You know when that quiet, studious girl in your Contracts class drops out of law school, starts her own fashion label and becomes a stripper? No? Well neither did I, but that’s exactly what 22-year-old Sophie Burrows did, so I decided to interview her to figure out why the fuck I haven’t done it too.
First of all Sophie, what was the old you like?
When I was in high school my dad was really sick with cancer, so I never had the chance to express myself. I was very sheltered, spent most of my weekends in hospitals and stopped myself getting into the high school lifestyle. I never really wanted to study law – I wanted to study fashion and saw myself becoming a designer. But my mum really pressured me into making use of my good grades, and at the time I just wanted to please her and not cause any stress.
What triggered your big career change?
I studied law [on the Gold Coast] for two and half years, but I was really depressed. Eventually I moved to Sydney and started hanging around with a different group of people who were very much part of a music and cultural scene I hadn’t really experienced. I really admired how liberated they were, and it just made me think about where I wanted to be in 10 years’ time. I really couldn’t see myself being a lawyer so I just decided to drop it and enrolled in a fashion school in Sydney.
Tell me about your fashion label.
When I started fashion I met this girl called Nicky and she was really into all the stuff that I was into – we have the same taste in music and designers, and we started talking recently about how we would love to create this grungy, edgy rock label. Since then, it’s really taken off! We’ve been pattern making everything and designing t-shirts, and will hopefully release our first range in time for the Australian summer. My biggest inspirations are popular culture and music. I love 80s grunge and glam-rock like Mötley Crüe, Poison and Guns n’ Roses.
How did you come into stripping?
Well again when I started fashion school, I soon found out that that friend of mine was a stripper! I was so curious about it, and one day she dared me to try it, so I did. I was scared shitless my first night. It was terrifying, but it wasn’t too bad. I love the art of it and analysing the different people who come into the club: lawyers, politicians, musicians, CEOs, investment bankers – so many different personalities. Now I find it quite liberating and the power of seduction and the control that you have over the men is very… empowering.
What’s a typical night at work like?
I basically just drink a whole heap of alcohol and have a really good time! I love the glamorous life of stripping – you get paid to party, and it’s a lot of fun. You do a set podium, where you have to get up on stage and perform for the crowd. Then, if someone likes what they see, they take you for a private show. On the stage you only strip down to your underwear, but in the private shows it’s fully nude. In NSW there are very strict “no touching” laws too, and the club I work at is so legitimate – they really enforce those laws. On Thursday I had an ex-Wallabies football player attempt to take his pants off in the show. He was like, “I just want to show you me!” and I was like, “Honey put your pants back on – I don’t want to see you!” Security came and gave him a warning and eventually kicked him out!
Is it hard to totter around drunk in stripper heels? I struggle to stay upright in a nightclub, let alone up on a podium dancing around a pole…
Stripper heels are actually really easy to walk in! They’re a bit of an illusion – they look really high but the platform is so thick that they’re really only about an inch high.
Does the club pay for personal maintenance, like waxing and stuff? Or do you cover your own expenses?
You have to take care of everything yourself. You get paid for the shows that you do and the cut is pretty much 50/50. It depends what night you work – some are busier than other of course. Friday’s are a really good night and you usually make upwards of at least $600.
$600?! Oh my God I’m so tempted… how did all your old friends and family react?
I’ve actually only just told the girls I went to high school with that I’m a stripper in the past month. I’ve definitely had mixed reactions: some people are like, “Oh that’s really cool!” and ask questions about whether I view it as a positive or negative thing, but some girls haven’t taken it lightly. I think I’ve really realised who my true friends are at the end of the day.
Do you think you’ve changed as a person?
I’ve always been very theatrical inside – I just never really had the confidence to express myself and be the person I wanted to be.
Do you think your current job might impact your ability to hold down a relationship?
For sure – some people are going to have an issue with it, but at the end of the day if a person can’t see past my job to who I am then they’re obviously not the right person for me.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Hopefully living in New York or London with a successful label and having shows in New York and Paris fashion week. I don’t personally have anything against this industry, so until my label is set up fully, I see myself staying a stripper.