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December 5, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Exotic dancer. Stripper. Jacklyn Marceau doesn’t get hung up on titles. For Marceau, stripping at Club Vogue is just one extra role to tack onto her list of others: an English professor at Stephens College, mom, wife and author. She is in the process of writing a memoir. Tina Parke-Sutherland was Marceau’s professor at Stephens College when Marceau, 36, was an undergraduate and began her book. After almost a decade they are still friends and co-workers. “It’s about being kind of two identities — having a stripper identity and a nonstripper identity — and working through everything to try and merge the two,” Parke-Sutherland says. And after 16 years of dancing, Marceau opens up about those two identities.
Produced by Nicole Lunger
What parallels do you see between your jobs?
I have such a liberated idea of what it means to be a woman, and I feel really comfortable in my own sexuality, and I teach at a liberal arts women’s college. People at Stephens tend to be open and more honest about sexuality just because we are often talking about women’s issues. At Stephens, we tend to focus on the female perspective of those things, and though that industry seems like a male-dominated industry, it’s very female-generated. There’s a whole lot of the same thematic elements: very comfortable and open talking about sexuality, very comfortable with nudity and thinking about sexual anatomy.
What are common misconceptions people have about stripping?
It’s really easy to break it down to what people know from episodes of The Sopranos, which illustrate these women as topless, faceless, voiceless ornaments. Obviously, there has to be some type of depth there, like we are human beings. We’re not all survivors of sexual abuse. We’re not all addicted to drugs. We’re not all teen moms though some of those ideas are true. But if you put together a group of 30 women, some of those ideas would also be true about those 30 women who aren’t part of that industry. I think that those sort of negative ideas get exacerbated by the media.
What made you choose stripping as opposed to any other job?
I worked for a nonprofit organization. I worked 8 to 5, and I made $250 take-home pay a week, which isn’t enough for somebody to try to take care of a child and feel like they’re ever getting ahead. It occurred to me very quickly that (by stripping) I could work less hours, spend more time at home and be able to do something with myself, be able to make enough money and save enough money to make larger decisions about what I want to do with my life.
When did you start writing your memoir?
I think the first story I wrote about that life was in a creative nonfiction class here when I was an undergraduate. I remember being really apprehensive about writing it for that class. But overwhelmingly the response was really positive, and (the class was) really intrigued by this world, and it hadn’t occurred to me before that time that there might be that sort of genuine interest and positive response to that job. It was always something that I felt was kind of my dirty secret. I didn’t really want people to know I was one of those people.
What do your children think about you being a stripper?
That’s the one area of my parenting life I tend to really try to keep separate because God knows what they know about strippers. The idea of them trying to apply the idea of what that is to what their mother is isn’t something I really want to think about. We don’t really discuss it that much. They didn’t ask to be my children, and so I would like to not have that in whatever way reflect upon them. I don’t want that to impede their lives in any way.
How long will you continue to be a stripper?
I am dead serious when I say there’s a horizon, and I’m approaching it, but that’s why I feel kind of comfortable talking to people about it, more comfortable than maybe five or 10 years ago just because I still felt this need for secrecy. I tell everyone I have this last football season, and then I’m done. My children are getting older, I’m getting older, and I’m ready for weekends. That’s when I go to work, so I’m looking forward to gardening on the weekends and getting up in the morning and not going to bed in the morning.