Mr Shane

Sometimes you’re hovering, irresolute and there aren’t any money pings hitting your radar and then out of the corner of your eye you see someone with a wallet full of twenties and hundreds buying a drink. Cha-ching.

I walked up to the guy with the money, a short Asian guy in glasses and a hat. His friend, a tall blonde man of the bearded Comrade Lenin type-a type my city is so full of it’s likely I’ll never date again, or at least no dating til Brooklyn-was overtly uninterested in me but the little guy happened to to be eye level with my new 34DDs. I knew I got these for a reason.

“What’s that!” he asked about the gulag chest tattoo.

“It’s your face.” I shoved his face into it and he yelled. A yell of delight, a little muffled by my boobs.

I let him go and he circled around me.

“What’s that say?”

“It’s a stanza from a Russian poem.”

“You like Russian poetry? You like Akhmatova?”

“Akhmatova?”

“Is that how you say it? yes. And you say ‘Sve ta ya eva?'”

“Tsvetaeva?”

“Yes! And now say ‘poetry’!”

“Poesia?”

YES! it sounds like this!” He pointed emphatically at my lap.

I started cracking up. “Ah, yeah, I guess it does sound a little like that. Wanna dance?”

“Yes! Mr Shane!” Bored beardy blond man came over and looked at me, still devoid of interest. “I’m going to dance with her!”

“With her? You don’t want her.”

Oh my God, Mr Shane you are so lucky that I am on my best behavior after assaulting a customer or you’d be next.

“She knows Russian poetry! Poesia! Tsva-say it again!”

“Tsvetaeva.”

“Yes!”

I smiled winningly at Mr Shane. “We have so much in common. Russian poetry in the club! We’re going to dance now.”

Mr Shane was unimpressed but maybe just unimpressed with life in general. He shrugged and let me haul his tiny friend away.

The dance started and

“Pinch my nipples!”

I obliged.

“Hard! Harder! HARDER!”

I did my best, giggling harder every time he yelled.

“Okay, now you make me hard.” He let go of his death grip on the armrest and I grabbed his hand before he could get saucy.

“Ah… Yes. I’m trying.”

“I know why you’re holding my hand! It’s so I don’t touch you. I won’t!”

“That’s really great.”

He flailed the whole while, yelling. At the end of a song he asked if we could get all of the girls in there, to pinch his nipples while he smoked.
“Smoking’s not allowed indoors.”

Dealbreaker.

“Let’s go back to Mr Shane and get more money for a dance!”

 

 

 

“that girl”

It’s an okay crowd for a Tuesday; everyone’s telling me the January lull is over, and anyway I’m more broke than I have been in years, so I’m back at work.

Leaving the lap dance room I see Autumn with two guys. She seems to be concentrating on the more attractive, less drunk one, so when his friend flails nearer to me I take my chance.

“A lapdance sound great! But I have to wait for my friend.

“I think he looks busy with Autumn,” I answer, pondering my chances.

“He should be busy!” he slurs.

We can be busy,” I offer. “Busy doing some depraved things in back.”

Autumn’s guy perks up at this and walks away from her, toward us. Dammit. Autumn hovers, indecisive. I sigh. But the friend helps me out.

“He should get a lapdance! I’ll get him a lapdance!”

“I do,” Autumn’s guy agrees. “I need a lapdance.”

This is too easy. “No, what you need is a two girl show.” I wave Autumn back and run my fingers through his hair, . “Right? What you need is two girls, all. Over. You.

Autumn catches on and starts rubbing his shoulders. “Yeah, right?”

Friend comes back. “Come on bro! Do it! Two girls! Whooo! We’re from Seattle,” he confides.

“Seattle, huh,” I itsy-bitsy spider walk my fingers down his chest to linger at his navel, then belt buckle. “Then you need a real P_____ style lapdance because we’ve heard about the rules in Seattle and that sounds like such a drag.”

“We’re wild here,” Autumn agrees. “You need a wild lapdance.”

“With us.”

“I love redheads,” the guy sighs. I nod encouragingly.[1]

“But,” he says, and I can already tell I’m about to be annoyed because “but” is like the most annoying word out of a stripclub customers mouth ever, always a precursor to something even more annoying, I realise this is a contradiction but you’ll see what I mean:

He continues. “I own my own restaurant. I don’t have to pay for a lapdance. I get free lapdances all the time. I’ve dated strippers before you know. I know how you are. I can have free ones whenever I want.

(emphasis totally mine because see how it just got more annoying? I don’t want you to miss that fatuous and fallacious statement.)

I run my fingers back up his chest, stop at his nipple. Fiddle with it through the fabric.

“But you’re in a strip club right now,” I say.

“Yeah but I don’t have to p–“.

“You came here to our work place, and, as you say, you’ve dated strippers so you know how it works–” I pinch his nipple.

“Ow,” he says. I smile brightly.

“You’re in a strip club now, where we are working, and lapdances are what we sell.” I pinch again. “It’s a little like if we came to your restaurant and sat down and then refused to buy anything because, ‘Hey! We don’t actually want food’.” I pinch his nipple again, unable to contain my irritation.

“You’re being that girl,” he says, trying to smile.

“Yes, I am.” I let go and pat his chest. “Because I don’t like you.”

I hear Autumn give a scandalized gasp of laughter as I walk away.

I texted her to ask if she remembered any other parts of the conversation.

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1- Kat used to say that nodding subtly sends a subliminal signal that they should agree with you. Strip and Get Rich echoed this. Sometimes it works and sometimes it makes the guys laugh but l can work with laughter.

Flashback Friday: A____ 2007

I quit S____’s, I don’t remember why. I went to A____.

“You’re going to hate it,” the manager of S’s assured me.

Starting at a new club is like starting a new romance: you’re so happy it’s not the old one it’s hard to see the new flaws.

I liked the dressing room: after being squeezed–with five other girls!– into the tiny closet that was the S’s dressing room, A’s was exciting. It was the only room upstairs and it had a door to the roof where, from a rickety reclining lawn chair, you could watch the freeway or the creek. The whole club, more rickety and ramshackle than the lawnchair, perched on the bank of that creek, out of which the odd shopping cart poked. Picturesque! with the side benefit that if you needed to go outside and yell, let off some steam[1], no one could hear you over the noise of the water and cars.

No one expected us to leave the dressing room and hustle drinks when we weren’t onstage. As a newly sober person, one freshly woken to the fact that drunk people are infinitely more annoying than sober ones, this was a big deal. More time to read: I could run up to the dressing room after every stage set, pull out my book, and read for a blissful and uninterrupted twenty minutes.

And it gave me more time to devote to the other new thing in my life, an actual romance. I have a commitment allergy, and I’ve had it my whole life. I disappear on people, I can’t help it. Even friends. It feels like being being suffocated when people want things from me and I just can’t come through, so I stop answering calls.

This was one thing I was willing to commit to, however. My high school geometry teacher once called me monomaniacal, and she’s not wrong. I dedicated myself to becoming the perfect girlfriend with all the fervour I usually threw into hiding from my one night stands, and the more signs there were that this couldn’t possibly end well for me, the more I determined to remake myself into someone for whom it would. Part of this involved being available at times I would normally be at work: weekend nights.[2]

There was an extra shift at A: 7-11am. All the drunk guys who’d been out partying so hard they hadn’t yet slept would come in, cringing at the music and begging me not to talk so loud. You wouldn’t have expected it (I didn’t, anyway) but they tipped very well.

Thus, Saturday morning, 9 am.

I sat in the corner by the staircase because the angle of the stairs meant there was only room for one chair, squashed between the mirror and the bannister. Someone would actually have to be deliberately snooping to get anywhere near my stuff, and after having both my iPod and computer charger swiped I tried to make any more thefts as difficult and obvious as possible. This tactic was only marginally successful (I had a g-string and a set of bikini bottoms stolen before I eventually hated the place so much that I stormed out) and it didn’t protect me at all from the real menace:

Orla.

Orla and I worked together at least two shifts a week. On afternoons or nights she had a customer who would buy her drinks and he took the brunt of her conversation, but on mornings–when no one else wanted to be on rotation with her because the girl actually danced to songs like “If you like pina coladas”–we were in the dressing room alone together and Orla was just one of those people who cannot bear silence. Even if the other person is reading or watching movies on their laptop, as I usually was. And once she started talking, I felt compelled to bear witness. She was so fragile and weird! She had braces and the biggest natural boobs I’ve ever seen, and anxious blue eyes that made me feel guilty when I ignored her.

Sometimes I would go downstairs just to escape her, but the dressing room was the only room in the bar with central heat; as the winter wore on and the shiny newness wore off I found myself shivering more and realised that the rest of the club was heated by the solitary (though giant) woodstove. It didn’t heat up until around 6 or 7 in the evening, when the customer population hit a critical mass and started warming the place up through body heat. Before that you just had to shiver and suffer.[3] Customers, wrapped in heavy winter coats, would irritably demand why I was wearing a hoodie and when it was going to come off. I’d flash them halfheartedly, try to explain how hard it is to get naked when every instinct you have is screaming for you to put more clothes on. They didn’t buy it.

“Dance harder,” the real assholes would say. This was why I liked the hungover customers best. In their hungover misery they were sympathetic to my frozen misery.

Plus once you were on the floor you were fair game for any time wasting customer to come up and talk your ear off and the management had very strict rules about what constituted acceptable conversational topics. Telling them to go away, I’m reading, was not within these parameters. I had to be very desperate to resort to that, most of the time it was just easier to listen to Orla talk.

Her two main topics were her boyfriend: a cheating asshole

and her roommate: our coworker, Flower Fairy[4]

“She’s cut her shifts down,” Orla was complaining. “She won’t do mids anymore because that’s when her team goes on raids. She’s barely even working right now!”

“Raids?”

Orla perked up at this sign of interest. “I guess it’s a World of Warcrafty thing. They all get together and raid? But they raid at five so she can’t be at work or they’ll get mad.”

“Flower Fairy plays World of Warcraft?”

“Oh yeah. Like all the time. When she doesn’t work she’s just online, like until four or five in the morning.”

“And… She can’t work mids because they raid?”

“Yeah.” This was more interest than I’d shown in weeks, Orla looked really happy. “She’s a sexy elf lady I guess and the rest of her team or clan or whatever is like a troll and a warlock and a thief? But if I make noise when she’s playing she yells at me! And she just got these new headphones so now she doesn’t have to listen to me.”

I’m jealous. “So who do they raid?” I asked, fascinated. I made a mental note to sit Flower Fairy down and have her tell me all about it.

“Other teams. Those are real people mostly, other nerds. It’s huge, they all dedicate their lives to it.”

“Ladies!” The bartender wasn’t happy. “I need music and someone onstage now, please, the song has been over for two minutes.”

“Ugh,” I said. We made faces at each other. “Do you want to do first stage again? I just want to sit and read.”

“Sure,” she agreed, one reason I liked being on rotation with Orla. She let me slack as much as I wanted.

_________________________________________________

1-I used to decompress by getting off work and mumble/yelling obscenities but A is actually the place where this stopped working. It beat me down so hard that just breathing became difficult. I developed a new and terrible habit of faux-whistling when I left work, puckering up and exhaling hugely, like my tension was some weight anterior to myself that I could just diffuse if I blew hard enough.

2- Because if I wasn’t around on those nights, who knows what could happen or who my date would have hooked up with. This is not my paranoid mind, you understand, this is what I was told as an incentive to get me to stop working nights. It worked.

3- And if you sat too close to the stove the soles of your shoes melted.

4- Everyone gets a pseudonym here, although Flower Fairy is sort of close to her actual stage name.

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.

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.”

Russian red, gingham style: a tale of two lap dances

Thursday night was all geek love, IT guys and gamer nerds who were stoked for a hot nerd stripper and basically darling and frequently hilarious. Last night was the exact opposite.

1.
“Can I ask where you’re from? I can tell you’re not from around here.”
“Boston.”
He looks disappointed. “But your accent… It’s Ukrainian maybe?”
Now, I’ve been having a conversation with this guy for a reasonable amount of time, he’s heard a good sample of my speech patterns. I talk fast and slur my words a lot but don’t have a thick Boston accent, and I’ve been tainted by the west coast to the point where it’s almost impossible for me to make a direct statement, or even say “I think”. Instead it always comes out “I feel like–“, a habit I’m trying very hard to break. But my accent is very American English.
“Ahh, my family is from the Ukraine, yes.”
“I can tell, I can totally tell.”
“…да.”
He looks thrilled. “So, are you ready for a lap dance?”
He gets three, and at the end calls me by another dancer’s name. We’re not easily confused: She’s tiny, nearly a foot shorter than me, South American, and it’s a Spanish name, but the name does sound a lot like “Yentl” and I can only imagine it’s some fucking shtetl fetish coming out.
“It’s Red,” I correct him gently.
He looks startled. “But Y—– is such a Russian name.”
I almost die. Because it’s not, at all, like a Russian name, because he’s so attached to this narrative in his head that it’s like I wasn’t even there. But if you ask him about last night he’d probably tell you all about the hot Ukrainian stripper and her accent. Two totally different lap dances were just had.
“It’s Red.” He looks hurt and baffled so I make it easier on him. “Like Russian Red.”
His face clears. Later he gets more dances.

2.
“You! You’re so hot!”
“So are you, are you ready for a lap dance?”
“Whoa whoa whoa! No no no!”
Okay. “I like your shirt. It’s very gingham, very Dorothy Gale.”
“Gangnam?!”
“Aha, no. Gingham. It’s what this pattern is called.”
“I thought it was called plaid.”
I sighed. Deeply. I was already annoyed by him, I don’t know why I kept going. Because I’m a Capricorn and I love money.
“So what’s your name?”
“Red.”
“Pfaw, no it’s not! That is not what your parents called you. I’ll tell you my real name. —– [2] What’s your real name?”
Seriously, are you seriously going there. It’s been a while since I heard this and I was hoping it got old and was now universally recognized as a signal for time wasting bad taste–which it really is. Not that I followed it.
“I’ll tell you during the lap dance.”
“Hold your horses tiger! I’ll get a dance, I’ll get a dance. Not right now.”
Yeah ok whatever. I waited 10 minutes and enlisted my young redhead doppelgänger in the cause. She’s pale like me, more babyfaced but we both have round enough faces and pointy chins, so when we tell people (guys) we’re sisters they don’t question it, they just look thrilled. She got his friend into the back and I followed with Gingham.

Gingham kept being charming.
“So I just got back from three weeks in Europe and you have a lot to live up to.”
I rolled my eyes. Because you go to an strip club in the states to have the same experience offered by a prostitute, European or otherwise. Idiot.
He kept talking and trying to grab my breasts. “In Prague the girls are so hot. Are those real? It takes a lot to get me hard.” He reached out for my chest. I ducked away again and grabbed his hands. “Are they real?”
“Why don’t you tell me, doctor.” I inadvertently channeled Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express, fitting because he was about as winsome as Clive Brook.
The song ended and I moved away from him with relief.
“That wasn’t the best lap dance ever. You said it would be.” He remained seated, sulky look on his face like if he complained enough I’d say, “oh, ok. That one’s on me then.”
“I did not say that, and I wouldn’t bother to do my best for you, you’re way too arrogant and annoying. Maybe you need to go back to Prague. Forty dollars.”
He still didn’t move, although now his face looked shocked.
“I don’t have forty, I only have a fifty.”
“That’s fine, I have change! And how much change do you want back and how much do you want to tip?” Now that I didn’t have to put up with him anymore, needling him was fun. He looked way more distraught than the situation called for.
“I will not be tipping. You didn’t earn it. Ten dollars.”
“Oh no,” I made a sympathetic face. “I only have five!”
“Then I’ll pay you in twos!”
“Oh no. I have enough twos. Let’s go to the bar and get you some change, big boy.”
He glowered. “I will not be forgetting you.”
What a threat! I rolled my eyes again. These guys were such badly behaved babies. Plus, after last week I got myself bear spray.
He got change from the bar and thrust two twenties at me with his face averted. It was like I’d destroyed his innocence.
“Thank you!” I caroled, and walked away.

A short while later a bouncer found me.
“I heard you were mean to a customer in a lap dance.”
“Oh my god!”
I told him what happened. He’s not one for overt laughing, but his face cracked.
“After last week I thought maybe you’re going on a rampage, hitting people, being mean to them.”
“I did not hit this guy! Don’t think I didn’t want to!”

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1- When I was younger I would pretend to have a French accent when I was drunk, and run around insisting I was an exchange student from Paris named Ludovine, but it’s been a while. There is absolutely nothing about my accent to suggest Eastern Europe or Ukraine. I could do it if I thought about it, but that’s rarely a noticeable asset so I don’t usually bother. If someone seems to have a Russian Mail Order Bride type fetish I can just start dropping pigeon-Russian into my speech, whispering пожалуйста in their ears, whatever.

2- I don’t know why I’m leaving his name out, he doesn’t deserve the protection of anonymity.