Ask me whatever you'd like. I'm not shy.
...But flaming, trolling, and blatant ignorance will be disregarded and left unanswered. There is no need to be an asshole, I'm a generally friendly chick.

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This blog should not be viewed at work or school, is not suitable for those under eighteen, those that are minors in their jurisdictions, or those viewing from a prohibited area.

This blog contains NUDITY, discussion of SEX and SEXUALITY, discussion of VIOLENCE (including sexual violence), discussion of DRUGS, discussion of EATING DISORDERS (including behaviors and thoughts), and discussion of ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES (including prostitution and drug use).

People on Sniffers' Row

Posts tagged "strip club"

This is my only Tumblr blog. I am not any of these users, who have stolen content from YouTube and posted my posts without a reblog or credit. I suggest you block these users, lest you become the object of their twisted, violent, moronic fantasies. The user takes great pride in writing lengthy tales of sexual violence, inappropriate student-teacher relationships, and letters to me, personally. This user creates blogs frequently under various names, and here’s a sampling:







(Or “Stripprpiper” on YouTube or Google+)

If you find more blogs that seem to have similar content to this site, I suggest you block them.

I’m fine and dandy. Life is good. I’m still dancing, with no plans to quit. Running, happily. Healthy. Even the weather is pretty nice for now.

But this blog, unfortunately, is over.

First and foremost, after many sleepless nights, I’m no longer willing to further my risk of stalkers and creeps latching on to me here. My real life offers plenty of risk, and little kids being stupid online are indistinguishable from real threats. My sleep suffered, my Thanksgiving wasn’t fun, and I spent far too many hours with cops and weapons-shopping. This is, yes, directly related to the absolute ridiculousness and creepster mess of the copycat Tumblr user “Stripprpiper.” I decided that keeping an online blog simply wasn’t worth it anymore. You’re welcome to thank that user yourselves in whatever way you see fit.

I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve met through Tumblr, and the lovely messages and comments and bits of advice. Thank you for that, all this time.

What I set out to do was help others understand where I’m coming from, what my job is like, the particulars of the rest of my life because of my job. I didn’t feel like there were enough voices out there on the topic. Now I see that are so many awesome, eloquent strippers blogging here and on other sites! I’m happy I’ve stumbled on those blogs/sites, and I hope you’ll do some digging and find more to read for yourself.

I took comfort in the heartfelt writings of other strippers here, and knew I wasn’t alone in feeling the ways I did at times. My thoughts on various sex-industry topics were changed and grew. I grew, really, as a person and dancer, here, while I wrote. Thank you for being a part of a community that helped me.

I’ll be lurking, reading, keeping an eye on my favorite blogs, of course, but I won’t be writing. I’ll leave my inbox open for awhile and occasionally reply privately to some messages, but don’t expect much.

Soon, this blog will start to disappear post-by-post, as I start the long process of keeping it for myself. It will take awhile. But it’s happening.

Thanks for the good years, fellow bloggers and readers.

I wish you all the best hedgehog pictures in the world.

— Piper

I do NOT write at/post at/use/want anything to do with/have control over users:

stripprpiper or xoxopiperxoxo on Tumblr

stripprpiper on YouTube

stripprpiper on Google+

These blogs are pathetic, and they may follow you because you follow me. The user wants to be me, or wants me as some part of a sick and violent fantasy, and is desperately, pathetically, and obsessively trying to do this on Tumblr. Much of the information on those pages is FALSE and part of the user’s sick fantasy, but the user has retyped many of my posts and added photos and videos of mine.


Use your “block” feature liberally.


Posts are currently being deleted from this user’s site, especially the more creepy/violent/stalker ones. You may not see it in its full glory of stalkerness, but be assured it’s being taken care of.

DO NOT CONTACT THE USER TO HARASS/THREATEN/OTHERWISE “MESSAGE.” It is not necessary and it only serves to encourage the vile creepster.

Dear Newly-Christened, Babydancer Piper,

Now that you’ve set your tiny backpack down in the dressing room, you’re about to start stripping. Life’s about to change. You shaved your butt! You watched your friend shave her pussy in her studio apartment before work! All around you, there are women who seem perfectly at ease, naked in a room with those school-type ceiling tiles, trading makeup and chatting under those bright lights. Shit’s about to get real. Take one last look in the mirror. Just one. You’ll wish you would have.

Listen, I know you’re music-stupid and have no idea what the radio is playing these days, but if you tell the big-headed DJ you’re into, um, like, well, uh, rock, I guess, you’re going to get some putrid combination of overplayed Nickelback and Buckcherry. And seriously? I know you don’t know any better yet, but there’s much better music out there. Just because you know the song, doesn’t make it “good,” kiddo. And it almost never makes it “sexy.” Please, for the love of gawd, don’t spend the next six months dancing to “Crazy Bitch” and “Get Stoned” for the first set of your night. I know it’s comfortable and familiar, but just trust that the enormous library of songs is worth exploring.

You’re a train wreck on stage. Yes. I said it. A train wreck. Please put yourself in pole dancing classes way before you’ve been dancing for nine months. Please? And stop holding your breath on stage. It will just make you dizzier than the beer will.

Speaking of beer, you’re drinking too much of the stuff. Give me that. It isn’t helping you. It’s just making you drunker and more awkward. Sit your ass down and watch a few of the girls for awhile. Say “thank you” when someone helps you. Listen ALL of the time. Wash your hands more frequently. Fucking smile, already. With your eyes, yeah, not like you’re gritting your teeth — people can tell. 

Your legs will hold you up a lot longer than you think they will; I promise. You’ll stop getting those baseball-sized hip bruises after six months, but the ones on your knees are permanent. Start taking better care of your feet and teeth, right now. This instant. 

You’ll be prone to crying for the first few months, when you’re still figuring it out and sometimes not making money, but don’t compare yourself to the other girls. It’s not that they’re prettier or skinnier, girl, snap out of it. It’s that you’re crying in the dressing room instead of talking to every person you can. It’s that they have so much more practice, more regular customers they’ve acquired over long years, so many more hours of learning to sell the fantasy, than you do. You don’t even know who Piper is yet. Give it time. Get to know Piper. Let Piper grow.

You aren’t Piper, and you don’t have to be. Always remember that Piper is a ruse, a shell of a girl who exists only to fund your real life outside of the place. Always remember that your real life outside of the club is what’s real, not Piper and the club and the fantasy. I’m fucking serious. You’ll spend some time being only a Stripper, being Piper on and off the clock, and it’s miserable. Don’t forget about Maddox, your horse, the last thing grounding you to who you used to be. Don’t sell him when things get rough one summer; summers are always difficult. You’ll miss him when you stuff all of those saddle pads in the closet. You’ll miss him forever.

While you’re figuring out how to live life not panicked about finances, don’t forget about the extra cash you should be stashing away and putting on your student loans and taxes. Because it’s all fun and games until you’re two years behind on your taxes, or you finally open your student loan statement and find that you’ll be paying them until October 16, 2029. It’s all fun and games until you get swine flu for two weeks from kissing a customer (and getting caught, embarrassingly, by another dancer) and have to call your dad for money. 

When a customer pins you down and assaults you in VIP about a year and a half from now, don’t just scream. Hit the motherfucker. Stop being sorry. Stop feeling bad. Stop listening to your kindergarten teacher about not hitting people. Stop wondering if you should or can hurt another human being. Stop debating about your next move. Stop shutting down. Stop feeling bad that you might leave a mark on him. Stop wondering if this is a part of the job. Stop feeling like you owe it to him because he’s paying you. Fucking stop already, and rip him to fucking pieces. In fact, any time someone crosses your boundaries twice, use your fists or your shoes. That’s what the pointy heel is for, you know. You’re not going to get in trouble for this.

While you’re standing here, make a mental note of the women around you. In the coming years, they’ll be your teachers, your confidants, your worst enemies, your best friends, your dealers, your co-conspirators for trouble, your hustlin’ buddies in double-dances, your key to navigating everything you’re about to experience. They’ll be the most proud of you for mastering that new trick or dumping that guy or running really fucking far (yeah, running, you’ll take that shit up when you finally get your shit together and quit smoking — no joke). They’ll show you absolute and unconditional love through every thread of your life in the coming years. Accept them for the wonderful women they are, right now.

Get used to conditional love from the outside world, right now, this very moment, before you take your drunk ass on stage for the first time.

And yes, your pussy is normal. They really do all look very different.

You’ll see “theirs” and they’ll see “yours” and it really will, in time, be no big deal to have a pussy inches from your face. You might even find you like it and it gives you butterflies on occasion. What, you thought you were totally straight? You’ll learn soon, grasshopper, just how fluid and fascinating sexuality is. It’s half of why you’ll stay. You’ll even start a blog about it, still wide-eyed and bushy-tailed (but VERY OPINIONATED), to recount your adventures.

In the coming months, you will become happier. More vibrant. You’ll finally have a stable place to live, a little pocket cash. You’ll finally get some fucking sleep for once. Stick this out for more than tonight, Piper, and stick it out for more than the two weeks you promised yourself. You really will learn to dance, and it will make you feel alive. 


The woman you’ll become.


PS: Stop eating garbage.

At the end of the night I kicked a guy twice in the kneecap, hard. 

It was a long night. The beginning was great and filled with dances, and the last two or three hours just dragged on and on with little hope of any moneymaking to be done. We were tired, and the girls get a little silly when they’re worn out. One dancer lay over the top of a bar stool, on her stomach, and started — as she called it — frog-spinning around on it. Soon, four other dancers joined, including me.

Customers wanted in on the bizarre four in the morning behavior. One told me he’d help me spin. I asked him not to do it, mostly because I was just done being touched and groped at, and also because no one gets to touch for free. I made sure he understood before I went back to frog-spinning while he bothered another dancer. The second dancer told him he’d have to give her fifty bucks if he touched her. He backed off.

Spinning, spinning, spinning, and I see his shoes. I hadn’t gotten to kick/hit/backhand anyone tonight, and I figured if he was dumb enough to try to touch me, I may as well enjoy punishing him for it. He did. So I kicked him in the knee, but I was still spinning and didn’t kick hard enough for my satisfaction. I stopped the stool at lightning speed and used them runnin’ legs to kick him with as much force as one can muster while in frog-spinning position until he took a step backwards in pain and his leg had a second of giving out.

Spinning, spinning, spinning I went.

Don’t fucking touch me, moron. Not even while I’m frog-spinning.

I guess the club sort of exploded while I was on my short “vacation.”

One tiny little dancer took on two very strong and somewhat intoxicated dancers while defending her friend’s racist slurs. The tiny little dancer wound up with a broken nose and bruised face after having her head smashed against a table on the floor a dozen times. The two stronger dancers were suspended as a formality, but the conversation with hateful remarks was taped and reviewed and they weren’t fired. I say the tiny dancer deserved it, the friend should have taken the beating herself, and the two stronger dancers gave what the little one had coming. Real law doesn’t exactly apply in the club, and there’s no HR For Naked Catfighting, so they did what they could: dished out justice. Fair enough.

Another girl’s house burned down as she was talking to her boyfriend about getting renter’s insurance over dinner — they hadn’t lived there long. My heart broke for her. Everything she owned was destroyed. Two of the loving family dogs in the house were seized for being unregistered and uninsured pit bulls. Even what little cash she had, $500, was destroyed. It was an electrical fire caused by shitty wiring, and her landlord is of no help. I paid her house fee and offered to buy her dinner from the Favorite Deli we order from. I felt helpless.


Last night was a night full of people just….fucking with me. I’d sit down with a customer, have a witty conversation, to find empty pockets where they were supposed to be full, to find boredish searing sarcasm, to find a pair or a group being catty, “cool” bros. I found everything except money. I heard every excuse in the book — from the dreaded, “Maybe later,” to the obnoxious, “But I could dance for you for $25/$35,” to the drunkest slurring idiots with little idea of up-vs.-down. It was like a stripper nightmare, all night.

I put on my game face. I worked my tail off. I seemed to attract most of the crowd to the stage while on it, naked, performing, being tipped left and right with interest. I bounced around the room. I stayed on task, unusual enough for me, except for my dinner break around 11:00. I made a few bucks one-dance-at-a-time here and there throughout the night, but barely cleared the “petty cash” amount I usually make in a couple of hours.

One particularly drunken Personalized-Golf-Shirt kind of guy spent the night leaning halfway over dancers’ stages, grabbing them in any way he could. His hands lasted about one second on my ankles before I grabbed the buttons and collar of his shirt in a fist and warned of a kick to the face. He said I wasn’t nice. Poor baby! He tried to shove a twenty towards me, I reached for it, and he pulled it away, and repeated this same carrot-dangling trick with all of the dancers. Another girl, all of eighty pounds, kicked him in the chest later and he fell to the floor. The bouncers refused to kick him out; his friends spent around $3,000 on various girls. With around 15 girls working and 8 men in their group, trust me, $3,000 doesn’t go very far.


Leaf Bitch turned up again. I stood in her way, blocking her from talking to the DJ and bouncers, and the staff was, well, pleased. She’s hated, all around, mostly my doing. I guess she loves dancing to “Everybody Talks,” and I find this endlessly amusing. Continuing the theme of her ridiculous “costumes,” she dressed as a genie in a pink, side-zipper cocktail dress with some sort of pink sheer scarf. She fell out of her 2” heels trying to take the dreadful thing off. She rubbed that scarf all over her pussy throughout the night, and then took to wrapping it around men (barf). She (not kidding, no) cha-cha’d along the side of the stage to a laughing and pointing crowd. She “ballet” danced (badly, while high out of her gourd) in the middle of the stage and ran into the pole. 

During one of her stage sets, the liquorless bar of bored staff and dancers concentrated their “magic will” on her inevitable fall. Somehow, it resulted in her cracking her skull on a horizontal pole, much to the delight of the group of us watching. Later, she got ripped off by a known dance-and-ditch customer for $525 — about 45 minutes worth of work. I laughed. Perhaps someone would have told her about the dance-and-ditch customer had she been a more reasonable coworker?

I may be stuck working with Leaf Bitch for now, but I’ll make her miserable at every turn.


I woke up late today, as the sun was starting to fade into late evening. I stayed in bed as it started into a sunset. I finally dragged my ass out of bed, watched the sunset, ate breakfast. I decided I didn’t fucking feel like being A Grown-Up Who Has To Work To Pay The Bills, today. I considered playing hooky on my self-imposed schedule. I finally dragged my ass to work after dark, armed with a PureFit bar — seriously, check out this nutrition/energy bar for athletes, because doesn’t melt or taste like chalk paste — and grumbled while doing my hair. I had to get the grumbling out of my system. Grumble, grumble, grumble, rip tangles out of my straw-consistency hair, grumble, stab myself in the eye with eyeliner marker, grumble, throw my g-string in the dryer, grumble grumble. 

I hit the floor around two hours after we opened. A hopeless room, maybe four customers. Dancers continuing to show up and sign in, making the odds ever less favorable. Finally. A club regular. I made a few hundred bucks. I left just after midnight, and left our absentee DJ (his mic is wireless and he walks around with it or calls girls on stage from the shitter) a note on his yellow notepad in sad, awkward, barely-literate-style handwriting: PIPER GO HOME BYE. I signed it with a badly-drawn cartoon penis blowing a load, complete with a smiley-face on its balls.

And then I had chocolate pudding for dinner. I’m pretty sure I’m PMSing.


I bet Mitt Romney thinks strippers genuinely like him.

I bet Mitt Romney sits at the rail without tipping. I bet he wears pajama pants or swimming trunks to the strip club. I bet he asks for strippers’ phone numbers and “real” names. 

Day four of my running streak — with a short-term goal of twenty-seven days of running in a row — and all pieces of the legs are functioning as usual. This is significant progress, in light of being so sick this summer. For the last year, I’ve been running four days a week on average. Not four days in a row, just four, total, always with frequent days off, to let my body heal from the dancing and running. I feel like I’m off the bench and back in the game. My sixth half is coming up shortly in October, and my seventh and eighth (back-to-back half marathons in two days) in December — tentatively.

I don’t feel like writing about my night last night. Today, I don’t feel like writing about dancing. It feels like a repetition of the same shit I’ve been writing for you for weeks…

(although there was a rail-babysitter who spent his hour drunk, eyes-closed, occasionally pulling his head off the chair in semi-consciousness, eyes still closed, to lip sync the words to songs and play air guitar, before falling back into definite unconsciousness)

…It’s just not. There. It’s not flowing out of my fingers. I can write about the events of the night, the people.

But how do I write about the feeling of never feeling naked? Or of the camaraderie and sisterhood and alley cat fighting ring? Or what, exactly, being immersed in a world of fantasy is like? Or what night and day even are, anymore? Or of the bizarre feeling of comfort, warmth, confidence in leggings? Or of the helplessness and desperation in so many pairs of eyes? Or of the critical point of no-return in turning from a newbie to a promising young dancer to a jaded, violent pro? I can’t. I can’t describe the stuff of stripping — the real stuff, the meat of it — to you. The reason you read this shit isn’t even really…written here.

I wish my talent in writing extended to eloquent descriptions of raw emotional feeling, but it doesn’t, yet. Soon. Soon I’ll write more on the dancing.

There is nothing in the club that can compete with what’s happening onstage. A bomb could drop in the parking lot and no one would move a muscle. She has single-handedly brought the entire audience to its knees, this common genius, this protean hottie.

And here is the heart of striptease: You can analyze and deconstruct the act all you want — you will never totally demystify it. You can’t break the spell. Nothing can fully explain why some people take to strip clubs — sometimes to the point of addiction, why some find the very idea offensive, and why others just don’t get it and shrug. What I like best about stripping is this, the arbitrariness. The mystery. The fact that you can’t definitively state what makes one woman stand out from the next. That some tiny part of every dancer’s soul spills out when she performs, whether she means it to or not. That you can see a woman totally nude before you, and there’s still so much about her that you don’t, and can’t, know.

And that you can never predict that singular instance, like right now, when the world falls away and the only thing that matters is the light falling on the stage and the dancer unfurling herself against the music the way a singer wraps her breath around a note.

Lily Burana, Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America

I realize that this is a bold post to make on such a hot topic around Tumblr, and I ask that if you read it, that you read all the way through it. If I misuse a word or a word is offensive to a particular group, please feel free to EDUCATE me instead of harass me!

In response to a lengthy rant I posted recently regarding the overwhelming number of I-want-to-be-a-stripper youth posts on Tumblr, one user posted this comment (user’s name not posted for privacy, although all users are welcome to engage me in polite and thoughtful discussion regarding any topic):

and something that they of course leave out - if your are a woman of color, esp a darker-skinned you WILL make less money than your white counterparts. you will have to work twice as hard to make the same amount of cash. on top of all this other shit you will have to deal with racism from everyone in the industry - from your customers, to your boss, to your co-workers (if you’re in a mixed race club).

[*Bold added for emphasis.]

This comment really bothered me for a few days, and I spent some time trying to figure out why. These are my thoughts.

Because there are no longer any photos of me on this site, I feel it’s necessary to include that I am white. A mutt of northern-European descent, from what anyone can remember. I’m pale and freckled, and there’s no mistaking it. I’m white. I can’t help it that I’m white. I can’t make it go away, I can’t paint my face purple and forever become Purple. There is literally absolutely nothing I can do about the natural-born color of my skin. Nothing. The skin any of us is born into is pretty much what we get…for our whole lives. Being white isn’t a massive piece of my identity — there are so many more noteworthy parts of myself to celebrate in the runner, the stripper, the lover, the Miniature Pinscher mommy — but it is the focus of my ignorance to being a POC sex worker, or a POC at all. 

Before reading the rest, you should also know that I live in a large, fairly liberal Midwestern city in a fairly liberal state. Racism exists often much more covertly, rather than overtly, here.

I didn’t leave racism in the industry out of the post intentionally, as though I’d thought of it and discarded it’s inclusion for some reason, or tried to minimize the number of people who would “find out” that the industry is, well, disgustingly racist.

There were a lot of afterthoughts and other things that I didn’t think to include. I also didn’t include gems about the loneliness, about pop culture’s influence on the industry, about co-workers turning against each other on a dime, about the difficulty of dating, about the constant fear. I didn’t tackle or think to include a lot of the bigger issues that I could have: racism, body acceptance and eating disorders, lack of women in management/superiority positions in clubs, being a lesbian/bisexual individual in the club, being outside of the traditional gender binary in a club…you get the idea. There is so much more I could have included. And there are so many of those things that I cannot fully understand or experience.

The post was a short, online, free-to-view, blog rant. It wasn’t meant to be an all-inclusive book of all the terrible things about dancing. It wasn’t meant to be all-encompassing of my experience as a dancer; even my blog doesn’t do justice to that. That aside, yes, racism is a serious problem — from what I can observe and understand — in the industry.

I don’t experience the racism that POC dancers do. Rarely have I, or I will I ever, be told that the customer doesn’t want a dance from me because I’m white, and my POC counterparts are told this — boldly, sometimes proudly — regularly. My POC dressing room mates have told me about the little ways that men (sometimes white, sometimes not) will try to send them away because they don’t want to say the big, racist “IT”: that her skin color is not attractive to him. My POC co-workers tell me about private dances in which they are asked to participate in humiliation fantasies as the one being humiliated, or in which they are subject to violent attempts at sexual assault because the customer thinks he can get away with it. They tell me that other girls, managers, and other staff suspect them so much more readily of prostitution and drug use and theft and incompetence and lack of education.

I listen and observe and absorb this. I’m bothered by it, yes. When turned down for dances because the man really likes a leggy girl (I am not leggy), I recommend a leggy girl — regardless of her ethnicity. When a drunk customer starts spouting off racist garbage to me about a coworker while she’s on stage, I tell him that it’s inappropriate, that the girl is beautiful/smart/whatever compliment she sincerely deserves anyway, and I leave, because there’s no way I can do those dances without feeling hurt or angry or losing faith in humanity. I’m not asking for a jeweled crown with “I’m not racist” printed on it. I’m saying: I counter what racism I can, when I can, like any decent human being does, in the small ways that are, I hope, most effective. I don’t ask for a pat on the back each time by writing all about it, because it’s just a human fucking thing to do.

I don’t write a lot about racism on this blog, and for a very good reason: It’s not my experience to share. There are many WOC stripper blogs on Tumblr worth reading and learning from, and I don’t, for the most part, experience the racism. I’m not the target, and my responsibility then, is to learn about the racism experienced and counter what I see and hear.

Just as I wish that every non-stripper would stop speaking about stripping over the voices of those who actually do strip, I don’t want to be one of the voices that drowns out the genuine experience of those that actually experience racism. I know what it feels like to read blog after blog, or article after article, about what others THINK my life and experience are like as a stripper. I don’t want to make others feel that way by drowning out their experience as a POC sex worker.

I’m not attacking POC sex workers by not including racism in what was — in context — a short blog post. I can’t possibly tackle or think of every issue in one post that certainly won’t even be applicable to every dancer or club. I can’t possibly speak to the experience of racism in the sex industry.

That, I think, is a fair and honest post from a redheaded observer. If there’s something that you’d like me to know, a story you have to share with me, commentary, or something that I said that came off as being pretty shitty or mean — feel free to share it with me. I am open to learning, but quick to ignore the undeserved fireballs hurled my way.

I worked last night, fell asleep by 7:30am, woke up with much effort by 4:00pm, and as I ran around cleaning things this morning, I realized I was still offended, irritated, and angry about a particular customer last night. I snapped and pouted at the Boyfriend a few times. I briefed him on the customer, but I never really went into it — talking about it makes me angry.

Look: I’m as politically active and as informed as most fifty-somethings gambling on Social Security’s future availability. I keep up with the news, I have informed opinions (as opposed to Opinions, which are not brought about by logic and evidence, but instead A Thing Someone You Like Said Once), I’m intelligent and educated, and I still don’t want to discuss it at work.

I don’t want to, but occasionally, a customer will briefly strike up the conversation with me. I shift to another subject, and the hustling moves on. 

The Worst is, apparently, election season, when emotions are running high on the topic and the big voting day is imminent. It’s my first election season at the club (I started working in July of 2009), and I’m not looking forward to watching the calendar creep closer and closer to November 6th. 

You’d think that strip club clientele, given the, uh, family-values platform of the right-wing, would mostly fall somewhere in our (skewed) moderate-to-left-wing value system. This is just not so. Even those who spout off family values and Biblical ethics plop their asses into my chairs to watch naked chicks clap their ass cheeks — sometimes after tucking their crucifix necklaces underneath their collars (not kidding), or removing their wedding rings (common). Unfortunately for me, some of those men also drink heavily and cannot control themselves. They get shouty about Political Things. It’s irritating.

I had the misfortune to be seated next to one of these Shouty Right-Wingers, and he had the audacity to yell in my general direction about whatever political values he believes I hold — I actually hadn’t given him any indication as to what mine were. Another dancer pulled me out of my seat and ushered me to the dressing room for the usual, “You-don’t-have-to-talk-to-him-just-walk-away” talk. I’m still, twenty-four hours later, angry.

I’m angry that these Shouty Right-Wing Strip Club Patrons have the balls to visit strip clubs. I’m angry that the cognitive dissonance that ought to be pouring out of every orifice, isn’t pouring out because of the clear lack of reasoning capacity. I’m angry that they’re still told it’s okay to believe these things or that they think it’s acceptable to act this way in public.

»»> And this is where I insert the mandatory “I know that leaning right wing doesn’t necessarily make you a creationist/a birther/pro-life/a Christian/pro-all-war/a tea-partier/a member of the NRA/wealthy/uneducated/a Southerner/a hick/sentimental about the Civil War/or anything else.” I understand that political values are complex and that we all place a different degree of value on each part of our belief system. One may place greater emphasis on social issues or economic issues or foreign issues. It’s uncommon that an educated voter lean heavily toward the right or left on every single issue. I, for one, am content with gun ownership and laws, so long as they stay out of the hands of those with severe mental health issues and violent criminals — a traditionally conservative value, even though I lean heavily to the left. That said, moving on. »»>

I’m angry that Shouty “ObamaIsAMuslimAfricanTerroristSocialistMonkey” exists. It’s troubling to me. It’s even more troubling that someone with a fairly strict conservative value system has the balls to step foot on my fucking turf. 

Yeah, my turf. The place I work, the place I put a lot of myself and effort into, the place I practically live three days a week, the place my coworkers and I share a very deep bond (even if we argue) with a very odd reality/fantasy. It’s my fucking turf. I know every chair, every inch of the stage, every tramp stamp, can put a face and name to every pair of boobs and every female voice. I am protective of the place, the people, myself. Some say too protective, too much effort, too many fucks given. Still, it’s mine.

In my world, in that place, on my turf, conservative values just cannot make sense. It can’t make sense to fuck over those in already fragile financial positions, and the women in my club as whole, are.

Basically, I’m furious and frustrated with hyperconservative customers who feel the need to spew their hatred in a place that can’t hold it. It is bursting at the seams with women who are the object of so much hatred and mockery to begin with — and cruelly adding more hatred makes me cry.

When asked if Shouty Right-Winger was going to tip me for the time spent listening to him yell at me, his final remark was: “You must be a Democrat if you expect me to pay you for nothing.”

Yeah, Shouty Man. I expect you to pay me for my time. In our society, we are traditionally paid per increment of time (per hour, per week, or per year), and it is your responsibility to pay me for my time. I’m self-employed and providing a service to you. In this case the service was listening to you be extremely offensive and illogical, because that is what you chose to do with the time. It’s not a “Democrat” thing or a “Republican” thing. It’s a fucking human thing.

I expect you to pay me for my time, because my time with you is a service that you are consuming. And I expect you to keep your voting preferences to yourself while your ass is in my chair or my VIP booth. I’m not there to change your mind, and you’re not there to change mine (or you’re missing the fucking point entirely, and you may want to enjoy a Chippendales somewhere else). 

You can be sure, however, that if you wind up covered in beer after having your testicles jumped on, that it was definitely due to your “I WUV MITTENS” t-shirt* and not an accident.


* To my knowledge, there are no “I WUV MITTENS” t-shirts available for sale and this is merely sarcasm and satire.

I fucking hate the stripper tag.

I fucking hate the stripper tag. 

I fucking hate everyone who posts pictures of sex workers that were not clearly consented to (looking into the camera, smiling at you, clearly posing FOR YOU), in the stripper tag.

I fucking hate the stripper tag.

I wish all of the fifteen-year-old “I’mma be a stripper when I grow up!!!!#$(O#!!!” posters would shut the fuck up. Or lose their internet connections. Or get grounded. They need to study, anyway.

I fucking hate the stripper tag.

All of it makes me angry.

Until you actually ARE (or have been for a length of time) a stripper, please stop speculating on my fucking life and trying to ascertain what it is like. Don’t glorify it, don’t turn me into a victim of exploitation. LET ME FUCKING TALK.

I fucking hate the stripper tag. 

Fuck this shit, I’ll be a… fucking cruel and heartless stripper who will rip your head off for posting any version of those fucking pictures. Basically, I want to stab you over and over for your ignorance and tell you to study harder and come up with better jokes.

I fucking hate the stripper tag. 

Posting pole dancing photos clearly taken in a dance studio? NOT STRIPPERS. Belongs under “pole dancing.” Less angry about this. Mostly an FYI.

We are all fucking sick of this cutesy picture. It was funny once; I’ve seen it thousands of times and now I hate you for it. Now that I mention it, this one, too.

I fucking hate the stripper tag.

I bet someone out there is glad I didn’t go to work tonight. I probably would have jumped on someone’s balls after filing my stilettos to a point with the anger spewing out of me. I’ve also recently been tempted to put superglue in the hair of the next guy that tries to touch my pussy after explicitly being warned. I’ve been tempted to carry one of those tubes of decorative (not makeup-quality) glitter and use it like mace every time someone tries twice to cross the DON’T FUCKING TOUCH MY PUSSY line. Face full of fucking stinging glitter in your eyes. You’re welcome. I’ve been tempted to make stickers that say, “Even strippers don’t love me,” and secretly paste them permanently on the backs of those who sit all night and expect to talk or watch without tipping or doing dances. I could make a whole list of these things.

This would be a good week to mind your manners, ladies and gentlemen.

I fucking hate the stripper tag

[TW: Sexual assault, rape, drugs, and other stuff that isn’t pretty.]

Lately, I’ve been finding a lot of blogs that follow me or reblog my posts that seem to think that either STRIPPING IS SO FUCKING COOL!~!~! or THE BLOGGER **CAN’T WAIT** TO BE A STRIPPER WHEN SHE TURNS 18~!!!! I’ve been finding a lot of the same stuff under the “stripper” tag. 

Here’s the deal, kids — and I call you kids, because you are, mostly, under the age of majority — stripping is not just a glamorous, money-filled free-for-all void of responsibility and Other Things Teenagers Hate. Stripping is not an “easy job,” nor is it “easy money.” Stripping isn’t always the best path to getting what you want from life.

It’s offensive to me when you say that all you want is to grow up to be a stripper. I love stripping and I’m fiercely protective of most of my coworkers and my choice to dance, but now that I’ve been in this awhile, I see both sides of the coin. I see the inside of the rabbit hole that dancing is.

Before I get into the rabbit hole, I am going to say this (and bold it, because it’s important, you see): I choose to dance, I value the benefits it gives me, and I have high job satisfaction. But I am not discussing the perks and glitter and pretty things about the job in this post. I’m talking about all the shit you haven’t fucking thought of, kids. The things I’m including here may or may not have happened to me, or may or may not be my own experience, but having sat in the dressing room for awhile now, I’ve seen and heard a lot that was added to this post.

Stripping isn’t forever. You want to dance, but have you figured out what the fuck you’re going to do when you get your first wrinkle, break your foot, or you get knocked up? And even if you have a plan, you’re still too young yet to understand that even the best laid plans can fail or force you into making shitty decisions. “I’ll buy health insurance!,” you say (because you now know that the job doesn’t come with that benefit). But what happens if you catch swine flu before you can really get on your feet with the money you’re making? These things happen all the time to dancers — especially new dancers (that actually happened to me, and set me back weeks of hard work).

Have you realized that you must, while dancing, lay a plan for what you’ll do later? This includes going to (and paying for) college or trade school or certification program, because any relevant work experience you would have had, you’ll being trying to hide by the time you’re done dancing (unless the world drastically changes its attitude towards sex workers). 

Have you considered what you’ll tell your family and close friends, who may surprise you (or not) with their emphatic and relentless disapproval? “Fuck off and deal with it,” usually doesn’t cut it. Mommies and daddies may cry and tell you that they never want to see you again. Your friends will gossip about you behind your back. Old classmates might show up to see you dance. If you think it’s going to stay a secret, I suggest you dance far, far away from where you live and pray to imaginary fairies and knock on wood that it stays that way.

Speaking of which, you WILL run into people that you know, unless you move several states away and never leave your house/apartment. You are no exception to this rule, even if you don’t think you know anyone who goes to strip clubs. Your old teachers, friends’ parents, weird uncle, childhood babysitter — yeah, they might find out while you’re butt ass naked on stage under a spotlight. I guarantee that if you dance long enough, this will happen.

And by being naked, I mean, in whatever state of undress your club demands. Yes, demands. Most will require you to strip down to whatever they advertise. Full nude? Yes, you will be fully nude. You’re okay with nudity, you say? My guess is, you haven’t been spread-eagle in front of a crowd of 100-1000+ people before. Re-evaluate. Sounds like fun? Don’t let me stop you. Don’t forget about that fucked up scar you have or working on your period or how one of your tits is smaller than the other or the extra ten pounds you’re carrying or your tan-lines or the stupid heart/butterfly/lucky clover/dolphin/etc tattoo that will be one of the first Very Bad Ideas you have when you turn 18.

Speaking of bodies: remember how I said this wasn’t an “easy job” for “easy money?” You love to post a bazillion pictures of stilettos you’ve never worn, and I sigh, every. fucking. time. I see you do this. You’ve probably worn a cutie pair of 2” heels to a wedding or for prom, a few times. Maybe you dared to wear a 3” pair once and felt like a total badass. The thing about wearing 7” heels for days on end is, it hurts. You have no idea. You have no idea that they pinch your toes and give you weird callouses and “claw foot.” You have no idea that they force your posture to be unnatural, causing back pain. You have baby-bird calves and have no idea how to balance on stilts — and you have no idea how much, physically, dancing will require of you.

This isn’t a fun night out, “clubbing.” It’s work. It’s hard fucking work. And while you’re working, everyone in the room is going to be trying to fuck you, whether literally or metaphorically. There’s no “sexual harassment” HR department in strip clubs. Get fucked out of money? Well, you shouldn’t have stacked your dances, they’ll say. Girls are being mean to you? Quit being a crybaby, they’ll say. This is not a Polite Office Job with HR and Concerned Managers. Get tired of being asked over and over and over by customers whether you’ll give a blowjob or fuck them? Too bad. There’s a dozen more that will ask you in the next hour. Every day that you work. 

And if you won’t do it, someone will, taking the money. What are you going to do about it? Don’t like the rules? Want to fight for what’s fair in the club? Go fuck yourself and get back to work, because chances are, no one’s listening and no one cares. Status quo, and all.

How much time and money are you willing to spend on your body? Between acrylic nails, dying and cutting and styling your hair, buying and applying a literal fuckton of makeup, working out at the gym and trying not to gain weight and simultaneously trying not to lose your tits, trying on and buying and putting on new outfits and accessories and shoes for work (from specialty stores that may be difficult to locate), spray-tanning or cooking in a tanning bed, covering up or finding ways to erase skin imperfections, trying to avoid tan-lines when you go anywhere outdoors, shaving literally half your body on a daily basis, maybe undergoing elective surgery for fake tits, doctor’s appointments for and remembering to take/use your birth control so you don’t get knocked up and fired from the job you think is SOOOOOO KEWL…you’ll be a little busy, don’t you think? Don’t forget — you not only have to pay for all of these things out of pocket (no health insurance, no employer-provided work supplies), but you also don’t get paid for the time you spend doing them. They’re just a part of the job. And that’s before the therapeutic stuff, like massages for those aching muscles that never heal or quit hurting.

Oh. It sounds like work now? 

That’s before work, kiddos.

When you get to work, you’ll probably work nights. Need to schedule a doctor’s appointment? Ha. You get off work in the middle of the night. Hope you wake up in time, or can find a late enough appointment! Want to hang out with a daydwelling friend? Good luck. They go to bed when you’re most awake, and you’ll be working most weekends. 

Dancing sounds so sexy, doesn’t it? Writhing all over men — the cute ones, of course — maybe letting out a breathy little noise here and there, using your body, grinding on dicks? Just the cute ones, though (yeah, I’ve actually seen a Tumblr user who thinks she’s just going to dance for the “cute” ones). Until you realize that the majority of your customers are overweight/obese, or your grandpa’s age, or they smell like shit and day-three socks and swampy balls, or they have nasty dirty hands that they rub all over you, or are so drunk they think boobs are funny, or maybe they spill beer all over you (but you LOVE doing that pre-work routine twice, don’t you?), or tell you fucked up stories, or keep talking about their adolescent daughter/granddaughter, or try to slobber all over you, or tell you they don’t like you because you have saggy tits or that weird fucking tattoo you mistakenly got when you were 18. After all of this, once in awhile, a few will refuse to pay you, and everyone will have a good laugh over the old “sexual assault or theft?” joke that isn’t funny and makes you cry. Still sound sexy?

And they’ll all ask you, day in and day out: What’s your REAL NAME? Can I have your phone number? What ELSE do you do? What’s your REAL NAME? What’s your REAL NAME? Give me a blowjob. What’s your REAL NAME? Come to my hotel room. What’s your REAL NAME? Can I have your number? It all blends together after awhile.

Speaking of sexual assault — it’s an on-the-job occurrence. By most people’s definitions, nightly. Nightly, people will grab you and touch you in ways that you aren’t comfortable with, but since it’s only a boob-grab and you smacked him for it, it wasn’t a big deal. Not really even worth bringing to the attention of lazy security. Now, rape, that’s a thing. I mean, where I work, it doesn’t happen that often, but it’s a possibility. Being pinned to the booth and fingered and screaming? Maybe no one can hear you over the bass, maybe your coworker doesn’t want to jeopardize her money to help you. Usually, they’ll kick the guy out after that, but most clubs don’t want cops hanging around. And before they kick him out, they might not remember to get your money for you. And, wait, what was that? You have to go on stage in one minute?

So then you learn to punch guys and break their hands and stomp on their balls and feel quite confident doing so, right? You’re sick of the little assaults. You’re scared of the big assaults. You can do something about it. But then management scolds you for it. Let security deal with it. You can’t just run around hitting people, you know.

Oh! And drugs and drinking. Clubs will sometimes give you incentives to drink, customers will insist you take a beer. Pretty soon a 12-pack and a half-dozen shots is no big deal. Except, then you’re doing it in your off time. Or, you had a bump one night, no big deal. And then it was only Saturdays. And then it was only every night you worked. And then it was every night, oh fuck, and lots of the girls around you are doing coke or meth or pills or heroin, so why not. Or let’s say, like me, you don’t do drugs and you only drink once in a while (there are girls that don’t/won’t, yes); how will you feel when you keep watching the same fucking thing happen to girls you like? When you have to sit back and watch people destroy themselves, because there’s nothing you can do about it?

But you, you’re a special snowflake. You’re only going to dance for a month or a year, or only going to dance while you’re in college. Yeah, *snort.* We were all there once. Go ahead and buy health insurance and sign the contract for the gym membership. You’ll need them.

This is why you offend me when you say that stripping is so KEWL. You have no idea what goes on there (you’re not even old enough to go, and this ain’t Pretty fuckin’ Woman), and you have yet to accept the harsher realities of the job. I’m asking you to consider your options and your future carefully before you decide that dancing is for you, and to not turn my job into a pretty, glittered little thing without knowing the whole story.

Laboring on Labor Day. 

Long fucking stage sets with cheap tippers, two-for-ones, and the incentive usually given to work holidays (a free pass to work or leave another night) was taken away. It seemed as though the girls were complacent enough that they took our “holiday bonus.” Great. I mentioned the holiday passes, and was told that Labor Day is not a holiday. I informed the offending meathead bouncer that it was a federal holiday, in fact, just like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day. We’d gotten our little holiday perks then, and in previous years for working Labor Day, so why not now? His robot brain refused to process the information I was putting in, and kept repeating that Labor Day is not a holiday.

Out of all of the dancers that work in the club, I’m not the one you’ll confuse with backwards insistence of “facts,” nor have I had a drop to drink, and I’m the least likely to go along with having expected perks taken away without a fuss. I guess I need to drink more. Cider beer it is for my next shift, then.

The customer I was expecting in showed. Twenty-two dances and a hefty tip later. Just all-around a great guy, and this time was no exception. He’s been drinking more water and less wine. We talked about corn (his industry, my curiosity) and his new motorcycle, I insisted he wear a helmet on “that thing,” our dances were quiet and sensual.

Several stage sets into the night, I’m asked to join a table. Two early thirty-somethings and an out-of-place enthusiastic older guy. One of the younger guys is talking on his “shoe phone” (talking into his shoe), which I find hilarious. I join the table and answer the shoe phone, carrying on a wild one-sided conversation. A bit later, I figure out that I’m not getting dances, so I stand up to take off and find money elsewhere. I still had a little energy left, knew it was quickly waning, and wanted to take advantage of it before I was completely zapped of any ability to move. Shoe Phone Guy informs me that Out Of Place Older Guy had just plopped down at their table and they didn’t know him, entertaining them, but also had been wandering around telling customers that all of the dancers knew him and he was a regular (not true) and that—and I don’t even know where he fucking gets this shit—I am his daughter.

…What the fuck? Some old dude is walking around telling people I’m his daughter? …What the fuck? Okay, creepy. I retreated to the dressing room and essentially emerged for half-hearted stage sets sans pole tricks and sans most floorwork, and the occasional “Wannadance?” Energy, gone.

I’m still not gaining weight. This weekend, I’ve been chowing down on good food (The Boyfriend helped me make mozzarella-stuffed lamb meatballs and pasta!), with zero regard to eating well. I had brownies and ice cream for dinner on Sunday. Still no weight gain. Still zapped of energy. My joints hurt. My muscles get knotted so easily, now, and it takes days to sort out with a (legit) massage therapist/Boyfriend.

I tried to run a simple four miles yesterday before work, which was a terrible idea. I barely made it through four miles in one piece, and it felt like twenty. I don’t know how I’m going to run a 10k on Saturday, let alone a half-marathon in late October. Running has become a source of frustration and being pissed off at my stupid body instead of my passion, a thing I do to relax, my proud achievements. I was training for a marathon, at the peak of my endurance, in June. And now I could run a 5k, if I wanted to, but it’s painful and difficult and around two to three minutes per mile slower than I’d expect on my worst days. 

Anyway. A generally anxiety-filled dancer who’s too shy to talk to the men but a killer pole dancer dropped into the dressing room to show me one of the dollars she’d gotten on stage. “Jesus cares.” Great. One of these made it to the titty bar, huh? No, no. She’s already gotten THREE of them. I checked my stash—I’d gotten one somewhere, too. Several dancers had them, buried in their piles of ones ready to be cashed in for twenties. 

If it was a single dollar or maybe two, I’d understand that dollars filter through the club from everywhere.

The life cycle of the strip club dollar:

Customers bring them in, the club buys them from the bank. We get them on stage, and most girls recycle them back to the club in return for stacks of twenties. The club then sells them to customers in exchange for their twenties, we get them again on stage. At the end of the night, we all take some home, dancers and customers alike, and spend them in the community or deposit them into the bank.

I could see how one evangelizing dollar made it in. Maybe two. But this seems a bit more like someone sat at his table, writing about Jeebus on his dollars before tipping the strippers. Or perhaps he pilfered them from the donation plate at church on Sunday so that he could make it to two-fers at the titty bar? Who knows. For future reference: please don’t sit in a dark corner writing about Jeebus on your dollars at the strip club…you’re missing the point entirely.

The night ended with Cuddlebug approaching me for a dance, asking why I hadn’t been over. I explained that I’d had a rough night (he’s quite compassionate, and values honesty), and that I didn’t want to take another dancer’s spot next to him just as soon as she jumped on stage — that the girl doesn’t do it to me, and it would be rude for me to snag him when she’s obligated on stage. We ended up going back for dances, and chatted. He asked me what I like in private dances — the things I don’t ask for, but actually enjoy. I told him that I love a foot or upper-back massage. I keep forgetting to get this man a book and a Diet Dr. Pepper. The lights came on and “Closing Time” played. I searched his face for the awkward glance when people see me in full light. There was none.

As I headed back, there was an ancient (like, in his eighties?) disheveled man screaming at another dancer over ten bucks. He wanted his change, NOW. She gave it to him and pocketed the extra $35 that he didn’t realize he’d given her. Seems fair. Don’t scream at dancers; we’re better at fucking you over.

A post-work trip to a deserted grocery store, not feeling like making food. I wound up with: two containers of sour cream dip, a jar of salsa, a family-sized bag of corn chips, an eight-ounce block of Gruyere cheese, and a pound of ground turkey. Never go grocery shopping after work, Piper, I keep telling myself. I do it frequently, anyway. I came home, sat down to an episode of Dexter

— I just realized how odd it is that I watch a show about a serial killer every night after work, yes —

and chowed down on Taco Dip and corn chips and half the block of cheese. Still, this morning, I’d lost weight. 

I’m supposed to be deciding whether I want to work tonight or not, right now. Not only do I not feel like making decisions, but if I were to make one, I’d skip work. I made decent money last night, enough to pay the bills (despite my hiding in the dressing room). Wiping off my makeup and reapplying seems like the End Of The World, and is only the very minimum self-care I can get away with before going to work. My nose is runny. I have zero energy to leave the house, let alone entertain groping strangers and dry-hump a handful of dudes. It all seems like so much effort required today.

I meant to get up early and make a doctor’s appointment, maybe see if someone could figure out if I’m actually gluten-intolerant or not (I stopped eating gluten and abdominal pain disappeared, but nothing else has changed). I woke up around 10:00, decided that it was too much effort to drive to that suburb, and that the doctor would probably just tell me I was being a hypochondriac and have a cold or some shit, anyway. Rightfully, I don’t feel like paying $25 for that advice, but I probably need a real doctor.

Woe is me. Onward to vegging on the couch for awhile before making a decision about working tonight.

There could be cider beer. I’m already shaved. Money is pretty cool. So much effort; not enough energy. Not enough patience for irritating men. The night could suck and I could leave “in the hole” (having not made back my tip-outs and house fees). I could leave with a thousand dollars. I could curl up on the couch and sleep more. I could work my ass off and take the rest of the week off. My body is just weak.

No time for dinner, so I talked another girl into ordering from a deli that serves gluten-free food with me. In frustration, we both tried to come up with enough food to create a $20 minimum order for delivery, eventually ordering two potatoes loaded and a full plate of cantaloupe, strawberries, and pineapple, running back and forth to the door girl to deliver more money for fruit, then a tip, then the rest of the tip after the total was calculated. I always wonder how the deli chooses its delivery driver for our club, how anyplace we order from does. We always get a grown male looking panicked, trying to exit as quickly as possible. Pizza. Americhinese. Burgers. Bar food. Deli. Everyone sends a panicked thirty- or forty-something white guy.

Monday night. Two-fers. Spotted an easy spender in the crowd while on stage, rushed through the “what’syourname?sohowareyou?cametoseetheprettygirlstonight,yeah?” bullshit to get straight to the part where I say, “So, you came in on a pretty great night — it’s two-for-ones on private dances and—”

Before I could get the “VIPs” part of the sentence out, Nondescript Middle-Aged White Guy was already asking me for a dance. Despite the fall allergy season, my sense of smell for an easy mark was dead on, a good sign for the rest of the night. We headed back towards the private room, and I revealed my true, barefoot height (5’6”) just as I realized that the guy was a giant. Beanstalk-worthy giant, at maybe 6’8”, 6’9”. I laughed, looking up at him, pressing my tiny hands into his freakishly mammoth ones. A new song starts, we claim the solo couch away from the others and the mirrors, the most popular spot to feign a little privacy. 

I make attempts to straddle his lap, but there’s no fucking way my tight thighs can easily accommodate. It’s the beginning of the night, and my hamstrings and abductors are still pissed and thinking they don’t have to be submissive, to bend to my will. The dance goes as usual, until his hand is creeping further and further to the inside of my butt cheek. 

Sigh. Eye roll. Sigh again, look of disapproval, elbow pressed into the offending hand’s shoulder, wait for a glance of pain that he got the nonverbal message. Nothing, surprisingly, and that shit hurts. Psychopath or high pain tolerance? Send verbal message that, “We can’t do that here,” moving his hand. Hand continues to creep towards my pussy, in plain sight of cameras, in an open room with other dancers and men, frequently checked by bouncers. 

Fine. I happily inflict wounds, Nondescript Guy. 

I punched him in his throat, returned to smiling and chatting in a voice much younger than my years, outdoing his psychopathic glances with my own. Perfected over the past few years, you could say. Freaks ‘em out every time. A child’s voice from a woman who just caused you panic and/or pain while smiling and grinding on your lap, grinding her fluorescent nicotine gum between her teeth? The sadistic part of Piper very much loves these times, these confused looks, the feeling of absolute power in that moment of their disconnect from fantasy, the snap back into their brains. 

Needless to say, he didn’t get another dance from me and left after the first. I was a little disappointed, in truth, just getting warmed up and stretching out those pissed off muscles from the night before.

Second guy, same easy mark, money-smelling sense still flowing. Nondescript Middle-Aged White Guy #2, A*, also significantly above average height. What the fuck? A few dances, very vanilla. Popped in the dressing room to check texts from a friend in pain, a regular who promised his presence but got stuck in a WoW dungeon in frustration, the boyfriend who hears all of the funny anecdotes from my night; ate a few more pieces of fart-inducing tasty cantaloupe and popped some more nicotine gum, rearranged the stack of cash in my garter, hit the floor again just before my next stage set.

The Cranberries’ “Zombie” playing, the beautiful black man singing along (poorly, but I was impressed with not only his knowing each word but his lack of self-consciousness and generosity in tipping). The tread on my shoes, at some point, started peeling up from the toes. I watched my tricks in the mirror. Under strobes and in two pairs of stockings and leg warmers scrunched over my poor beaten ankles, I sort of look impressive throwing myself around the pole without any concentration.

Third guy, the beautiful black, succinct and sharp twenty-something from DC, sending me into stupidchick brain unable to hustle this guy; he’s not graying yet. A single VIP, mostly talking about his scar, DC, his unfamiliarity with strip clubs.

Book Man, who was stuck in the WoW dungeon, finally arrived, sans books this time but not lacking for conversation he’s been saving for me for two weeks. I listened as he jumped from topic to topic and back again to the Stripper He Loved, to the Woman That’s (Sort-of) Living With Him, to his grandchildren, to the stock market, to, of course, bomb construction and war strategy. We headed back for dances and he repeated it all again, for sixteen songs (count it: that’s 48 minutes). A tip. My graceful exit thwarted by desperate changes of topic, until he finally had to use the bathroom and I finally had to rush off to do something-or-other-I-made-up in the dressing room.

A lull. New Stripper talking with a House Girl about the definite effectiveness of Ouija boards and card readings and spirits and spells and becoming a witch. I held my cackle until I was out of the room, not wanting to be drawn in to conversation with attempted persuasion of magic’s merits. Foolishness, all of it. While holding my bubbling laughter, I stared at nicotine gum and fidgeting with powder under my sleepy eyes instead of inviting conversation through eye contact. They’re both sleeping with the Magic-Doer, it turns out. Apparently, he’s good in bed, but you see, he’s also good at spells. And one of them has a ghost in her house, and it’s definitely fucking with her. When is it appropriate to slap logic into people with Ouija boards and Bibles and broomsticks? Remind me?

A stage set, forgotten music. CuddleBug tips in fives as usual, asking for hugs in return as usual, smiling to see me and complimenting my tricks, as usual. An Asian man outdoes him with tens, not speaking, enchanted by pussy. I never made it to the Asian man, and I’m kicking myself for it, because I didn’t get a creep vibe from him. I take a spot next to CuddleBug on a couch, talking about dancing with honesty, like we do. He talks about himself, honestly, as he does. A few dances, in which he confesses to his depression as he had many months ago and I remember, and he asks me for advice, and I offer the same advice:

I dealt with my mental health problems by dealing with my physical health problems. Eating, exercising, and sleeping well, in moderation, with deliberate intent, started to help. Breaking unhealthy habits, quitting smoking, quitting the binge drinking, helped. Finding something to be proud of and look forward to, helped. Ridding my life of toxic influences, other people constantly drowning in misery and critical people and emotionally manipulative people — it all helped, but it was never one thing. There’s never one answer. 

I didn’t want to charge him for the second dance. I held the twenties, thinking about giving them back, the one small sign of genuine care about this man that I could possibly give at that moment, the giving up of income just to spend time with him. I see him every week. Next week, I think I’ll take him something. There’s something about CuddleBug — maybe his lack of overt concern for sexual stimulation in favor of conversation and the gentle contact of hugs, maybe his loneliness or his broken heart or the time his dog died and he came to the club a bunch of days in a row, maybe his generosity in tipping, maybe a whole bunch of these things together — that stirs up very deep feelings of care for him. A phenomenon not based in a large sum of money. Perhaps I’ll take him a Diet Dr. Pepper (his drink of choice) and a favorite fiction book of mine. I could take a cue from Book Man on this one.

I took the money, hesitantly. It is my job, he never hesitates with paying and always throws in a 20% tip, there are better ways to show my affection for a man in his sixties suffering from severe depression, frequenting the only place he knows he can receive any physical contact at all. Next week. Next week I will give him something.

CuddleBug breaks my heart every time I see him, makes me question in my own head what the fuck is wrong with humanity that he is so alone.

Finale time fell just before I would have gone on stage again. I pranced a little, did a dozen pull-ups, hung inverted by an ankle for a remaining minute, encouraged — while upside down — another dancer to keep practicing the tricks she’s worked so hard on. I vacillate on my feelings for this girl; the pride in her determined pursuit of pole tricks for years, the discontent with her “business practices,” the selflessness she’s shown me, the unstable volcano of fury waiting to erupt. I feel one thing about her and the next day, another. Today it is pride.

I ask a few Israeli men for dances, not knowing they barely spoke English just by looking. Moved on quickly. Plopped next to a guy barely old enough to drink, who sat in disbelief that I’ve been working in my club for more than three years because he never sees me there so I must be lying, who drilled me with questions on stripping and how much I made tonight and can I have your number and what’s your real name and he should be a stripper he thinks he’d like making all the money I make even though the economy sucks. I answered them all honestly. I laughed at him for his assumption that I hadn’t been stripping at the [Club] for as long as I have, saying I must be so busy in VIP or talking to people that actually pay me for my time that I hadn’t seen him either. I explained that a lot of male stripping is actually the gay-for-pay thing, that if he was very interested in having plenty of men stick dollars in his g-string and learning how to waggle his butt in the faces of men, to go right ahead. Sigh. Young bucks in the titty bar, thinking they’re studs instead of the silly careless fawns they are. We really need to raise the age of majority in this country.

Headed back to get dressed once the lights came on and the torture/pleasure of hearing Semisonic’s “Closing Time” ceased. Glanced twice at one of the 3x5 foot mirrors, now broken into a thousand pieces, raised my eyebrows at my coworkers in wait for an explanation.

"New girl broke it. [New Stripper’s New Alias]. Said it was a wallet [disbelief], but there’s no way that was a wallet. That [crack in another mirror] was from S* [former temperamental alcoholic dancer] and that was a shoe.”

"I guess she was mad that she got dressed and was told that she had to stay out of the dressing room [until the lights come on and we’re released to ‘go get dressed’ by the DJ] so she threw something at it."

"She’s probably gonna get fired. Who does that on their first night? I mean, dude. Seriously. The mirror. [Manager]’s not gonna like that tomorrow."

Telling silence when New Stripper enters the room. I shook the glass out of my clothes, threw my sandals on so I wouldn’t step in any, stripped off my thong and several layers of legwear, stuffed three suitcases’ worth of Stripper Masks And Charm into my one suitcase, hung out and waited to leave. Counted the cash in my car. Hit a gas station far from my club, ran into two lesbians that were just there who don’t recognize me and none of us acknowledge each other, drove to a store nearby. Picked up nicotine gum, condoms, dog treats, and ice cream. Ran into the DJ and his girlfriend (Vacillating Emotions Stripper, R*) in the pet aisle, lube in their cart with Gatorade and pajama pants.

The drive home was that pre-dawn dark; it was clear, driving straight towards Betelgeuse and Bellatrix and seeing faint, rarely-visible stars in clusters, satellites, a red-eye flight. Episodes of Dexter, dogs thrilled with rare new junk-food bones, sleep.