NY Newsday by Blake Green

New York Newsday

A Go-Go Girl Finds Another Platform

Using her past as grist for a Hollywood Future

by Blake Green

So how does a nice, Catholic school girl wind up a go-go dancer in clubs off the Jersey Turnpike? “I was fascinated with sleaziness, “says Jill Morley.

Now she has parlayed her talent into a one-woman, Off-Off Broadway show, “True Confessions of a Go-Go Girl,” that gives new meaning to in-your-face performing and has sparked an interest from Hollywood.

Drawing on her experiences on the go-go circuit, the bikini-clad Morley performs her show — big hair, writhing motions, navel ring, pouty lips and all — Tuesday nights in the downstairs cabaret at the West Bank Cafe, playing herself as well as a variety of characters she met in two years as a dancer. All are fellow performers — including the bouncer-with-a-heart who took pity on her inexperience and taught her how to “hump air” — a staple of any good go-go dancer’s repertoire. Trained as an actress, Morley strayed into go-go dancing for the usual reason, using the first money she made to pay for acting lessons. Very quickly, earning $150-$200. on a good night, “I realized I could pay my rent, go to the movies and even the dentist.” But it wasn’t just laughing-all-the-way to the bank — or, for that matter, gathering material for a story. There are aspects of go-go dancing Morley, 28, found she enjoyed.


“the sex industry is the only industry where women get paid more than men”


“My feminist friends were horrified,” she says cheerfully, “but I enjoyed the attention, and I didn’t know the true power of being a woman until I started go-go dancing.” This was one of the reasons she decided to write the show, which has been running for several months.

Her message, not the least of which is “the sex industry is the only industry where women get paid more than men,” has apparently hit a chord. People scouting projects for both Meg Ryan and Jodie Foster have expressed interest in her story, and screenwriter Lenore Kletter, who’s previously worked for Ryan, is currently at work on a screenplay, says Morley, who flew out to Los Angeles to make the pitch.

As the title indicates, Morley confesses her feelings about appearing on-stage much more than half nude, sticking her bare cheeks into the air and having the men tuck “dead presidents” (go-go language for folding money) into her bikini. “The hardest thing to get used to,” she says, “is eye contact.”

Against a background of slides of the neon signs of her past employers — Stats, The Hitching Post, Satin Dolls, The Jungle; “you name the exit, I’ll name the club” — Morley, trim, modestly endowed and uninhibited, plays Edna, a huge-boobed Latina (with some help from rubber molding stuffing under her bikini bra); Haley, a biker chick with a fondness for booze; Nina, a “classy” go-go dancer who persuaded her boyfriend to pay for silicone implants, and Donna, pushing 50 and still trucking. “To engage a man when you have wrinkles, stretch marks and all is power,” says Donna. “And not that easy to give up.”

Dancing under the name Dylan — for the poet, of course — Morley says she understands what Donna meant. As a go-go dancer, “I felt attractive, loved. I quit dancing last March, to spend more time on my art (she directs, as well as writes and acts), but I still do it occasionally. “Last weekend I was at the Warehouse in North Bergen.” Now however, there’s more than just “freedom of expression” involved. She combines dancing with promotion, handing out flyers for her stage show.

When she was growing up in New Jersey in a society in which “Farrah Fawcett Majors was the ideal,” Morley considered herself “homely.” This isn’t exactly confirmed when she shows “True Confessions” audiences a slide of her sweet-faced yearbook photo, but it is a stretch to imagine the spike-heeled sexpot currently strutting the stage.


She kept her go-go dancing a secret from her parents!


She kept her go-go dancing a secret from her parents until the show opened. “I figured if they knew I’d turned into something, maybe they’d think it was okay. My mom is one of those New Age moms, so she’s trying to be understanding. My dad told me I had balls — which I thought was great.” Compliments have also been extended from comrades on the go-go circuit who’ve turned up in the audience at the West Bank Cafe, often in groups. “When the girls tell me I did them justice, I feel so good,” Morley says.

After she decided to become an actress, Morley moved across the river to Manhattan, but she confined her go-go dancing jobs — “straight go-go”, she calls it — to New Jersey because “I won’t dance topless, and that’s what it is in New York and, usually, on Long Island. I like to test the waters, but you have to have boundaries. With go-go there’s still some mystique left.”

If “Confessions” does get picked by a film studio, Morley says she’d like to play Hayley, whose specialty is wrestling in Jell-O and pudding, preferably the latter “because Jell-O (gelatin) stains the skin.” She’d have no problem being portrayed by either Foster or Ryan. “I’ve played myself long enough.”