Nicky Ninedoors is a Canadian based photographer who captures stripper’s in action and posts it on her Instagram account, @Stripperwithacamera. Her behind the scene photography of women getting ready, performing and hustling clients, provides viewers of insight into what goes on in strip clubs. Her photos aren’t pornographic or superficial but honest and enthralling, displaying women making a living where nudity is part of the job description. Nicky explains why documenting these women is important to redefining how society and the media portray strippers and providing women in the workplace with honest memories of their time together.
Are you a stripper?
Yes! I started doing burlesque 9 years ago and dove into stripping almost 5 years ago.
What inspired you to start photographing strippers?
I have always found myself entranced by the energy my coworkers project during their shows. Every night I feel like I witness magic. I had been doing boudoir photography with my husband for several years. When I had some time off work, I decided to pick up the camera on my own and get familiar with it and do some natural light shoots.
My club was wanting me to help out with social media and marketing so I wound up taking my camera in to work and seeing if I could capture the magic that I see. I realised that this could be a way to document women, something I’ve felt compelled to do for some time now.
I have a small collection of burlesque and stripper history books, and I feel a sense of urgency in contributing to that history somehow. Over the past couple years there were two losses in the local dancer community and it pains me that all I have left are brief memories. When it comes to documenting people, I think the age we live in now is amazing; we have an incredible capability to connect with people both inside and outside of our communities. Hopefully, my photography shows the outside world what I see and feel within our industry, dismantling the stigma around our work.
Which locations have you been photographing?
I have photographed at The Granville Strip (Vancouver), The Penthouse (Vancouver), and The Bodyshop (Winnipeg). I’m hoping to keep adding to that. Unfortunately there is a blacklist on dancers who work at The Granville Strip so I can’t work the rest of the clubs in BC or Alberta. Thankfully, I have a good relationship with The Penthouse (that’s where I produce Retro Strip Show, my live music 60s/70s/80s themed strip club night) so I’m able to pop over there and photograph any dancers who request me.
Does the dark lighting and constant movement make photographing strippers in the club more difficult?
Yes. Hahaha. It’s a struggle for sure. The movement is one thing but the flashing lights is probably the hardest part. The lights are super hot (bright) in very small areas, or really dark in others, and constantly changing. I HATE RED LIGHTING! Hahaha. I’ve been editing a lot of photos with red lighting over last few days. It’s really easy to lose definition with red lighting and to generally looks like you’re in a reptile tank. It’s hard for the camera to focus because of the flashing and incredibly variable lights, however, this makes shooting addictive! If you are in the right spot with your settings done decently and your reflexes are good, you’re bound to probably get at least something visually compelling by the end of the night.
What have you learnt from your experience of photographing strippers and working in the Strip Club?
I’ve learned that there is even more depth to this industry and community than I already felt. This project feels like it’s opening up a whole other world, connecting me to women who are passionate about their work, women who are talented and dedicated and incredibly interesting.
Somewhat related, when I got into stripping I told myself I’d quit the industry in five years. I’m just five years now and I’m ready for another ten. It’s largely because of the network of amazing women I know now.
Do you feel like there is a certain ‘type’ of woman that makes a stripper?
Resilient. I’ve met so many dancers with so many different personalities but they all have the resilience in common.
How do you think your photos portray strippers?
I hope my photos capture the strength that I see; the softness and sensuality, a bit of the character that I feel from my fellow dancers in their shows. When strangers see my photographs, I hope they pick up on the emotions I feel when I see those dancers with my eyes.
What are your future ambitions?
So many ambitions! I could tell you my ideas for an hour. More music, more art, more documenting badass women, the usual. World domination with a team of strippers. Nothing fancy.
Do you get paid by Strip Clubs or is your shots purely a hobby?
My club initially paid me for social media work. They did hire my husband and I to do proper marketing photos for them that I’m really proud of, but the @Stripperwithacamera project is totally just my side art project. I’ll be shooting in the club when I could be trying to sell private dances… the benefit of being a Canadian stripper/feature dancer and having a guaranteed stage show price means I can afford to choose to capture images instead of hustle if I’m really not feeling the vibe.
What are your thoughts a union for stripper?
Yes, goddess yes. Please.
Thank you @Stripperwithacamera for taking the time out to answer our question!
Dancers featured in @ Stripperwithacamera’s photographs:
Onyx, Charlie, Rocket Ray, Maverick, Caroline, Catlyn Catacombs, Madelina Horn, Honey Dip, Summer & Lynx