Credit: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Naked in Alaska

An honest and moving account of one woman's experience's stripping, Valerie tells us what to expect.

Venue: Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)
The stripping industry has always been surrounded by a mixture of stigma and fascination; for most of us it is an unknown world which both intrigues and frightens. In fact we know so little about it, that these women and men are often reduced to nothing more than skimpy underwear, suspenders and raunchy costumes. Interview by Laura Jeffrey The recent channel 4 documentary series, following strippers in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, went some way to showing the people and stories behind the industry, but Naked in Alaska goes further. Valerie Hager gives an honest and moving account of what life as a stripper is like, talking candidly about her drug addiction, her debt and the purpose she found in stripping. After years of exposing her body, Valerie does something even more difficult: exposing her own emotional journey. This promises to be a moving and touching play.

Interviewed by Laura Jeffrey
1. What made you decide to create a play about your life as a strip club dancer?
"I was at a place in my life where the traditional ways of getting work as an actor weren't working for me. So I began to explore the experiences that I had as a meth-addicted teenager and exotic dancer. As I began to open up and share my story, I saw how it impacted and connected with people. I realized I had to develop this part of my life into a longer narrative because I believed it could inspire and empower others who have felt different or on the fringe. "
How did you first become involved in the stripping industry?
"I was in debt $3,500 dollars in civil assessment charges barely finished high school. No college. I needed money bad and quick! Stripping just made sense. "
How would you describe your career as a dancer?
"I loved dancing. I loved the women that I worked with. And frankly I loved many of the men too. It was my family for so many years. My church. My sanctuary. "
What made you decide to stop?
"I quit because it stopped working for me. It became a dysfunctional relationship instead of my trusted tribe. And I kept going back over and over again but it was never the same. The magic was gone. You know, I think it was in those final 2 years of working at a club in LA, that I started to leave my body. I started to go back to the destructive ways of coping with things just as I’d done as a kid. Binging and purging, cutting up my arms, hiding—lying. I was letting things happen that were totally against my values and I didn’t know how to stop any of it because I allowed myself to get completely out of control. The rest of this answer is revealed in Naked In Alaska at Assembly Roxy – Downstairs. 2 Roxburgh Place—7PM!"
Would you say Naked in Alaska is pro or anti strip club dancing?
"Neither. It's not meant to be a story that says stripping is good or bad. It's just my story about how I needed to face my inner demons and everything that I’d been running from for so long dead in the eye. "
Will you be dancing as part of the performance of Naked in Alaska?
"Absolutely! "
How else do you communicate your fascinating life story during the performance?
"Let’s see… I play over dozen different characters both the men who frequented the clubs and the fierce women whom I worked with. We use video projection, Alaska archival photos, voiceover, lighting effects and 90’s rock n roll hits to help immerse the audience more fully into the world of the story. "
What can we most look forward to about Naked in Alaska?
"Truth. And my whole heart with total abandon. "

Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)
2 Roxburgh Place
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