Kendra Lust & Reya Sunshine describe the highs, lows, and everything in-between.
Exotic dancing is an ancient art – there are cave paintings depicting performances from 15,000 years ago.
Now, the world of erotic performance is being thrust into the future, as California’s Gold Club prepares to open the first ever virtual strip club.
Created by virtual reality company VRClubz, curious customers can explore spaces inside iconic venue from their laptops (in an interactive gaming style experience).
And, if you’re able to splash a little cash, you can even pay to immerse yourself with a virtual reality striptease from your favourite dancer (in the form of a virtual reality film).
You don’t need a VR headset to try out the experience, but if you can get your hands on a headset, it’s a case of, the more immersive, the better.
Sunshine, 26, has danced at venues in California for several years, and started to work online as a webcam entertainer just over a year ago.
“I’ve always been very sensual and into dancing, it just made sense to turn that into a career,” she told The Memo.
Michigan-based Lust has been in the adult entertainment industry for five years. A registered nurse, she first started stripping to pay for college, and later found that web camming and porn were a great way to help support her family.
Both performers have recorded virtual content for the new ‘Gold Club SF VR Experience’, to be released on 28 February.
We asked them about the pros and cons of virtual stripping…
The fact that virtual reality stripping is a recorded experience also allow performers a greater sense of freedom.
“VR stripping gives you a lot more free time,” says Lust. “It gives me more flexibility to spend time with my mom, nieces and nephews, and people I care about.”
Likewise Sunshine feels that VR allows her to better manage her time.
“You go once and record it and then you’re good to go,” she explains. “I’m a workaholic so I like to do as much as possible, and VR gives me more time for that.”
Ditching the restraints of having to actually be at a club for a shift, also allows performers to feel healthier physically.
“Live performances are much more physically demanding, because you’re catering to more than one person,” explains Lust.
“It’s just more comfortable,” adds Sunshine.
It’s not just about physical comfort either, both Lust and Sunshine see VR as an opportunity to create better connections with fans and feel a greater financial stability in the process.
“There is more potential in VR stripping because you’re reaching the entire world,” says Sunshine. “You can have thousands of clients at once, compared to the smaller volume of people who can enjoy your real-life show all at once.”
“You’re fans are the ones who support you and back your brand,” adds Lust. “There’s no possible way to get to all the countries in the world and spend time with them, so VR stripping can be a huge advantage.”
A greater sense of mental wellbeing can be achieved online. “I feel more safe, you never know who could come into the club,” says Lust.
“People can sometimes get a little grabby,” confesses Sunshine. “It really gets in the way of the dancing. In VR you feel safer.”
That’s not to say our online worlds are totally risk-free. But digital intimidating is easier to “brush off” says Sunshine.
“In person the intimidation is way more physical, online, it’s emotional and personal,” she explains:
“People are likelier to say crazier and more hurtful things if they’re behind a computer screen, but I don’t let it disrupt my sleep.”
Not every aspect of virtual reality makes life easier, however.
Performing to camera can feel less personal, which makes it more of an artistic challenge.
“There are drawbacks,” admits Sunshine. “You can’t react to a person’s experience, or see if they like what you are doing, it’s no longer a conversation with your body, your glances, your smile… VR is less personal.”
“When I dance I feel in real life there is that sexual tension between you and the person you are dancing for,” agrees Lust. “If the person isn’t right in front of you, you have to try to think of ways to make it more sexual, because you don’t have a physical being there.”
“It’s a little bit more challenging.”
Despite this, both believe that, on the whole, VR stripping is better for them personally.
Sunshine admits she gets a thrill from the knowledge her performance will “live on forever”, while Lust admits her wide-reaching fan base will benefit from “how big VR is going to become.”
What’s certain, is that for the VR stripping industry to thrive, it will need to attract top-notch eager talent. And right now, that doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem.
Welcome to the age of VR stripping: so much more enticing than a painting in a cave.
Kitty Knowles is a Senior Features Writer at The Memo. Kitty previously worked as an online journalist for GQ. She can be found tweeting @KittyGKnowles.