I don’t understand why I can’t just ever have a boyfriend who doesn’t expect me to STOP stripping. I am not the kind of girl who pretends to work at an office until the fifth date before she tells a guy what she really does for a living. I’m very open about it. In fact my last two boyfriends both met me at the club. The first of the two was a DJ at the club I worked at. The second met me when his friends took him to a club for the first time because he’d never been to one before.
I used to have this diary that I would bring to work to me every night. If I was tending bar it sat on the lower shelf next to the cash register. If I was dancing, it was in my locker or in the bag I carried. In that diary there was a self-portrait of me on a stripper pole with the caption “Sometimes life is better upside down”. The last guy read the entire book cover to cover one night.
So how is it that I find myself years later face to face with a guy who is pissed off and confused about the fact that I’m STILL a stripper? What about “sometimes life is better upside down” didn’t he understand?
It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense. If you’re not too keen on having a stripper as a girlfriend then why go to a strip club and try to pick one up? That’s the same thing as me going into a funeral parlor to pick up a new boyfriend then saying, “I’d really rather not be with someone who fucks around with dead bodies and formaldehyde all day…”
NEWS ALERT: I’M A STRIPPER AND I LIKE IT. THIS IS NOTHING NEW. I like the high heeled platforms, the flashing lights, the half-naked women, and the sexual energy that fills the entire building. I like the smell of cheap perfume and electric flat irons.
A very good friend of mine used to come to the strip club two or three times a week looking for the perfect girl. He had already fallen in love with a stripper and his heart was crushed when it turned out that she had gotten into drugs and run off with some abusive boyfriend. “I don’t know how it happened”, he’d say. “She took me by surprise. She was just so… smart and beautiful. I believed every word she said to me.”
Having become a much wiser man after the experience, he still attended the strip club often. He would take in his surroundings, watch every girl go up on stage and then watch her work the crowd when she was done.
He and I bonded over those lifeless summer week nights. As we watched the day in, day out of the circus my place of employment was at the time, we became friends.
I did not enjoy his company because he was perfect. He was not. We were just two people who saw eye to eye without boning each other first. He had a really good job and no kids or wife to spend his money on. The casino was his financial child.
He used to come in and confess to blowing $500 at the casino. He would tell me stories about his search for love and/or a good reliable fuck buddy that he didn’t have to lead on. The guy I was dating at the time was super pissed about the handcuffs he’d found when he went looking through my stripper bag. What had he been expecting to find? Gardening tools? An astronaut helmet?
You can make a whore a house wife but you can’t take the HO out of housewife.
My friend used to say that every man who comes into the strip club is secretly looking for love. He said, “We’re all looking for that same girl… The one who’s only dancing to pay her way through college and really hates her job but just does it out of need. We all want that one stripper who’s not really a stripper”.
“Good luck” I’d tell him. “It doesn’t exist.”
“It’s like looking for a unicorn” he decided. “You can search and search but it doesn’t exist… but maybe it does. You just have to keep looking”. Every time a new girl started at the club I would sit with him and watch her.
“She might be a unicorn.” I’d tell him.
“Maybe… You never know…”
I’m a smart girl. I pay my bills on time. I don’t do drugs. I have somewhat of a college education. But despite all that, I do enjoy being a stripper. I like being the center of attention, the object of desire, a star under the spotlight.
I was a major dork growing up. The other kids used to pick on me so badly that I used to beg my parents to put me in a different school. Even the other dorks, freaks, geeks, and fat kids made fun of me. I was the bottom of the food chain. I went through school without learning the social skills necessary for life. I learned all of those social skills years later working as a stripper.
The original reasons I had for starting a career as a dancer were purely to increase financial gain. Over time I found more good in it. Now, all these years later, I realize that now it is simply part of who I am and I’m not ready to give it up.
First of all, stripping for me was like that stupid dating TV show where you go on ten fifteen minute dates and when you decided you’ve had enough you say “NEXT”. Then the next date begins. I would start a conversation with a guy and if I didn’t get it right I had another chance to do better with the guy sitting right next to him. Over the years, my social deficits were slowly smoothed over as I learned how to talk to people.
Stripping is a great outlet for me. It is a sexual outlet in the way that it is a place where I can safely and appropriately enjoy expressing my sexuality. It is a place where I’m allowed to say dirty words and grind all up on some sweaty stranger that I’m probably never going to see again.
It is also a place where I can be angry at the world and utilize my rage in a healthy manner. I can bang my feet on stage to rock music. I can grip a guy’s collar tight in my fists and pull him closer, grind the front of my thigh against his manhood and watch him wriggle with desire beneath me.
When I’m having a bad day and I feel like the whole world is screwing me over, I put on high heels and go dance with strangers for money. Something about it feels good and I’m glad I have that outlet.
Anyone who walks into a strip club is (pardon my French) a little fucked up in one way or another. Although some might assume that all strip club patrons are just perverts looking for some sexual stimulation, this is not always the case. In fact, most people walk through those doors because something big is missing from their lives. And I don’t mean just the customers.
When I first started dancing, my whole life was a mess. My relationship was toxic, I couldn’t even afford to buy a pack of diapers for my toddler, my partner was struggling with other problems, and I felt unloved, underappreciated, and lost. I craved attention, connection, and a warm hand on my shoulder just as much as anyone else who walked through those doors.
When I put on my makeup and dancing clothes, I felt bigger than my problems. I was a star, and a bright one at that. It was in a strip club that I learned how to channel my emotions into the right places and harness my creative energy for use in a therapeutic way. It was in a strip club that I learned how to take my problems and deal with them head on. I learned how to be a do-er, not a sit-back-and-watcher.
About two years into my life as a stripper, I realized that I was really good at it. I remember the hot summer seasons when maybe we had only five to eight guys a night. At one point we would take turns going to talk to the one or two guys that came in. One night, a girl walked over to me and said, “Ok, your turn now. If you can’t get him, no one can.”
I don’t give a better lap dance than everyone else. I’m not a million times prettier than the other girls either. I think it’s just because I truly enjoy doing this for a living and I believe in treating people how I would like to be treated.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in therapy. Except I’m not sure whether I’m the doctor or the patient. I find myself listening to guys telling me about their loveless marriages, their asshole bosses, or… the one that got away. These stories are so humanizing, so real. They touch my heart and I can relate because I’ve got stories of my own.
Strippers are a whole different breed of women than the ones who work in offices and customer service departments. Strippers, will tell you anything. Just like they strip down and bare their bodies, they bare their souls in a similar way. A stripper will tell you about her persistent yeast infection, how much she paid to get her cat an abortion, how much she owes the state in fines, the time she was molested as a little girl, or about the child she lost.
I was talking to a girl about my son once and I asked if she had children. She replied, “I had four sons but three were stillborn. My son is eighteen now.” I was floored by her openness about it and at the time I didn’t know what I was supposed to say.
This job is very humbling. It has given me a world of knowledge about people, society, and life in general. It has opened my eyes in a way that working at the mall just never could. In fact, I’d even say that working as a stripper makes me a better person, but no boyfriend is ever going to accept that.