There are a few little things about the job that you simply have to find out for yourself, or in some cases, learn the hard way. The first is the bruises.
The first two weeks of a career stripping come with the telltale black and blue circles that spot a new dancer’s hips and legs like a leopard. Until you learn how to properly curl your body around the pole and move within the space of the stage somewhat gracefully, the bruises will seem to pop up out of nowhere. It’s how you can always spot a new stripper.
The second of these is something I call Lap-Dance-Rash. I never expected that as an adult woman I would be carrying around a small size tube of diaper rash cream, but after a weekend of couch dances with guys who forgot to wear their strip club pants and wore jeans instead… well let’s just say it really comes in handy.
Lap-Dance-Rash isn’t an everyday occurrence, but it is an occasional occupational hazard. If you are a stripper who does a lot of couch dances, you will inevitably one day find yourself with a raw backside. Hopefully when it occurs it is a slightly painful reminder of a fun, lucrative night.
Now let’s talk about the guys who did remember to wear their strip club pants. What are strip club pants, you ask? Well, strip club pants are some variation of worn out kakis that are moderately thin and soft to rub against, sweat pants (with underwear), or dress pants. They should fit comfortably and not have spikes or buckles all over them. Ideally, couch dance pants should be thin enough that the man can feel a reasonable amount of sensation and neither he nor the entertainer will get rug burn. Basketball shorts with no underwear underneath DO NOT count. Nor do seven year old, thin, cotton pajama pants that are so worn they are thinner than paper.
There is always some sleazy guy who thinks it a rather bright idea to show up in these thin pants with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING underneath and go down for dances. (They always think they were the first to ever think of it, too.) Now, I’m all about a good time: I understand that lap dances are about intimacy and friction. But this is completely atrocious behavior on the customer’s part. But it happens and it will happen to you. And believe me, once it does, it will be a lesson learned. You will, from that day forward, be more alert on the job. Or maybe you’ll just scream bloody murder and run away crying, reevaluating your entire life and every decision that brought you here. Then you’ll order a stiff drink and vow to be more careful next time.
Another thing no one tells you about is the moment of lap dances past. It what I call that moment when you are walking around in some public place, maybe the grocery store, the mall, a park, a doctor’s office, maybe even a library… As you go about your business your eyes move around the space as the faces of strangers pass through your line of vision. Somehow you’ll find your eyes locked upon one face, a man’s, and you wonder if you’ve met him before. You see so many faces in one night that you can’t remember clearly how you know this one. Is he one of the people who attended that fundraiser event a couple weeks ago? Did you meet him at the dog park when your puppy was pulling away from you as you desperately tried to reel him in? You ask yourself these questions but there is a strong tugging sensation deep within telling you that you know very well where you met him.
This feeling came over me once in my Father’s living room. We had ordered some food from a pizza shop that had just opened up nearby. Being a local business man himself, my Dad believes in patronizing other local businesses and being friendly with everyone in the community.
I was in the living room by the door when the delivery man showed up. My Dad answered the door and let him in while I watched from where I was sitting. My Dad was telling the guy how much he loved the food last time when I realized who the delivery man was.
He was probably in his mid to late thirties, he wore a hat with the company name on it, and he had curly gray hair that stuck out of the back of his cap. His eyes sparkled a sapphire blue when they met mine. Recognition shot right through me. The Friday before, he and his business partner had visited the club. We had done lap dance after lap dance that night. He had told me then all about the new business he and his friend had started.
“Did you meet my daughter? Say hi to her, she’s right here”, my Dad said to the man. Those blue eyes sparkled again as he waved at me. I waved back but did not turn to face him directly. I was hoping to achieve some mystery by not looking right at him but I could see that I had not been successful.
“Yeah, hi”, the delivery man grinned bashfully. After taking his tip, he exited the house and made his way to his car. I didn’t look out the window as he walked away but somehow I knew he was looking back.
You can fly to some other place on the globe where you know the chances of seeing someone you know are slim, but you’ll still look at the faces of strange men and think like a stripper. He looks like a champagne room, you might think. Or, that man is totally the guy who comes in with basketball shorts and no underwear.
Another thing no one tells you before you dance is that you truly adopt a second name. Strippers use stage names for safety purposes. It’s so easy to look someone up and find out everything about them just by knowing their name and the city they live in. If your name is Sugar or Ecstasy it’s not very likely that someone will find you in the phone book.
The first night I worked as a stripper I was sitting in the dressing room reapplying my lipstick when I heard someone yelling behind me. I turned to see the girl who did the scheduling standing there, saying, “You. I’ve been calling your name.”
“Me?” I asked.
“Oh, sorry”, I said. “I’m not used to that name.”
Six months later, you could yell that name out in a crowded room and I would turn my head every time.
When I started taking college classes again, I hadn’t anticipated there being someone in the class with my stage name. I’d be sitting at my desk waiting for the teacher to call my name to come pick up my test when I’d hear my stage name being called. I’d instantly look up and see the professor’s eyes look right past me. Oh, yeah, I’d think. Wrong name.
I have a name that I was given at birth. I use my given name on a daily basis, but think about this: I don’t go around introducing myself to dozens of new people on a daily basis using my birth name. When I open my mouth to say, “Hi, I’m”- My stage name is what is there on the tip of my tongue. In fact I am afraid that one day I might slip and use the wrong name. That would be so awful.
In the early years of my time as dancer, I fell in love with a DJ that I worked with. We were together for three years. I was impressed that he remembered my given name the first time I told him, but to him, my stage name was a term of endearment. It represented the beginning of our relationship together. We aren’t together anymore but for the duration of our three years together, he addressed me by both names.
I have to be careful who I invite to family parties because some of my friends who know me from work might forget and yell out my stage name in front of my family. When I attend parties for my dancer friends I repeat their government name over and over in my head on the way there so I don’t mistakenly end up yelling out “Foxy!” in front of somebody’s Mom or kid.
I have keychains with my stage on them. I have a specific way I like my stage name spelled. One of my email addresses is under my stage name and if you call me by that name, I will respond. It kind of pisses me off when I introduce myself to customers in the club and they say, “That’s not your name. What’s your real name?”
“Yes it is” I tell them. “Stage names can complicate things so I don’t use one.” But what I really feel like saying is: “YES, IT’S MY FUCKING NAME.” Because, really, it is.
As a dancer you will meet a lot of new people. If you are anything like me, you will whole heartedly enjoy it, too. However, nothing can prepare you for some of the things will see, hear, and take part in as a stripper.
You’ll probably spend most of your time doing normal couch dances and champagne rooms. But sooner or later, someone is going to come in and ask you to do something outrageous. He will look like a normal man just like anyone else you meet at work but when you get him downstairs he will ask you to if he can wear your panties while you make fun of him. He may ask you to slap him in his face as hard as you can. He may ask you to pee on him, or let him smell your arm pits. He might take off his shirt and shoes and ask if he can give you a lap dance while he sings you a country song at the top of his lungs. He might ask if he can hypnotize you, or clean your shoes with his tongue. He might want to just touch your feet or buy your dirty underwear.
These are the kind of people who make this job colorful. They are humans too just like everyone else. When someone like this shares their extraordinary and strange desires with you it is important that you never make them feel bad or make fun of them for it, unless they want you to, that is.
Being open minded is a plus in this job. But it’s easier said than done. Here’s the kicker: When a burly man walks into the club wearing a dress, wig, and high heels that match his purse and he asks you for a lap dance, can you keep a straight face?