Jill Morley Waxes Realistic in True Confessions Of A Go-Go Girl.
by Amy Drew Teitler
Dylan is on stage before a full house, bathed in a fuschia spotlight that shimmers off her black-sequined G-String bikini, illuminating the delicate ring in her navel, turning her dark hair a kaleidoscope of hues. She poses provocatively astride a bar stool, a feather boa swathed elegantly around her bare shoulders. She is a sex-bitch-goddess diva all at once, and only one of the multi-faceted characters in True Confessions of a Go-Go Girl– a gutsy, one-woman Off Broadway show culled from the real-life experiences of actress/writer/go-go dancer Jill Morley.
Dylan’s gaze beckons the male patron seated at the foot of the stage and her raven eyes drop to the folded bill in his hand as she approaches. She tilts the curve of her near-naked bottom toward him, teasing. Smiling bashfully, his eyes averted, he gingerly tucks the bill into her thong. She prowls away, her task complete.
Once back on stage, the seductive pump of the music subsides, the boa is removed and the alluring lights turn a shade less kind to the complexion.
“I grew up in the 70’s,” she tells the audience pointedly. “It was the height of the sexual revolution, and I was the most butch girl you’d ever want to meet.” She pauses for effect, referring to a projection screen at stage right. “I had .. boy face!”
” I GREW UP A TOMBOY !! ”
The screen showcases a junior high yearbook image of a very–I have to be honest–butchy little girl. Torrents of laughter erupt from the crowd. The seductress smiles, her persona shattered.
Dylan, the “Charlie’s Angel” of go-go has once again become Jill Morley, “Jill Shmoe,” as she would say of her real-life , down-to-earth persona. Dylan, named for poet Dylan Thomas (“Not Dylan from 90210,” she quips in her show), is her undulating, ultra-femme alter-ego.
“I grew up a tomboy,” says Morley, 28, a trained actress who spent her childhood in rural New Jersey. “The attributes of that kind of trashy woman were never associated with me, and I wanted to try them on!”
Her foray into the underbelly of entertainment that is New Jersey go-go is the fodder that went into her show, in which Jill plays herself and some of the characters she met along the way. These include: Edna, the stacked Latin Lesbian who breaks the “no flashing” rule of go-go to get better tips (Morley achieves this by enlisting the aid of phony, foam-rubber boobs); Hayley, the brash, boozing biker chick (my personal favorite); and Donna, the fortysomething, career stripper, whose highlight is a touching soliloquy on the empowerment of go-go. “I didn’t know the true power of being a woman until I started go-go dancing,” Morley says, as herself, in True Confessions.
We spent an evening together, starting with Margaritas, continuing at the screening of an erotic film trilogy, ending in downtown Manhattan at The Bottom Line, where we saw a very talented songtress.
“This is an original song about a prostitute named Cupcake,” the singer told the crowd. Jill and I exchanged meaningful glances and tried not to giggle too loudly.
by Amy Drew Teitler
PLAYGIRL: When did you get the idea for True Confessions?
JILL: I danced for two years and I wrote it in my journal for that time, and then, one summer, I wrote the show.
PLAYGIRL: How does your family feel about the show?
JILL: They’re cool! They’ve always trusted me. They know who I am. I went to Villanova University, played Tennis. I was never a bad girl. Basically, I never told them I was dancing until I had written the show and was performing it. I was still dancing then. They were concerned for my safety, but now that they’ve seen the press, they understand that I’m starting to make a mark for myself, and they’re fine with it.
PLAYGIRL: What is it all about? Is getting attention a big part of dancing for most girls?
JILL: I think so, yeah. I mean, everyone’s gonna tell you it’s the money–and it is, of course. But you get something else out of it. You feel like a star, as silly as that sounds. I think it’s sexual attention–for both sexes. It’s another life, you know. I had my other name, Dylan. It’s a genuine thrill.
PLAYGIRL: Is it hard to cross the line from Dylan back to Jill? Where do the two meet?
JILL: Dylan has bled into Jill at this point. I was going through a period–since I haven’t danced in a while and I’m not in a relationship–that I’m coming out of right now. I didn’t feel very attractive because I wasn’t getting any attention in that way. And I don’t want to be like that. I want to know who I am. So it’s been good that I haven’t been in a relationship, because I’m building that up again. Sometimes I’ll dress sexy, sometimes I’ll just walk around in my Doc Martens and jeans, and it’s like, well, Why don’t you try to dress a little more feminine if you want to feel sexy? I’m learning that it’s more of a choice than what people assign to you.
PLAYGIRL: It seems that there are beautiful women who don’t feel beautiful, and that makes them less attractive. But if a woman who isn’t stereotypically sexy has a positive body image, she seems to do well with men. Do you think it’s all in their attitude?
JILL: It is, and you’ll see that in go-go girls. I know once dancer who’s kind of heavy. She’s like, “I have a beautiful ass.” It’s kind of big, not what you’d stereotypically think of as a go-go body. But she works it. She makes money, and the men love her. She’s proud of her body. She thinks it’s beautiful–and so it is.
” I really cared about a lot of the guys who came to the shows ! ”
PLAYGIRL: What did you think of your go-go customers?
JILL: I really cared about a lot of the guys who came to the shows, which is why I had to quit, because I could see and feel their pain. But joking is good. I used to tell jokes like a stand-up comic to get dollars in the beginning. I was at a place called The Halfway Go-Go. There were two stages on opposite sides of the bar. On one side was this woman in her 40s, and she was humping the ground. And I’m on the other side, telling jokes in a bikini! Every time I got them to laugh, they gave me a dollar–and I was on a roll! I had never done stand-up comedy, but the absurdity of the situation just made me funny.
They were digging it! The guys on her side were coming over to see what was going on on my side, and I’m like, “Three nuns are at the gates of Heaven (breaking up laughing) …. They go up to St. Peter ….” They’re all like, “This girl is crazy! Let’s give her money!”
I made the mistake of conducting the interview at a regular PLAYGIRL haunt, so Jill and I are continually accosted by our waiters during the interview. Eddie’s cute, but he’s a professional wise-ass–he keeps sending the other waiter over to tell us awful jokes.
Jill is a great audience, smiling politely and laughing while Eddie grins proudly a few feet away. He licks his finger and draws an invisible chalk mark in the air. One-nothing, it means.
This sort of easy joking is the way it is talking with Jill. She’s so comfortable with herself that it’s impossible to feel awkward whey you’re around her. She isn’t the imposing sex goddess that so many go-go girls are stereotyped to be. It probably has something to do with the fact that she’s been studying people for so long–her customers, her fellow dancers, her employers.
JILL: When I was younger, I have to admit I felt a little intimidated by female strippers. I don’t anymore.
I know exactly what you’re saying. I used to be intimidated by women who do that. And now, even watching the models–like the Sports Illustrated TV special they did–I’m laughing. It’s not because I think I’m this hot thing at all, I just accept myself for who I am. And I say, Wow, they’re up against a lot now, because people are going to be judging them by their bodies.
PLAYGIRL: How did dancing affect your own sensuality?
JILL: It’s a double-edged sword. In some ways it made me feel more sensual. I realized that in reality I was a lot more sensual than I had allowed myself to be. If your job is to be sexy, you want to be good at it, so you get into it. To me, it wasn’t really about pleasing the men, but learning about myself. I’m still fascinated with sensuality. When I interview other dancers, I always ask them what they find sensual. It’s interesting, because there are a lot of men who would say something like, “Big tits.” One thing that was interesting was that every woman I talked to, with the exception of one, didn’t like lingerie. These are women who make their living wearing lingerie. Men dream that this is how they walk around their apartments–in G-strings and push-up bras.
PLAYGIRL: Did it increase your libido?
JILL: Now that I’ve danced, I feel like I’m a lot more open sexually. I don’t censor myself the way I used to.
PLAYGIRL: What do you find sensual?
JILL: It’s not the packaging, it’s the essence of the person–the way he touches my hand, or my arm, or looks at me–that’s sensual. It’s usually not physical. I’ve gone out with men who are not beauties, and I’ve gone out with men who are good-looking–either can be sensual.
PLAYGIRL: So what is the wackiest, scariest, funniest thing that’s ever happened to you while you were dancing?
JILL: I was dancing at this place called The Palace in Passaic and there was this drunk guy–a recovering alcoholic who had gone off the wagon for the night. I was in between sets so I would sit and listen to him. I was paying attention to him, you know. In a fit of passion over the fact that I was listening to him, he leaned over to kiss me and I checked him–like boxing.
PLAYGIRL: Good move!
JILL: Yeah, so I knocked him back off his stool for a second. If I had thrown a combination, he would have been on the floor! It was really funny. It surprised me, ’cause I’ve been taking boxing for two years and it was a natural reaction. I thought, Oh my God, I could’ve hurt him!
PLAYGIRL: And what happened to the guy?
JILL: I left after that. I just walked away. He started throwing me bigger bills saying “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” (laughs) I’m going, “I don’t want your money! I don’t want your money!” It was weird! It was bizarre!
PLAYGIRL: You must meet such fascinating women. It must be great bonding with them, hearing their stories?
JILL: Yeah, also in the dressing room, I hear fragments of conversations, and they’re totally unaware that I’m listening. Those kind of things are what pop up in my monologues.
PLAYGIRL: These women you meet are really from all walks of life?
JILL: They range from the law student who’s reading her Fordham law books between sets, to the Jersey woman with an eating disorder and two kids and a mother who beats her. I mean, really sad stuff. Biker chicks, who I’d try to act tough around so I could get them to talk to me like they talk to each other.
PLAYGIRL: There was this one biker bar in New Jersey where we used to hang out and I used to love the women who hung out there.
JILL: Yeah, they are so fascinating! And I find that the longer women do go-go, the more like men they become. Hayley, my biker character, is a great example of that. I remember once being in the dressing room and listening to this dancer talk about how she met this 20-year-old at a go-go bar and she took him home with her and said, “I didn’t even fuck him! Can you believe it? I had a 20-year-old in my bed and I didn’t even fuck him?”
I was thinking, That’s what a guy would say. But I think from doing the job, and being objectified, you’re going to objectify men that way, too–and think that that makes it right.
by Amy Drew Teitler
PLAYGIRL: Where do you want to go from here? I’ve heard both Meg Ryan and Jodie Foster have expressed interest in your story.
JILL: I have had some feature film interest expressed in the show. I was flown out to L.A. to pitch the story to a major screenwriter and that’s still in the works. I’m working on a new show called Aftermath: The Go-Go DTs. That’s going to probably turn into a documentary. I’m going to interview women who worked in the sex industry. I want to hear the different things these women are going through. If I could get some kind of cable deal, like an HBO special, that would be great.
I’d ultimately like to have my own production company. I mean, I don’t have to be a solo artist. I’d work with a group of people in New York on films or plays or something. It’s been really rewarding to do my own thing.
PLAYGIRL: Why is the public so fascinated with go-go girls and other aspects of the sex industry?
JILL: Because it’s an illusion. A titillating illusion.
PLAYGIRL: Do you think in this day of sex fear and latex paranoia it’s becoming more popular?
JILL: Sure. It’s the ultimate safe sex.
PLAYGIRL: What has dancing taught you about yourself, other people and life?
JILL: Dancing showed me what I was made of. I’m a tough cookie, and I didn’t know that. Now I know I can dance on my own terms. Not so much for the pleasure of men, but for myself–and still make money and draw strength from it. It also wised me up to the fact that women really are different from men. That may sound silly, but being a tomboy, I was always one of the guys. I was always like the guys. They treated me equally. They were never like, “Oooh, Jill!” They never treated me like a sex object!
PLAYGIRL: Did you enjoy that?
JILL: I loved it! They were my brothers. They wouldn’t check girls out so much in front of me, but I always wondered what it would be like to be a real girly-girl.
PLAYGIRL: Yeah, me too.
JILL: I was never a girly-girl, even when I danced and I had to deal with the negative attitude, How can you do that? I’d justify it and say I do it my way. I’m not this passive shithead. I mean, I’ll educate men. I don’t do everything for a dollar. I’ll do this, and I’ll do this but if you push me too far, if you try to humiliate me, I’m not gonna do it. It’s a fuckin’ dollar! I thought that was kind of good. I was like this little missionary go-go dancer. (we laugh).
PLAYGIRL: Do you think that the show changes men’s attitudes about go-go dancers?
JILL: When I come out in the beginning of the show, I work the stage and I get the dollar from some guy. One guy once said, “You know, I got over your outfit in about five minutes.” So I’m humanizing the dancers. I’ve heard men say that they don’t go back to go-go bars, or they don’t go as much and when they do go, they really look at the dancers differently. I’d like to think that they treat the women a little better afterwards.