“No, cookie, no touching,” I coo at the man whose lap I’m sitting in, once again removing his hands from my boobs and squeezing them tightly. “Remember? We don’t want me to get yelled at, that’s not hot.”
In answer to any lackwit who’s ever asked any variation of “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”
It comes as no surprise to most people that a worker making minimum wage would have a difficult time being able to afford the rent. After all, minimum wage is, by definition, the lowest wage people in just about every profession can make. What makes this graphic shocking, however, is just how far out of reach the rent is in so many place. In Hawaii, a minimum wage worker must work 175 hours a week, 52 weeks a year to afford the rent. In Utah, it’s 77 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Even in the most affordable place on the map, Puerto Rico, a worker cannot afford rent and utilities on a modest apartment working less than 55 hours per week, 52 weeks a year.
It is tempting to brush away these figures by saying that minimum wage isn’t meant to be a living wage, or that not everyone should try to rent a two-bedroom apartment. But as we note in our report, recent analysis shows that 78% of minimum wage workers work at least 20 hours per week, and 80% are at least 20 years old. So when we’re talking about minimum wage workers, we’re not talking about high school kids in after-school jobs. And with the economy in the shape it’s in, we know that many of these minimum wage workers are people who would work better, higher-paying jobs if they could, but those jobs are just not available to them.
(I want to come up with a more clever title than that but I’m not sure it’s going to happen)
It’s so weird and awesome not having class this week. Every term I forget how great vacation is. It’s like a sample of being graduated except without student loan payments looming.
I was talking to a customer who flat out told me he wasn’t going to get a dance. But it was early and the club was empty so what the hell. He was making me laugh, he said he came for the garden burger. That’s just as stupid but much more funny than the guys who used to come to [redacted, locally famous old strip club in [redacted]] and then tell me that they didn’t need to tip because they were there for a beer, or worse, because they were friends with the owner. As if they couldn’t grab a beer at any of the other bars littering our rain sodden streets, or talked to the owner–a burnt sienna nudist who spent most of his time crisscrossing the country in an RV with his wife and sticky small dog–on the phone. Then you know they’d be sneaking peeks, or full on watching in the mirror like I’m dancing naked onstage for my health. Or as a charity gesture.
So this guy was in the club for a garden burger. Ok. I’m forgetting what else he was saying that was making me laugh, but he gestured at the pole.
“So is that hard?”
People always want to know about pole tricks and they rarely, rarely tip for them. I mean, they’ll throw down a dollar or two but it’s nothing in terms of the physical effort involved in any but the most basic tricks.
“My sister’s an ER nurse,” he told me, “and she tells me the gnarliest stories about strip club injuries!”
I wondered irrelevantly if the girl who wanted to pay me to make out with her–also a nurse!–was his sister. Pulled myself to attention.
“Oh yeah!” I said eagerly. “There was a staph outbreak at one club several years ago, and once I fell against a broken mirror and cut my palm open. I’m still kicking myself for not suing that owner!” I waved my palm at him so he could see my scar.
“No, pole injuries.” He said it heavy with significance, like that made sense.
“Girls who fall off the pole?” I had to think about it. I actually haven’t seen this happen many times in the 7 years I’ve been stripping. To quote my pirate scholar classmate, I could count the number of times on one hand and have fingers left over. And two of those times were me.
He was getting kind of impatient and condescending. “No, burns.”
I don’t even know why I’m typing this up except that it was so bizarre and dumb. Maybe I should tweet about it and see if other girls have seen this mass plague of friction burns sending hordes of strippers to the ER, cause that’s how he was talking. Like he had this inside information and is all hip to the dangerous world of strippers and strip clubs. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about and he shook his head indulgently at me. Clearly I have so much to learn! I’ve gotten crazy bruises from the pole, but never once have I gotten a “friction burn”. My problem is the total opposite. If I’m getting friction burns from anything they’re going to be on my ass from doing lap dances.
I wish I had the kind of sticking power/skin that could grip the pole to the point of immobility and friction. I fell off the pole a few times last week. Neither time hurt but it was embarrassingly hilarious. The first time I climbed up for an inversion and my shoe started to slip off–mules: really cute but once the plastic stretches not the most secure–and I stupidly became more concerned with keeping my shoe on my foot than my body on the pole. I’m still not sure what happened but in the middle of fiddling with my heel I felt myself somersaulting off the pole, someone yelled “Timber!” and I was in a graceless heap onstage before I could stop.
The next time was during a mid. There’s a really low-energy looking trick that involves holding yourself on the pole with one armpit and thigh and knee pressure while you kick your other leg into the yoga pose “dancer” and hold it behind you. It looks pretty and simple, but holding on with just pressure from one leg is exhausting. For some reason it’s much easier to do upside-down.
I called my friend Regan onstage to help, and she advised doing it inverted so I could feel where I needed to keep the pressure and where my leg needs to be. I flipped upside down and maybe I put on too much lotion that morning, but again before I knew it I’d slipped down, landing on my back and staring up at Regan’s astonished face, right before she started laughing hysterically. She’s like one giant muscle, this girl, and she suffers from the same chronic bitchface that I do, so we’ve bonded. But really, she’s amazingly strong. If I were a customer I would get a lap dance from her because I would be afraid she could kill me if I said no, but they’re too busy looking at her boobs to register her biceps.
No, this kind of thing doesn’t happen to her. I doubt she’s fallen off the pole since she started dancing. I need to work out more. And maybe get that foot lotion from Sally’s that makes you kind of sticky.
Angry Stripper got (sort of) outed today. Outed isn’t actually the right word since she has part of her real name on her twitter, but I doubt she expected anyone to go to the lengths this guy went to to publicise a fact that really didn’t need publicizing. This article is my favourite:
I’ll just quote from the end:
The fact that Connelly would try to act like there isn’t an element of slut-shaming in what he’s doing is just plain laughable. Strippers titillate. It’s their job. As a result, regardless of whether they sleep with zero or one hundred people, they’re going to be seen as “sluts” or loose women or what-have-you because of the nature of their job. I find it hard to believe that Connelly doesn’t realize that stripping comes with stigma, because without that stigma, it would never have occurred to him to write this piece in the first place, because nobody would give a fuck if she worked as a baker or photographer or landscaper to make extra cash.
How do I know that what Connelly doing is straight-up slut-shaming? Because there’s a way to write the “It’s interesting that you hold down these two jobs” story, and that way is to: contact the person doing the two jobs, set up some time to interview them, find out what their daily life is like, talk with their employers, explore the reasons why someone might do these two jobs, figure out what it means to be This Person one minute and Another Person the next minute, etc. That’s how you write the “this is an interesting juxtaposition” story. That’s what you do if you find it personally or anthropologically interesting that someone leads what seem to you to be two separate lives.
However, if what you want to to do is write gotcha journalism that serves the sole purpose of giving you the opportunity to publicly look down your nose at a woman you kind of want to maybe lose her job because you don’t approve of the way she’s chosen to live her life? I can’t tell you how to do that, but I think Richard Connelly probably could.
Angry Stripper (Tressler) seems to have taken about the same efforts to preserve her anonymity as I have. Which is to say, none. Because it’s just a job, and it says nothing about her intelligence or competence. It’s not news.
This isn’t the kind of thing you expect from professional, mature adults. I mean, it’s something I expect from certain customers, creeps with obvious bad boundaries and no lives, hobbies, or jobs consuming their energies and interests. Kat nailed it when she called it customer behaviour in the comments section on the original article, I’d link to it but I can’t put myself through wading that shit again, even though most of the comments are intelligent and positive.
It made me pause. Because I don’t expect this kind of behavior, it’s why I’ve done relatively little to hide this blog and regularly tweet about the club under my real name. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed–although that time a few weeks ago when a former coworker from the clinic where I had my first on-the-books internship recognized me while I was naked onstage was less than ideal, for sure. But I wouldn’t want my family finding out through something like that article.
My dad called yesterday; it’s been a few months since we last talked and he’s been ignoring my emails, so I started to worry that he’d googled me and figured out that I’m a stripper. We talked, he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. The conversation was fine.
I told him back when I first started dancing; I was 19 and full of revolutionary zeal and third-wave feminist fire. I read a lot of zines, listened to riot grrrl and had a crush on Teresa Dulce (which, more on that later); I fully believed that the sex worker revolution was going to come along any day now. We were going to change the world, unionise, justice and health insurance for all. So no, I was not going to keep my mouth shut and let my father think I was working at Rite Aid or whatever 19-yr-old high school dropouts do. Out and proud. He was not thrilled.
A lot of things have happened since then: I took part in a notably unsuccessful and depressing attempt to unionise a strip club, I got a drug and alcohol problem fed by the fact that I felt like the smartest and most glamorous 20 yr old girl in the world, who was having adventures, I got depressed, I got sober, I got a dog, I got a girlfriend. Not totally in that order but mostly. I can’t remember where along the line I told him I quit dancing–maybe when I actually quit, more likely we just stopped talking about it when I got my first on-the-books internship (the obtainment of which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. To go from under the table work for years, having no obvious job skills or experience to looking for a day job was terrifying and disheartening) and I actually kept dancing for two years after that because the internship (at a really amazing non-profit low income clinic and youth shelter) did not pay enough to live off of. Unsurprisingly.
And since I started dancing again a little less than a year ago, quitting my last nanny job in December, it hasn’t really come up. I don’t think it will come up until he comes to visit–my lifestyle isn’t really something you fund on a nanny’s salary. I live alone in a one bedroom apartment furnished with vintage Danish modern furniture, I pay my rent and car insurance on time, I write 20 page papers, I have leisurely mornings with my dog over coffee and I garden. It’s super awesome. It’s going to look a little shady. I’m not sure what he’ll say when it finally comes out. His reaction will be coloured by the memory of my 19-yr-old hijinks for sure, but also by the totally different place I’m in now. I have options now.
I’m gambling (safely, I think) that the grad and doctoral programs I’m applying to could give a shit. There have been notable out sex worker academics in my field and similar ones, and I don’t think any of my current professors would be deterred from giving me letters of recommendation should they find out–although I don’t plan on telling them because it’s none of their business and has no bearing on my work–
All of which highlights the fact that this guy is a total, total douchebag, I’m glad I don’t live in Houston, and I’m glad that I don’t (to my knowledge) know anyone who’s in a position (& willing) to do something like this to me.
And I hope this doesn’t affect Tressler’s life in any way.
*eta, Angry Stripper has apparently been made private. A not unexpected but still totally shitty outcome of that asshole’s stupid, poorly written, poorly thought-out, shameful attempt to discredit her, using her livelihood as an excuse. Fuck offfff.
Starting my night with a bunch of dances from a hardcore fantasy geek, my favorite kind of customer!
I was enthusiastically telling my friend how much I love dancing for geeks and she started laughing hysterically.
“I like watching all of us give dances but you’re my favorite. You look so into it, and I just keep thinking at them, ‘you don’t have a chance.’ I mean they don’t with any of us but it’s the biggest lie with you and you look so into it. And they don’t have a clue!”
I told her about the guy who has to vet for lesbians. I keep trying him! More on that later.
Also? It’s snowing.
I’m currently on hold with the Department of Revenue, slowly being driven mad by their hold music, and also trying to polish the 20 minute presentation I’m doing tomorrow on the creation of female identity on the seventeenth-century stage. Given the circumstances, the only rational thing to do, I think, is blog.
A few weeks ago I had the kind of night that basically promises the next few will be bad or at least mediocre. I’d walk out of the lap dance room and someone else would grab me and pull me back in. It wasn’t even midnight and after this last couple I’d decided I would use my money wisely and pay to leave early, because going to sleep before 3am seems real appealing these days. Hardly ever happens.
I got my couple into the dance area and sat them down. Without my glasses they looked a lot like Carrie and Fred, doing some kind of Portlandia skit, and I’d been stressed out until I got close enough to them to see it wasn’t. What happened next was like the kind of bad sketch comedy you’d get if you used my club for material. Innocent bystanders shocked by live lewd lesbian sex.
One of the club regulars likes to choose two or three girls and then take them back for a private show. The girls do, you know, a two-girl show if it’s the two of them, switching off, and if there’re three, one of them sits in his lap and watches, and they rotate like that. Depending on the girls it can get pretty noisy, and this was a rowdy group. I had a hard time focusing on my couple, and definitely getting them to pay attention to me. There was shrieking and laughing, vibrators getting waved around, spanking—compared to which I felt my entertainment value shriveling. I sighed. When life gives you lemons… throw them at pedestrians.
I turned to my couple. “So do you get views like this in Vegas?” I asked brightly.
The man’s jaw was dropped, the girl’s eyes were round. They’d previously described themselves as strip club aficionados, presenting as jaded connoisseurs whom little could surprise. This was the last stop for the night on their tour of my city, and a cabbie took them here. It wasn’t a night when the performative bi girls were both… performing, so the back room show was probably doubly unexpected.
“No,” the man said. “No, no, nope.”
“You should come back on a Friday,” I advised them. “It’s even more wild.”
“We went to a different club, [semi-famous downtown club], and it was so boring! This is intense! And so fun!”
I climbed out of her lap and into his, purred in her ear. Couples dances can be a lot of work, trying to pay the right amount of attention to both of them, making sure they’re both having fun and want more. I couldn’t decide if the scene across from us was helping or hindering. Since there was nothing I could do, I had to hope it was helping.
“This is really fun,” the girl confessed, and she stroked my hair. “You smell nice.”
More loud spanking interrupted her. I giggled. “Skip that club next time! Hit these two instead. You’ll really like that one.”
The loud hum of a vibrator interrupted for a moment, then got muffled. More muffled by moans. “It’s like you got live action porn for the price of three lapdances!” I couldn’t stop myself from saying.
When our three dances were over, they tipped me extra, then asked me to send them one of the girls from the private show. It happened to be Sparky, the overachiever who likes to give really good dances, so I knew they’d be in good hands. I went to get her, and she asked me to talk to her regular while she danced for them. I sighed deeply, because that interfered with my beloved plan to leave early.
But I am now off the phone with the DR–if your friend advises you that you should include student loans on your taxes as income she is wrong and this will just ruin your life, after taking about a year to really snowball, and it is easy but time-consuming to fix and involves a lot of the Department of Revenue audibly shaking their heads at you–so this is
To be continued!
 Speaking of fines, I’ve been thinking a little lethargically about working someplace else so I can go back to fully appreciating my club, and my friend told me the price to leave early at her club is 100$. Psh. Even if your child broke his leg and you have to go get him from elementary school or whatever. Management so slimy.
 Is it really lesbian sex if they aren’t lesbians?
 Name changed!
 Who has actually really grown on me.
“Hey guys, how’s it going?”
“Bitchin’. What about you?”
“Oh, it’s going. What’s your name?”
“[Greg]. What’s your name?”
“No it’s not! Fine, I’m Brown.”
“Brown! That’s a new one. I like brown, it’s one of my favourite colours after red.”
“Yeah yeah. What’s your real name?”
“Red. But it’s spelled Read.”
“Yeah right. No, really, what is it?”
What is this insistence on authenticity that some guys have? Do they know where they are? They want to go to the fantasy factory and then focus so hard on making sure they have an authentic experience (unlike everyone else, because they are more special and knowing) that they miss the whole point and wear everyone—including their friends, out.
“It’s Commiepinko.” Dimple at them. Come on asshole, get won over and stop being such a chore.
They both laugh. “I bet you say that all the time.”
“Only because it’s my real name.”
“Yeah, right. And how many guys even get it? I bet it goes right over their heads!”
“Hi, how’s it going?”
“Just great, what’s your name?”
“Red! And yours?”
“That’s not your real name! I’m Blue.”
“No, it’s my last name. My first is Commiepinko.”
“So your parents were socialists?”
“Oh yes, died-in-the-wool.”
“Well, you’re not a very good socialist, are you? This is a very capitalist establishment.”
“Oh, you caught me. Being all hypocritical and all.”
He looks satisfied.
“So how about aiding me in my accumulation of capital? Are you ready for a dance?”
“Hey, how are you?”
“What’s your name?”
“[John], what’s yours?”
“Yes, but my first name is Commiepinko. Are you ready for a dance?”
“Oh Commiepinko, yes. Let’s go.”
“Oh, Commiepink. Oh.” I’m feeling too uptight and grouchy to really onomatopoeize. We also talk about his job, he’s a professor at my university, although not my department. Whew! I tell him about the time one of my professors came in, but it wa a big class and I look fairly different in school. Incognito.
Three dances later:
“Commiepinko, that was wonderful. Just wonderful.” 
 To bring you up to date, a week later I saw him at a distance with his kids while I was walking my dog. I kept my face very blank and he went the opposite direction. I think we’re neighbours.