I was never popular at school when I was growing up. I was always the dorky kid who got picked last in gym class. The kids who got stuck with me on their team always groaned and bitched about it because I was the scrawny little nose picker that sucked at baseball and embarrassed the whole team.
Even the other dorks and the fat kids picked on me. I probably wasn’t as ugly as they made me out to be. It is more likely that I simply had poor social skills that did not improve over time because socializing was usually a bad experience for me. But I was an outcast, all the same.
Many years later, things are a bit different. I learned all the necessary social skills by working in the strip club. I entered the building a naïve, shy, young woman, but the nightly interaction with various individuals taught me everything I never learned growing up. Now, I’m a social butterfly. I’m finally popular and I didn’t even have to quit picking my nose!
What I mean is, I am generally well liked by the men who frequent the establishment. I get along very well with the staff as well as the other girls I work with. I’m still a dork deep down inside, but it’s less obvious these days.
I enjoy what I do for a living because it allows me to meet new people, hang out and socialize in an environment where I’m comfortable, and I get paid for it. There’s also something about the sexual nature of the job that I obviously enjoy.
I think the fact that I enjoy my job is part of what attracts people to me. Nobody wants to hang out with the stripper who complains about how much she hates her job. This is a social business and you have to like it to be good at it.
Someone said to me, recently, “You’re so nice! I bet everyone here loves you!” I am nice. But not everyone loves me. And I don’t get along with everyone.
There are some guys whom I’ve known since I first began working as a stripper. I’ve listened to stories about their lives, seen pictures of their children growing up throughout the years, and maintained friendly relationships with over time. People matter to me and I make it a point to be good to the people I come into contact with.
There are, however, some people that I just don’t get along with.
It’s an unspoken agreement that these certain individuals and I seem to have. It’s an “I-don’t-like-you-and-you-don’t-like-me-sort of thing”. I go on stage and he looks the other way. I walk around the bar mingling with customers and I walk right past him, never even stopping by to ask for a tip.
And why don’t we get along? Oh for various reasons. Maybe we had a conflict about the aggressive way he shoved a dollar into my bra one time long ago. Maybe I didn’t like something he said or the way he mistreated a co-worker of mine. Maybe I’m just not his type and he’s not mine. The reasons are endless but the result is the same. I just ignore them and they ignore me. If anyone asks me about them, I just politely say, “Oh, he and I aren’t friends.”
There is this one guy who has been coming in for years. I don’t know his name or anything about him because I never bothered to ask. All I know is that he comes in religiously, drinks six beers, and in between his fifth and sixth beer, he takes a girl back for a private room and gives her a $100 tip at the end.
This seems like a reasonably good deal but here’s the thing: He NEVER tips the bartender. He’s been coming in since I started working here and he will sit in the club for at least an hour and never give the bartender a single dollar. I think that’s pretty shitty. Plus, I’ve been told by a few coworkers that he is a bit demeaning toward the dancers who entertain him. Personally, I wouldn’t know because the way I see it is, if he wouldn’t tip me as a bartender then he doesn’t deserve my attention as a stripper.
There’s another guy I talked to for quite a while one night. He wasn’t really disrespectful to me or the other dancers but he had a really bad attitude. He gave us a dollar or two but didn’t do a single lap dance with anyone. He said, “I have a wife and a woman on the side so I don’t need a lap dance.”
I was curious so I asked him to tell me more about it. He said, “The girlfriend thing isn’t really working out because it’s too much work.”
“How so?” I asked.
“She keeps getting mad because I don’t text her cute things and pay enough attention to her. She wants me to bring her flowers and stuff but… I have a wife for that.”
“Isn’t sending flirty text messages and doing nice things for each other part of what makes having an affair fun?”
“No” he said. “I don’t even like to do that stuff for my wife. Why would I want to do it for her? It’s just sex.”
I was disgusted. I’m not condoning affairs or anything, but this guy just came off as a totally selfish jerk. I lost all respect for him because I saw that he doesn’t care about anyone but himself. People who are that selfish scare the shit out of me.
A great way to become “not my friend” is to tell me you’re coming to see me on a specific future date and not show.
I understand that plans change and you never know when you’re going to be free to stop in. I get it. But I’m talking about something a little different.
I’m talking about the guy who leaves a flattering note on my car asking me to text him my availability so he can come see me some time since he has been wanting a couple dances with me but I’m always busy or not working when he stops in. This is the guy who asks if I work on Sundays or Tuesdays in the day. I tell him that no, I usually don’t but I could come in early one day or work a given Sunday. We decide on a day and time when we are both available. I show up two hours early for a shift and wait at a half empty bar for him to show up at the agreed upon time. I turn down a customer’s offer for a dance, saying, “I promised someone a dance and I have to wait for him.” When Mr. Guy never shows up and leaves me waiting around for him, I get pretty angry.
It’s not the money. If I were planning to make four hundred bucks off of him, then it might have something to do with the money. When I’m only getting, at most, sixty bucks from him, it’s less about the lost revenue and more about the fact that I sacrificed my time and drove through rush hour traffic to arrive a couple hours early in order to be there for this guy. I also turned down business from a potential customer because I was waiting for him. I mean, c’mon. I might be a stripper but I’m a person too. A text or a call saying our meeting was not to be would have been appreciated. But nope.
That’s how you get on my stripper shit list, my doghouse. Next time I see you looking at me in the club, I will squint my eyes and give you flirty glances. I’ll softly bite the tip of my tongue as I slowly, seductively slide down the pole, making sure your attention is directly upon me. I will walk around the bar after my stage set is over, watching you wait patiently for me to come over and say hi. Then I will skip over you and disappear into the couch room with someone else or vanish to the other side of the darkened club. That’s right, no lap dance for you!
Everyone knows me as this mild mannered, overall nice stripper. I value the people I meet in this business. I respect people and treat them as my equals, whether they are customers, staff, or fellow entertainers. No matter what poor life decisions landed you here in my company, I respect that you are a person with hopes, dreams, aspirations, and a life. Even in this business of vanity and exploitation, I operate with kindness. But I’m not a doormat.
I will stand up for myself and my co-workers and demand that I be treated with respect. When a customer says to me, “Dance for this dollar” I tell him to keep it.
“Save it for a rainy day”, I say, and walk away.
“Can I fuck you for a hundred bucks?” This is a question I usually first answer with a raised eyebrow and an evil glare. Strippers aren’t prostitutes. I have nothing against women who earn their living that way but that’s not part of my job description. I am here to entertain, to assist men with their sexual fantasies but not to actually give sex. Still, I am often insulted by the number some guys throw out there.
“Excuse me? That’s not even enough for me to buy a week of groceries. Plus, I’m not really allowed to do that.”
“That sounds like a great idea. I’ll let you know.” I say.
“Give me your number” they always ask.
“Don’t worry, I’ll find you and give it to you before I leave.” I give a naughty little wink and a half smile as I turn and walk away, never to actually go back and find them.
Some guys come in and try to start drama. “Ooh, look at the dirty look that girl is giving you!” a customer exclaimed one night. “She hatin’”.
“Relax”, I told him. “She just doesn’t like the song.”
I don’t understand why some guys find it entertaining to try get strippers to fight with each other. I call them “Drama Bugs” because they are usually lonely men who feed on starting up drama among strippers in a specific club. These guys can only be dealt with two different ways. I either shut down their shit talking by saying, “you be nice, Mr.” or I just ignore them.
“Is that girl your friend?” a guy might ask me while pointing to the girl on stage. I can tell he has something to say about her but I don’t want to hear it.
“Yes, she’s my friend! They’re all my friends!” I exclaim before he has a chance to tell me she gave a sucky lap dance or he thinks she’s high on dope. Talking shit on other girls is bad for business. Even if the girl and I don’t get along, I still pretend we’re friends. “She’s great! We have naked slumber parties with popcorn and pillow fights all the time!”
One very busy night, Cairo, a tall, dark skinned woman I used to work with, was busy making her way around the bar collecting tips. She was wearing a lingerie set, a tan, lace bra with a matching lace thong. As she was speaking to a gentleman at the bar, another man walked up and slapped her so hard on her bare butt cheek that she jumped and nearly spilled her drink as the pain shot through her. She immediately turned to the man who was obviously the guilty party. “Either you’re gonna tip me a twenty for that, or you’re gonna pull your bare ass out and let me do the same.”
The sheepish grin left the young man’s face as he seemed to be contemplating his options. He pulled down his jeans and waited. “Bare ass.” she said. “Just like you did to me.” He pulled his boxers down and braced himself as Cairo put her drink down on the bar.
“I hit him as hard as I could!” she said, laughing as she told us. “He yelped and I felt better.”
“At least he was a good sport” I said.
There was once a man so mean that the entire staff knew him as, “Angry Black Man”. He was known for being rudely blunt to the dancers and on occasion, telling white girls they were “too white” for him.
If you asked him for a tip, he’d say something like, “For what? You didn’t do a very good job up there.” Or “You don’t really have much of an ass.”
I stayed away from him for the most part because I never knew what to expect from him. Some days he liked me, somedays he didn’t.
“Just tell him to go fuck himself”, one of the girls told me. “He’ll respect you if you tell him off. Trust me.” But that just wasn’t my style. The guy came in all the time and I didn’t want to cause any unnecessary drama. So I just avoided him.
I was forced to talk with him again when I started tending bar on some nights. He didn’t like the way I poured his beer. He wanted me to do it just a little more slowly, and not in the regular beer mug, but another style glass that was used less frequently. Over our conversation in which he taught me how to pour beer to his liking, we warmed up to each other.
“I’ve always liked you. You always did try to entertain and that’s important. And I don’t have any problems with the other girls either. I just come here expecting a show and I want nothing less.” He had a point. Still, his rudeness was not appreciated. “I don’t want to give a girl money just because she gets up on stage and moves a little. You girls are entertainers! Showgirls!”
After his rant about his hatred for sloppy, slacker strippers, we actually had a decent conversation about life. The man had good wisdom to impart and he gave me a few compliments before bidding me farewell. I figured we’d become “friends” although I did wonder if it would last through our next encounter.
There was this one customer that we named, “The Smiler”. He used to come in about three times a week or more but he would never spend any money. He would just look at the girls on stage and smile from ear to ear all night. It was as if he had some happy little secret or something, except the smile was continuous.
He was kind of a jerk to girls sometimes. He would inquire about the champagne room and ask if he was allowed to do two hours in there. The girls would get really hopeful about this, especially on a bad night. He would lead them on all evening by saying that he would never just do a dance, it had to be a two hour VIP room and nothing less for him. But he’d never go through with it. Then girls would get angry because they wasted their time on him and went home with hardly any money. He did this to me once, and I never believed his bullshit again, no matter what he promised.
At the time, I worked with this girl, Renee. She was a talented dancer and she was beautiful. But she wasn’t nineteen years old anymore and she was a little heavier than most of the girls at the time. She used to get really frustrated on the bad nights. She would go around for tips and the smiler wouldn’t tip her at all. He would just smile at her.
“I’m tired of him just smiling in my fucking face!” she exclaimed one night. She was so angry over it, that she went over to him after she got off stage and let out a loud, nasty, vile smelling fart. The guy just got up and went into the men’s room.
Renee proudly retold the story to her fellow comrades and me, saying, “He wasn’t smiling after that!”