Confessions of a go-go dancer
by Jim Gerard
The line between life and art is as thin as a G-string in Jill Morley’s one woman show, True Confessions of a Go-Go Girl. The odyssey of Morley’s transformation from Jill, upper-middle-class tomboy, to Dylan, a top-ranked “bikini dancer,” is theatre a clef.
The show, based on actress Morley’s secret life as an interstate striptease, is a melange of monologues, music and slides. In addition to Dylan (Morley’s actual nom de go-go), the characters are life studies of her sisters in skin: Edna, a Colombian women who–against club policy–flashes her breasts for bigger tips; Hayley, a biker chick who engages in pudding and Jell-O wrestling (pudding’s better, Jell-O stains the skin): Donna, a 45 year old post hippie whose teen-age son shows up in the audience one night (by accident); and Nina, a yuppie go-go-getter with silicone implants her fast-lane boyfriend bought her.
All are rescued from trite victimhood by Morley’s generous–though at times sketchy–impersonations. The 27-year-old actress was fascinated by the ‘dark life’ from the moment a girlfriend hipped her to it. “She made it sound glamorous, like the time Bruce Springsteen tipper her $300. I didn’t make any judgments.”
Morley–who’d done Greek tragedies in college and a previous solo show called Hail Mary–saw the theatrical possibilities. She was disenchanted with her day gigs and found dancing a viable way to support her acting.
“I loved the power I had over men and the money!”
Her debut, however, was hardly auspicious: “I showed up in my one outfit: cowboy boots, a big bikini bottom, and bra. And all I could do was vogue.” One of the show’s funniest moments is when a club owner–frustrated by Morley’s ineptitude–climbs the stage and teaches her how to “hump air.”
Her gay roommate, Jason, “helped me get in touch with my femininity” by critiquing her costumes and movements. And once she learned club etiquette–“You find a guy, dance for him, and he gives you a dollar”–she was ga ga for go-go.
“I loved the power I had over men, and the money.” (Top go-go girls can make up to $250. a night in salaries and tips for seven half-hour shows / in comparison Top strippers in NYC can make upwards of $1,500. a night!).
Yet the heart of True Confessions is the conflict between Dylan/Morley’s need for male approval, and the questionable way she gets it. Acceptance of exploitation?
“In general, I’m very thankful,” Morley- says, “but after a couple of days dancing, I can get really angry at men who stare at me on the street.”
For those who might accuse her of selling out, the thoughtful Morley adds a final irony: “I took a break from dancing for a while and went back to catering. My first job was to serve Mexican food wearing a sombrero and black mustache.”