View Full Version : Striptease Without Lyrics

02-11-2006, 02:57 AM
Every writer learns--sometimes the hard way--that while we can mention song titles, we can't lift their lyrics without buying the rights. Depending on who holds them, rights might not be available at any price for placement in erotica.

Okay, that's the facts. Now for the bind this puts me in.

I'm dusting off a trunk novel--that MMF mentioned recently--which includes a striptease scene. When I wrote it, the goal wasn't sales and I incorporated lyrics into the scene, the characters' actions and reactions dovetailing nicely with the music.

Since I'm barred from using lyrics (or enclosing a CD with every copy!), how can I rewrite this scene without cutting it--and gutting its impact. It's fun and coy and sexy and in the end, quite emotional.

Since I would never post X-rated material here, consider Gershwin's "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails" and what your own imagination can do with it, accompanying a striptease:

I'm putting on my top hat,
Tying up my white tie,
Brushing off my tails.
I'm duding up my shirtfront,
Putting in the shirt studs,
Polishing my nails,
I'm stepping out, my dear,
To breathe an atmosphere
That simply reeks with class;
And I trust that you'll excuse my dust
When I step on the gas,
For I'll be there,
Putting down my top hat,
Mussing up my white tie,
Dancing in my tails.

I don't know about you, but I can practically choreograph how someone would dance to that while undressing and teasing his audience.

Without using any song's lyrics, I don't know that I can sustain my scene for as long as the original, and damn it, it's a good scene. If it weren't for the lyrics, there's little I'd change.

So what would you do?

Maryn, stumped (but way, way into the rewrite, approaching the end)

02-11-2006, 03:40 AM
Are you sure that one is still under copyright? I guess it is. However you might be able to write a clear parody of it to use, or a new song inspired by the original?

02-11-2006, 08:15 PM
That song was just an example. I used 3 songs that are all definitely under copyright protection.

But can't you just see the big ending that goes with the line "Dancing in my tails"? (Fred Astaire is probably rolling over in his grave.)

I can describe the type of music, and have my guy do the same moves, but without anchoring it to some very well-known music the typical reader can play in his or her mind, it sure loses most of its steam.

You've planted the seed of an idea, though--maybe I can write something that passes for lyrics to the type of music I'll describe. Challenging, but hey, it could work. Thanks!

Maryn, who expects to write a lot today