Swagger

 

 

 

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I’m trying to change it up so I don’t get burned out; I’m only working three shifts a week at my main club and then trying to work at least one shift at every club in my city[1]. That’s at least fifty. I’m doing it for Art.

Today I’m at a club I worked at five years ago; hustling’s not allowed, which is fine cause stage money is great and people are asking for dances. Downtime I’m working on homework and my stripper comic.
This conversation actually happened:
Guy: I like your swagger.
Me: yeah? [2]
Guy: Yeah, you’re…
Long pause.
Me, helpfully: I think the word you’re looking for is ‘perfect’.
Guy: yeah! Yeah that’s the one.

Longer review of today’s club to come, as well as long story about what a soul sucking pit it is, which is why I left. It’s even turned me vegetarian again.

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1- This is maybe impossible, as there are a few where the circumstances in which I left are so… acrimonious (me to club owner, “I think you’re morally bankrupt” for example) that it’s going to be SUPER EXCITING trying to get back on schedule.  But today’s club was definitely one I had doubts about and here I am, so never underestimate the power of implants and a smile.  I like a challenge.

2- Swagger and sagging pants happen to be two of the top things I look for in a guy, aka ‘sagnswag’, so I’m into this as a compliment.

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Love and money take 2

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My one year anniversary at my club tonight: it was a revelation to me back then cause I didn’t know you could still make that kind of money in my city. Eleven dances and six hundred dollars later I took my roommate out for pedicures to celebrate. Tonight was even better than that shift–i also climbed to the top of the pole and did some of my old tricks for the first time since boob job!–so we’re celebrating with treats and a shit ton of cheese:

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It really is euphoria inducing. But I’m a cheese hound.

Here’s to at least one more year of making money doing what I love before going off to grad school to do something else–that I love, but which is guaranteed to be way less lucrative. 16 months to pay off Great Lakes! The countdown is on.

Hot guys. Hypothetically.

It’s really sad when you meet a hot guy at the club but it turns out he’s friends with a guy you dated and don’t like–even if you can’t remember why any more and it might just be that you had a mutual friend who broke into your apartment while he stood by and did nothing, which, actually, still seems like a valid reason to dislike someone. Although this new guy is hot. But no.

HYPOTHETICALLY, it’s sad.

In actuality, I am sitting here, after work, trying to finally finish presentation on anabolic steroids and DHEA so I can have guilt-free fun tomorrow night and not mourning hot guys I met tonight at work. At all. I’m not. Or their hypothetical hot friends whom I dated seven years ago and stopped calling to make out with a girl, big mistake. Hypothetically. Which is probably a valid reason to dislike me so there you go, tension explained.

This presentation is way worse than all of the above situations combined. Three more weeks.

Shit talking: Baby says, “Everybody poops!”

Friday night and the bathroom stunk. I went in to wash my hands and immediately gagged; a female customer looked at me guiltily and sidled by me, without, I noted, washing her hands. Choked by fecal miasma I left &  stormed into the dressing room.

“Don’t poop in the bathroom!  Jesus Christ! Why is that so hard? Just don’t poop at someone else’s workplace!”

Baby started laughing hysterically. “What are you talking about?”

“Bitches taking horrible giant dumps in the bathroom!  Where we have to go to!  Customers! Wait!  Just wait and go at home! You know what?  I was in a relationship for four years and I bet I only pooped while she was in the house five times. And one of those times I had food poisoning. We were just not on those kinds of terms and that was fine.”

Other girls started laughing too.

“That’s insane,” Baby said.

“I don’t even care.  Probably. But! There’s such a thing as Too Much Intimacy.”

Baby was dying by this point.  Bad smells make me crazy, I can’t be rational about them.  I used to work in a tiny dive bar with a girl I unaffectionately nicknamed Skeletor who looked like a walking corpse.  Skeletor kept herself going with copious amounts of coffee and invariably had a bowel movement two or three times a shift.  It was like clockwork. I know about this because the toilet was in the dressing room and the bar was so small that everyone knew.  It was awful.  It made me want to die.  It wasn’t even worth being the hot, non-stinky one to put up with that.

“Everybody poops, Red!” Baby hooted.  “Everybody poops!  It’s a book!  didn’t your parents make you read that when you were little? Everybody poops, everybody poops.”  Baby was maybe a little drunk.  She exited the dressing room caroling, “Ev-ery bo-dy poops.”

Melissa Gira Grant writes about labour struggles in the club

Organized Labor’s Newest Heroes: Strippers

 

The words “labor dispute” make a lot of people imagine big men on a picket line. This, despite the fact that the high-profile workers’ struggles of the past year happened in jobs dominated by women stuck with low wages and little respect: from domestic workers securing benefits in New York state, to Chicago’s teachers’ strikes, to this week’s Black Friday actions organized across the country against Wal-Mart. There’s another group of women we should add to this list, women who have been continually fighting for their rights at work, who are met with disbelief and retaliation when they stand up, and smirking headlines and punny scorn even when they win.

Last week, strippers employed by the Spearmint Rhino chain won an unprecedented $13 million settlementin Federal court, the result of a class action suit to restore back wages and contest their status as independent contractors of the clubs.

By managing dancers like employees but putting them on the books as independent contractors, club owners get out of paying dancers the benefits they’re legally entitled to, which could include worker’s compensation, unemployment, and health insurance if they qualify. Owners and management alike tell dancers they’re independent, but they still exercise control over dancers on the job, routinely using the kinds of restrictive rules on breaks and conduct you’ve come to expect of Wal-Mart, not the mythically “anything goes” world of sex work.

As its currently organized, stripping is service work—and not unlike most service work in the United States, it’s a field dominated by women who have to fight to be treated fairly. Even in a strip club where she was getting a pay check, Mariko Passion, a former dancer and current escort and artist, said, “I was still being charged $80 every day to work there, not including my tip-out,” additional fees to be paid to DJ’s and other club service staff. Dancers’ tips can vary widely, depending on factors as unpredictable as customer whims and volume, to banal concerns like rain and football. On a shift where you pull in eight $20 dances (that’s $160 before tip-out, for your back of the cocktail napkin math), an $80 “stage fee” per shift means you just gave half your earnings to your bosses. You might feel differently if you get twenty dances or a big tipper, but the stakes are the same every shift, and they’re rigged to maximize club profits. “But restaurants can try to do exactly the same thing with your tips,” says Passion, who brought her own individual suit over illegal tip sharing and won against three California clubs. “It’s not just a strip club thing. It’s a capitalist thing.”

music matters

The local basketball team was in the club last night, the only people with money.  So annoying, tell me again about how Pantera is rich people music?[1]  I asked for Azealia Banks, it seemed like a valid time to request good music.

He asked why he should play Azealia Banks for me.

“Aside from the fact that I pay you 10% of what I make?” Cranky, I had to go there.
“You have to do that anyway.”

Later,

“Ok can you play MIA?”

“Like Paper Planes?”

“No.  Paper Planes should never be played again, let alone in a strip club.” I’ve lost count of how many strippers I’ve seen dance to that, each thinking it’s new and clever to clasp their hands together, pointing at the audience and pretending to fire at the part, you know the part.  Worse, I’ve seen girls get into fights over “whose song” it is and who did the gun/hand/shoot the audience thing first.  Tired. I’m insulted he even asked. If I’m going to dance to a song about wanting your money I’ll request Gangsta Boo.

Maybe he hasn’t been djing as long as I’ve been dancing or maybe he has a higher tolerance for cheesy stripper dramatics than I do.  He looks blank.

“Xxxo will be fine.”

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1- The well-worn strip club line is that hip hop and rap is “poor people” music, ie, brown people don’t have money, so we shouldn’t encourage their presence in the club by playing music that… oh my god I can’t even finish that sentence. It’s too gross and stupid on so many levels.  We’re far enough from the 80s that men with money no longer want to hear Girls, Girls, Girls or whatever, but apparently no one’s found a passable replacement.

This seems to be fading at my club, or maybe it’s the fact that I tip an extra ten dollars to sometimes hear a song that makes me smile. One night I requested Santigold but the dj–the weeknight dj–was too busy staring at my boobs to register.  I thought he was kidding, but I repeated myself just in case.

“Santigold, got it?  Or if that’s too crazy I’ll settle for Paranoid.  Either should be good with these kids.”

He waved me away, and I found myself onstage dancing to fucking Pantera.  Everyone at the rack left and I fumed my way through the song, hearing “Keepers” start up just as I got off stage. He probably thought he’d come up with it himself.  I watched and saw exactly what I expected, young hipsters in oversized glasses returned to the stage as my friend Baby unwittingly benefited from the djs lackwittedness.

“You mean you didn’t ask for Pantera?” he asked, genuinely bewildered.  I flipped out.

“I’m going to give you a good solid minute to look at my tits, you’re going to get all that out, and then you are going to pay attention when I talk, because it is polite, and because I pay you ten percent of what I make and it is insulting to do otherwise. Those kids?  Those 20-somethings?  We do not want to hear Pantera.  We do not like Papa Roach.  It is a new dawn, it’s a new day,” and I am not feeling good, I silently added, “and we want fucking good music.”  I thought about it.  “Here’s five dollars, never play Pantera while I’m onstage again.”

Palms greased, he looked appropriately contrite.

My mom

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Once she came into the downtown dive bar I worked at when I was 21 with a bunch of sushi for me and the other girls[1]. I had to awkwardly explain to my customer, “uh, that’s my mom.”
“You have a mom?” He was truly scandalized.
No, all strippers are hatched under the stage, fully fledged in bikinis. “So does your girlfriend, son!”
“Yeah, but… I gotta go.”

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1- an incident that lingers in the memory of those who were there:

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