Most Wednesday nights you’ll find me on the couch in my pyjamas, watching The Bachelor and trying not to spill dinner down my front.

Last Wednesday night I found myself at a city strip club surveying a row of 14 naked women to objectively determine who had the best bum.

One might argue the two experiences are not that far removed, but suffice to say it was a very unusual mid week activity for a heterosexual feminist to find herself in.

That wasn’t all, though. I also watched a busty blonde do a pole dance while licking an ice cream cone, and saw a brunette in thigh-high vinyl boots pour a bucket of glitter over her bare chest in a shower. And then there was the twerking.

I’m not sure if this sort of thing happens every night at Adelaide’s Crazy Horse on Hindley Street, because until last week I had never actually been inside (I know, I’m a delicate flower, me). But last Wednesday night was special. It was the final of the Miss Nude Australia competition, and I had been asked to judge.

To be honest, I was a bit unsure about saying yes.

After all, it wasn’t that long ago that I wrote a column ripping in to the Miss Universe contest for being sexist and demeaning. I called it a “stupid and degrading pile of nonsense that reduces adult women to nothing more than walking mounds of hair, skin and teeth to be judged like prize cattle”.

By comparison, Miss Nude Australia is a nationwide competition for female strippers in which they are judged specifically as sex objects, assessed on their erotic appeal and rated on their body parts.

Isn’t that just the same thing? Isn’t that just as demeaning?

Well no, actually, it’s not.

The difference is that Miss Universe, and beauty pageants like it, hold contestants up as the epitome of womanhood. Not as models or entertainers, but women. Perfect women, who look as fabulous in a bikini as they do in a ballgown, and can even answer difficult questions. (Well, one, anyway.)

This idea is validated by the masses of mainstream media attention the pageant gets, with video broadcast in prime time newscasts and photos run prominently in papers. One woman wins a tiara and a sash for walking around a stage and looking pretty, and the whole world is told it is important news.

By contrast, Miss Nude Australia is an industry award. It’s the Oscars of stripping, the Nobel Prize of nudity, the Walkleys of waggling your butt. And unless you think taking your clothes off for money is demeaning and wrong, which I don’t, you should be able to recognise it’s a legitimate prize for a legitimate artform.

And it involves serious skill.

When Frankie J Blaze or Shai De Lane climb a pole and slide down it holding on with just their thigh muscles, no one is pretending they are anything other than extraordinary. They are professional entertainers - you could even say athletes - and Miss Nude Australia is their chance to be recognised for their craft in front of their peers.

Miss Universe is insidious, because it pretends to be family friendly entertainment when really it’s just about putting women on parade and deciding whose boobs and bum are the best. At least Miss Nude Australia is upfront about that (in every sense of the word).

And so I said yes to the Crazy Horse’s invitation and spent the night watching some very toned women do naked gymnastics on poles - and it was great fun.

I don’t think I’ll be heading back to a strip club any time soon, but I’ll say this: The Bachelor is really going to have to lift its game to beat this next Wednesday.


First published in The Advertiser, August 28, 2015. Click here to read the original article.