’s experiences – full of mystery, drama, fun, and friendship – and deserves to be shared. Strippers in the Attic is a toast to all the smart, talented, vivacious, and downright hilarious women who we’ve had the pleasure of calling our tribe. All I can hope is that our listeners laugh, have fun, and perhaps even consider becoming part of the Clear Heels Club…

Episode one of Strippers in the Attic is out now, with new episodes dropping weekly – listen here.