How you treat a stripper says a lot about who you are. Strippers are people too, but as a whole, we are stereotyped as being stupid, uneducated, drug addicted, and promiscuous. I enjoy being a stripper and I am not ashamed of it, but everyone knows that the job title is not one that is regarded highly by society.
I have met a lot of people in my seven years working as a dancer. I have found some of my closest friends in that dimly lit building. The stereotypes about dancers and the men who go into strip clubs to see them are often not true. But not everyone is kind to strippers.
Some guys come in and try to degrade us and put us down for being strippers. They ignore the fact that we are human too and try to insult, use, and/or take advantage of us.
I met a man who worked in sales at the club early into my stripping years. I’m going to call him Mr. SALESMAN to protect his identity. He had been there before and this time he had brought a friend with him. The friend barely spoke English but he tried very hard to anyway.
My first encounter with Mr. SALESMAN that night involved him coming in for a feel of my ass as I engaged in broken conversation with his friend. My stripper senses detected the intruding hand and I caught it in mid-air before it could even get close to me.
My second encounter with him consisted of him commanding me to sit down beside him very close. I was put off by the aggressive way he commanded my company. I told him I wasn’t ready to sit with him yet. “DO YOU WANNA MAKE MONEY, OR NOT?!” I shifted my weight onto my other foot and pulled away a little. Hot steam and the scent of garlic hit my face as he barked at me. I moved a few more inches over.
I overheard him telling his friend, “Play hard ball with them.” Then he started going on about how he was going to come in next week with a lot more money. “I’m looking for a girl to spend a lot of money on… Next week, I’m coming back with a couple thousand dollars to take care of the girl who hooks us up tonight for free.” His words were sharp and well-articulated but full of propaganda and bullshit.
I got sick of his asshole behavior and finally, I looked at him and said, “Look, I work two jobs. I make a lot of fucking money already and I’m not going to let you boss me around for a fifteen dollar dance or tip I might or might not make this week or next!”
First, he was defensive, then apologetic. “You know me. We’ve known each other how long? You know you’re my favorite girl.”
Uh-huh, I thought. I heard him telling all the dancers the same lie. Instead of calling him out on it I diffused the issue by saying, “As long as we’re still friends. We’re still friends, right?” After that, I walked away and pretended to be busy.
Later, that same week, these two forty-something year old men came in. One was skinny and the other was a bit heavier. Both had greying hair and were acting like total big shots. The heavier man kept ordering drinks for me and the other dancers. I had politely declined his offer because I don’t really drink a lot on the job, but he kept buying them for me anyway. I engaged him in conversation while casually passing the drinks off or leaving them somewhere.
“I have thousands of dollars to spend here tonight.” he said. “I just want some quality time, then I’ll go in VIP and spend lots of money on you.” There wasn’t a whole lot of other business prospects in the bar that night, so I humored the man and made conversation with him. Not too long after, he was ready to go to the VIP room. He paid for a 30 minute room on which at the time I would make roughly $100 to $120. Hardly thousands of dollars but still money to be made.
Once we were in our corner of the dark room, I sat in his lap and started dancing for him. He almost immediately tried to stick his hand down my pants. I explained that that wasn’t part of the deal and that he would have to behave himself or be thrown out. “You really don’t know who I am, do you?” he asked. “You really don’t.”
“It doesn’t matter who you are…” I answered. “Rules are rules. Now let’s get back to our dance and have some fun before our time is up.” I thought he would drop the bullshit but he continued on.
“You have no idea who I am… If you knew who I was…”
“Who are you, then?” I humored him again.
“I can’t tell you.”
“Okay, then. Don’t. It’s ok. Let’s do our dance.” He tried putting his hand down my pants again. “You know better”, I reminded him.
“YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW WHO I AM, DO YOU?!”
‘You wanna tell me who you are, or not?”
“Finally he told me. “My name is [so and so] and I am a very famous NFL player. Trust me, you’ve seen me on TV. Nobody would turn down the opportunity that you have right now.”
He had to have been extremely drunk to think that I would buy his story. I wondered if he actually believed he could take advantage of me by pretending to be famous. I could’ve laughed in his face, but I didn’t. I just teased in a flirty voice. “That’s so awesome. We still have to behave ourselves, though, Mister.” I stroked the hair on the back of his head and smiled a smile as phony as his story. That’s when he took out his phone and tried to snap a picture of me. I grabbed the phone out of his hand and slipped off his lap as it snapped shut.
“I work at a major company”, I told him. “I can’t have pictures of me in my stripper clothes floating around.” I handed him his phone back and got back on his lap. For the remainder of our time in the VIP room I had to be mindful of where his hands were and fight him off every time they wandered below my waist line.
I was relieved when our dance was over. I still kept thinking about it, though. I knew there was no way he was really an NFL football player. The guy looked like he’d have trouble running around the bar, let alone a football field. But even if he was a famous football player, he was still a jerk.
I didn’t know what had happened to the guy that day that made him feel the need to walk into a club and disrespect some strippers, but I assumed it stemmed from his own insecurities. People who like themselves generally don’t make up tall tales about being rich and famous and tell them to any stripper who will listen.
You don’t win anything by hurting another person, ever. This guy thought he could talk down to me and act like he was better than me. He got his kicks that night by disrespecting women he would likely not have a chance with anyway. He tried to bring me down but did not succeed.
I know who I am. I believe in myself and because of this, nothing some jack ass says to me in the shadows of a strip club can hurt my feelings.
Because of people like him, I now have a better understanding of people in general. I understand that there are good people and bad everywhere, and I know how to spot a bad one much more easily.
Strippers may be regarded as part of the lower end of society, but we are not stomping grounds or door mats to be walked on. We are people, we are women, and we have our own hopes, dreams, and passions in life just like everyone else. Even the strippers who truly do hold up the stereotypes that we so despise, are human too and deserve to be treated as so.
Whenever I see a guy disrespecting a dancer or talking down to her, I avoid him completely. I know better than to get involved with a person who feels entitled to mistreat others. If you get off on dishing out that type of abuse, you will not be getting a lap dance from me. I don’t care how much money you offer me.
Later that night, I pulled out the crumpled ones and twenties out of my little black stripper purse to count my earnings. Wrapped up in the cash was a stolen pack of cigarettes, nearly full, and a sleek, plastic lighter. I’m not a smoker so I had no use for them but I smiled at the thought of Mr. Big shot NFL player patting his empty pockets and cursing the stripper who swiped them.
Douche bags never win.