❉ An introduction to Kellie Everts; stripper, bodybuilder, and founder of her own church.
Every now and then you stumble on something that runs so counter to your assumptions that you can’t help exclaim “What the hell??” This happened several years back when I discovered the existence of “The Stripper for God,” cult legend Kellie Everts. That moniker is enough to catch your attention, then throw in the eclectic totality of her resume (and just like her, it’s stacked) and things get even more interesting. After some research, it was clear to me that she holds a unique position at the pop cultural intersection of religion and sex work. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who straddles that line quite as impressively as Kellie Everts.
Born Rasa Sofija Jakstas in Germany, 1945, Everts (who goes by Rasa von Werder these days) has built a varied and fascinating career. As a bodybuilder in the 1970s she shared a stage with Arnold Schwarzenegger more than once and was Miss Nude Universe. She appeared nine times in Playboy. She’s also been a photographer, author, evangelist, and founder of her own church. In a 1999 Salon profile, she was described as, “Spiritual to the core, she also happens to be a stripper, a Goddess-worshiping feminist, a preacher of sexual liberation and a star and producer of fetish and domination videos.” To paraphrase Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, Everts has a head for spiritual salvation and a bod for sin.
That Salon interview with Everts is actually a bit sad in parts, as the writer indicates how lonely Everts seems. At the time she was living in relative obscurity in the wilds of upstate New York (actually, in the southern tier college town of Binghamton), trying to find disciples for her church while producing and starring in explicit fetish and porn videos to make a living.
As noted in the Salon piece, Everts believes in feeding men’s fantasies rather than sublimating their sexual desires. She is convinced she can expose the hypocrisy of organized religion’s treatment of women and their bodies, enlightening men to their wicked ways by appealing directly to their libidos. She’s staunchly feminist, firmly anti-patriarchy, and decidedly pro-body image. She’s also a fascinating paradox: a liberated feminist leveraging carnal desire in the name of spiritual redemption. It’s quite a calling.
Speaking of callings, one night in the 1970s, relaxing in her hotel room after another strenuous day of sermonizing and stripping, Everts was paid a divine visit by Jesus. She was on the right path, he said. No matter how unlikely that might sound to you or me, she’s remained steadfastly committed to her cause ever since. She doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone—far from it, I would imagine—so who are we to question her? As she declared in a fun and informative 2016 interview, “Very few people can do the shit I’ve done.” Amen to that.
❉ Filmography: “She Did It His Way” (1968), “The Girls on F Street” (1967), “Dude Ranch” (1966–1968), “The Swinger” (1966)
❉ Michael Campochiaro has written about movies, television, and popular culture for Diabolique Magazine, HiLoBrow, Grumpire, and Sequart, and contributed two essays to the book Tonight, On A Very Special Episode, Volume 1: 1957-1985. His website is The Starfire Lounge.
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