I want to write about this because my experience of strip clubs is one not many people know about. I am not a stereotypical stripper (but then I’ve not met many who are) but I have had conversations with many a dancer who would corroborate and empathise with a lot of the contents of this blog.
I am queer, I don’t find flirting with men comes easy. ‘Of course most strippers don’t find most customers attractive anyway, but I feel there is still a difference for me. I’m also older than a lot of strippers. I am also not the type a lot of strippers are, and didn’t begin doing it for the same reasons as most do, so my being a stripper is probably slightly different.
I also want to write about it because, I’m in my late thirties. I still seem to look the part for business and there are strippers much older than me and still rocking it. But, I am old in the head. And It’s getting mentally tiring now.
By type I mean, I am not a strong hustler. I sometimes don’t know what to say to customers at all. Sometimes, I’m great at it. Usually with older, intellectually focused men who like to talk. I am not as so money hungry that I will dance for just anyone or put myself out pretending to be enjoying a conversation. I’ll walk off. I’ll leave them alone. I won’t try to the point it starts to piss me off. Sometimes I decline a dance JUST to annoy men who feel I am coin-operated.
I don’t have the confidence in my hustle with some customers and it will affect me if I spend ages and still get snubbed.
Most dancers love working with a dyke. They find it amusing and flirt with you blatantly, trying to wind you up and you reciprocate even though they’re not your type, it becomes a thing to say ‘Jessica do fuck off I’m dripping’.
I’ve watched the inherent and contagious bisexuality between strippers. ‘Lesbian dances’ are meant to always just be simulation. They make people realise who they are.
Why would a picket fence educated girl like me strip?
Well let me tell you, I hate that question. It reminds me of the judgmental attitude so many humans have that, to do this job you have to be a certain type of person, and definitely not be another type. It’s silly, ignorant and annoying but I am going to answer it here because I am asked it so so often
I began stripping mainly because I wanted to see what it was like. Unusual reason of course. The sociologist in me was hungry. I did find out what It’s like.
It’s delivered me a few things;
- Several friendships I believe have a great chance of lasting the length of my life
- Laughter. SO much laughter.
- Long periods of time where life felt very easy (14 hours work at the weekend only. No early mornings).
- My partner
- A great social experience
- Awe at the sisterhood in some clubs.
- An attitude I’ll never lose.
- The ability to pole dance and all that comes with that, strength, a hobby, fitness, goals
- Love. Support. Something that was all about me.
It has also lost me friendships. Some people assume if you’re a dancer, you’re a certain type of person. Luckily, for many years now, I have employed ‘Don’tgiveafuckism’ as the theory that dominates my brain. I’m pretty awesome, if you want to fall out with me over stereotypes, crack on love. It’s also made me see the worst of men. It’s made me do things that were stupid, downright dangerous, and out of character. It’s had me in tears and played on my insecurities. It’s got me into trouble.
Being a stripper means a lot of men come onto you. A LOT. I’ve always had attention from men which as a very young woman made me uncomfortable, and as a self aware fully fledged gay one either drives me up the wall or makes me gip, depending on the situation.
I kind of play a game with some customers sometimes.
‘So, you have a boyfriend’?
‘Ah yeh, it must be difficult with this job. No-one wants to date someone who takes their clothes off for other men’.
‘My partner doesn’t mind’
‘You said you didn’t have a boyfriend’
(Yeh, I’m easily amused).
Sometimes I tell them outright I’m gay. It depends on how I size them up. Some men find it a turn on. Others won’t spend money on a stripper who’s gay, because they feel they want someone they might have a chance of going home with.
(I respect the latter guys more, their not spending on me shows their respect for who I am. I don’t think other strippers really understand this half the time, and I don’t blame them)
I adore women. I love the strength and fight we all have in us, the fire in our bellies, how we bust so many long-established myths and how we’re all so different with our eccentricities that make us smash our targets and be so much fun to be around. I like those who know themselves and do as they please and don’t think about what they’re told they should and shouldn’t do. This is the main reason I’ll never regret being in the strip club realm.
I adore strippers as a collective. I really do.
They’re a different breed. So many strippers I’ve got to know, from a scale of spending one shift with them to them being part of my circle, have certain things that I love in humans.
They’re savvy. They’re intelligent. They have no filter. They talk, they’re bubbly, they’re lovely, they’re caring and humble and so many of them, are fucking hilarious. They’re blatant, aggressive, arrogant, they don’t pander to men, they’re an absolute joy to be around.
They’re nuts, eccentric, witty and in your face. They talk in a sultry way about things other people won’t mention for risk of sounding vulgar. They’re beautiful, disgusting and just too much to explain.
They’re feminism wrapped in lace and pvc, devils in disguise, angelic faces hiding shrewd, perceptive , intellectual minds. They don’t employ social boundaries. They can talk politics, religion, love, the universe while standing naked in a scruffy room straightening their hair.
I fucking love them.
Working in the shittiest of shitholes one night, and the glamourus, plush likes of Spearmint Rhino or similar, the next. But the strippers are the same breed.
This world is different. It’s something someone with illogical preconceptions about it, could never understand. It’s a bizarre underground community who all understand one another.
I will be so so sad when I have to hang up my thong and I admit, I am not wanting to be referred to as the ‘grandma’ of the ‘girls’, I will go out while still winning.
Of course, there are bad times. There’s the odd stripper nobody likes or who doesn’t like anyone else. There’s emotion, too much booze, too many drugs*, bad nights where nobody makes money. Rumours about why Sophia did make money and what she did for it. Extras, entitled customers, rude ones, dark times, dark energy. But this is not how I’ll remember it, because these times are few and far between.
What made me fall in love with stripping?
When I first dipped my toe in it, I wanted to write a book. I still do, but being me, I’ve never got around to it. I wanted to see if I could do it.
I had no idea it would become such a huge part of me, but it did and this remains over a decade later. I will miss it forever when I finally quit. But I am not sure why this happened. I think It’s because of the eccentricity and culture of it, and the fact it brings out a side of me nothing else does. I am sensible and something of a crepehanger in my other life forms. I care too much, I worry, I want to be perfect. Stripping became an outlet for my silly side.
And as above, strippers themselves, I am fascinated with them.
I have always been a favourite with strip club bosses. I have at least three female strip club owners in my phone who all fall into the same category of women in their fifties with enough glamour to rival Honor Blackman and enough sass to wipe out anyone who gives them shit. I’ve been to their dinner parties, joked with their husbands and spent sunny days watching my partner work in their (often huge) homes and gardens.
Ending up in a sawdusty nightclub after work, with too much testosterone in it, no doors on the toilets wondering what happened to your life but enjoying the carefree-ness of it so much you don’t want to leave. Experiencing the collectivist aspect there with your colleages, now standing out a mile in their tracksuits and baggy jumpers amidst everyone else who’s dressed up for their nights out.
Sitting on a train station at 6 am. Reminiscing about good times with another dancer, eye make up smudged, extensions tangled, odd socks and high heels watching early commuters with their briefcases, oblivious to how the other half live.
Laughing, I can’t emphasise how much I have laughed sometimes. When a girl looks upset and is asked what’s wrong and says ‘I just can’t get over how pretty I am’. Girls sipping vodka out of a container clearly not designed for it, so management won’t find it and continuing to drink from their hairbrush while he talks to her about his day. Girls getting bored on stage and doing the hokey-cokey dance instead of pole dancing and watching to see if anyone notices. Girls with much common sense but who’ve never been educated asking about if you can get pregnant from anal sex. Lavvy doors always open ’cause let’s face it we’ve seen everything, and then an unsuspecting female customer walks in. Captain ‘save a hoe’ walking in and being surprised that nobody is grateful and everyone’s eyes roll when he says ‘You’re far better than this’. Being told you’re beautiful and riding on the wave when a customer is surprised at your reply ‘Er, yeh. I know’.
When a customer goes too far and is surprised when an angry 8 stone lycra clad broad has no qualms nor difficulties with manhandling him out of the room. Laughing at customers and who got too drunk the night before. Laughing at one another. Laughing at wardrobe malfunctions and people malfunctions and life malfunctions.
The caring side.
When girls get too drunk and the others, often near strangers, dress them and ensures they will be home safely at the end of the night. When someone collapses in a heap of giggles on the floor because someone points out that she’s squiffy and can’t walk in her 8 inch heels and the rest of the dancers hoik her up,do her shoes and laugh with her. When you go into work upset and realise very quickly that there’s no way you’ll reach the end of the night in a bad mood, these women have your back, they’ll pick you up, make you laugh, carry you, remind you all that’s good in life.
You can’t be miserable here. It isn’t allowed.
The lifelong friendships based on serious mutual understanding. The babysitting, money lending, exchanges of clothes, someone forgetting something and knowing it doesn’t matter, someone will have some. The lifts home, the love, the cuddles, the crying and the tiny stripper having a muscular one threaten to take a customer out if he dares ignore the formers requests to not do whatever he’s doing, one more time. The support, the rapports and the wiser older dances letting others know they’re not in the right relationship, they deserve better, they’re beautiful, they’re intelligent and they can excel in life. The driving across the country to work somewhere new and sleeping in your car until It’s daylight. This culture deserves more understanding because it has so much beauty, but paradoxically, if it did have, it wouldn’t work.
Meeting my partner
I met my other half when I worked in a place unlike any other in a small town I’d never heard of until someone recommended it to me as somewhere where the money was good.
She started on a winter night behind the bar. I learned of her gardening skills and employed her. I drove her home and discovered it was difficult getting her out of the car, because I wanted her to stay in it, She was butch as ken, spoke like a gruff middle aged man and smoked like a chimney. She was rough, and I wanted her.
Being only attracted to butch is probably a blessing as a stripper. Had I been attracted to femmes and constantly surrounded by some of the most stunning women I’d ever seen, I’d have probably had some sort of permanent wide-on condition by now.
After a few too many wines I beckoned her over with my index digit and said ‘Hey I just made you come with my finger’.
And then we’d spend many an hour in her small shared house bedroom, eating junk, supping wine and vodka and having endless sex. I was a posh bisnich with high standards, a Master’s degree, rental properties and a subscription to ‘National Geographic’. I’d not experience this level of slumming it before, and the nihilistic aspect of it and the fact we were cocooned in this little space together with nobody bothering us, felt amazing.
She enhanced my strip club experience as we were together while both working, her on the bar me as a dancer. She made me feel safe and special and I was a clutch to her as I felt supported there. My earnings went down as I felt uncomfortable hustling in front of her. I’d be in a complicated move on the pole and catch her winking at me and have to remember what gravity does, the hard way..
Ain’t love grand.
I could write a book (see above) with the experiences I’ve had. But for now, women please at least once in your life, exercise the right to say the sentence ‘Fuck off, I wear heels bigger than your dick’.
*I’ve never done drugs.