There should be a more predatory synonym for circling. There’s prowling, but I’m thinking something more evocative of the frustrated circling of a shark in an aquarium where there’s nothing to eat.
So I’m circling tonight, fruitlessly. I sat down with a likely looking guy, glasses, looked bored, always a safe bet.
“I’m here because my friends brought me!” he said jovially.
“that’s great!” I said encouragingly.
“so, what, do you go to school?”
“yes, I do.” His tone is snide and I don’t want to defend my existence as a stripper putting myself through college. Yes, they exist. Also single mom strippers, married strippers, phd candidates, under-21yr olds, high school drop outs, & any other girl remotely resembling our culture’s beauty standard who recognizes that she can parlay the near constant barrage of male attention into a solid income.
“what do you study?”
“History.” my brain is slow tonight, maybe because I was so sucked into my new book that I didn’t look at a clock until 8.30, at which point it was too late to eat or stretch or make coffee, or do anything beyond put on makeup and rush over. I can’t quite pull my charming stripper self into place or deflect his hostility.
“History?” he’s totally scornful and I should exit, but like I said, I’m just not on my toes. “why would you study that?”
“oh, because I hope to be unemployable for the remainder of my life!” I answered brightly.
“well, where are you from?”
“I’m from Boston.”
“You don’t sound like you’re from Boston.” still snide but at least he didn’t do the usual, “Baaahstan!” cry of delight and recognition. That makes me cringe.
I really don’t know why I was still sitting there answering him, it’s entirely against my normal policy. “My mom is from Illinois. She corrected how I spoke.” I mean, also, as if accents don’t fade with relocation. Or as if anyone actually walks around saying “let’s pahhk the cahhh in hahhvahhd yahd.” if I had a dollar for every time I hear that fucking one.
“she’s from Illinois, huh.”
This entire conversation started to remind me of that post of Kat’s, about how if she didn’t redirect them most customers would follow her personal history back to the moment of conception. I’m usually too impatient to allow things to get that far.
“keep this up and we’ll be all the way back to my mom’s birth canal,” I smiled.
“so where were you conceived, the back seat of a car?”
I blinked at him. “and you, were you raised in an alley?” I didn’t even wait for a response. “let’s go do a lap dance now.”
“oh, this is a surprise visit, remember? I don’t have any money.”
“that’s really great.”
I got a birthday dance onstage and then one lapdance from a guy wearing sweatpants. I didn’t notice until I got him back there and of course stupidly I didn’t get the money up front. I sat on his lap and felt both his boner and a wet spot where it ended, sticking against my thigh. I flinched and twitched off him. The rest of the dance was a solid, 2005-style no contact dance, counting the minutes til I could get paid and run and wash my thigh.
It’s an exhausting night. I wish I could leave early but it’s far too slow, I can’t justify paying to leave early–after tip out, stage and the leave early fee I’d have an amount I don’t even want to acknowledge. I’ve heard the amount of girls from my club who are seeking new pastures since the touching rule went into effect has caused a hiring freeze at two other clubs. Depressing!
I do my rounds of the club every fifteen minutes or so and then go back to hiding in back, playing drawsome:
and updating this, which, Regan says, is even dorkier than playing Drawsome. She says this as she plays her dragon game, so let’s just acknowledge that there are things even dorkier than updating your blog from work.
“yeah but at least I drew you back before I started playing!”
And on the bright side, Regan is back!
And so is Bibi.
and I just did another dance. All he would say when I got him in the lap dance room was:
“and your name is?”
“and your name is?”
“and your name is?”
“it’s still Red.”
“and your name is?”
“I’ll tell you for an extra $30.”
He tipped me an extra $60 for being annoying, however, and since I don’t have to give the club a cut of that I kindly threw in my name as a freebie. What the hell.
1-third book in the best zombie apocalypse trilogy EVAR.
“it’s so funny you drew an underwear thong and not a flipflop.”
I considered. Maybe because I haven’t heard a flip flop referred to as a thong in years, the only thongs i see regularly are on strippers. “Would you have drawn a flip flop ?”
“well, that’s cause yr straight.”
Ps, I got a B+ on my only midterm. Not super but good considering I was 200 pages behind on the readings until two days before.
Older customers are always threatening me that I’m “just too hot,” and “their hearts can’t take it,” when i ask them if they want a dance, but this is the first time I’ve ever read about a guy actually dying in a dance. And she didn’t get the money up front!
When it came time to pay workers discovered him unresponsive.
you’d think she’d have noticed he was having a heart attack before it was over. But if it’s anything like my club, she’d still have to pay the club their cut of the dance money, even if she didn’t get paid.
Riffling through his pockets before the paramedics arrived to ensure she got paid, callous or practical? Probably which?
It’s funny how fast things can fall apart. Relationships, obviously, but also work. Work environments. &c&c. Kind of a lot has happened since last week and I took notes which is good cause I don’t even remember it all off the top of my head. Some really fun shenanigans with Regan and this girl who I can’t think of a pseudonym for–it’s midterms ok and I have so much I should be doing besides this, like for example sleeping, or rereading Daughters of the Shtetl, or maybe Polin 18. But Regan and Shauna were having a bad night, and to be honest I was only having a good night because I’d lost my mind and was full on channeling Bibi and just going all out. I figured one way or another–blog, tactless comments made on fb about the new two way contact policy–I’d probably lose my job soon so what the hell, I could hustle with impunity. I started telling guys firmly that I wouldn’t be taking no for an answer and then frog marching them into the back room. One guy took advantage of my back being turned on the way to the room to try to stick his finger in my butt. I had to hold his hands really tight the entire time.
“Oooh you just have the strongest grip! Mmm, I love a man with strong hands. Yeah, squeeze them!” He got really into it and managed to make it through the whole dance without touching me, and he was the only problem customer. I’ve been able to keep selling my usual amount of no contact lap dances, which is a relief, but not enough.
One of the surprise offshoots of the two dollar bills is that the past four weeks stage money has been awful, so I need to sell a lot more dances to leave with my normal (pre-two dollar bill and club cut of the lapdance increase) take. I happened on a drunk 21 yr old, who was having his first night in a strip club. He was very vocal. I could tell from the way he kept looking around the lap dance room and then increasing his moans that this wasn’t about a lap dance at all, he just wanted to be seen enjoying a lap dance. Totally different, and in a way kind of more fun. Since we were both performing more for everyone else in the room than for each other, realism went out the window.
“Oh yeah!” i said gleefully. “Mmm!” I got loud too, because what the hell. The girl three seats down from me was getting a deep tissue breast massage from a customer as she kissed another girl. On the scale of obnoxious lapdance behaviors, the outrageous (and probably painful) way i was slamming into his lap and slapping his inner thighs seemed like less of a risk to other girls’ money than the rampant gropage and touching happening around the room. I spanked myself and told him how great he was, then I squeezed his bicep.
“Oh my god, your bicep is huge!” I grabbed the other one. “Oh my god, the other one’s even bigger!” I’m not above stealing lines from nineties teen movies.
“I’m the hottest guy you’ve had all night, huh?”
Autumn was giving a dance next to me and kept looking over and giggling. It made me moan louder. I winked at her. When my back was turned to him, I let myself laugh.
“Oh sugar, are you. I wish I could just dance for you all night.”
“You can!” he said eagerly. “Or at least until my money runs out.”
What a straight-forward offer. He really won me over with that one, and his ten dollar tips for each song. 8 songs later, he was out. He’d dropped a 20$ on the couch during the first song, and I’d watched it slowly slide toward the floor, thinking if he didn’t notice its progress during the dance then ok: compensation for all the moaning. By the 5th song I was feeling guilty about this–20 isn’t enough for another dance, so it’s not like he could spend it on a different girl. Plus, I try not to be too greedy, even though it’s hard on nights like that. I picked it up.
“You dropped this,” I said.
“Why’d you do that?” Regan asked later. “It’s all fair game!”
Bad habit, I thought.
So more on our demented hustle later. Regan’s out of town this week and I couldn’t face working without her tonight. I counted back over the past seven months and I have actually never worked a shift without her in my entire time at Weird Club. Isn’t that shocking? I’m practically in mourning.
1-My last conscious action before passing out after a blurty Saturday night off was deleting my impulsive drunk facebook status: “Live Regan!” The sentiment holds, however, even if it’s not on facebook any longer. she was giving me advice so good I could practically hear her shaking her head via text.
I’ve lost that loving feeling. The first thing I woke up to at eight am was the news that the owner of my club has decided to allow two way contact in lapdances. Because that’s a reasonable response to the fact that dances aren’t selling as well since the prices got upped. Rather than dropping them back down.
More on this later, from a computer. In the meantime, SPEAKING of getting finger banged:
Almost immediately after pressing update on that last post things went to hell. A regular of mine was really rude to my friend who was already having a bad night–and he was the difference between the good night I had and the shitty one I would have had, so it felt good to give her some of it as a tip later. Consider it his asshole fee.
Courtney Love’s doppelgänger was working. It’s a really harsh toke to have to share a shift with her, she’ll finger anything that holds still long enough. No one warned me about her on my very first shift, back in November, and I sat at her rack with a customer. WHOA.
Immediately girl was rummaging around over my gstring, about to get all up in there. I freaked out, having seen where her hands just were (someone else’s mouth). I shoved myself back from the rack, trying to be cute about it so my customer didn’t think I’m a big prude.
“I’m straight!” I yelped. “totally straight! So straight!”
“that’s ok!” she laughed. “So am I!”
“No, really though!”
She moved on, and I made a note to never sit at her rack again.
Despite that precaution, sometimes I just can’t blank her out. Usually it’s enough that she’s masturbating furiously onstage and touching things, but some nights there’s a girl, or a few girls, in the audience who came to my club specifically for attention. You can usually pick them out immediately because they’re dressed in forever21’s finest, weird studs and sequined seethru mini dresses, and they’re chair dancing, twitching their shoulders and looking longingly up onstage. I ignore those girls, that’s not my clientele, I’m saving myself for Jesus or whatever, but Courtney will haul their asses up onstage, disrobe them, and set to with gusto. I think the term jackhammer almost applies.
Friday night she was seriously busy, at one point she had four customers up onstage, giggling girls doing something that literally you could not pay me to do. At least, not in that context. Nevermind herpes or chlamydia, let’s talk about BV and yeast infections, about dirt tracked onstage from the girls bathroom which we share with these seriously dimwitted girl customers and all it’s mysterious puddles, and butt pimples, and staph, and now the multiple vaginas Courtney is touching? Are you kidding me? For pocket change?
I was trying to hitch my smile up over my incredible disapproval when Jenny came up to me, seriously bummed out.
“I just had to tell him, no, I don’t want to finger your girlfriend.” her voice was so small and sad, just picture it. It was hilarious and awful. What happened to stripping, that this is something we have to say on the regular?
“back up,” I instructed her. “what?”
“this guy just wants me to finger his girlfriend and that’s not what I do! But try and tell any of them that while this is happening!”
“send them to Courtney,” I said callously. “she has more room up there.”
We looked gloomily around. Despite having hit my quota (thanks to my jerky regular’s generous tip) it was still depressing. A room crowded with people, all wanting services that mostly aren’t on offer for a price that’s not even market rate. Sometimes Friday is amateur night.
I approached a bar regular, hoping I could get one last dance from him. He waved a pile of two dollar bills at me angrily.
“I hate this!” he said. Honestly, after doing the math and seeing how much less I’m making from my stage sets than normal, I was with him, but he kept going.
“I like having a choice. A choice is important. I choose whether to give you a dollar, or two, or four. I choose! Jimmy took that away from me!”
Jesus Christ, son. This isn’t Roe v Wade. It’s a fucking dollar. I can’t even have sympathy with this attitude. Like, I’m frustrated too, but this is my livelihood and you want me to rub your back over you losing the option to tip me a single dollar bill?
The price of sitting at a strippers stage has been one dollar for thirty years.
1-with PEOPLE LIKE YOU
One of those nights where I’m so in love with my job. I like leaving the dressing room and my eyes adjusting and seeing Regan floating around upside down in midair, looking like a really hot mutant. The most perfect thing I’ve seen in a while was her dancing to Ironman a little bit ago. Sometimes I make her flex her biceps just so I can giggle.
It’s basically all Beastie Boys all the time tonight. Too soon?
For a while when I first started dancing the meanest thing I ever heard was “You look Jewish.” Worse, “You look like Barbra Streisand.” The “You look Jewish” is actually negligible, but once I heard “Barbra Streisand” I knew what they were really saying was “You have a big nose.” Cause it’s true, I do.
Then a lesbian customer at the Russian club told me (in response to, “Hey, how’s it going?”) that she didn’t like me, or my music, or the way I danced, or what I was wearing, which had the triple result of A) knocking weird Barbra Streisand comparisons out of the running for meanest comments, B) prejudicing me for years against female customers, something that only working at my current club has shaken, and most immediately, C) getting her ass kicked out because this was 2005 and I was a bitchy minor with an overly indulgent Russian boss.
Then I dyed my hair black and the constant commentary was on how exotic I looked. “Are you Persian?” men would ask me.
This culminated–after I’d grown out the black, by the way–in my penultimate strip club compliment (just under, “you’re like one of those old fashioned whores, a hooker with a heart of gold! that’s what you are!” which wins for playing to all my favourite tropes and also because it was offered in the spirit of Matthew Salinger, age one, urging a luncheon companion to accept a cool lima bean. ie, sweetly.)
“You have the dusky beauty of a Turkish harem girl.”
People. If I was any less dusky I’d be clear. I will now tell you something that I usually either charge for or throw in as a freebie with a lapdance, and that is that–long crooked Barbra Streisand/Jewish nose to the contrary, and despite what I huskily tell customers in the Russian that I remember–my ethnic origins are almost entirely second generation Irish. My family was fresh off the boat in the forties. Until I moved west, we still had giant family reunions involving an older relation’s accordion and music that they probably play on that Thistle and Shamrock program. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s because you don’t listen to enough NPR and/or your city’s NPR is better funded than mine.)
My nose is the result of genetics, exacerbated by a light that fell off the ceiling (at a strip club, while I was onstage) and broke it. It causes me at least four sinus infections a year, including the one I’m suffering from now, and has the dubious side bonus of serving as a blank screen for customers to project weird orientalist fetishes on to. Which I then try to divert/indulge by reciting Russian poetry.
I had a really tall, cute customer the other day tell me he picked me because I was a Jew too. He said it with such certainty. I guess technically he’s not wrong; my mom converted in the seventies from being some kind of Christian. We lit the candles on Friday and I can still mumble Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu… I love Channukah! But I don’t think that’s what he meant.
I didn’t disabuse him, either. Instead we talked about how I skipped Passover to work and what he does for work.
I was going to write the bulk of this anyway but then this girl in my American Jews class going off the other day.
If I haven’t already made this clear, I like quiet or at the very least for ignorant assholes to shut up and not involve me in their process or lives so I can continue to pretend that I’m living the Spain scenes in Morvern Callar to the best of my ability. I would say that at least 80% of my brain at any given moment is in a fantasyland where Nabokov is still alive and everyone has the moral compass of Henry James. I realise these are two dead white men, but you love who you love. I mean, right?
So this girl–who, I’ll be candid, I already feel mildly tormented by her because of her inability to stop treating class like it’s WS 101 and sharing her personal growth and pains with the class–she’s talking and My Darling Instructor is late to class or something, and she’s continuing a conversation, about being racist. I guess they call this the Jew class, which is like, maybe whatever? I have my shtetl Jew class, my jewish history class, my Israel/Palestine class, sometimes syllables are hard. I get it. But just to make sure she’s crossed the line from not-very-questionable-Ironic-Racism into Shut-the-fuck-up-asshole, she continues,
“I was watching this woman park in front of my work, and she kept turning the wheel, pulling forward, back, forward, back, and I was like–” face of eye-rolling comic disgust, “–and then she opened the door and not to be a big racist,but.”
Don’t you want to be like A) TOO LATE and B) BUT WHAT? I mean really.
I am a coward and did not say either of those things, except in my head.
PS, I’m back. I missed you.
1- Some of her consciousness growth is marginally on topic, but there was this one time where she was talking about a SUPER bulletin board display that made her feel personally attacked that made my eyes roll so hard it hurt. I know, I didn’t see the display in question, but there’s a difference between anti-semitism and anti-Zionism that, uh, it just seems like some people get confused by. I mean obviously anti-semitism and anti-zionism can come hand in hand, and who am I to be questioning who is hurt by what? I’m an asshole.