“Woah. Apparently it’s spelled “stiletto.” I learned something new today. I’d been spelling it wrong (even on this blog!) all along! Thanks, Google.”—(Random experience I had while shoe-shopping online.)
First and foremost, I KNOW this link has a horrible organizational writing style and absolutely awful grammar. I chose to post it anyway, with my comments on the content.
"But before you run to the nearest gentlemen’s club for employment [sic]you should be aware that there are certain risks related to this job. Gentlemen’s clubs tend to be associated with drugs, late hours [sic] and some unsavory characters. Therefore, this is not the type of stop gap [sic] job for the faint of heart.”
Ahem. True and false, lady. Associated with drugs? Absolutely. Drugs are rampant in strip clubs. But as someone who works around drug-users and does not partake, I can say that being involved in the drug culture is wholly up to the individual. I mostly associate with the co-workers of mine (and there IS a group of us!) that don’t use drugs.
Late hours? Nature of the job. So is night-stocking at Wal-Mart. Sure, a downfall worth mentioning, but if someone pursuing a dancing gig didn’t know…I wonder about their capacity to be working in the first place.
Unsavory characters is definitely worth mentioning in an article. Sure, I run into many difficult people. So does everyone in some sort of service-industry job. Unless you work strictly with data or materials, you’ll run into shitty clients now and again. The difference is that I run into unsavory people that tend to be quite liberal in what they feel they’re allowed to do by law, by morals, and against someone’s will.
Faint of heart? No. The sex industry is not a place for someone faint of heart, and I encourage anyone considering dancing to take that seriously.
But the real risks of this job aren’t the ones that she mentioned…I feel as though the real risks of the job are injury from falls, permanent spinal problems from poor posture, long-term mental health risks, and getting “sucked into” a career of it because of the money. That, however, wouldn’t make for a good story; it would just be more accurate.
"It’s difficult to get actual information about salaries, tips and work schedules of lap dancers…"
This is because it varies so widely. In one region, making $30,000/year is average, in others, $150,000/year isn’t that great. In cities, dancers typically have access to more clients (higher client-to-dancer ratios), and typically have more frequent wealthy customers; it varies depending on whether she dances within a large city or in a small town. It depends on the type of club: working for a high-class gown club typically brings wealthier customers than a topless dive bar with pasties (and this is because of what kind of dancers [the looks, figure, etc.] they will hire, and where those girls typically work). Some states require that clubs pay their dancers at least a minimum wage, some don’t require any wages as classified by independent contractor status, and some pay very good wages. It can depend on how often the dancer is willing to work (a dancer working two days/week will usually make less than a dancer working five days/week) and how long the girl has been dancing. It can depend on the economy, national news, the weather, events within the area, and the extent to which clubs/states are liberal about nudity and touching. It depends on, essentially, enough factors to make a mathematician scream.
Work scheduling practices vary. In my club, there are no schedules. Literally, none. We show up, or we don’t. In other clubs, they adhere to scheduling like restaurants and bars. And still in others, a girl may choose to be scheduled for the week, and then not the next one (usually out-of-town dancers).
It makes collecting data on those things difficult.
"…the lap dancing business has also been affected by the economy. There were still big spenders but just less of them and fewer nights to work because of the decrease in business [sic].”
Yeah. Almost every industry is affected by the upswings and downturns of the economy. And when industries are affected, so are employees. It’s common sense.
"The girls tend to be very competitive among them [sic]and usually will not speak openly about their earnings.”
The way that I see it, the lack of openness about earnings has much to do with: lack of trust, not wanting to be boastful nor humiliate oneself (or others), and it simply not being anyone else’s business. It’s difficult, too, because disclosing one’s earnings opens a girl up to comparison by others—something that girls try very desperately not to do (out of respect or fear).
Competition is normal. Where I dance, it’s friendly competition, for the most part; if a client isn’t interested in one girl, a girl will often suggest another, and the girls speak highly of each other. When it gets right down to it, though, there are only so many dollars walking through the door, and every dancer is trying to get them. I’ve heard of places where it becomes quite catty and girls fight over customers.
"The girls who can bring more men into the club have a competitive edge and are given a third night to work."
And just as with any other business—let us not forget that it is a business—this is a competitive business move. If doing “x” increases the business’s earnings, they’ll do it, no matter what the business. That is not news.
"Do you know which girl is the highest earner?"
I can make a few fairly good guesses, based on knowing the girls’ lifestyles, their regulars, and knowing how many dances they get. But no one is absolutely sure.
"What makes her the top performer? ‘She has big breasts, a beautiful body and wears very little makeup. There are other girls who are prettier than her, but the key to her success is she is a great listener. Men come into the club and want to feel like someone cares about them. They are very lonely. She will sit for hours, listening to them, giving them her full attention, and they feel better.[sic, sic and more sic?]
It varies, club to club. In my club, the top earners are sweethearts, and are genuine people. They tend to have above-average intelligence, they are educated, and they speak clearly and without much slang/jargon/swearing/racial accent (EDIT: See comments below for further explanation and revision of “racial accent”). They dress “modestly” (by that, I mean, typically, they wear more clothes compared to other strippers, not the general population!). They listen, yes, but they also have a wide variety of subjects about which they have knowledge, and can carry their end of a conversation. Body is possibly the least important thing—several of the top earners in my club have a small “A” cup, or aren’t the “prettiest” girls in the club.
I won’t deny, however, that listening is really a key point to making money. Genuinely listening, that is, not just hearing the words. Being active and engaged in listening means asking questions for clarification or expansion on a topic, offering one’s two cents’ worth occasionally, nodding or affirming vocally what the other person is saying, and finding something interesting about the topic (even if it IS engineering, again, and again, and again).
(Woah. Dude. I reread that last paragraph, and I think I should have written that article for Psychology Today. I offer much better advice. <—And am modest.)
"…I am suggesting that if couples could openly and non-judgmentally listen to each other, they would have a [sic] much better relationships. It might even take creating the mindset of a lap dancer and the mindset of a patron to disengage from old entrench [sic] ways of communicating with each other.”
Okay. Well. Christ…I don’t even know where to start tackling that.
Yes. Listen to each other. That is also common sense. And roleplaying is great when things are rocky. But ultimately, the article didn’t suggest that perhaps if a couple is at the desperate measure of roleplaying the less-sexual parts of the stripper-client relationship, they need THERAPY. One might think that the thought ought to occur to a therapist, but I digress.
And, in a huge leap of topics, the author talks about how menstrual cycles affect earnings. There are no transitory sentences. I already wrote about that topic in my blog, and I don’t feel like covering it again…but I thought I’d mention how terribly disorganized this article is again.
Pain, Purpleness, and Why Strippers are Tough Bitches
I’ve noticed that a lot of the girls around my club seem to have many of the same injuries, physical problems, and illnesses. Note: I’m not a doctor, nor do I have formal training in medicine, and these are only my observations.
Bruised knees: Impact from hitting them on the stage repeatedly throughout the night. Very commonplace among all of the girls.
Shortened calf muscles: Standing in 7” heels for many hours a week, the calf muscles are intentionally contracted (making the legs look more toned).
Poor posture: The misconception is that strippers have great posture. It appears so, when in heels, but the abdominal muscles are overstretched and the back muscles contracted (think chest out, butt out). It leads to an exaggerated curve of the spine and, often, chiropractic issues. Think of this as the opposite of a slouching problem.
Foot swelling: This one’s obvious. 7” stilletos direct the pounds-per-square-inch to be approximately that of an elephant (so I’ve been told, or read, somewhere—I’d have to look that up later).
Bone movement/restructuring in the feet: This is why new dancers’ fourth and fifth toes on each foot, and some tendons, hurt pretty badly at first. The shoes force the fourth and fifth toes inward and body weight puts pressure on them to stay there. The tendons and ligaments connect to the bones in the feet, and have to adjust to the new position of the foot and toes. According to x-rays of dancers’ feet, the stilletos cause microfracturing
Brittle fingernails: Many of the girls wear fake nails, or have acrylic nails done. For whatever reason, this causes their nails to become brittle when the fake nails are removed or the acrylics allowed to grow out/fall off.
Brittle hair: Straighteners, curling irons, three-barrel rollers, hair dye, bleach, hair spray, hair gel, smoothing drops, extensions, …and on and on. These things aren’t so bad for hair, until they’re done so often that some girls never seem to get their hair to grow at all. Hence why so many girls have extensions (“tracks”).
Frequent viral and bacterial sicknesses: The girls get so close to customers’ faces and hands, that it’s almost inevitable that we get sick so often. So far in the past year? I’ve had the H1N1 flu, strep three times, an ear infection, and a handful of sniffly-nosed colds that took me out for a day. Add to this a lack of health, dental, or vision insurance by most dancers, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Seasonal cough: “Smokers’ Cough” affects many smokers…and since most dancers are smokers in my club, most have the seasonal, hacking cough.
Alcoholism: It’s absolutely rampant. We’re allowed and encouraged to drink at work with the customers, and so many of the girls rely on it to do their job at first that they don’t stop drinking. Another co-worker today announced her ascent into rehab in the near future.
Substance abuse and dependence: Not as common, but still more frequent than the general population. Drugs generally don’t faze the girls whatsoever. It’s very discouraged by the club (termination if any illegal substances are found—and everything, everyone, and everyplace is recorded on camera). Substance use, abuse, or dependence doesn’t necessarily render a girl a social outcast and isn’t really a main factor in social heirarchy.
Eating disorders/Body dysmorphic disorder: Much more frequent than in the general population.
Sexual abuse or assault history: Pretty much the norm. It isn’t discussed, but simply understood, that we’re all pretty fucked up about sex for some reason.
Defiance disorders; inappropriate behavior in regards to authority figures, mores, and rules: Much, much, much, much higher than in the general population. You might call these girls “sassy” or “bitchy” or “tough”—but some, honestly, will probably never be able to “play by the rules”. In a dancer’s world, rules and social standards are created and enforced carefully by the top dancers—usually the one’s that display a lot of hostility towards traditional social constructs! The more defiant and aggressive a girl appears to be, the higher on the social ladder she climbs. Odd, hm? I have yet to figure out why the other, less defiant, girls seem to follow them.
Unhealthy sex lives, attitudes, or practices: This could be related to the job, to a prior history of sexual abuse or assault, attitude towards her body, or any number of things. I’m not saying “why”; I’m saying, it exists. Dancers seem to float one of two ways: either into a realm of not wanting to be sexual on a personal level often (sometimes floating into complete sexual aversion), or being hypersexual in her personal life (sometimes including risky sex partners and practices).
Concussions, broken bones, sprained/twisted ankles, pulled shoulders, pulled hamstrings, etc.: Not as commonplace as you’d expect! Surprisingly, bad falls aren’t common, but they do happen occasionally.
I got to thinking about the dollar bills that run through my possession. And there are some funny ones. Figured I’d share these gems.
- I received a one-dollar bill once that had “B” written on it, then the ONE on the dollar, and then “R” written on it. Get it? BONER. These are now a valued commodity at my club. Inevitably, some are saved (I framed my first one), and some are spent. I like to tip waitresses with them.
-People like to make origami out of their dollars sometimes. I actually keep these, because I think they’re cute. And, it’s sort of my savings account. I currently have birds, rings, frogs, planes, a crappy “house” (he was drunkkkk), flowers, an ice cream cone, and some miscellaneous stuff that I’m not entirely sure of the intended animal/mineral/vegetable.
-The ring origami dollars are my favorites. They make me look wealthy, and therefore, in a club (statistically!) more attractive. They’re neat.
-Those dollar bills really have been EVERYWHERE on my body. I do giggle a little bit when I spend them somewhere, knowing they’ve been on my pussy (and probably other girls’, too).
-When I give money to my friends for whatever, I generally laugh if I give them ones. They usually laugh, too, and we exchange “a look”.
-I hate it when people wad their ones into little balls. It’s more friggin’ work for me, and it’s ONE dollar. Please don’t do this…it’s just annoying, not funny. FYI: Sometimes I throw those back.
-A lot of those ones actually stay in the club, and keep getting recycled. Customers “buy” them from the house, they tip us on stage, and we “sell” them back to the house later. So not only is it a pussy-dollar, but it probably has been passed around the club quite a bit before finally finding another place to go. People don’t often bring with them a stack of ones.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve gone undercover to the strip club. I haven’t, of course, because I’d have no reason to do such. But I do have an interest in studying the other dancers, the customers…absorbing myself into the culture is like a fascinating experiment in sociology, psychology…anthropology…it’s fairly amazing stuff.
I’m free to do as I please all night long. Often, I sit for a few minutes and listen and watch people. I only wish I could freeze time and had the resources to conduct more experiments and tests on these people. Unfortunately, it would either get me fired or I wouldn’t make any money (the real point of my being a stripper).
I’d love to talk to some of the girls outside of their internal defense mechanisms…and the men, too…unfortunately, most of what I get is pried out of the men using sexuality, or it’s taken forever and ever and ever to build enough trust with the dancers to get miniscule bits of insight.
Sometimes I feel like I could write a book on manipulation from the amount of stuff I watch. Manipulation for money by sexuality, manipulation for cahoots between dancers for status, manipulation by men, manipulation by management, manipulation all over the place.
I think the reason I integrated so quickly into the culture was that…I’m aware that people have fears and needs. Those fears and needs drive them to action. And their actions can be manipulated by fulfilling—or withholding fulfillment—of those needs or fears.
Also, I don’t speak with so many fifty-cent words when I’m at the club. I tried keeping my own vocabulary (which is the one I’m using here), and I confused a lot of people and had myself alienated for a day. I went back to chopping the “-g” sound off of the ends of my “-ing” words, staying away from vocabulary unfamiliar outside of elementary school, and using lots of contractions. It’s rather annoying, but…I, incidentally, have a need to fit in and a fear of being excluded from groups…thereby motivating my behavior (speech).
I don’t know why half the girls speak in bastardized, dumbed-down English…many of the girls are well-educated and capable of speaking correctly. It’s interesting to note that the few less-educated, who speak incorrectly by nature and were raised in homes that probably did the same, seem to be the girls at the top of the metaphorical food chain.
Anyway…more about my observations later…I ran away with my thoughts in writing this one and forgot the point…
Let me preface this with saying that I'd been having some problems with an obsessive regular. I talked to another dancer, a very good friend and mentor of mine, about this. I knew she'd spent time with him briefly one night at the club when I wasn't there, and I asked her about this. The conversation that then happened was pretty...intense and noteworthy. Again...dancing isn't always peaches and roses. Some men simply take the fantasy and illusion way, way, way too far. Too far out of context, too far out of reality.
Another note, is that I do have some background in psychology. I've spent quite a bit of time with this guy, and from seeing the character traits that I've observed, I am able to make these connections reasonably.
"B":He's leaving his wife for you.
Me:WHAT? He's never once mentioned that to me. I knew he was obsessed, but...woah. Dude. I'm in way over my head.
Me:I mean, he is obsessed. But he's not a threat, physically. He will get there, if my predictions are right, but it will take awhile.
Me:I've never gone anywhere alone with him, and I've always been clear that he's paying me. I don't encourage emotional pathology...I'm kinda freaked out now.
"B":And if he loses his wife and two kids in the meantime?
Me:It's sales. You get it. Connect and collect. It doesn't mean that I don't have a heart. He never mentioned leaving his wife!
"B":I know. He said he just doesn't feel the kind of connection with his wife that he does with you.
"B":I know you had no idea.
Me:What do I do now...?
"B":You have to make that decision.
Me:He's a sweet guy. But impulsive, deluded, hyperemotional, irrational...and he's got the perfect recipe to turn from creepy to dangerous, if provoked. At least, by the book. He's not mentally stable, deals with internal pressure externally. An interesting profile, actually, but I don't know what to do with it.
"B":You need to do something. I don't know what. But this is getting too big.
Me:Agreed. I just think that what I'd say would provoke irrational and desperate behavior. If I don't, I see now that I'd be encouraging it [a deluded "relationship"].
"B":You can't treat him like a client.
Me:I want to avoid the illusion that a deeper relationship exists, though.
"B":It's not an illusion to him.
Me:Whew. Okay. Um. Thoroughly freaked out.
"B":Calm down. You can deal with this. Tell him you got a boyfriend or something.
Me:He's supposed to call me about dinner anytime now.
"B":Go to dinner and tell him. He hasn't told anyone but me about the wife thing though, so don't mention that.
Me:Perfect. Any suggestions?
"B":Boyfriend. Tell him he's a good friend but you never really thought of him that way or something. Tell him whatever you want.
Me:Okay. So, so tell him he can see me at the club from now on?
"B":This is the risk you take when you take club relationships further than the club.
Me:Yeah. I've never had this happen.
"B":Probably won't be the last time.
Me:You've dealt with it?
"B":Not to that extreme, but I've had stalkers and obsessors. Hell, I have a few right now.
"B":It's just something that comes with the territory. We provide a fantasy getaway for people. Most guys get that but there are those that can't or don't want to separate reality from fantasy. People give strippers an ungodly amount of power. You have to be careful with that power. I know you didn't do this on purpose.
Me:I didn't, no. I wonder what it was that I did to perpetuate the delusion.
"B":Just being easy to talk to is sometimes enough. Unfortunately, that's what we're trained to do.
"B":Oh, and the creepy mama's boy that found you on MySpace? Be wary of that, too.