Juicy, Delicious, Playful & Fun - ‘Pussy’ is Not a Dirty Word
© Photography by AK || In Image: Kitty Velour
Meet Kitty Velour: pole popstar and booty princess, she discusses stripping back the negativity around sex work and all things pleasure, performance, and sensuality.
Kitty Velour started pole dancing when she was 16 and quickly became obsessed. She liked that it was a little bit ‘taboo,’ a little bit rebellious. It wasn’t till she started stripping when she was 18 that Kitty knew she wanted to do pole full time. But there was no ‘instruction’ on being a professional pole dancer - it was and is still such a new industry. She just knew she had to make it work.
And that’s how it all started - the beginning of Kitty Velour's journey. She has now performed on stage with Snoop Dogg in front of a total of 42,000 people and is touring burlesque and pole dance shows all over the world. She spoke to Injection Magazine about her experiences as a professional pole dancer, the negativity around sex work, and performance as an expression of identity, sexuality, and sensuality.
On your social platforms, you speak about the history of stripping, but also about pleasure, yoni eggs, and orgasms - what was that process like, of having these conversations online?
I’ve always been passionate about female pleasure. I am a sexual person, and interested in topics around sexuality, pleasure and sexual health. I find it interesting. I was that friend that people would ask for advice around sex topics because they knew I wouldn’t be judgemental and would be open to talking about it. That translated into my social media very naturally - it never felt difficult. The more we talk about it, the more it normalises it for everyone else.
There are all these things about sex that we want to share, but we are constantly in scenarios where we feel people might judge us, where we feel vulnerable or feel silly, so I know that sharing it online is valuable for other people.
It never feels difficult or awkward; it just feels important to put everything up for discussion to destigmatise certain issues.
Would you consider yourself an advocate for pleasure - an advocate for the education of pleasure?
Absolutely. Definitely - I am not in any way a sex educator, but I like to share my experiences of things that I’ve read about and come across. It also comes hand-in-hand with pole dancing, which is all about empowerment and pleasure. It’s about appreciating your body, whether that’s in a sexual way or just enjoying your body for the badass things it can do for you on the pole.
Where did the name ‘Pussy Parlour’ come from? What was the inspiration behind it? And what is your favourite thing about creating these performances?
I got the name ‘Pussy Parlour’ from a book I read. It was called Stripping in Time by Lucinda Jarrett, and it’s about the history of erotic dance. I was reading a section about the 70s, and there was a strip place in Soho called ‘The Pussy Parlour,’ and it stuck in my mind. I imagined what it would be like - the atmosphere, the place, and it felt perfect when brainstorming a name for my show. It has a feline feel, which matches my ‘Kitty Velour’ identity and presence.
I also felt that the word ‘pussy’ is seen as this dirty, explicit, pornographic word. Or used in a derogatory manner, calling someone a ‘pussy’ in that they’re weak in some way. Using the word in the name of my show helps to destigmatise that part of the female body and spread positivity around the word. I think it’s a juicy, delicious word - playful and fun. There’s nothing weak about a pussy - babies come out of there.
© Photography by Miriam Vaughan || In Image: Kitty Velour
Why do you think the word ‘stripper’ still carries so many negative connotations?
There’s still a lot of shame around sex work, and any association with it is so heavily stigmatised that people are just really awkward about it. There’s also no respect for sex work as a profession, as a real job. Even online, you can’t use the word “stripper,” it has to be censored because otherwise, it will be flagged. It’s just really frustrating, and you’d think things would be a little bit different now - especially because pole dance is now part of the mainstream. There’s also been a lot of work from us, as a community, to talk about the origins of pole dance coming from strippers.
That’s why I try to use “stripper” when I can, online, in digital spaces, to normalise the word being heard. The more you hear it, the more it gets into your psyche. Then it doesn’t seem so shameful or alarming because people are having these casual, open conversations about it and showing the positivity around it.
But it is challenging because it is a word - when censored online - that creates more shame, further perpetuates these stigmas, and stops it from being used in conversations. It creates more darkness - you don’t have the visibility to understand things.
You’ve been very open about your experience with Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) and social media’s potential to be such a harmful place to have conversations about notions of perfection and imperfection; how have you navigated that?
I always try to share everything I am going through with my followers. Instagram, and social media in general, is a very aesthetic space where you put your ‘best self’ forward, but that’s not real life, and it doesn’t serve anyone if I just pretend that life is perfect all the time.
When I was going through TSW, I was very sick, so obviously, I couldn’t work. I wanted to let everyone know why I was gone and what was happening to me. But mainly to spread awareness of what I was going through to hopefully stop other people from going through it because it was so painful; my whole body was flaky and oozing, and I couldn’t walk properly; I couldn’t leave the house. I couldn’t do anything. So I wanted to talk about it, be real, and be vulnerable, even though it was difficult for me.
Even though you are doing something you love, how do you maintain your motivation or your digital presence in sharing your performances and routines?
It’s been a gradual thing from when I first started posting. I’ve always enjoyed posting on social media because it gave me the incentive to create content, and when you’re filming yourself on the pole, the motivation to create the perfect combo and perfect it the best way possible. As I’ve gotten further and further into my career, it’s become more and more structured. It has changed over time.
But for me, it’s also about personal development: I like that I’m getting better as I get older and growing and understanding myself more and why I do what I do. I think that helps with discipline and motivation. It’s also a skill you must keep working on, especially when you’re self-employed, to be disciplined. To turn up for yourself. To be your own boss. No one is telling you when you should or shouldn't do things, so you do have to create a framework for yourself to keep yourself motivated and keep creating content.
© Photography by Josh Cadogan || In Image: Kitty Velour
What does sexual self-empowerment mean to you?
I think it just means being comfortable with your sexuality and sensuality. Your sexuality is a part of your identity, whereas sensuality is more about how you express that identity, so they coexist hand-in-hand.
There are very few spaces in life where you can be authentically and overtly sexual if you want to. It’s pretty freeing where you have those classes where you can talk about those things, dance, and express that part of yourself. It’s incredibly cathartic and healthy, I think. Especially for women, and queer people, there is a pressure social media puts on you, even subliminally, on how to behave or express yourself. It’s about moving out of that space and doing what feels good for you.
It can be tough to know where to start to want to tap into your sexuality and your sexual empowerment. But it’s just about being comfortable and not afraid to express yourself. I think that’s so important.
In one of your most recent Instagram posts, you say you are a “dreamer,” so what do you dream about? What does the future look like for you?
I want to grow my show, the Pussy Parlour; it’s such a lush space to let performers express themselves and be creative, so I would love to expand that and have bigger audiences and theatre spaces and tour it in the future - that would be amazing. I want to keep spreading all that sexual positivity because I know the audiences enjoy it, and the feeling they get watching performers being their most authentic selves is inspiring. I would love to expand that.
I want to go to Australia next year! It’s been my dream since I was 18 because they have such a high pole culture there, and I’ve always wanted to get involved in their scene. I guess those are my main dreams at the moment.
Any last advice or anything you want to share?
For anyone who wants to get into pole dancing, I feel people think they need to be a specific type of person or to have specific skills, that they have to be strong, or to be flexible, or you have to be confident to start pole, but that’s not the case at all. It’s kind of like saying that you need to be strong to go to the gym; you go to the gym to get strong. You go to pole, to become strong, flexy, and confident.
Everyone in a beginner class is in the same boat as you; they don’t know what they’re doing, and they feel nervous, but it is a really encompassing space and a good way to have fun.
For anyone who wants to try it, just go for it.