So You Want to Be a Stripper…2

Last time, I gave you a list of things you shouldn’t do if you’re a first-time stripper. This time, I’m going to give you a more positive list, of things that will help you do your job with the best of them.  Some of them don’t really apply to male strippers. Sorry.

1. An Accountant  

If you have any plans for saving money, you’ll want to find yourself an accountant you can trust to be discreet.  Although there’s nothing at all illegal about stripping so long as you pay your taxes, you’ll probably want to get creative with the job title you report to the IRS.   Auditors have a certain amount of autonomy in deciding who gets screwed requires evaluation, and as people are more often interested in meeting an exotic dancer than, say, a freelance sociology consultant or a recreational investment coach.  Strip clubs get audited all the time by horny auditors who’s confidentiality clauses conveniently prevent their mention of it to spouses.

2. Stage Props

Your first time onstage will likely be a terrible show. Performing an unchoreographed dance while naked to a crowd you may not be able to see is pretty much THE quintessential human nightmare, that everyone dreams about and no one ever has to do. No one will remember this who looks at you. They will all assume you’re some superhuman impervious to stage fright, and will make demands for tricks that are far out of your league, or more intimidatingly call for you to “surprise” them, “show us something we’ve never seen before,” as though the wiles you’ve mastered over weeks are no big deal at all. Your adrenaline will probably fool you into thinking more time has passed than really has, and you’ll find yourself running out of things to do by the end of your last song.

A creative solution to many of these problems is to bring a prop or two onstage with you. Most clubs don’t restrict your use of creative elements on- or off-stage, so there’s plenty of room to invent. You might take a burlesque edge and bring fans, or glow-sticks, but be wary of bringing too many things that are easy to lose track of when you’re offstage and entertaining. In my experience, the best props are the ones you can easily incorporate into your costume.

Once, I made a costume out of six pinwheels on a string and cheekily demanded that the strangers sitting stage-side “blow me.”  The more you include the viewer in the show, the more enthusiasm you’ll create, and the less they’ll care what your level of expertise is on the pole. I’ve seen scarves and miniature hoops used effectively, but by far the most effective, basic prop in my experience is long hair that you can whip around to the beat of 80’s stripper music.

Whipping hair and other props create the illusion that you’re moving much more than you are, which is handy, because you get out of breath faster than you realize. When the adrenaline of living out a universal human nightmare runs out, you’ll be surprised by how thirsty, sweaty and tired you are if you’ve been moving a lot. Sometimes no one will sit by the stage, and at those moments you can toy with a flashy prop, expending no energy, until someone notices you.

3. Conversation Pieces

A lot of people don’t realize how important talking is in the world of stripping. You may be on stage once in four hours for three songs. The rest of the time you’ll be striking up conversations with strangers of all ages, nationalities and socio-economic statuses, one right after the other. Some of the best props onstage also can serve as great ice-breakers and conversation pieces later. Bubbles, for example, are the best. I and a friend made a few necklaces out of 35-cent cylindrical bubble dispensers that I painted metallic colors with nail polish and hot-glued onto chains. The tube-part of the necklaces were about the size of a pinky or thumb, but the odd shape caught peoples’ attention; guys couldn’t help asking, suspiciously, what I had around my neck.

“It’s a toy,” I’d always tell them. “Want to see me play with it?”

They’d respond, haltingly, “…Yes?” And be baffled when I blew bubbles over their shoulders instead of getting kinky.

My signature conversation piece for a long time was a miniature roll-away chess set that I kept in a black bag tied up by a drawstring. I’d never tell people what was in the long black bag swaying at my side unless the night was very slow, or someone had agreed to an hour in VIP. Then I’d un-swaddle the best and most stimulating of all the toys ever and set it up at the bar or footstool nearest. You’ve never played chess until you’ve played it with a naked, lovely stranger and a bottle of champagne.

4. The Right Kind of Shoes

Stripper shoes have heels that are at least six inches long.  This is an industry standard.  Don’t bother looking for “comfortable” shoes – there aren’t any, and anyway the job doesn’t call for much walking.  Champagne rooms are sitting, and dancing onstage is mainly climbing.  To that end, you’ll want shoes with a strip of leather, plastic or pleather across the top – something that can grip a steel pole.  All-fabric stilettos aren’t for strippers.  New people might want to look for knee-high or higher stripper boots, because the extra padding helps prevent bruises that you will get because you’re new and suck at climbing.

Also, boots can be unexpectedly useful, as I learned at one club where a fight between four dancers broke out on stage.  This started with an argument between a pair of entertainers who had just finished a set of dances and a pair of entertainers who were just entering the stage.  Their feud was long-standing, and the argument quickly turned into a lunging scuffle as security swarmed the platform.  The head of security was just lifting the feistiest dancer off of her victim when across the stage one of the young women involved dropped to the floor and started convulsing, compliments of a Taser her nemesis had deployed against her.

“Bitch, you’re naked!”  Screamed security.  “Where’d that Taser come from??”

Where, indeed.  Turns out, in fact, she was naked except for her thigh-high pleather stripper boots, and had been dancing all night with an electroshock device therein concealed.

So You Want to Be A Stripper…

Stripping isn’t something I’ve always wanted to do. But it’s something I’ve wanted to do since high-school, when an acquaintance of mine took up the trade and I learned there was a way to make a thousand dollars per night without committing to a full-time career.

I knew, you see, that I could never live as anything but a full-time writer. But I also knew, with painful certainty, that I could not abide the traditional writers’ existence in my parents’ basement, despite it’s being spacious and filled with inspiring creatures. Stripping, I knew, would have solved the issue of a livelihood in the near future.

To imagine actually doing it, though, I’d have to picture myself in an alternate lifeline where my parents, boyfriend of several years, and social privilege didn’t exist, and I was free to live the life of a Desperate Woman without shame or guilt. I was brought up to know better.

Ten years later, my mid-twenties found me strangely single, living an hour-and-a-half removed from my parents, and under some degree of financial duress. I found myself in a situation I hadn’t expected – in a perfect position to explore the occupation that had seemed such a godsend in my fantasies.
Getting started turned out to be a bit trickier than I had anticipated. For any of my illustrious readers who may eventually find themselves in this situation, the first tip I would like to offer is:

1. Don’t Shop for Stripper Clothes at Macy’s.

Don’t look at me like that. I had a gift card.
But really, don’t. Macy’s, if you have an ulterior motive of tearing off your clothes on a stage for the very first time and slapping folks with stacks of ones, is kind of terrifying.
I don’t know if it was the fluorescent lights’ glare, the critical grimace of each matronly shopper inspecting racks of flowery knit apparel, or the pleasant inquiries of sales mavens as to how they might assist me, but I was impressed with the immediate conviction that everyone and everything in the store was colluding to pry my secret purpose from me and cast me promptly out again. The lingerie section was not sexy. Or…perhaps some of it was, but those things were next to other things that appeared to be girdles, and probably anything compared with a girdle looks sexy, and would any of it look the same under ultra-violet lighting anyway? I began to feel queasy, examining my stipperwear options in a store that is not, most emphatically NOT, designed with visceral sex in mind.
I made my way to the shoe department last of all. I had been told the shoes were the most important part. I knew I needed stiletto heels of six inches or higher, and I’d read in CandyGirl that stripper shoes should be white. I didn’t have a ruler, and because I had exclusively worn sneakers until this point I couldn’t tell from looking which of the pumps were six inches. Also, I couldn’t tell from looking which of them would stay on my feet or hurt to wear. I had read, many years earlier, all about the disadvantages of thin heels on one’s spine, and so I chose the pair with the longest heels I could find and asked the attendant whether they came in white. “Sorry, we’ve just gotten rid of most of our summer colors,” she told me, after a look through the back.
“What color is your dress, dear?” A middle-aged fellow-shopper smiled encouragingly.
“Um,” I coughed, panic rising at the sudden, benevolent interrogation. “I always get my dress last, after the shoes. The shoes have to come first.”
“Every girl is different,” she laughed.
I laughed, too, nervously. I couldn’t tell whether she was on to me.

2. Don’t Wear Schoolgirl Braids when you Audition at a New Club.

I made this mistake twice.
The first time I went to a club it was with my hair in braids. Having already gotten the OK from the club’s owners, I was pointed to the dressing room. I dawned my Macy’s clothes, which consisted of a bright pink set of lingerie, a pair of tights and strap-on pumps, and a pair of frillie pink booty shorts, and proceeded to onto the club’s floor where I strutted around the perimeter of the room, hissing “What am I supposed to be doing?” at passing bartenders, dancers, and security staff. A veteran dancer eventually took pity on me and took me back to the dressing room, where she had me shake out my braids, ditch the granny-panty-booty-shorts, and don a slinky black dress of hers. When I re-emerged, the bartender acknowledged my existence. It would be seven or eight months before a waitress asked me casually what it was like to be Amish, and I learned those first-day braids had resulted in a rumor, sincerely believed by all but the two who started it, that I was an Amish girl on a quest for self-discovery.
The second time, I was trying out a different club in Hartford. Having learned nothing from the first scenario, I gave the sexy braids another try, and was snarkily interrogated by the doorman for twenty minutes without being allowed to see the manager. “You do realize what kind of dancing this is?” He demanded. “It’s not, like, ballet, or anything.” I assured him that I was perfectly informed of the situation and was, in fact, prepared to seduce any number of fine gentlemen, but all to no avail. In retrospect, I’m sure it was the braids that prejudiced him against me.

3. Have a Playlist

I didn’t, my first night on the job, and was completely unprepared when the veteran stripper showing me the ropes sat me down in front of the computer that serves as an electronic dj and instructed me to pick out my stripper name and 15 songs to go with it.
I could only think of a handful that I really liked, and for the rest of my playlist I chose random suggested songs with sexy-sounding titles. So it was that, an hour later, I was called to stage to the endearing backdrop of a song whose chorus rang out, “Pussy, money, weed!!”
I still cannot edit this playlist.

4. Don’t Wear Tights

I realized the technical error I had made with my wardrobe when I began to disrobe. I got the dress off fine. Then the bra. Then came the striking realization. I was in a nude club. And I could not access my panties.
They were buried, under my tights (not thigh-highs – actual waist-high tights), which were locked in place by my strapped heels.
I offered an apologetic ‘wait just a minute’ finger to the two bros sitting stageside, plopped down on the stage, and took off my shoes. Then the tights. Per club policy, I had to put the shoes back on before I could take the friggen thong off.

5. Don’t Ask the Manager Whether Your Club is Nude. Ask the Internet.

You will find, if you enter this profession, that strip-club owners and managers know what is going on in their own clubs very rarely. This is even more true of management in charge of several clubs.
I learned this one the hard way, after an audition at the Cadillac Lounge in Providence.
“You’re very beautiful,” the house-mom encouraged me. “But your moves are still a little lacking in confidence, so I’m going to start you off downtown at our sister lounge.”
When asked, the house-mom said this sister lounge was topless, but not fully nude.
Downtown I went, and was informed by the doormen of this sister-lounge that the house-mom at Cadillac had nothing to do with their hiring decisions, and that they would tell the DJ to put me onstage for one set as an audition. There were customers there, so this had a trial-by-fire feeling, but I decided this was a thrilling adventure and that I would have fun.
The DJ started playing “Living Dead Girl”, and I lost my cocktail dress as gracefully as I could. Then I whipped out a tit. I heard an outraged “Hey!” somewhere in the distance of the room, and tried to ignore the mystery angry man as I continued to dance, whipping my bra off completely and twirling it over my head.
“Hey!” The cry came again, and then some words I couldn’t decipher, something-something-something, “…topless, right?” I grinned and flashed thumbs-up at the shadowy depths of the club in acknowledgement of the astute observation. I was, indeed, topless.
“No!” Then I saw him – the doorman – as he ran up to the side of the stage, still shouting. “I said, we’re NOT topless!”
“Oh,” I said, retrieving my bra. “…Sorry.”
“What did you think, we’d have a topless bar in downtown Providence?”
“I guess I was misinformed.”
“You didn’t see any of the other dancers taking off THEIR bras, did you?”
“Maybe they were playing hard to get?” It was early in the night, and I knew from my month’s worth of experience dancing at that point that sometimes dancers don’t take their lingerie off when it’s still early. The doorman just shook his head, groaning stressfully.
I had to let a month pass before I could think of dancing again after this. There’s something kind of traumatizing about having someone scream in horror at the sight of your bare boob.

Things Stupid People Do at Strip Clubs

If you do any of the following things at a strip club, you will be a jackass and all of us strippers will roll our eyes at you behind your back and laugh about how stupid you are in the dressing rooms.  And so will the waitresses and bartenders and bouncers and managers, and other, better customers.

1.  Give Strippers Commands

You might think it’s cute to order a stripper, “let me see your tits”, or “turn around and grind on me”, but it’s not.  Strippers are entertainers; if we think it’s a good idea to grind on you, we will, but most of the time it’s not a good idea.  We are in charge of our performance, not you.  It’s important that customers respect this – for art’s sake as well as our safety.  You are not in charge.  Do not try to be in charge; you will make yourself look stupid.  There is no one-size fits all fantasy, and, accordingly, every stripper develops a unique style to fit her personality.  Some slow, sensuous styles do not mesh well with spontaneous grinding and flashing, and your attempt to project your own style of eroticism onto a random entertainer is a show of ignorance and disrespect.  If you want a grinder-flasher at a strip-club, look for a dancer who does that kind of thing.  We are under no obligation to perform in a way that suits you, hence the appropriate way to encourage a particular type of performance is to tip well when you see it. 

2.  Attempt Price Negotiations

Most strippers have personal minimums for lap-dances and VIP sessions, which may be higher or lower than any existing club-regulation minimums.  This is her estimation of the value of her labor, risk, talent, and time.  As you have no basis to judge her labor, risk, and time (and talent only if she has performed for you before), you are not qualified to issue a different price. You have no way of knowing whether there are other patrons present or shortly expected to arrive who will pay her well; you have no sense of relative supply and demand. If the price she names is beyond your budget, tell her so. She may adjust her price, or not. Don’t stand there trying to argue with her about it; you sound like a moron trying to convince her she charges too much when she has dozens of people paying her exactly that every night she works.

3. Initiate Physical Contact

Do not try to pull her clothes off. Do not grope, grab, or whip your dick out. Just as seeing food on display in a market isn’t an invitation for you to walk up and down the aisles ripping open boxes and licking produce, entering a strip-club doesn’t remove you to an alternate universe where random strangers are totally cool with you feeling them up. If you think seeing a naked body part means you have the right to do anything at all with that naked body part, you’re a moron who probably no one wants to date. Consent is a thing, even in strip-clubs.

4. Get Offended When A Stripper Asks for Money

It takes a special kind of self-delusional imbecile to walk into a strip club with no intention of compensating the entertainers. Self-delusional because to do so one would have to convince himself it was a regular club where hot chicks just happened to be teetering around topless in six-inch heels, eager to flirt and agree with everything he says. You chose to go to the strip-club, because of the strippers. We’re providing value to your experience, even if all we’ve done is walk, half-naked, across your line of vision.

You know we’re ok with you looking at us. You know if you smile at us, we’ll smile back. You know you can relax and enjoy the scenery because it is the stripper’s job to spend hours getting glammed up and being available for you to look. When a stripper engages you in conversation, she’s spending time with you that she might have spent with someone else. And if it’s an excellent conversation, and you enjoy each others’ company, it’s not hypocritical of her to expect compensation. Just as a cab driver or waitress who happens to be your friend wouldn’t expect you to stiff them on the tip, a stripper with whom you feel friendly shouldn’t have to deal with your outrage when she suggests that you take her for a dance. If you don’t want to dance, that’s fine – give her a tip anyway. No one’s trying to fool you; strippers work at strip-clubs. We are there to do a job, and you’re there to benefit from our labor, whether you take a private dance or not.

5. Answer “Hi, what’s your name?” with “I’m all set.”

It doesn’t make grammatical sense to answer a question that way, so you look stupid on that account. Declaring “I’m all set!” in response to a stripper’s greeting is rude. Maybe you don’t want a dance – fine, so wait for me to ask you for a dance to reject me. For all you know, I just want to have a conversation (I’ve had some good really good ones with people who told me up front they didn’t have any intention of dancing, just because I like to talk). If you don’t want to converse, that’s fine, too – then say, as you would to any human being who starts talking to you in a public place, “Can we save this talk for later?” or, “Thank you, but I’d like to be alone right now.” The important thing is to respond to the actual content of her overture, rather than issue some kneejerk rejection to assumed subtext because, hey, that’s a real live person talking to you and maybe she just complimented your shirt, because she likes your shirt!

6. Tell a Stripper to “Be Real”, “Be Honest”, “Cut the Bullshit”, “Tell me What you Really Think,” etc.

Stupid customers very often interrupt conversation with strippers this way. The trigger might be anything, from a too-big smile (as judged by said stupid customer), to the customer’s own question regarding why I’m a dancer, where I live, what my real name is, etc. These are customers who expect to be bullshitted and believe they can avoid being bullshitted by ordering the entertainer not to bullshit, or else feel a level of security in pre-emptively dismissing everything the dancer says as bullshit. His grounds for disbelieving her is her profession, so in essence he is asking her to stop being a stripper, right that very second and for exactly as long as she is talking to him.

Strippers may adopt personas, with fake names, to maintain divisions between work life and real life. It’s not surprising in an industry that is so wildly popular and at the same time so roundly vilified; many dancers feel the need to distance themselves from the actual entertaining. It is not for you to ask where her image ends and her reality begins. She will be as real with you as she feels comfortable being, and your telling her to be real with you will have no impact on that.

Whether or not you get something real out of the strip club experience depends as much on your mentality as on the talent of your entertainer, and if you’ve made up your mind that you’re not going to get anything real out of it then you can’t blame anyone else when that’s exactly what happens. Like a heckler at a magic-show, your average strip-club-skeptic is quite the dumbass.

7. Offer Strippers Advice on How to Do Their Jobs

Don’t tell me I’ll make more money by dressing more sluttily. Don’t tell me I should talk about sucking dick. Don’t advise me on my music or my moves or my target clientele or my use of my time. If you think that you know more than I do about making money as a stripper, you are an idiot. Your experience as one individual who goes to a strip-club sometimes is not more valuable than my experience as an entertainer who engages hundreds of patrons on a regular basis.

8. Speak for Your Friends

Whether you think your friend is interested in me or isn’t, you’re doing a disservice to them and to me by speaking on their behalf. You’ll waste my time telling me someone is interested in me who isn’t, and that shy friend you’re sure won’t want to talk to me may benefit immensely from the soft touch of a professional socialite. Believe it or not, making shy people comfortable is something most of us strippers know how to do, better than you. It’s in the job description.

9. Ask me on a Date

ESPECIALLY if you don’t intend to accept a private dance or otherwise compensate the time I’ve spent entertaining you. That’s like going to a restaurant and telling the waitress, “No, I’m not going to buy any food or give you money. But can you come to my house and serve my dinner later?” If you want me to take you seriously as a potential date, you have to take me seriously as an entertainer and a professional. You have to respect my job and the fact that my time has value.

There are other complicating factors as well. As an entertainer, my job revolves around fantasy, and crossing the line into your reality is a breach of conduct on my behalf. (Read “The Champagne Room – What You’re Really Paying For” if you’re not sure what I mean). Accepting an offer for a date creates a conflict-of-interest that may compromise what I do as an entertainer.

10. Act Jealous

Anyone who huffs that he saw me earlier talking to another guy is very, very out of touch with the concept of strip-clubs. Don’t be an idiot. It’s not girlfriends-r-us. It’s my job to talk to those other guys. Don’t expect me to sit by your side and keep you company all night after paying for one dance. If you want my undivided attention for any length of time, the appropriate thing to do is to pay for a session in VIP.

11. Remark, with your Eyebrows Raised in Shock, “You’re Smart!”

12. Bring Your Girlfriend

Unless she reads and agrees to also abide by these rules and regulations, paying special note to the “don’t advise me in how to do my job”, “don’t initiate physical contact”, and “don’t be cheap” clauses. In addition, she must not be offended if I ask you for a dance, and she must not sit on your lap when you sit near the stage and make grossed-out faces when the dancers come near you, preventing you from giving them money.

 
If you want to be one of those customers that everybody loves and is genuinely glad to see, don’t do anything above, and plan to spend some money. A lesser-known method of earning brownie points is to cheer for the dancers on stage. Even veteran dancers can get stage-fright and on a slow night it’s really demoralizing to take off your clothes and not have anything to show for it. If you’re all out of dollars but you think the lady on stage is doing a fine job, telling her so will pluck her spirits up and give her an extra boost of confidence for the rest of the night.

The Champagne Room – What You’re Really Paying For

Though rates vary widely depending on the entertainer and club you visit, an hour in VIP typically costs around $1,000, after tip. A half-hour most places will go for $400 or $500. For that much money, you should damn well expect something special, so I’m going to tell you the truth.

If you enter VIP and your entertainer tries to suck your dick, eat you out, or otherwise fuck you – you are being ripped off.

It’s not that I have any issue with getting laid for money. If you’re into prostitution, that’s your business. But if you want a champagne room experience – that’s my business.

If you think that they are the same business, you’re setting yourself up for a terrific letdown in one of two ways: either you’ll wind up with a sub-par entertainer and find yourself footing the bill for an oral encounter that is far above market price(in a public facility designed with publicity rather than discretion in mind) or you’ll wind up with a true entertainer and waste what should be an extraordinary experience worrying over the fulfillment of some slapdash boner-centric checklist you carried in with you.

Strippers, you see, don’t belong to the service industry. We differ from prostitutes in this way. It is not the job of a stripper to give you what you ask for. Strippers are members of the entertainment industry, and as such, a stripper’s job is not to provide you with something you already have or can gain elsewhere. It is my job to invigorate and sweep you up into realms of fevered fantasy that you can’t so easily escape.

The typical man does not want to venture into a situation that involves the risk of shaking up physical urges that must be left unmet. He does not want to, because he is under the unfortunate misapprehension that there is nothing to do with desire except to spit it out again. Desire itself is pain to him – it comes only to torment and be released, with perhaps no satisfaction except the libido’s cessation in the immediate wake of his obedience to sexual thrall.

This is bad; a result of bad teaching, and pleasure’s most faithful opponent from the dawn of man’s age. Fear of longing renders pleasure its own form of fear. Read between the lines of any femme fatale reference on film or paper; the ordinary male views sensuality as a wicked power but rarely evaded. The ordinary male can’t handle pleasure, just as the ordinary diner in today’s world can’t handle a scrumptious meal except by getting it over with as quickly as possible.

Consider the heady moment before a long-awaited kiss – the electric, warm energy, the natural high of looking at someone you are sure wants you. Desire isn’t some gruesome monster force to be beaten down and kept small inside of you – it’s a wide world in its own right. Submit yourself to the care of a master stripper if, and only if, you’re willing to explore a little tantric in-between.

In a champagne room, a VIP or even just one private dance, you can let your desire swell through all its rhythms, the chemistry between you and your entertainer charging up your consciousness as in a lucid dream. Moments spent in a dancer’s hands are moments to take with you, alive and changing, into the rest of your world. A dancer, a real entertainer, can bury herself in your mind and carry on with you into the future. Her presence will wake you some dull Monday morning with sparkling promise. Her memory will come at random times to cheer you with a quick excitement – a breath of renewal and perspective. You will feel her pulse, exhilarated and rising in your own veins the next time you come to contemplate those who block the doorways to your future – the skeptical, the frigid, the ordinary. You will remember – because she will have found it out in you – that you are alive, and young, and blessed, and that you believe after all in every unspoken promise of better things to come.

Odysseus told his men to tie him down and let him hear the Sirens’ song. The bard never tells us why, but we do remember that of all the men aboard his ship, the only one who made it through his saga was the one who dared to listen. Perhaps because his dreams were so great; he could not afford to treat desire as just another monster.