Do you have seductive dance moves, a commanding presence, and the ability to work a stage and engage an audience? If so, you could have a lucrative career as a stripper. A job that once garnered a lot of disapproving stares and jeers is now gaining respect as a viable career or side hustle. But becoming a stripper takes a lot more than just buying cute outfits and learning how to pole dance. You need a charismatic personality, physical stamina, and basic dance skills. You also need a stripping license if you want to stay on the right side of the law. This is also known as an Adult Entertainment Permit and it’s a must-have for all exotic dancers regardless of what state or country you work in.
The good news is that getting one isn’t all that complicated or difficult. Don’t let a little pesky paperwork stand in the way of making your exotic dancing dreams a reality. Keep reading to learn more about getting your stripping license as an independent dancer, as well as what’s required from club and venue owners to stay in business.
While working in the adult industry is a lot more exciting than a desk job, it’s still a serious industry and one that the government regulates pretty closely. In fact, even more so than some other careers. This is done to ensure your safety, the safety of your clients, and the establishment itself. For this reason, if you want to become a successful stripper, you need a license. While this isn’t true for every state in the USA, it is the case for most. The same holds true in the UK where strippers are required to have a license if they want to work in a local nightclub or entertainment venue.
The License Permit Unit is the government organization that will provide you with your stripping license once you’ve completed all the necessary paperwork and completed all the required steps below.
To start, you’ll need to submit an application and photo ID or proof of age. You must be of legal age to become a stripper, which is either 18 or 21 in most places. You’re also required to pay a fee, which you can do using cash, check, or money order. While these fees may vary, you can expect to pay around $250 in total including $20 for fingerprints, a $50 processing fee, and around $200 for the actual permit which certifies you as a legal adult entertainer. Before you submit your application and pay these fees, make sure you’re serious about becoming a stripper because the government doesn’t give refunds.
Once your paperwork and payment are submitted, the state will perform a background check to see if you have any outstanding warrants, charges, or other legal issues to contend with. Each jurisdiction is different so be sure to check with your local authorities and find out what’s required for obtaining a stripping license. You’ll also need to sign a consent form to approve this entire process. If it’s determined that you have any convictions or pending court cases within the last three years that pertain to serious crimes like selling drugs, sexual offenses, or crimes of moral turpitude, your stripping license will be denied.
Are you currently on probation or parole? If anything about the title of exotic dancer violates these conditions, the state will not grant you a stripping permit. One positive is that a failed background check could potentially result in a refund of your application fee, depending on the circumstances.
Getting fingerprinted is part of the background check for a stripping license but is usually done separately and at a different office than where you submit your application. You have to pass the initial background investigation before you proceed with this next step. When it’s time, you’ll visit your local license and permit office where someone will record your fingerprints and take your picture. You’ll also need to present proof of payment that shows you paid all the above-mentioned fees.
Once you’ve successfully completed all the above steps (and barring no hiccups along the way), you’ll receive your official permit and can now work as a legal, licensed exotic dancer. Approval can take up to 30 days, during which you can legally work as an exotic dancer on a temporary status. Your permit is good for one year, which means you’ll need to update it annually. The good news is that once you go through the initial process, renewal isn’t quite so rigorous. The licensing and permit department will still perform a background check but your fees will be slightly less since your fingerprints are already in the system.
Even if you go through all the necessary steps for obtaining your stripping license, there are still a few things to keep in mind.
While it’s a personal choice whether you get hired at a club first or get your Adult Entertainment Permit first, it’s easier if you have a job lined up first. Head online and read reviews of different strip clubs and venues in your area to find one that’s the right fit for your goals, schedule, and personality. You can read online reviews or take the streets and visit each club yourself. The latter is often the better option since it gives you a first-hand look at what the club looks and feels like during operating hours. Try to visit the clubs at different times and on different days to get a sense of the types of patrons you’ll encounter based on your schedule.
Other considerations are how much the club lets you charge for a lap dance, if there are bouncers and security present, how customers are allowed to interact with the dancers, and what hours are available. If you’re feeling adventurous and confident, ask if you can perform one song on stage. This article offers some helpful tips for beginners.
If you want to be an independent exotic dancer, you’ll need to file for an occupational tax certificate and obtain a SAFE Affidavit that’s notarized. It’s important to include this document on your CON (certificate of need) application when completing the necessary paperwork for your permit. Be sure to copy this information exactly and be completely honest. Any discrepancies in facts or statements will send up a red flag with the permit office and could cause a delay in the application process.
If you plan to make a career out of stripping, chances are, you’ll be renewing your license every year. And with that being said, you’ll undergo an intense background check every single time. That means it’s important to stay on the right side of the law at all times to avoid your license being revoked from one year to the next.
Establishing a good image and reputation in the industry is also an important part of this process. The last thing you want is to establish yourself as a headliner in a successful club and gain a loyal customer base only to disappoint them when your renewal is denied and you have to give up your career. Protect yourself and your image by always working legally and following local laws and the rules of the club or venue where you work.
Believe it or not, what’s considered striptease varies from one place to the next. While some states and areas allow fully nude dancing as part of your stripping license, other locations only permit topless dancing and prohibit full nudity. In some places, a striptease is considered a form of public nudity and, therefore, illegal. Your license may be subject to changing laws and cultural beliefs about morality and decency. Staying up-to-date on these evolving rules and regulations will ensure you continue doing what you love, legally.
It’s important to note that a stripping license does not permit you to work as or conduct your own stripping business. If you want to open an establishment for exotic dancers, check out the next section on requirements for running a club or venue. Instead, having a stripping permit simply means you can legally work at a club that has its own permit, which is known as a Nude Entertainment Business permit.
Your stripping license is good for one year from the date you submit your application and payment. It’s your responsibility to renew your permit every year before it expires. The licensing department or state doesn’t send out reminders or notices that your license is going to expire, which means it’s your job to make sure you submit the necessary paperwork in time for renewal.
If you obtain your stripping license to work at one club and then decide to switch to a different venue, you’ll need to get your license updated. That’s because these permits are issued per employee, per establishment. In fact, every employee working in an adult nightclub is required to have a permit including cooks, bartenders, bouncers, waitresses, and even members of the kitchen staff. If you’re planning to work at more than one establishment at a time, you’ll need separate permits for each location. Stripping licenses are non-transferable and non-refundable.
As an independent exotic dancer, you have your own level of responsibility and expectations for obtaining your stripping license. But so do nightclub and venue owners where you may submit your application. As mentioned above, to legally operate a strip club, the owner must apply for and obtain a Nude Entertainment Business permit or a Sex Establishment License.
A Sex Establishment License can be used to run the following:
It’s this last one we’ll focus on since it describes a strip club or adult entertainment nightclub. This license allows the club owner to offer:
There are strict policies and protocols in place that determine what types of establishments and owners can obtain this type of license. These guidelines are in place to protect the establishment’s dancers, other employees, and patrons. So, not just anyone can get approved to run a strip club or adult entertainment venue. For example, these licenses prohibit guests from touching dancers and other workers and discourage other forms of physical contact. Most venues have private rooms and booths available for lap dances and more intimate experiences.
Some requirements for club owners and future entrepreneurs to consider include:
Similar to applying for a stripping license as a dancer, club owners must follow the same steps including filling out an application completely and honestly, paying all the necessary fees, and providing all supporting documents. You must also pass a thorough background check. Fees for a business license vary but include the following:
Once you’re approved, you must display your application on premises for 21 consecutive days and also publish a notice in the local newspaper within a week of applying. This is done to inform the local community about your plans for the property.
Before you go through all the steps of the application process, you should determine if stripping is the right career path for you. Here are a few things to ask yourself before taking to the stage.
As with any business venture or career choice, it’s important to do plenty of research and be honest with yourself about your limits, abilities, and time constraints before getting started.
If you’re convinced that a career in stripping is right for you and you’re ready to undergo the rigorous application process, background checks, and pay the fees, here are a few tips for succeeding on stage.
There you have it. Now you know all the legal ins and outs of getting your stripping license so you can dance at virtually any club you want without breaking the law or compromising your morals. Or, perhaps, your ultimate goal is to open your own entertainment venue. While this requires its own license, the more you know about the industry, the more successful you’ll be.
Check out the rest of the blog for more tips and suggestions for making money doing what you love.