A Quick History of the Strip Tease
Secrets bachelor party strippers seem a common modern tradition but the strip tease has a surprisingly long and celebrated history. While there may be some great debate regarding its place in society today, exotic dancing seems to be as integral to human relationships as just about anything else. There is no distinct agreement as to when the practice first came about and the origins range from ancient Babylonian all the way to the 20th century.
Believe it or not, the first recorded striptease dates all the way back to an ancient Sumerian myth which told of Inanna, the Goddess of Love descending to the Underworld in search of her lover, Damouz. In the myth, Inanna removed an article of jewelry or clothing at each of the seven gates she encountered. The myth also details that as long as Inanna remained in the Underworld, the earth was barren. Upon her return, the earth again grew to be quite fruitful.
A BIBLICAL ACT
In the Christian Bible Salome’s “Dance of the Seven Veils” is mentioned in two of the four gospels—Matthew 14:6-11 and Mark 6:21-28—describing how Salome performed for Herod, her stepfather, on his birthday. To reward her, Herod promised her anything she desired which, if you recall, prompted Salome’s mother to have the girl request the head of Saint John the Baptist (which she then delivered to Herodotus on a silver platter).
The first strip tease act of the modern era is believed to have been on the English stage and was actually performed by a male actor in the 1677 production of the very popular comedic Restoration play “The Rover,” by Aphra Behn. In the scene an English country gentleman undresses to his shirt and drawers in an attempt to excite his prostitute. Of course, the scene is played for comedic sensibility and the prostitute actually robs him (and he has to crawl out of the sewer).
The term “striptease” was first coined in 1932 even though “stripping” was a common term referring specifically to women removing clothing for the purpose of sexually exciting men, which has roots as far back as the late 19th century. In fact, the act of striptease was quite a standard form of entertainment in brothels in 18th century London. Those who performed the act, at the time, were known as “posture girls.”