Odd Peak

Is Stripping an Art form?


What is art? Since 2012 courts from Norway to New York have been making rulings that  striptease constitute an art form and should therefore performers  needed to pay income tax. This means that like artists, strippers or strip club performers were eligible for the same tax breaks.  This means like, artists, dancers, comedians and any other stage performances who earned a living from performing would be regarded the same way under taxation laws.

This seemed fair because if you really look at it, strippers put in a lot of work perfecting their moves and they are dedicated to giving the best performance every night and earning money from that. You could call them freelancers or one would say, earning tips isn’t the same as a salary but elevating strippers to tax paying citizens elevates their status.

This move was all thanks to the doggedness of one Norwegian strip club, who argued if he was required to pay millions in VAT then the nude girls he employed at the club should be benefit from the VAT earned on tickets that people buy to see their shows.

This court case did not come with resistance. Lawyers from the tax office argued that just because scantily dressed women have performances as Flamenco dancers or as naughty nurses did not show any artistic flair. The government lawyers vented their argument on the act that the reason that punters visited strip clubs was not for art, but just to see women strip down to their birthday suits.

The case was followed everywhere and a lot more performers in different countries began approaching their own courts of law. A strip club in New York also made a case about stripping being a form of performance art and the rights that strippers had to tax exemption.

Some lawyers were making a case that stripping is “live dramatic performance”, no different than a performance one expects in live ballet or opera production.  It’s easy to scoff at this as being absurd but when one considers the money that ballet companies and the like save by being tax exempt, one might argue that stripping has been given the short end of the straw and that the industry was being exploited.

Strippers were in agreement. Not only were they having to deal with the politics and economics of dancing in someone’s club for a few hundred dollars a day, they had to put a lot of thought and work on their performances. That means they had to practice mastering a lot of dance moves. Besides, wasn’t seduction defined as and actual, art form by some famous person a long time ago? Strippers dance- aren’t dancers categorized as artists?

The audience may not know what goes into every performance to appreciate it fully as an artistic performance but strippers shed the same blood, sweat an tears that ballet dancers shed. It’s only right that they are not excluded in economy but receive the benefits that are due to them like all other employees.