This eye-opening photo series will change the way you think about strippers

Simon Hamalienko
Saturday 10 March 2018 11:15
Celebrities
Lark, taken from the photo series Stripping Out Loud.(Jason Savage)

Jason Savage, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, has spent the last two and a half years photographing exotic dancers of Portland, Oregon.

The series, titled Stripping Out Loud, sees Mr Savage takes the performers away from the club to provide a respectful look at the diverse community of Portland dancers.

Mr Savage, a photographer with more than 22 years of experience, said:

I want people who look at this project to see strippers the way I see them, as being full of power, personality and beauty.

I see stripping as just as legitimate a profession as any other. As long as the person on that stage is there because they want to be, it is no one's right to shame them for doing something they enjoy, or try to paint them as a victim.

Gypsy, taken from the photo series Stripping Out Loud(Jason Savage)

I want people to see that dancers can make their own choices, and they don't need 'saving'.

The dancers I have met and worked with in Portland are proud of what they do, and I have had many conversations with strippers on how dancing has been a great thing for them, and they love doing it.

I think it all boils down to two words: consenting adults. As long as no harm is coming to anyone, society does not have a right to determine how someone expresses themselves, sexually or otherwise.

Violet, taken from the photo series Stripping Out Loud(Jason Savage)

Stripping Out Loud started when Mr Savage was showing his postcard series about Portland to a bartender at a strip club.

A discussion started about what his next project would be and the subject turned to created a collectable card set featuring exotic dancers due to the large number working in the area.

The 69 dancers who participated in the project represent the wide range of exotic dancers in Portland and include male, female and transgender performers with various body types.

Mr Savage added:

I spent a lot of time going out to various clubs all over Portland, meeting and recruiting models.

I got very good at explaining the whole concept of the project in as few words as possible, because I didn't want to take up too much of the dancer's time, since I was talking to them while they were at work.

Annie, taken from the photo series Stripping Out Loud(Jason Savage)

Word about my project started getting around, and I eventually had some dancers start contacting me, to see if I needed any more models.

I also wrote to some via their websites, asking if they would like to be a part of it. Most of the models were very eager to participate in the project, especially after they had heard about the nature of what I was doing.

On every modelling shoot I do, I always let the model know that they are welcome to bring along whomever they would like to the shoot.

I have had multiple dancers tell me they appreciate this. Portland is a fairly small community, and word travels fast. It is really important to me to have a good reputation. 

Melrose, taken from the photo series Stripping Out Loud(Jason Savage)

Mr Savage came up with each concept for every dancers specific shoot but the performers played an integrally part by placing their own spin on the scene.

He also used numerous local landmarks for the shoots to make the series just as much about Portland as it is about the dancers.

Mr Savage added:

Portland is known for having the most strip clubs per capita, so this seemed like the perfect place to do something like Stripping Out Loud.

There are a few less clubs than there were when I moved to Portland in 2003, though there are still a lot.

The oldest club in town is called Mary's, and it has been around since the 1950s it was a piano bar before that, starting in the 1930s.

I also refer to Portland as the stripper capitol, because of the strong and positive nature of the dancers, and the tight-knit stripper community here. 

Reign, taken from the photo series Stripping Out Loud(Jason Savage)

Mr Savage has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to turn the series of photos into a collectable card set, inspired by ones created for baseball and other trading cards.

The plan is to create 2,400 sets of cards but each model in the project gets a $200 modelling fee from the card sales.

All sales profits will go to the local non-profit organisations such as WISER (Women Inspiring Sexual Education & Revolution), Portland Slutwalk, which is a yearly peaceful protest that acknowledges the sexualized violence and victim blaming in American culture, and theatre company Dance Naked Productions.

Click here for more information on the project.

NWS/Guzealian

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