It’s time to put the exotic back into exotic dance. Kimberly Smith, founder of StripXpertease, is more than a strip dance instructor — she’s a pillar of feminine strength with an all-around badass attitude, and a role model for aspiring femme fatales everywhere. Smith’s sexually charged strip tease classes have given the homogenized pole fitness craze a makeover and rightfully reclaimed the art of the tease.
Pole classes have grown in popularity over the last decade, but most have toned down the raw sexuality that gives pole dancing its power. Masterfully spinning and twirling in platform heels obviously takes some serious muscle and flexibility, but fitness isn’t the main goal at StripXpertease.
We hope to use dance as a gateway drug, if you will, for women feeling all the goodness that can come from being open and proud about their sexuality and femininity.
“I saw pole dancing explode, but it was fitness, fitness, fitness,” Smith said. “I knew people could go to the gym to get fit. They were drawn to pole because it made them feel sexy. So I though, lets cut out the fitness and go right to the sexy!”
In fact, you won’t find a single pole in either of her Los Angeles or New York City studios. Smith teaches the kind of dirty dance moves that women are clamoring to learn, but can’t find in other watered-down strip fitness courses. StripXpertease students are taught lap dance, floor work and strip tease (sans nudity during public classes), and Smith’s approach has evolved into a well-rounded repertoire of body work.
“I was an exotic dancer for 10 years,” recalls Smith. “Back when I started, [the class choreography] was just everything I used in the club. Since pole dance has gone so mainstream, we now pull from modern dance, other pole/lap /floor work dancers, stuff we see in the clubs, and we create moves in class as well.”
Smith skillfully brings the agility and soul of modern and exotic dance down to earth. A former exotic dancer with 12 years of experience running StripXpertease, Smith understands her clients because they’re not so far from where she began upon opening her business in 2005.
“I didn’t have ‘formal’ dance training beyond what most of us had. I think most little girls did ballet and tap when they were a bit too young to remember,” says Smith. “I started StripXpertease because I wanted to share the movement and help women feel sexy through dance.”
Students can leave rhythm and fitness woes at the door.
“We don’t really teach ‘professionals,’” says Smith.
Would-be dancers only need a pair of giant platform heels, which Smith claims do wonders for a shapely booty.
“We gear our classes towards regular everyday women who want to feel different; who want to have a little something in their back pocket,” Smith said. “Sometimes they want to perform for a special someone, but mostly they just want to feel good.”
Although you will inevitably gain some physical stripper super powers from regularly attending Smith’s classes — namely her muscle-building Stripper Strength course — the real goals behind StripXpertease are mental. Smith also offers workshops on talking dirty in the bedroom and giving a great blowjob, and her Cocktails & Cock-Tales event is an open forum for women to discuss their sensual selves.
“We want our classes to encourage sexuality and the discussion of sex, feeling sexy and being sexy,” remarks Smith.
Erotic dance becomes a tool for empowerment in the StripXpertease studios. Most of Smith’s co-instructors began as students and were inspired to share their journey to sexual well-being. Classes are often emotional and tap into repressed desires or wounds from past sexual traumas.
“There are a lot of laughs and tears,” Smith said. “Women are still so oppressed in this world.”
Strip tease dancing has a reputation for pandering to the male gaze, but in Smith’s classes, she’s more concerned with giving her students a glimpse into their own beauty and power. Through strip dance, Kimberly’s students form deep connections with themselves and their sensual identities.
Reclaiming self-esteem and self-worth turn stripping into a kind of therapy. Often new students aren’t bubbly bachelorettes or excited, eager-to-please newlyweds. They’re divorcees in need of the kind of healing that only sexual self-revolution can bring.
“I had a client, recently divorced, [who] wanted to feel sexy again,” Smith recalls. “At the end, she had to dance a whole song for an imaginary person in the chair.”
Like coming to the climax of years of counseling — or the peak of an incredible orgasm — Smith’s client broke down in a storm of heaving sighs and huge tears.
“Midway [through, she] starts bawling. I mean a serious ugly cry,” Smith says. “She went on to explain that she [imagined] her ex in the chair. She cried because she felt like she was dancing to show him that she was still beautiful, still sexy and had gotten her groove back. That is when I realized how it could really change people.”
Smith has since extended her mission across the globe through Behind Closed Doors, a virtual classroom that brings all the moves and empowerment of StripXpertease to international bedrooms. Smith’s long-distance learners range from Italy, France and Spain to Slovenia and Kuwait. In places where female sexuality falls under strict moral code, like the Middle East or even the conservative U.S. South and Midwest, Smith can grow her sexual revolution in private like an underground movement.
“Behind Closed Doors is allowing women all over the world to dance with us in their own homes,” says Smith. “If they don’t have classes like this in their town, or they live in a city or country that makes them feel that embracing their sexuality and femininity is shameful, they can still access this movement and feel good.”
StripXpertease is taking back the art of erotic dance. Smith isn’t out to inspire strip club dreams — in fact, she explicitly explains on her website that she doesn’t encourage women to enter the adult entertainment industry. Under Smith’s mission, fierce females are taking it all off for the right audience — their bedroom mirror.
“We hope to use dance as a gateway drug, if you will, to women feeling all the goodness that can come from being open and proud about their sexuality and femininity,” concludes Smith. “I can touch my breasts while I dance in the mirror and fuck what society says. This is my body, and my sex, and it is fucking beautiful and awesome and powerful!”