November 29, 2006

Reporter's Notebook

Bringing Sexy Back

The other night, I headed out the door with a brown paper bag and a secret. I told no one where I was going, gave no details as to my destination. With trembling fingers I put the key in the ignition of my car and backed out of my driveway, plagued with second thoughts and severe doubts.

Could I really go through with this? What kind of soccer mom does this kind of thing, anyway?

As I walked through the doors of my gym, I joined the other women gathered in the exercise room, exchanging furtive glances and shy giggles. Opening my brown paper bag for the first time, I slowly extracted my feather boa and got ready for my first-ever cardio striptease class.

Okay, let it be said that I have no exhibitionist tendencies. I've always leaned more toward the shy side, favoring turtlenecks to tiger-striped mini-skirts. Yes, I read my share of feminist literature in college and railed against pornography with all the other enraged girls in my socially enlightened class.

But, still, there was a side of me that wondered. When I saw the movie Striptease with Demi Moore, I pondered what it must be like to get up there, night after night, and strip for tips. Degrading, yes. Shameful, maybe. But it was also a bit tantalizing. Forbidden and therefore, seductive. And it was clearly a damn good workout.

And so, when I heard about the wave of cardio strip classes spreading like wildfire across the country, I thought I'd take a walk on the wild side. After all, what working mother, burdened with housework and carpools and endless trips to the supermarket, doesn't dream of letting it all go, if only for an hour? Of being young, and free, and yes, sexy again, if only for a while?

As it turned out the class was serious fun. Lots of laughs as the instructor turned down the lights and led us through a series of stripper moves — slithering and strutting and sidling up saucily to an imaginary pole. I'll leave some of the moves to your imagination. If I gave it all away, what fun would it be? But the responsible adult in me has to point out that there is, actually, no stripping involved. All clothes stay on, thank you very much.

As for the class, it was definitely an aerobic workout — there's a reason why those strippers have such fit, toned physiques.

But more than that, it was an hour of empowerment. A time for me, when I could break free of conventions and expectations and demands, and give free reign to the hidden, carefree side of myself that has long been buried under the uber-mom façade.

A time for letting loose and stripping away conventions, baring a side of myself that I never thought I'd see. Bottom line? Cardio striptease class was a blast.

And so, I'm donning the dark glasses and heading out for another class this week. You won't recognize me, at first — I registered under another name. Just follow the feather boa . . .

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