A Love Letter to the Aussie

The Aussie and I are on the patio of the W hotel bar, waiting for my kickass Chicago customer with the Flock of Seagulls hair, who’s paying us to skip work and go out on the town with him. We are having a really amazing conversation about what this job does to your social life (in a nutshell: it torpedoes it), and that’s when it hits me. This relationship epitomizes the reason I started dancing. I knew I needed to get on the inside, so I could gain the trust of these women, but I never really expected to find such true friends such as her. Lately, I’ve realized that my mission, in this lifetime, is to connect with people, to try and understand the truth of others’ experiences; she has shared with me more than I ever thought possible, perhaps because we’re so on the same page about this shit, even though we’re quite different. When she finally started reading my blog, after we became close and I kept telling her about all the quoting of her I’ve been doing here, she texted me: “I’ve been waiting for you.” (I started crying at a stoplight when I read that). And the truth is? Not only have I been waiting for her, for like fifteen years (since I first became fascinated by the sex industry), but I never expected to find her at all. But find her I did, and on my way out of the business no less. The timing couldn’t have been better (unless I’d connected with her, say, five years ago). I’m so happy we’re friends.

I had my eye on her for a while. You see, I’ve never met an Australian that I didn’t find hilarious (and hot), and she was no exception. But she was a tough sell, hard to get close to (I am too. Go figure).We’d had some highly entertaining conversations at work, and had made plans to hang out a few times (her idea), and every time, she would cancel on me at the last minute. So I just stopped trying after a while, stopped believing it till I saw it. Strippers are flaky, whatever. But then her best friend, also an Aussie whom she had met in the club, moved away. She mentioned this to me one night, sitting at the bar, and also added that since her friends had left, she was kindof lonely and looking for someone to hang out with. I saw my opening, and I jumped at it.

It’s been hot shit on a platter ever since. She and I get along really well, and can party with each other in an uncannily seamless way. We’re seemingly always on the same page, we go at the same speed when we go out together (she says she has two settings: on and off. She’s fun either way), are always like, “YES! Great idea! Let’s do THAT!” and are there for each other when we need to recover and wind down and lay on the couch and order PPV and delivery food. I feel like I could travel the world with her. And that’s saying something.

A friendship like this is one of the main reasons I started dancing. I knew that I needed to get in really tight with another stripper before anyone would share any personal details, impacts of this work on one’s life, which had any depth or breadth. Images, scenes, snippets about her riddle the Evernote entry that I keep running on my droid, the fodder for the blog. I take notes at work, and I regurgitate them here. There’s a bunch about her that need to come out, now. It’s time. Ahem:

I’m on stage four, twirling while the Aussie dances to Bizarre Love Triangle. It’s a Flashback Sunday, always a good time. This song reminds me of walking to the bus stop in middle school, when a cover track done by a one-hit-wonder band named Frente was on the radio, which I of course listened to religiously on my trusty walkman. Back when I didn’t even know it was a cover of my now much-beloved New Order. So, the song conjures up images and memories of adolescent angst, all the while I’m spinning mostly naked on a pole. My how far we come, my how my path was absolutely impossible to predict. Who knew I’d be here, almost twenty years later? How could I have known, hormonal and angsty in seventh grade, that I’d be getting all mushy-subversive here, now. She’s doing her same routine as always, which I noticed yesterday, it never changes. I’m tearing it up, tearing up, and I’m filled with joy. I’m so glad we’re friends.

I often get sentimental when I’m dancing and certain songs happen to come on. If I’m just walking around the club, it’s not a big deal, but if I’m onstage or performing privately, the music can create emotional weight that dictates meaning around the simple movements I’m undertaking. The audience, the customers who for the most part only objectify me, will never know how subjectified I am in those moments, seemingly performing for them but reappropriating those motions for myself while something personally meaningful plays. I’m dancing to a secret, embodying something emotional while projecting only faked lust. They’ll never know what this means, because I keep it only for me. I’ll never let them inside to see this part of me, but I can express it, only for myself, naked, in front of god and everybody. This is a beautiful thing. These walls we put up, most shrinks would call them unhealthy compartmentalization techniques which arise as coping mechanisms in an abusive environment; these walls, they are beautiful. I can be entirely myself, but nobody has to know. I only let them see what I decide to share. And I can be one thing, while they’re seeing another, but only I know who I truly am in that moment. There is poetry in compartments, beautiful expression embedded like mortar in the walls we put up. She sums up her (very different) perspective on this sentiment of mine: “This is not the kind of place where you want to have people see who you really are. I try and pretend that songs like this don’t exist. When they come on, I feel emotionally raped.” While it might be a violation to her—and it is to some extent for me, to be reminded of real feelings/memories/people/selves while trying to project an image of faked eroticism—I revel in that violation. Fine, bring new meaning to my performance, rattle my core. I won’t let it get to me, I won’t let you see who I really am unless you deserve it. And money doesn’t buy trust.


We’re sitting at the bar, and a drunk guy decides to insert himself into our conversation, asking us if we want to come home with him, and it’s not even 7pm yet. We’re getting increasingly annoyed, rolling our eyes at each other, until she finally goes, “We’re in the middle of a conversation.” He responds, seeing me taking notes on my phone (which I often do during these times with her), “Then why are you texting? You shouldn’t be texting” and I go, “The word ‘should’ doesn’t need to come out of your mouth again.” Fucker. How dare he, intrude upon our moment of realness, how dare he interrupt our dissection of life and the meaning of the sex industry? Hey, science: where is my force field already? Jeez.

Part of what I was recording when fuckface decided to intrude: She goes, “Since we’ve become good friends, this [read: work] has become easier for me. It’s nice to have an ally. We’re helping each other make money. When I was working with Fiona [aforementioned best friend who moved away], we had some problems because she’d go upstairs and make her thousands, and then come downstairs and kill all my seeds [guys she’d had her eye on].” We have very different work styles, so we don't often work together. But when we do, man, does it work.


I’m sitting at a table consisting of her, her customer, and his business associate, and I’m looking at her, watching her expressions, watching her work her magic. We’ve been paid very well by these guys for the last two days, and I don’t think either of us has even taken our dress off. Always the observer, I’m regarding her, knowing this might be the last time we work together, getting sentimental, when she hikes her eyebrow at me and I nearly melt. She’s holding court and shit is amazing. I love watching her wheels turning. I’m soaking it in, saying goodbye to this aspect, this facet of who we are together.


Our friendship happened at the most opportune moment for both of us. She says: “A lot of things about my life, I’ll fluff them up before I put them out there, but you don’t because you don’t give a fuck. Your anger comes out in your style [of relating to customers] and mine is starting to. I’ve been conforming and I don’t care anymore. The timing of our friendship is correct. I’ve always been this person, but it’s showing more on the outside now. Your lack of fraudulence makes this a lot more fun for me. When you’re sitting here with me, a lot of people [read: strippers] who would normally come up and complain [about the club being empty] don’t do that anymore. I still think we’re going to make money. I’m staring at an empty club but I’m in a good mood because of you.” We complete each other, here. I give her courage, she provides reaffirmation and depth to these things I’ve been trying to put my finger on for five years. This is a beautiful thing. I am so grateful.


She doesn’t like to go upstairs anymore, she’d much rather work her magic on people downstairs where she knows what she’ll make and what she has to do for it, rather than leave anything up to chance. She says: “When I have control over the situation, I don’t feel objectified. That’s why I don’t go upstairs, because I don’t feel in control up there the way I can control the anonymous laps downstairs. Control is an illusion, I know, but…” I say, finishing her thought: “power changes hands every other minute in here, and you’ve figured out how to maintain yours.” Subject/object, power/control. The nuances are subtle in this space, and these articulations of ours are absolute revelations for me, each inspiring unspoken amounts of gratitude. No amount of reading stripper anthologies would have ever gleaned thought streams such as these. And that’s why I had to become a stripper.


We go on and on about relationships, in and outside of the club, literally and figuratively, and I quote her extensively. “We come in here and the relationship is very transactional, but our interactions [with eachother, and to a certain degree with our customers] don’t feel that way.” On how outside relationships affect work relationships: “Getting fucked before work is bad for your money. Relationships and work can’t coexist. Spending time with people makes you not want to go to work. We sell chemistry, and if you’ve experienced real chemistry recently, it’s like it’s a zero sum thing, you’ve used it up and you don’t have enough to sell when it’s done. That’s why it’s cool to jerk off each afternoon before my shower [I do that too!], but having been sexually real with someone prior to work makes it harder to sell it here.” Oh, so that’s why I didn’t work as much as I should have when I was engaged. Oh, so that’s why I haven’t had a serious (local) relationship while I’ve been a stripper. Fuck, I wish I’d met her sooner.


Randomly: “It’s good to have friends who know where the bodies are buried, who still like you anyways.” When you engage in a stigmatized activity together, you can share things with each other that you’d never possibly speak to another human being. That is all.


We can be really frank about money with each other. “In the real world, $400 is $400 but we choose to not live there.” Meaning: most of my peers would be perfectly thrilled to make $400 in a day, but that’s a crappy shift for us. In a nutshell: we’re spoiled, and we’re really good at being spoiled together.


She compliments me in really deep and meaningful ways. “There are so many girls who fall into this work, talking about things and people as if they’re objects, instead of ideas. And after five years, you’re still talking about ideas, and that’s a good thing. You’re going to make it out of here alive.”


The only thing which could have made our friendship better timed would have been if I’d gotten close with her while I was writing my thesis. It would have significantly changed that document, for the better, for the real-er. But, no regrets. I’m so lucky to have her in my life, at the bar, on the stage, on the couch, on the dancefloor, forever. My thoughts about the nature of our work have been greatly enriched by her influence. And that, my friends, is why I became a stripper. All the money I’ve made in the club could never rival the value of this gift she’s given me. The clothes I bought will rip, the memories of the vacations I took will fade, but I will never be without the insight her love and sharing has given me. All the sacrifice, all the indulgence, all the pain and tears and laughter and joy and greed, all of it was worth it, because of her.


The Girlfriend Experience

So in the last entry, I detailed a few “types” of customers and outlined (my perceptions of) their motivations. But I left out a big one, in my haste to publish that post: the girlfriend-seeker. This post isn’t just about that type of customer though, it’s about the myriad of services we sell, namely: the girlfriend experience (GFE).

Girlfriend seekers are the most pitiable class of customer I’ve encountered. I’ve seen variations on this theme, so many times: old rich white dude is lonely. Maybe he got divorced, maybe his latest (usually stripper) girlfriend finally got sick of dealing with his shit, and the money and resources and shelter from having to work was finally not enough. Maybe she just got bored of having to fuck some old dude, and wanted something that actually turned her on. Whatever. So newly-single old rich white dude, what does he do? He comes into the club, looking for the next one.

Seriously, I’ve seen this so many times.

There used to be a regular named Jim, who bared a striking resemblance to a frog (no really. It was WEIRD). He was a sweet old bastard, way too gullible, and lemme tell ya, the phrase “looking for love in all the wrong places” never rang so true for me as it did during the hours I spent with him upstairs. Maybe the second time we sat together (he paid hourly and was respectful, this was long before the economy tanked when hourly was still fairly standard), he goes, “You’re going to make me fall in love with you, aren’t you?” I mean really. How do you respond to that. I don’t even remember what I said. But in his gullibility, I could tell that he REALLY wanted to believe it.

Jim was looking for a girlfriend, straight up. He told stories about the women he’d “taken care of” in the past; this was most definitely a pattern for him. He told me he was lonely. He told me he would take care of me. Now, normally when guys say shit about how they’d like to date me, I generally steal myself and play along, just so I can empty their wallets and get the fuck out of there with them still thinking they have a chance. (Lately that’s not the case; I don’t give anyone the impression this is anything but ephemeral entertainment. I’m getting blunt in my old age). But eventually I had to stop sitting with Jim, because the charade just became too much, and it reached the same old tipping point of “whatever they’re paying me isn’t enough to deal with their bullshit.”

He disappeared for a while, but I’ve seen him a few times in the club in the last couple of years, accompanied by—you guessed it—one of our dancers, who doesn’t work anymore, whom I guess is now his girlfriend. I hope she’s happy, I really do.

Then there’s David, the guy Kendall and I sat with on Sunday. David was my regular wayyyyy back in the day, like after I first started, for about a year, until he disappeared. I figured he got remarried and moved permanently to his house on St. John. He’s got a shitload of money. David’s cool in that I can actually be honest about my relationship status(es) with him. He recently resurfaced; it’d been so long that I actually thought his name was Michael. But whatever, I’m crappy at remembering names. So anyways, here he is out of the blue, a few weeks ago. I sat and ate with him and we caught up, mostly about our love lives and what’s transpired in recent years. He’s recently single, and whaddaya know, back in the fucking strip club. Just bought his ex a house in LA so she’d get out of his hair. Hope that’s worth it...

What is it with these old rich white dudes constantly getting into commodified relationships? Do they lack self confidence, and figure they might as well purchase their companionship in a roundabout kinda way? Is it a power thing, so that they can get rid of whomever rather easily, if she turns out to be batshit crazy? Do commodified relationships automatically attract the batshit crazy? Because it seems to me, and it’s not just the fact that they resurface every couple of years when their latest fling goes tits up, that the commodification just fucks everything up. I mean yeah, there are plenty of perfectly healthy relationships in which one partner takes care of the other financially, this is obviously not uncommon in our culture, and lends itself rather well to breeding. But this is something different. It’s commodified from the get-go. How could they honestly think it could last? How are they not walking around constantly questioning the authenticity of their relationship? Are they even aware of that uncertainty, and if so, does it bother them?

Old white rich dudes aside, there are some guys who just have no clue that hello, this is our job. I’ve been over that here before. You get to the part where they pay you, and all of a sudden they’re clueless. Like, what? You want money for what just happened? But I thought you really liked me! Then there are the guys that want to see you out of the club (and not for cash, either. I’m happy to have dinner with someone for $500, but rare is the person who gets that, sticks to that, and can afford that). They think that, just because you provided a service, which also happens to include fake affection, this means that you want to go out on a date. So fucking annoying. WAKE UP. You're at a STRIP CLUB. We do not ACTUALLY like you.

And yeah, I give my phone number out. Some girls have business cards, others have work phones (those are also tax deductible btw). Here’s the deal: If there’s a chance I’ll get repeat business out of it, it’s almost always worth it. I make it clear that my primary mode of communication is text messages, that I haven’t listened to my voicemail in three years so don’t bother calling and/or leaving one, and that they should text me when they’re coming in next, instead of leaving it up to chance whether I might be working that night or not (especially if they’re travelers. Oh, how I love the travelers). The point is: if they want to sit with me again, I’d rather be there than not. I’d say this strategy works out about 5% of the time, but holy god, the money I’ve made over the years because of it. And yeah, I still get 3AM-attempted-booty-call-drunk-dials from time to time, from the locals. Stupid locals. To be clear, I don’t think this is like, the revelation of the century or anything, but there are some people who take it the wrong way, and are all, “Whoa! That stripper gave me her phone number! She must really like me!” And then they’re texting me with boring shit, day in and day out. I mean, some checking-up is fine, some random volleys here and there are acceptable, sure, this is a business relationship and certain ties need to be maintained. But really? How clueless ARE you?

Like I said in the previous entry, I cannot wait for the moment when I delete all the customer numbers from my phone. I have them saved in the same spot in my contact list; every single one of them has an “L/” before their name (L stands for Lodge), and some sort of descriptor after their name, because I suck at names and generally require mnemonic devices in order to keep my shit straight. Sometimes those don’t even work, and when someone I don’t remember does come back in, I tell him to text me when he’s sitting at the library bar. That way I can usually pick out the face, and save face in the process.

Seriously, I fantasize every day about the moment when I delete all of these numbers, save maybe like, five. There are five people, out of one hundred and seventy two (no really, I just counted. Trust me, I’m JUST as shocked as you are right now, probably more so), that I care about maybe having a drink with the next time they’re in Austin. Five people whose company I would keep even if they weren’t paying me.

Notable mnemonic descriptors include: “Andrew the pervy Canadian” (people’s kinks fucking fascinate the hell out of me) “Bob the nosy New Yorker” (OMG what a dick, but oh, so much money…), “Brad with the weird nose,” (for the record: I don’t remember the nose, but I guess it was weird, LOL), “Brian the SMU douchebag” (nuff said. Def remember him), “Cliff the desperate married guy,” (fuck, that could be ANYONE!), “Ed the submissive” (subby customers are really good outlets for aggression), “Hurricane Steve” (insurance adjustor, crazy stories about Katrina), “James in the chair” (god I miss him. My paraplegic customer. So irreverent, he was. He enjoyed pretending he had cerebral palsy whenever a waiter would ignore him due to that presumption, and missed the days before movie theaters got handicapped seating, because he had to park his chair in the aisle and then got to laugh when people tripped over it and down the stairs. And you know how blind people get insane senses of smell and hearing? Well, his neck was so sensitive, I could barely touch it without him stopping me. He’d had orgasms from neck stimulation. But I digress), “Jim the hot air dude” (Jim from a previous blog, “I got caught being a real person,” the one who kept asking me about my evil ex like months after we’d broken up. He flies hot air balloons), “John the cheapo who thinks art is good” (god, he was so cheap. Why did I save a cheapo number? Who knows) “Reagan octopus tie” (that guy is RAD and I hope he comes in again), “Ron with all the mile points” (can you tell what I was after?), “Scott the spanker” (that was a fun night!), “Tony the ?” (hmm. Don’t remember him. SHOCKING), “Chris with stripes” (he always wore shirts that have what I call “intelligent stripes.” He’s one of the five. And I think he lives in Austin now. I want to be his friend. He’s SUCH a nerd), and “Rob the racer” (has Ferraris, races Porsches, pity I never took a ride in a fucking Enzo, that’s a helluva box to check; fuck, I’d do that for FREE).

Phew, names. So many names. So many forgotten moments of feigned intimacy. So many remembered moments of actual intimacy, so many fears and hopes and dreams spilled out over drinks and flesh. Enough. I’ve had enough.

All that being said, we do the GFE all the time, and it’s great. People need companionship, the same way that babies in Chinese orphanages will die if you don’t touch them. I’ve said it before, but I’m okay with what we sell, even though my time to sell it is done. We provide what certain types of customers lack in their personal lives, we provide love, support, acceptance, acknowledgment, intrigue, adoration. R. Danielle Egan calls this role the “whorish wife.” Her work featured prominently in my thesis. The whorish wife provides all the emotional support of the wife, but the physical (in our case, feigned) availability of the whore. Such a great term.

Some of my coworkers bring a different meaning to the GFE. Many of my friends in there (read: the handful (<10) women I’ll keep in my life post-stripping) pick up dates in the club. Not like, people they fuck for money, but actual guys they date. To this day, I don’t understand it. I’ve tried once. But the guys that come into the club, the locals, the young attractive ones? Not the people I want to date. Generally the men in my life, especially the ones I’m intimate with, don’t enjoy strip clubs (unless they go to party, that’s a different story and motive altogether), and I like to think it’s because they can get pussy on their own. So the ones who come into the club, who are in the right age/attractiveness bracket, those guys just aren’t my speed. They’re boring. But whatever, not judging my girls, just making the point that yeah, sometimes we DO actually like you!

So yeah, GFE. Big can o’ worms, that one. Thanks for reading, ya’ll.


what men want

I’ve said it before, and I will continue to stand behind this statement, no matter how jaded or far removed I become from the biz: everyone comes to the club for different reasons. But there are certain patterns I’ve noticed, and conclusions I can draw therein. Here are a few of them. This list is not complete. It gets ramble-y, but these are some of the most important observations I’ve ever made about what stripping does to relationships and psyches, so fucking pay attention.

Exhibit A: The ideal customer.

The ideal customer knows he’s paying for an entertainment/companionship service, and doesn’t deny this to himself or to others. Last night I was bored and kept following Mazlowe around to her tables, because she picks good ones. We were busy eating and cackling with one of her regulars (this was about the time when we decided that during my last week of work, I should change my name to Pavlov and only dance to “Ring my bell” and “Who let the dogs out”), when he said something really interesting. “How do you explain to your coworkers that you come to the titty bar to hang out with amazingly intelligent beautiful women? Nobody would believe you.” And it’s true, most people don’t get it. But there are exceptional customers out there who get it. They get that we’re at work, they get that they have to pay us for our company, and there’s never a problem with that arrangement. These men must have a combination of some pretty specific qualities: intelligence, empathy, generosity, and loneliness. If they’re local, they have to be dissatisfied with their personal life. If they’re travelling, they have to be bored because they’re on a business trip in Dallas and there’s not anything interesting to do here.

I usually prefer the travelers, because they don’t have any mistaken notions about “what it all means.” Every time I find a local regular, the relationship eventually ends because they realize that they’re not actually dating me. We have awesome times together, but eventually he’ll wake up and be like, “Okay, this feels like a relationship, but I have to pay her to hang out with me. She doesn’t want to be my girlfriend.” That will be that, I’ll take an income hit, and move on. Right now my local regular could become the exception to that rule, because he’s in a romance-less marriage and they’re basically roommates and staying together because it’s cheaper than a divorce. So he’s probably “safe” in that regard. But who knows.

Now, let me be clear. I truly like and appreciate every regular I’ve ever had. I don’t care who you are, customer or not, but you don’t get to be my friend, much less see me once a week or more, if you’re not interesting as hell. Would my regulars be people I could sit down and talk with in an airport bar for six hours while we’re both stranded in, say, Milwaukee? Absolutely. Will I keep in contact with some of them after I’m done? Sure. They’re good buddies, and they have good stories, and I feel that at least a portion of our relationship(s) is/are genuine, despite the commodification. But I won’t keep all of them around. I fantasize about the moment when I get to delete the literally hundreds of phone numbers I have stored. Airport conversation or no, would I be this nice to them if they weren’t paying me? Probably not. I’ve become quite skilled at channeling my affection. But I’m tired. I’m tired of pretending to like people more than I do.

The constant channeling into different outlets can get exhausting. The Aussie and I both prefer to make all our money from one or two sources per evening. As she put it, we tire easily of the “I’m this, I’m that, I’m this, I’m that” game.

Yes, we are selling parts of ourselves. The Aussie said, “This is exploitation on my terms. You think you’re not being exploited in a cubicle? This is on my terms.” It’s true, we’re all whores for our jobs, but we strippers have a little bit more control over where that exploitation comes from, i.e. we can walk away from an abusive situation if we deem it so. The Aussie’s mom said, “We all sell ourselves, in marriage, in life.” And her daughter, my dear friend, extrapolates: “I’m just doing it the way I want to do it. And that’s why I’ve stayed so long. I don’t want a real job until I can do it the way I want.”

Selling ourselves changes the way we interact with “real” people too. I tend to be really social when I go out, relishing in the fact that I’m engaging in real interactions with pure motives. The Aussie expresses something different: “You lose the filter when you’re not getting paid. I don’t want to talk to people when I go out, I want to take ecstasy and dance and lose my shit. I don’t even know how much I’ve given up by [stripping]. I’m not getting laid.”

And it’s true. This job makes it impossible to have a real relationship. You work at night. You’re constantly selling so much of yourself, it changes the way you love. The Aussie says, “I’m so used to manipulating people that I find myself dating people who are beneath me because they’re easy to manipulate.” She’s recognized this, and is trying to break that habit. “I’m excited by people, which is why I’m a good stripper, but my instantaneous connection is sexual, which is why I’ve never had a relationship that grew. Eliza is in her first post-stripping relationship and is having a hard time adjusting to the real. It’s romance, he’s not a customer, she likes him for him, not his money. She’s basically been dating customers and is having a hard time switching back.” Now, my personal experience hasn’t been like this. I’ve had relationships, I don’t manipulate my lovers, I don’t see my patterns with customers spilling over into my intimate life, but most of them were long distance, so I could still control my time (read: work nights and schedule week/ends where I see my bf and fuck off from work). Now that I’m single, and living in a place where I won’t find a mate, and all I could really do is go out on a date here, a date there, and I don’t. I don’t see the point. I don’t want dates, I want love. I’m tired of this. You can’t put a price tag on love. When I’m done here in a few, whatever I lose in income, I will earn back tenfold in authenticity.

Some customers think you can buy love, though. Not all customers are ideal. There are some who are completely deluded, and some who are aware they’re being deluded.

Exhibit B: The Skeptic.

In “Never trust a man with a boat,” I describe how some customers can turn on you once they realize that you’re not dancing naked for them, or laughing at their jokes, or generally being adoring, because you genuinely feel like it. Well, a few weeks ago, I had a really interesting exchange with a guy after I’d done a few dances:

Him: “Wow, you’re really good. I totally think you’re going to go home with me, but you’re not.”

Me: “Um, thanks?”

Him: “No seriously, I feel like I should be giving you my number right now, but that’s pointless, because you don’t actually like me.”

Me: “I do like you. But not in the way you’re thinking. May I be completely honest?” (stealing myself a little here, ahhh fuckit)

Him: “Sure.”

Me: “You’re too short. I need guys who are at least three or four inches taller than me.”

Him: “But I’m five ten.”

Omg. He’s so not five ten.

Me: “No way.”

I take off my shoes (which is considered prostitution in this state btw, still need to figure out the arcane source of that particular blue book law), we stand toe to toe, quite literally. He’s not five ten. Whatever.

The point is: he cut through the crap. He called me out on my game. And he seemed quite put off about it.

Whatever, he deserves it. He clearly didn’t know what he was getting into when he started talking to me.


Flashback Sunday

Sundays are really fun. Usually there’s only maybe thirty of us working (a huge percentage of my friends work on Sundays too, because we’re awesome and so are Sundays, so that makes it even better), and the goofy DJ also works that night. There’s not a whole lot of customers but they’re pretty good, you know, quality over quantity. There’s no house fees on Sunday either, so you can come in at ten for a quick four hour shift and not have to pay sixty bucks. We do a poker tournament in the library that night too, thus everyone congregates in the other room where it still feels like a strip club, so it concentrates the smattering of activity in a smaller space. We typically have a lot of fun on Sundays, like, by the end of the night someone ends up doing the sprinkler dance onstage. And sometimes, the goofy DJ decides that he’s not going to play any music that was made in the last two decades, and on those glorious occasions, you get flashback Sundays. We’re trying to make it official, but the mgmt is dragging their feet. So the DJ just does it anyways, from time to time. He’s not just a strip club DJ, this man knows his music and is really into it. He makes teh good funnies on the mic too. I love him.

Well, last night was a flashback Sunday. And it was fucking epic. We made that space of patriarchy and subversion our own, we owned it. I utilized a repressive format for pure expression. Yeah. Chew on that one for a while. Dare ya.

I got out of the shower to a text message from the Aussie that said “OMG there are no customers here, only poker players.” It was 8:30, so I decided to come anyways because it typically doesn’t pick up till late. Drove my ass down there, wondering if I was making a mistake. It had picked up by the time I arrived, pretty average crowd for a Sunday (read: dead as a doornail). I ate some fajitas, got to visit with Delilah for the first time in two months, we discussed our looming moves/transitions out of the business. Ran into David (whom I’ll discuss further in an forthcoming piece about customer motives that’s going to collectively blow all your minds) and he wanted to go upstairs with a friend of mine, Kendall. We go up there, took turns dancing, laughed our ASSES off. Omg. She got her tits done in Germany when she lived over there, so now she just refers to them as her “German imports.” That was one of the kickers of the hour, in addition to when David suggested that we come over to “check out [his] baseball card collection.” The music was basically awesome, we had the speaker turned up all the way in our booth, and were giving really unusual lapdances, you know, actually in time with music. At some point I worked up a sweat. And I mean really, how often do I get to dance for a beautiful naked woman to The Cure’s “Why can’t I be you?”…that’s right, never. Too fast of a song for the club, you’ll never hear it. One of my favorite Cure tracks too. So much fun.

We got paid hourly to have a blast. One of the few times you’re going to hear me say this, in my jaded condition, but OMFG sometimes I really love my job.

Well David had bought me offstage at the beginning of the hour, and I was kindof sad about that. After we got paid for our hour and were back downstairs, I was exhilarated by both the rockin’ good time Kendall and I had just shared, and the highly respectable amount of cash we’d made (especially for a Sunday), and I wanted to dance. I mentioned this to the house mom, asking if she’d put me up onstage. She said, “Well, I don’t want it to seem like I’m playing favorites,” meaning she didn’t want to change the order of the rotation. I said, “Oh I don’t give a fuck about the list, I just want to go onstage. Like now. I don’t care if I have to go again later, in fact, I’d love to.” She picked up the phone, I told her I wanted Madonna’s “Dress you up” and “Into the groove,” and I changed into my boots. Those songs are way fast for a stage set, normally my music is a bit slower because I have no stripper moves to speak of, I just throw out a watered-down version of my normal dance moves (read: more flexing and posing and attention to angles), because I'm going to move to whatever's playing and if it's within my dancefloor-optimal BPM range of 128-135, I'm going to look like a tard and end up sweating way too much. But I wasn’t intending on actually acting like a stripper out there, not this time. And I could run a 5K in those boots.

I laid it the fuck down. I danced and danced and danced. Like I didn’t care who was watching, you know, the way it should be on the dancefloor. But it’s not a dancefloor, even though the surface is perfect, it’s a stage. Great fun, since I got the DJ up there like, timing my lights and I’ve got my coworkers screaming their appreciation, and I know all the words and all my moves were right because I have every fucking intonation and beat of those tracks memorized because I LOVE MADONNA and I was just…flying. Spinning and stomping while generally BLASTING my sexuality at people.

Thank god I snagged a bar towel on my way to the stage, because I was dripping with sweat by the time I hit my first side stage. I spent the next two songs dabbing at my face, armpits, under my tits. No really. Dripping. Do you like your strippers sweaty? Doesn’t matter cuz I don’t give a flying fuck.

Post epic stage set. Not really any money out there, and I’d already made what I normally make on an average night in my first hour, so I didn’t care. I just bought myself a couple tasty adult beverages and talked to people till I had to do my last set. I was the last girl on stage for the night, which is usually quite annoying because that’s prime time to snag your final victim of the evening, but I didn’t care. Hell, I was only supposed to do one song, and I did two. Robert Palmer’s “I didn’t mean to turn you on,” and one of my favorites to drop when I’m feeling particularly angsty, Joan Jett’s “I hate myself for loving you.” And this time it didn’t matter if anyone was watching because nobody was. Everyone was gone and the waitresses were cleaning their tables and there I was, fucking going at it with this huge sound system all by myself.

In the dressing room I’m informed that Taylor knows a Korean karaoke joint that’s open late and will serve us booze afterhours. We grab some friends and the cross-dressing regular, and off we go. Now, I’ve only sung karaoke twice, and both were rather underwhelming experiences, mostly because I can’t sing to save my life and I generally don’t enjoy playing games that I’m not good at. And I always thought those private room joints were probably lame, because what’s the fun if no one’s watching? Well turns out they’re SUPER fun if you want to make a total fool of yourself in front of your friends. Shots, sake, snacks that include cookie crisp, a playlist that’s very roughly translated from Korean, a playback system that gives you a score at the end of your song (lowest score we got was 97—that’s about when we started yelling “GOOOOOAAAAAAL” and decided that we win at karaoke), cordless mics, and a big coffee table that’s just begging to be stood upon whilst belting out Stacy Q’s “Two of hearts” or Paul Simon's "Kodachrome." Yeah. We did all that.

I got home at five. I got paid to have a blast last night. Sometimes I really love my job.


zero tolerance

Ever since I made the decision to quit the biz, my tolerance for stupid stripper bullshit has dropped to record lows. You know what we are? We’re a bunch of gorgeous women who’ve generally always gotten our way because of our looks. Men put up with our shit because we’re easy to look at. They’ll listen to the drivel that comes out of our mouths, no matter how asinine it might be, because we’re hot. But in the club, we have to tolerate each other’s bullshit, and that can be easier said than done, at least for me. I imagine dumb bitches don’t even notice when other dumb bitches say stupid shit. But I do. I notice.

Exhibit A:

So I’m in the dressing room, on the side that’s basically a walkway smashed between a big row of lockers and the wall, which is covered in mirrors, makeup lights, and lined with a counter and benches. But before you imagine the quintessential shady strip club dressing room, please note that our dressing room isn’t shady at all, it rocks. There’s two big makeup areas with nice lights, about 200 lockers, a table stocked with free food, a bathroom, two showers, a washer/dryer, and all the free toiletries and supplies you could ever need. It’s fucking plush.

Anyhoo, I’ve got my makeup laid out, my phone and flatiron plugged in, my bag on the bench. I go to grab something from my locker, and when I come back twenty seconds later, there’s a tiny, adorable, drunk airhead in my spot. Her locker is directly across the walkway from my shit, so I guess she thinks that place at the counter is just hers. But in reality, you know, the world where the rest of us live, the counter is public space, and I happen to be using it. She’s basically dropped her dance bag, clothes, boots, etc, right where I was sitting. Her fourteenth drink of the day is sitting in front of my makeup.

I walk up, confused, and she goes, “Oh I’m sorry, were you using this spot? I’ll be out of here in like ten minutes, is that okay?” It’ll only take me five to put on my makeup and run the flatiron through my hair. Am I going to wait around while she goes through her drunken getting-dressed routine? Fuck no. Also, she’s got one of those really loud nasally voices that carries really well, especially when she’s wasted. And yeah, she’s wasted. I don’t want to be within thirty feet of her, much less three. I say, “Well dude, I’m kinda already set up right here.” She frowns at me, like this makes no sense to her at all, and says, “Look, there’s plenty of room right there,” pointing down the row of benches etc, “Why can’t you just use one of those spots?” Okay, now I’m pissed. Who the fuck does she think she is? She persists: “Seriously, I’ll just be like five minutes.”

Now, I’m not a very confrontational person by nature. I’ve never hit anybody in my entire life, never even kicked a man in the balls. If I wasn’t at the end of my rope with these dumbasses, would this have been the point where I would have backed down? Maybe. But as previously mentioned, I’ve had it up to here. So I go, “This is public space, and I was here first. I don’t see why I should have to move. Why don’t you go use one of those spots?” Again, this seems to be a foreign concept to her, and she stares at me like I just asked her to solve a polynomial equation or something. Wow. Am I about to get into my first fight? She comes back with, “Look, I’m not trying to cause drama or anything, I just don’t see why you can’t wait, I’m only going to be here like three minutes.” Why does her number keep getting smaller? Oh right, she’s used to lying to get her way. I really don’t want to fight, so I back down. It was really just the principle of the thing, and in five seconds I’ve got my arms full of my stuff, and I’m moving down the row. I toss, “In anthropology, we call that ‘displacement’” over my shoulder as I retreat (one of my favorite references. Such a useful word). Again, this makes no sense to her, and she yells, “APOLOGY?! But it’s really not a big deal!” LOL. Omg. Poor thing is so confused. How adorable.

Fuming, but amused, I plop down next to Cheyenne, who’s like, “WTF was all that?” And I mutter out a brief explanation while drunk bitch is still down there loudly spouting passive aggressive crap about how she really won’t be that long and doesn’t see what the big deal is. I’m nearly done with my makeup when she apparently finishes donning whatever bullshit Ed Hardy inspired street clothes she wears, stumbles down to us, and goes, “See? All done. You can have that spot now.” My goodness, I’ll bet this bitch is downright impossible to date. I raise my eyebrows at her and say, “Um, now I’m set up in a different spot, and I’m almost done. No way I’m moving again.” And again, “Well, I’m not trying to cause drama.” Really? You’re not? Because it sure seems like that’s exactly what you’re doing. But instead of saying that, I just stare at her. When they’re that wasted, you just have to stop responding and eventually they’ll go away. But instead of going away, she puts her arms around Cheyenne, cooing, “Hey sweetie I haven’t seen you in sooo long! Did you switch to nights?” WTF. She’s still in work mode (makes me wonder if she’s ever NOT in work mode), and so she’s faking affection to try and get what she wants. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know Cheyenne well enough to be hugging her, who goes, “I’ve always worked nights.” “Oh well, I’m on days now, I have good clientele so…” and eventually she leaves. Cheyenne and I stare at each other in the mirror. I go, “Ugh. Do you even know her?” “No. I hate drunk bitches” “Me too” And that’s that.

Exhibit B:

Speaking of being impossible to date, some of these girls really don’t treat their boyfriends very well on the phone, when they’re drunk at the end of their shift and usually fishing for a ride home. The other day I was putting on my makeup and there was this girl sitting down the bench from me, going, “Alfredo. Stop. ALFREDO. Stoooop. Alfredo! STOP.” Like, over and over again. It got kindof amusing after a few minutes, and I started playing marco polo with her. She’d go “Alfredo!” and I’d chime in with, “stop?” Of course she didn’t notice, but we had a good snicker at her expense. “Alfredo. Stop. Where you gonna be when I get off? How come you not answering when I call? Alfredo. Stop.” My point is, when you walk in stone cold sober at 6pm, the girls who’ve been there drinking since 11am can be the hardest to deal with.

Being drunk and ornery isn’t a good way to convince your lover to come pick you up. But it gets worse. I remember one night, there was this chick with alcohol poisoning. I’d seen her earlier in the night, doing all sorts of stupid fruity shots with a big table, hooting and hollering and carrying on, and by 1am, she was done for. She was literally passed out face down in a puddle of her own vomit on the floor of the house mom’s office. They had to clean her up and carry her out into the hallway, and she didn’t budge during this process. Passed out cold. So they’re asking around trying to get her a ride home, and someone mentions calling her boyfriend. Apparently this situation had arisen before, because the house mom goes, “We did. He won’t come get her. This has happened too many times.” Wow. I mean, I don’t even know what else to say, but wow.

Exhibit C:

Oh, this one is the best. Are you ready? You’re not ready.

So the other night, I descended stage six and walked into the dressing room just before there was a fight at the tables nearby. Apparently this stripper attacked a neighboring table and bit a customer. It gets better. So I hear about this crazy girl, you know, the one with pink extensions in her hair, and then at the end of the night, there she is in the dressing room. She’s got a wild look in her eye and she’s singing something incomprehensible at the top of her lungs. I’m walking past her to the house mom’s office to tip out, and our eyes meet as she’s belting out whateverthefuck. I didn’t mean to, but I guess I shot her a weird look, because I mean really, WTF is she doing? She sees me shoot her said look, and starts yelling at my back after I pass, “Yeah, you’re lookin’ at me. You’re lookin’ at me cuz you know I made way more money than you did tonight, right bitch?!” I just spent four hours upstairs making bank, and never even took my dress off, so no, our respective earnings for the night were definitely not the source of the look I shot her. I still have the same wide-eyed expression of disbelief on my face when I get to the office, and the dance manager is sitting there next to the house mom, looking bewildered. I don’t even say anything, but I look at Bob, and poor Bob just goes, “Um. Yeah.” Poor Bob. His job sucks. The dance managers (as opposed to waitress managers, bar managers, general managers, etc) have to switch positions about every six months; it doesn’t take long to burn out on dealing with our bullshit.

I go back to my locker to finish getting dressed and pack up my stuff. Crazy girl is a few lockers down, and has dumped out the contents of her bag all over everywhere, and she’s rooting through it for something while talking shit to her friend. “I’m gonna go up to the DJ and pick up my CD, and you’re gonna watch my stuff. If anything’s missing when I get back, I’m going to fucking cut you.” Whoa. What a great way to treat your friend who is currently doing you a favor. So she storms out, and I turn around to her friend with the same wide-eyed expression. Her friend looks sheepish and simply says, “Sorry.” I’m like, “Don’t be sorry! I feel bad for you, having to wrangle her. WTF is she on?” And the friend comes closer and whispers, “Shrooms.” Ooooooooh holy fucking shit, this just got WAY more interesting. So crazy girl decides to take mushrooms, come to work, and is clearly having a bad trip because she’s biting customers, singing at the top of her lungs, and going all aggro on everyone. Wow.

After that, I took my time packing up, so I could eavesdrop some more. She comes back and starts spouting more nonsense, and I’m sitting cross legged on the floor a few feet away with my back turned, just laughing my ass off and trying not to make it too obvious. By the time I leave, she’s curled up on the floor, bawling. WOW. You really can’t make this shit up. I can’t believe they didn’t fire her.


puppy dog crossed with serial killer

So there used to be a regular named Scott. He weighed about 300lbs, walked with a heinous limp (he had a groin injury that wouldn’t heal because he was too fat to work out/do physical therapy), and he was one of the most socially awkward people I’ve ever met in my life.

Scott was always around, you’d see him at least twice a week. Now he doesn’t come in anymore, and nobody is sad about it. A few weeks ago I was sitting at the bar with Willow and the Aussie, having an epic cackle-filled bitch session, when the subject of Scott came up.

Everyone made the mistake of dancing for Scott at least once. Most of us just the one time; we never understood how dancers could sit with him repeatedly. Here’s what would happen: he’d ask if you wanted to go to the champagne room (he had a VIP membership but was too fat/handicapped to make it up the stairs), which of course we’d agree to, because champagne room usually spells cash money. So you’d get back there, and he’d want to talk for a few songs first. Fine, whatever. Then you dance one song, and he’d want to take a break. Two songs off, one song on, so basically it takes about forty five minutes to make sixty bucks (god, I sound like such a spoiled brat). And of course he knew this, he was trying to monopolize as much of our time as he could for the least possible amount of money. And it’s not like he had anything interesting to say either, and he’s so fucking fat, it’s really hard to dance for him (see “suck it up,” where I describe the mechanics of dancing for the morbidly obese). And he’s just…creepy. I mean, he seems totally harmless, is clearly easy to outrun, and was nice and stuff, but there was just something off about him. Like a puppy dog, but crossed with a serial killer.

So we all made that mistake once. But the thing about Scott was, he just didn’t go away. He’d come in, and even if you didn’t dance for him, he’d still manage to be awkward and creepy and cheap at you. He’d come up to the main stage, and give you one dollar. I’d cringe if he tried to touch me, like nearly gag. To avoid having to touch him (hell, people I’ve never seen before at least get a kiss on the cheek for a dollar), I got to the point where I’d just walk up, crouch down to take the dollar out of his hand, thank him, and stand up and keep dancing. And of course, that made me look like a total bitch to any of the potential paying customers who might happen to be watching the interaction take place.

But you know what? After the bare minimum tipping ritual occurred, Scott wouldn’t just leave the stage like every other customer does, he wouldn’t go back to his seat (he never sat at a table, so he didn’t have to buy a drink). No, Scott would stand there, at the edge of the main stage, under the lights and right where everyone was supposed to be directing their attention, and watch. For the entire song. Sometimes the next song as well. He’d just stand there. Not only was it creepy, but it probably shooed away other tippers as well.

It was so fucking annoying.

Here’s what would happen next: he’d show up at the second stage in the rotation, and the same thing would go down. And the next stage. So basically he’s spent three dollars, and gotten to be in close proximity to a naked chick who doesn’t want to touch or talk to him. I wouldn’t engage him in conversation because I figured that would only encourage him, but the side stages are a helluva lot smaller than the main, and it got increasingly awkward to try and ignore someone who’s standing three feet away instead of ten.

You weren’t safe anywhere in the club unless you were moving (like I said, he’s easy to outrun, and his limp is so telltale, you can spot his gait from across the club). If you were sitting at the bar, or standing there talking to anyone but a customer, he’d come and stand right behind you, or next to you, not say anything, and wait for you to acknowledge him so he could engage you in bullshit smalltalk and you could try and keep him from touching you (keep in mind, he wasn’t gropey, he was just so creepy that even a pat on the arm was like OMG DON’T TOUCH ME). He did the same thing to all of us. The Aussie told a story about how she was sitting at the bar, talking with another dancer, when he pulled his hover maneuver (although, maneuver is a bad word to use in conjunction with Scott. He’s so awkward in so many ways, I can’t imagine him maneuvering anything). She had to be purposefully rude to make him go away: “Hi great to see you but we’re in the middle of a conversation ok bye!”

So that’s Scott. Scott doesn’t come in anymore. Maybe he had a heart attack. Although probably not, because he keeps trying to friend me on FB. Nobody misses him.

Cold, right? I know. I have a ton of stories like this, that I’ve been withholding because it kindof seems like bad publicity. But I don’t care anymore, I’m three months away from quitting, and the gloves have come off. I’m not going to hold back my honest uncensored opinion anymore, just because I’m afraid of the income hit. I’ll make what I make. Dammit, I’ve learned some serious shit in my five years in that club, and I’m going to lay it all out for you before I’m gone.

Home stretch. More to come.


Good Touch/Bad Touch

I'm very particular about how I like to be touched. More specifically, how I DON'T like to be touched. I'm not talking about stuff that's germane to work, as in, don't-you-dare-infiltrate-my-g-string-fortress, I'm talking in general. Ask any of my ex boyfriends. General rules: no poking me in the ribs (I've covered that here before), no tapping (you know my name, so just use it if you want to get my attention), and no highly repetitive/incessant movements (unless it involves my genitalia and, you know, we have that kind of relationship).

“Repetitive motion” is the hardest to articulate. And when I try, I feel like I'm coming off too bitchy. So unless we're extremely intimate, you're never going to know you're bugging the crap out of me. How do you tell someone “OMG stop rubbing my arm like that” without sounding like a total cunt? That's right, you don't. And how do you explain something that bugs you on such a subjective level, to someone who's clearly doing it subconsciously and could only attempt cessation through constant vigilant effort? How do I describe that I like to be touched in long, lingering, aptly-aimed, one-pass caresses? It sounds fucking high maintenance, right? Yeah. That's why I never tell anyone unless I'm fucking them. Like a lot. And sometimes it never even has to come up. It's a chemistry thing.

I remember the first time I realized repetitive motion annoyed me. I was in high school, and seeing a movie with a boy. I was a virgin, so hand-holding and the occasional face-slobber was as turned on as I ever got. As we sat there in the dark, you know, holding hands, he would NOT stop moving his THUMB on my hand. It drove me absolutely crazy. I didn't do anything about it, except be annoyed and distracted for the entire movie. I think I broke up with him after that.

Well, last night I ran head-on into this little peeve of mine. On my initial lap around the club, I passed a table. Three customers, once dancer (whom I know, she used to work the day shift with me back when I was green as hell). The two empty-lapped dudes both held my gaze. Having just got there, I figured I'd keep looking. But on my way around the other side of the room, I decided to go back. I marched up and demanded, “What the hell is going on here?” Blink blink. I love that line. I picked out the obviously-not-from-around-here-are-ya guy and perched on his armrest. I'm really good at perching on armrests.

We talk, I move from armrest to lap. He's from NYC, in town for business, he sells specialty paint, like the rust-prevention kind or the kind they use on golfballs, blah blah blah...and he won't. Stop. Rubbing. My. Back. And my arms. And my flanks. In fact, even when I manage to pin his arm, kinda casual-like, under my elbow, he still moves his thumb, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. His breath smells like cigars. At one point I actually adjust my position on his lap so that I don't have to smell his breath and so I can wrap his arms around my torso and keep them there, pinned. I do a dance, and again, won't stop touching me. When I'm hovering above him, his arms are outstretched and on my sides, like a toddler begging to be picked up. When I'm leaning back against his chest, they're rubbing my thigh like I've spilled a bit of condiment on my fishnets.

Eventually I have to go onstage, vowing to myself to find a better victim while I'm in the fishbowl. I do dances for a guy like this about twice a year, and every time, it's short lived. Whatever they pay me isn't enough to deal with the obnoxious way they interact with my body. I have to move on.

Well, not a whole lot going on that early, so I resign myself and go back to toucher guy. The other two dudes are clients, and my guy's entertaining them, so he's got all the money, which is good. The most good-ol-boy of the clients goes, "Oh wow. You're hot. And you're a liberal! And you're SMART! A smart liberal. Wow, that's so rare." LOL. Also, he has a term for people like me: BEML. As in, "Big-Eared-Muslim-Lover." I say, "But my ears are really small." LOL. I love good ol' boys. They're all just libertarians, harmless really (unless you fuck with their property--then they'll shoot ya). They'll keep their laws off of my body, so we tend to get along pretty well, and there's lots of witty banter fodder. My guy is very well traveled and has patronized various facets of the sex industry around the world, so at least his stories are interesting.

Anyways, my guy has all the money, and I've conferred with my friend who was at the table before me, so I know he's worth way more than just one dance. And so I dance. And dance. And he keeps touching me in ways that bug the crap out of me. I got a ride into work, so I start drinking faster. That helps. I try and channel my new lover. That helps too. I dance and dance and dance. Same shit, over and over, at 3:30 intervals. And he ate it up. I took a break every five songs. I let him know his total every $300 or so. To stave off boredom, I start trying more uncomfortable positions, putting extra weight on my arms, etc, so at least I get a better workout. I think to myself, “Wow. My ass IS really strong, isn't it? Fuck.”

I ended up dancing for him ALL FUCKING NIGHT. For like, literally seven hours. I've never done that many songs in a row for the same person, and the only other times I've made that kind of money have been on nights when at least a portion of it came from hourly. I think he's a bit of a masochist, because he keeps saying things like, "You know how much power you have over me right now, don't you?" Yes, thank you for stating the obvious. The ATMs wouldn't handle what he owed me at the end, and he had to get bear bucks. When he left at 1:00, I'm relieved, because I'm tired as hell. I change clothes, sit in the dressing room, eat my brown bag dinner, and wait for my ride to get done cleaning their tables. I could try and go make more money, but there's no way in hell I'm going to go talk to someone on the floor for ten minutes so I can make maybe $40 off them; I just made a small fortune and I'm spent.

So that's what I learned last night. If you pay me enough money and feed me enough vodka, repetitive motion is okay. Don't tell any of my ex boyfriends. I'll just sound like a bitch.


Superbowl report

The weather fucked us in the ass. Sideways. With handle bars for extra leverage. Ice shut down DFW for two days, the airport closed for a while, storms creamed Chicago and NYC and nobody could get here, people canceled/delayed their plans till days later, blah blah blah, our week got epic screwed. I holed up with friends and made the best of it. It was an ice rink out there.

Our big rush hit on Friday (instead of, you know, Tuesday...goddammit), which also happened to be the day that I started feeling feverish symptoms. The roads were still semi-fucked and I knew I was coming down with something, but determined, I loaded up on dayquil and caught a ride with some waitresses who have an SUV. The main room was full when I showed up at six, but the library was pretty empty. Still, I'd never seen it so busy, so early. Sitting at a bar, I commented to another dancer that it seemed like midnight, like some sort of weird time warp. No windows or clocks, people. Just like a casino.

I did a stage set, and made a (metric) crapton of money in the first three hours of my shift, practically with my eyes closed, so easy. Went upstairs with a table that bought three bottles of Cristal, and was well on my way to a record-breaking night when my immune system betrayed me, and I just couldn't deal anymore. It's really hard to do dances when your skin is tender and your joints ache.

Oh and, did I mention? I fell on the ice three times in the two days prior. I had (still have) a big bruise on the back of my pelvis, and my ab/ass/neck muscles were sore from my body (successfully) attempting to keep my head from hitting the ground. It hurt to walk. Oh AND, the hot water in my tub is busted so I've been washing my hair in my kitchen sink and taking whore baths with a pot full of water and a plastic cup in my bathtub, just washing/shaving the important bits, for four fucking days. My cunt has razor burn (which I almost never get now) from the improper shaving conditions, exacerbated by the fact that I have to keep fending off repeated g-string-fortress-infiltration attempts from these tourists, and my defense techniques only cause their fingers to drag up against the grain of my inflamed stubble as they desperately seek a handhold, making everything all the worse.

But you know what? My job really isn't that bad. And it was the biggest weekend of the year, and I'd be damned if I was going to miss it.

Anyways, I was on the list early enough so that I was not going back onstage, and thus was able to take a good long nap in the costume closet, curled up amidst tulle and sequins and fedoras and boas, with the chills, inside my peacoat, head resting on gallon ziplocks full of stripper gear (remember, I was stuck waiting till my waitresses/ride got off work sometime after 2:30). After about three hours, I came to, and laid there in the dark for another hour, just listening to the radio chatter coming off the managers in the hallway. It was around 12:30, and we were already out of the credit-card-purchased dance dollars aka funny money aka “bear bucks” (meaning we'd sold 40K in those alone, and everyone was now scrambling to get the girls to turn it in for recycling). Strippers were getting skipped off the stage like, every five or ten seconds, meaning they'd sold bottles or skip shots. There were 101 of us signed in. They were banking out there, I could hear the din of the crowd every time the nearest door to the floor would open, I could hear the kind of money people were making on the radio, and there I was, laid up with the fucking flu. In the dark. Listening.

I'd kept my boots on and everything whilst napping. Deciding I couldn't deal with letting people touch me, even after a three hour rest, I changed into my street clothes and just started chatting with folks in the dressing rooms. Little did I know, my regular had been sitting at the bar for two hours, not texting me because he thought I was off making bank, while shooing away dozens of girls. He would have taken care of me, just sit there and talk (which I totally could have managed btw, even in my condition) but was being polite and keeping his distance, letting me work the crowd (which I wasn't doing). FAIL. I chastised him the next day for not telling me he was around. Oh well.

So I'm lurching around talking with the girls, asking everyone how their night was, watching drama unfold here and there, stealing glasses of neglected champagne (which was apparently flowing freely out of all the fissures in the building) because yeah, even though I was sick, I was fucking frustrated and wanted to imbibe. I made a point to be nice to the out-of-town girls, because hey, even though they're poaching the venue where we toil in during the off-season, I know what it's like to be a stranger in a new club, and how much it means to have some babe you don't know be genuinely nice to you and say, “Welcome. I hope you made some fucking cash! Do you need a tampon? Here.” (P.S. Denver girls are way nicer than Houston girls, in my albeit very limited experience as an outsider in those cities). I made sure to thank every single manager, food runner, and the DJ for their hard work (the DJ said, "You know, I was just really glad I didn't have to take a shit"); I HEARD those guys running their asses off via the radio; they were out there getting paid the same thing they make every day, but helping everyone else rake in the best money we'll make all year. I was filled with this overwhelming feeling of solidarity and appreciation. I mean, we're definitely more of a family than any other club I've seen or heard of, and I really love our place, but I was brimming with gratitude that night. We are a tightly run ship, a highly evolved, efficient, money-sucking MACHINE, and we were kicking ASS at it. Like, hard.

On the way home, I make the waitresses take me by a drug store, pick up some theraflu and other associated items, and pass out. That was Friday. I felt a little better on Saturday, well enough to rally. The temperature rose and the roads cleared, so I elected to take my own car so that in case the same thing happened, I could at least drive my ass home early.

Well, the same thing did not happen. I tore that place up.

The club was absolutely full at six when they let the night shift onto the floor. I'd been pacing in the dressing room for a half an hour, feeling like a racehorse waiting for the gates to open. And honestly? I have never seen it so busy in my 4.5 years at the club (and that includes a good stretch before the economy tanked). There were literally no unoccupied tables in the main rooms (dunno about champagne and VIP). At 6:30 I come barreling through a dressing room door to find an unlucky food runner/ bar back guy mopping up the mess he'd just made by dropping the better part of a buss-tub-full of miller lights onto the floor. “Oh NO!” I go. “Ohhhh SI” he replies in a sarcastic-but-dealing-with-it tone. Poor guy. It's the busiest night of the year, and he was in the most trafficked of the (three) entrances to the (main) dressing room too. Really shitty timing. Some dumbass stripper was probably texting and not looking where she was fucking going and ran straight into him. Bummer. Those guys work SO hard.

Next, an older dancer/semi-acquaintance of mine is crying because she got slapped on the ass so hard that she has a welt. Steeler fans are going all barrel-chested wanting to defend her honor. I think to myself, “Ooh. Welts. I like spanking now and again” and then feel bad for even thinking that, because she genuinely feels assaulted. I assure the Pittsburgh guys that the managers have it covered and I run away, marveling at the balls on some of these asshats.

I do a few here, a few there, finally scoring an hourly gig in the champagne room, snuggling up to a man with whom I had some fairly decent physical chemistry (sometimes I do dances for people who know how to touch me, not crossing the lines too much, hitting all the right places while not annoying me by doing things like scratching my flanks) but almost no mental connection despite him constantly telling me how amazing I was/am. So we're back there, I'm chugging water as if it's the proto-apocalypse and all the treatment plants are about to be offline, he's constantly making excuses, “Wow, I can't get hard with all these people watching me” and I'm trying to make him feel like he's the only man in the club, meanwhile RON FUCKING JEREMY is sitting right there like staring at me and Dennis Rodman is across the room (I really wanted to touch him, just so I could say that I touched someone who fucked Madonna...alas) and I think maybe Jenna Jameson too, and this is all very surreal. I mean, I don't care if he gets hard. I'd consider it a compliment to my talents if he does; honestly, it's just further evidence that his ass (read: wallet) is mine. But it's fucking funny that he's making excuses for his dick when he's A.) paying for a service; B.) I don't give a fuck; and C.) an iconic/balding/mullet-headed porn star from the seventies is about six feet away from us the entire time and staring.

I get released back out into the madness, which is fine, because all that guy really wanted was for me to come back to his hotel, and I seriously can't be bothered with that. It's a motherfucking feeding frenzy out there. 131 dancers on the floor (the most I've ever seen), and record-setting sales for the club (but I'll never publish those stats). ABSOLUTE. CHAOS. People are getting lap dances at the bar, people are sitting at card tables in order to buy Dom upstairs. There are tits EVERYWHERE. I heard at least three separate dancers comment, later in the evening, that they were completely disoriented when they walked out onto the floor, it was just that busy. At some point half the toilets are clogged in the dressing room, and we're completely out of toilet paper (I think we sent someone to Sam's to get more?). I'm shocked/relieved that the ATMs didn't run out of money (want to see stripper relations go from camaraderie to cutthroat in about half a second? Take the ATMs offline). Eventually we'll all smell like the same combination of cologne, ego, body spray, pheromones, shame and/or greed, but for right now, it's game on. I feel great. I'm picking the weak ones off the edges of the pack. Eighty bucks here, a hundred there, bam-bam-pause-lipgloss-hydrate-repeat. Hell, just typing that sentence made me feel like going back to work tonight. Too late though. Whatever.

So Ruby and I squeeze some ridiculously easy cash out of some hapless (also drunk) Canadian oil and gas guy named Vance (also the name of my evil ex, and a rare name at that; I took great glee in using the fuck out of this one. Uhm sorry, he had the wrong name? It gets better: while my ex liked to tell me that my ass wasn't adequate, this Vance loved asses and couldn't get enough of mine. Wonderful retribution! P.S. If you're reading this, you fucker, yes, I still hate you), while a bunch of hoss-looking-probably-Packer-fans look on from across the aisle. After I'd gotten bored of taking candy from a baby, I do a few laps, eventually making back around to the hoss-looking-guys-who-indeed-turn-out-to-be-from-Iowa. I pick out the easy one immediately and do four dances, good songs too, absolutely at the top of my game and feeling great.

While I'm dancing for this 300lb-corn-fed-captive audience, his bros (I mean bras, as in “cha bra, check out my sick new trucknuts”) are two feet away, discussing their, uh, philosophy of strip clubs. And OMG, I shit you not, in my (fifteen) years of reading about and/or personally observing this environment, I can honestly call this exchange pure fucking gold. No like, seriously, it's comments such as these that made me get into the business, so that I could be privy to them in person. Ahem: “It's like they're habitually lying to people for money.” (Yeah? You think? How incredibly observant!)....And then a song later: “There's no truth or honesty left in this place!” LOL. I've been like, working up a sweat over here, doing squats on this guy's lap during probably the best ten minutes of his year thus far, listening to his buddies run their mouths thinking I can't hear them talking shit, trying not to laugh. I finally can't stand it anymore, and I break character in the middle of a song to lean over and go: “You know what? Some of us aren't capable of lying like that. Some of us are just ourselves in sluttier clothes. I can't change personae like dresses, the way some of these girls do, I just come out here and fucking relate to people and provide a service, which YOU came HERE to purchase, remember?” They both just stop, stare at me for a second, blink blink errrruh. One of them goes, “Goddamn girl, you got ears like a hawk” and the other manages, “Well uh, there's an exception to every rule” and I just snicker, finish my dance, kiss farmboy on the cheek, take my money and run off to my locker to record those quotes into my phone. Dumbasses. What the fuck did they think they would find here, while on vacation for the stupid Superbowl? A fucking girlfriend? TRUTH AND HONESTY?! THIS IS A STRIP CLUB! You can be anyone you want here. This is one place in the world where you are encouraged to think with your dick. Might as well shut the fuck up, not TALK SHIT IN FRONT OF THE STRIPPERS, and enjoy yourself. Actually, I don't mind the shit talking. As you might be able to discern, it amuses me greatly.

The rest of the night passed in a blur. I have no idea how many people I danced for. The chaos never stopped, not even when the lights came on at two (I think most of the customers thought we stayed open till four. They received a rude flourescent awakening). Towards the end my hey-how-are-you-let-me-engage-you-in-conversation-before-I-make-you-pay-me routine has been reduced to, “Only five songs left! Who wants some?” It really wasn't hard. The dressing room was, of course, more chaos. I'm starving, sore, bruised, sick, and I have to pee, but damn, I could have worked another two hours at least. I get out of there to discover the cops have all the turn lanes blocked off, and have to circle around to a super fanagle-y back way to the highway. Home, theraflu, crash.

On Sunday morning I see a FB post from one of the managers: in his three decades of hospitality management, he's never been so busy in his life. That night at work, while we're waiting for the stupid game to be over so we can get slammed again, I question him for more details about that statement. He tells me that not only has he never been so busy, but he's also never worked at a place where after a night as insane as we had, everyone, customers and employees alike, were all leaving with smiles on their faces. And it's true. We really nailed that one, guys. We are a well-oiled machine, we are an exceptional team of tease and overpriced champagne, and we knocked it out of the park. The weather may have fucked us, but we fucked that Superbowl right on back.

I'm really beat up now. There are significantly fewer layers of skin on my kneecaps than were present a few days ago. I haven't even wanted to get out of bed to eat, and holy god, I need to get laid. The final straw came on Sunday night after our shift, when I got hit in the fucking face with a champagne cork. My waitress/ride took home a re-corked bottle of Cristal (sometimes customers don't want to drink the champagne that they still have to purchase in order to access a private-r room, and we get to take it home), which was sitting between my legs in the passenger seat. The vibration from the car caused the temporary re-cork to work it's way out of the bottle and onto my face. One inch lower and I could be missing my left eye. I've got this really painful (but thankfully invisible) welt on my forehead. My buddy Andy said, “Whoa! That's the part they leave out of rap songs!” LOL.

I'm all tore up, but you know what? I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Bring it. Minus the weather this time.


Dallas Superbowl Stripper Fest 3000: Hype?

So, the Superbowl is coming to town this weekend. For months, reports have been trickling in on what we can expect—mostly we all expect to buy new cars. Most of the tickets are corporate, and so apparently we can expect hot and cold running expense accounts. Despite the influx of corporate cash, we paid attention to the playoffs (I looked at a NFL bracket for the first time in my life. The games were on my google calendar. For shame, for shame). We strippers were rooting for Chicago and New York because those fans presumably have more money. The Jets played the Cowboys a few months ago, and I walked unsuspectingly into a late Sunday night shift (usually dead, but fun) and was greeted by a club packed to the gills with New Jersey. I screwed up and asked, “so what part of the city do you live in?” and got “fuck you, I'm from Jersey!” twice before I caught on, turned the bitch-o-matic meter up to eleven, and banked. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Those guys are all used to the eastern european girls which populate the clubs out east, so if you sit with them for like, a song, before asking for a dance, they feel special. God that was a fun night. But alas: when the Jets lost last weekend, we heard that half the scheduled charter planes flying into Love Field were canceled. Stupid Jets. Stupid planes. Gah.

Price gauging is getting crazy. The La Quinta in Arlington is charging $500/night with a five night minimum. Parking spots at the Death Star are going for $900. Seriously? Is football really this awesome?

We had a strategy meeting a few weeks ago. The club opened early on a Sunday, served us brunch, and we discussed what sort of changes we could expect in the coming days. Apparently we're the only club that's not raising our prices. They're cracking down on the rules, mainly the ones in place to maximize club capacity and efficiency. They quit hiring out-of-towners a few weeks ago, and now have stopped hiring altogether (thank fucking god—you know those new girls will work every night, because they're, well, new. We had 120 on the floor one night last week. I expect over 200 strippers will work every night Thursday/Friday/Saturday. SO doing my makeup before I come to work this week; that dressing room is going to be a clusterfuck).

Despite the general hype around town (it feels like the Olympics are coming, I swear), we don't need to advertise. We get press instead. We were written up in the New York Times a few weeks ago, and were back on the Rachel Maddow show AGAIN, because Newt Gingrich is an idiot (but we knew that already). D Magazine has listed us as their pick for superbowl-related titties. So you could say, boys and girls, that this shit is ON.

I had a customer a few months ago (who goes to the superbowl every year via various corporate-gift related activities) tell me that we could expect people to start trickling in the Monday following the last playoff game. That was a week ago. And you know what? The club has been dead, people. Dead. And to make things worse? IT'S SUPPOSED TO SNOW TOMORROW. I've been saying for weeks that the only thing that could ruin this fucker would be an ice storm. Well, you can all blame me. I jinxed it.

To make matters worse, there's this bullshit story (started by TMZ...naturally) that the local FOX station started circulating about how Dallas is in supposed “dire need” of 10,000 strippers. Don't listen! It's a vicious rumor! Fucking outsiders need to quit coming in and poaching on our big week! Here's what went down: some jackass club manager in Kenandale (I don't even know where that IS) said his club needs 100 more girls and the metroplex as a whole probably needs 10,000 more (and let's face it, the clubs in Arlington and the outlying cities probably do need more girls. All the hot ones work in Dallas. Everyone knows this), and BAM! Instant sensationalist crap. It's all over everywhere. I've got customers from around the country texting me saying, “Oh hey I was listening to sports radio this morning and apparently Dallas needs 10,000 more strippers?” I swear someone sends me a version of this story via various social media every fucking day, and each time, just a little bit more steam comes out of my ears.

My coworkers are starting to post stressed-out “this better not all be hype” comments on the FB feed. If we don't all pay off our credit debt this week, come next Monday, the general morale of Lodge employees and entertainers is going to be somewhere down around the 5th circle of hell.


"I'm just me, in sluttier clothes."

The Aussie and I are sitting at the front bar, enjoying a tasty adult beverage at the beginning of our shift. I rather like chatting with her, she's in the 99th percentile of exceptional women in that club. She's an incredibly serene and old soul, one of those people who has stories and wisdom that seem to surpass the years of her current lifespan. I like to talk with her about sex (she's got similar predilections to mine, and is never shocked by my stories, just happy for me), work (she's been doing this longer, and is far more skilled than I will probably ever become), and sex work (wicked smart, this woman can wax theory and keep up with my ivory-tower-educated ass). On this particular evening, we're discussing our strategies for relating to customers. We're both very similar in that we find it downright impossible to employ personae; instead, we feel as though we simply highlight and/or suppress certain aspects of ourselves in order to form emotional/intellectual/sexualized connections with various clients. Actually, those are my words, which makes sense, because that's basically half of my master's thesis topic in a nutshell. What she said was this:

“When I'm connecting, I truly believe in people, like I am giving, and that people are truly good. If I can project and make it a better day for them, then fine. My kindness isn't only presented to people who will pay. Other girls reserve that kindness for the paying customers, and that's why you and I aren't starving to death.”

She's touched on a few issues that are absolutely central to our work: the ability to relate to almost anyone, and the ability to give (or sell) love. She and I have similar strategies for interacting with customers and potentially extracting money from their wallets: we just talk. If I don't feel a connection with someone, if the conversation doesn't flow smoothly, I don't ask them if they'd like a dance; if the chemistry isn't there, I tell them to have fun and I leave. You'd be amazed at the random shit you learn from people with this kind of game plan. Last night I learned about golf. And how walmart killed a small town in Oklahoma. Four nights ago, I learned that a married man desperately wanted to be fucked in the ass, but had never told his wife (definitely not the first time I've heard that one).

But the Aussie's point is that we don't have to be paid in order to listen, at least at first. Our job is to connect, relate, engage. We'll do that for a moment for free before we decide we need to move on (a classic rookie mistake is to do this for too long and then lose insurmountable sums of cash along the way), we don't simply walk up and ask someone if they'd like a dance. I absolutely have to feel like I could sit down for a meal with someone before I'll offer them my more corporeal services. My rules become even stricter with potential “regulars.” The Aussie and I are of the opinion that this makes us highly exceptional at what we do; there are always bits and pieces of our “real” selves included in the relationships we form with customers, no matter if that relationship lasts for five minutes, five hours, or five months. Even years. We sell companionship. We are Texas courtesans in trashy outfits. We are ourselves, only in sluttier clothes.

Case in point: the other night I was very mentally distracted by the awesomeness that had just transpired in my bed with a darling new boy. I couldn't really engage, I was lost in my own head. Sometimes after a vacation or a particularly-entralling break from work, it can be very difficult to “fake it” after being so “real.” Sometimes realness can't be suppressed for the sake of show. On nights like this, I prefer to do a dance here, a dance there, not converse a whole lot, to sell more of my body than my personality. So I'm wandering around playing the who's-going-to-make-and-hold-eye-contact game, and I happen across a Pakistani gentleman in a corner. He seems interested, and I wait <1 song to ask, “So, would you like me to dance for you?” Two things are of note here: First: I normally don't approach middle eastern men, because I generally find them to be both handsy and cheap. They'll grope the shit out of me for a song or two but not plunk down enough cash for subsequent dances to make my efforts worthwhile. Also, usually they either smell bad and/or wear too much cologne. (Yes, I know, that's racist. But we're strippers. We profile. Deal with it). But in my distracted state, I hadn't made much, and I was getting kindof desperate, and he held my gaze, so I approached. Second: the manner in which I transitioned from smalltalk into dancing was a bit odd for me. As aforementioned, I normally wait until I have a mental/emotional connection with a customer before moving into money-extraction mode. But I didn't have a connection with him, rather, I didn't have a connection with anyone that night because I was so distracted, so I figured I'd just play it simple and go for dances right off the bat. Also, the way in which I asked, would he like me to dance for him, was rather submissive, which I also figured (in my racist profiling mindset) would play into his culturally-imbibed patriarchal tendencies.

I got what I asked for. I got approximately three and a half minutes of groping in exchange for $20. I felt like a cheap whore. Then I left. Normally I leave a customer feeling as though I've actually made a difference in their day, their mood, or perhaps (and ideally) changed their mind about what they consider a stereotypical stripper. I didn't feel anything but dirty when I walked away from Pakistani dude.

The Aussie says that my “truth” shines through in a more effortless way than hers, that she has to work at it more. Maybe that's why she makes more money than I do, because it's easier for her to hide.