I should apologize. I’ve been less than a timely blogger lately. You see, the thing is… I’ve simply run out of things to blog about. I’ve been a dancer for over eight years. You would think that would be enough material for a few books. It is a lot of material. However, not enough to give me something new and interesting to talk about each and every week.
During my years a dancer, I also had a life outside the club. One might think they are two separate things but really, both worlds are intertwined for women like me. I remember working at the daycare center and seeing a little girl lift up her dress to show a group of boys her underwear. I intervened and told the girl that some things have to be private and we don’t go around showing boys our underwear or what’s underneath our dresses. I remember feeling like such a hypocrite that I had to just laugh at myself.
When I started dancing, it was because I so desperately needed the money to support my little family and make ends meet. I didn’t go there looking for friendship or love but I found it. More than my fair share.
“Don’t date anybody you meet at the strip club”. A new stripper (baby stripper) will hear that from multiple sources. Her parents, her non-stripper friends, the house mom who hands her the paperwork and asks her to fill out her first schedule. It’s easy to say and easy to make it a rule but not easy to follow.
If you don’t fall in love with a customer (which you very well may), you might fall in love with a DJ. Or a bartender, VIP host, bouncer, or another stripper. Or maybe you won’t. But I did.
I remember standing in the kitchen with my (then) boyfriend, the DJ I fell in love with, and my (then) four-year-old son. “I love you, Britts” he said. My stage name had become a term of endearment.
“Mommy… why does he call you Britt sometimes?”
“It’s just a silly nick-name” I answered, making a mental note to put an end to the use of my stage name in our home. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s all part of my story and what makes that story worth telling. Normal people just don’t have these problems.
Since the beginning of my stripping years, I wrote about my experiences in my diary. I drafted bits and pieces of stories and anecdotes in my email and sent them to myself. When I met my (now) ex, I discovered that he’d been doing the same thing. His book about working in a strip club and my own eventually became our love story.
Then the club became a source of pain and fighting for us. Our relationship that once seemed so perfect, began to crumble. We split up and our stories took on separate paths.
Since then, I’ve fallen in love again, more than once. I won’t say the number but I will say that those I shared my heart with weren’t men I’d met on online dating sites or in church.
I had another baby. I danced while pregnant, then while breastfeeding. Using a breast pump in the dressing room started some interesting conversations! I quit my day job and went back to school to earn a degree. All the while, I kept working at the club and I kept drafting stories in my email for the book.
Roughly three years ago, I pulled up all of my notes and began actually writing the book I had been saying I’d write one day. I fixed up the stories I had and typed up the ones I hadn’t already done. Soon I had a binder full of stories about my years as a dancer and I was still working in the industry.
The birth of my blog came from needing exposure and a public audience with whom to share my story with… Exploiting myself, my friends, and my experiences on the internet felt good. A girl like me loves attention, of course.
But it’s more than that. Getting on here and sharing this stuff feels like I’m connecting with the world and possibly changing it for the better in some small way.
I don’t have the money to donate massive funds to charity or to adopt a bunch of orphan children from third world countries. I have an Amazon smile account that donates a tiny percentage of my purchases to preventing animal cruelty and I have a modest savings account that will hopefully one day go toward adopting one orphan kid from wherever is most affordable…. But aside from that, I don’t really have the means to change the world in a huge way.
If my life had played out differently, maybe I would have become teacher and taught special needs children how to read and do math. Maybe I would have been a doctor specializing in women’s health, maybe working a couple days in a free clinic offering healthcare to economically disadvantaged women. But that’s not what happened. Life brought me to those double doors of the strip club and that was the path my life took on. I am the same person I was as a young girl and I am the same person that I would have been if I had gone some other direction. My experiences would be drastically different but my heart would be the same.
I understand that I can only change the world in ways that are in my power. I can’t move a mountain but if I can make one person, one broken person who is going through a tough time, feel better about his or her life and the person they are…then I’m happy.
In my line of work, I have met so many damaged individuals. Husbands suffering failing marriages, victims of child abuse, poverty, or sex crimes. The world is a big place full of souls and secrets. The strip club is a dark corner where broken hearts and empty spaces can take shelter.
In the club, most of us are broken. Many of us in the outside world are too. We simply hide it better in daylight.
Working at the strip club has served as a coping mechanism for me. It made me feel good about myself when my confidence was lacking. It allowed me to experience intimacy, even if it was with strangers, at a time when my relationship offered very little. It was a creative outlet as well as a sexual one. It filled a void in my life.
At the same time, a job like this can be very taxing. Sometimes it feels as though I’m swimming in a sea of souls, all of us broken people leaning on each other. Sometimes it gets to me. I just can’t fake who I am so I put my whole heart into it. Other people’s problems weigh heavily upon me because of this. Some nights, I drive home with the windows down, letting the cool, night air in full force as if to let all of the heartache go with the wind. It never works. It’s always still there. So, I look up at the stars and realize how small I am and how small we all are. So many stories exist underneath those stars, stories of heartache, pain, and broken promises… but also, stories of love, happiness, redemption and rebirth.
I’m one person, living a beautiful, imperfect, dysfunctional life. I work a strange job that comes with awful graveyard hours and a stigma that sets me apart from people who work more vanilla jobs. I’m fine with that because I know who I am. I feel that even though a large part of what I do for a living is simply dry-humping guys for money, I know that I do make a difference by showing everyone kindness…except that guy I poked in the eye for trying to pull a fast one and grab me somewhere he shouldn’t. Well, there have been a few of them. But you get the idea.
My favorite part of working as a stripper is meeting the guys with the crazy fetishes. Fetish work seems to be my niche. The reason I like it is because it’s very specific and I can have a really fun time exercising my creative muscles with it. Also, a lot of these fetishes are deeply rooted and take a very compassionate, open-minded person to understand. I love being that person. I love the wild, dirty fantasies and the unconventional things these men are into. Most importantly, I know they’re just people, human just like you and me. I’m not just a stripper. I’m a fantasy counselor.
The ideal job for me would be to work in a place that catered strictly to fetishes. I want to deal with the guys who want to be whipped and smacked around. I want to deal with the guys who want nothing more than a golden shower or a sniff of a hot girl’s armpits. I want to play with dog collars, handcuffs, a stethoscope and my naughty nurse outfit on a regular basis.
This stuff makes cooler stories, too. That’s part of my problem. I don’t run into enough blog-worthy situations to write new stories about. I could write about the daily grind stuff but I feel my readers might get bored. I mean, do you really want to read about the man who stuck a dollar in the side of my panties and attempted (but failed) to slide his finger around the front to touch elsewhere? Do you want to hear about the man who tried to violate me in the couch room with his wandering thumbs and smelled like B.O. while he was doing it? How about the guy who barfed all over the men’s room? While these things are part of the regular occurrences in a strip club, they aren’t all that interesting and they’re hardly blogworthy.
Sometimes I do encounter an interesting event but it’s not enough to write a full story about. Here’s one: A girl I worked with told me that one night, she swore she saw her absentee father in the club. He had left the family when she was really young and she had only grainy memories and photographs of him. She said that she was so sure it was him that she started running for the dressing room while hiding her face. She had to run past him to get there and as she did, she felt someone smack her on the ass cheek. She looked up and saw that it was him. She didn’t stop. She ran full speed this time for the dressing room where she could hide for a while. She told me that while she was hiding out and waiting for him to leave, another girl approached her and said, “There’s a guy out there looking for you. He says you remind him of someone and he wants a dance with you!” She curled up in the chair and cringed at the thought.
I once dated a guy who told me that waiting for me at the strip club after work reminded him of the time that his father left him in the car as a child while he went into the strip club to have a good time. You hear these things and wonder if they’re true. Sadly, they usually are. Once you’re a stripper, you become part of everyone’s story. Your story branches out like that of a tree. It grows and intertwines with other people’s stories.
I remember I befriended a customer who was in recovery for drug addiction. He was super helpful to me when my ex-husband was struggling with the problem. This man talked to me on the phone for an hour one time telling me where to turn for help. I like to think that I returned the favor when he asked a simple request of me a couple weeks later. “I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. I’m afraid they might prescribe a painkiller and if they do I’ll go back to using…”
“Can you tell them you’re in recovery?”
“I can’t… Could you call for me and tell them?”
“Absolutely” I said. And I called his dentist and told the receptionist to make a note.
He gave me a simple “Thank you” but really, we’d helped each other, so I thanked him too.
My blog is a place where I post some of my best work but not all of it. I have a binder full of stories that are set aside for the book. The blog is a little taste. It showcases my work without disclosing too much. I try to post mostly light hearted, humorous essays on the blog. I try to portray stripper life for what it is: a mix of good and bad but mostly something that has served me well and bettered my life. However, stripping truly is a mixed bag. You have to take the good with the bad.
I avoid writing about the sad stuff on the blog. And the ugly stuff. I had a mildly humorous essay about drug use that I almost posted but deleted before I hit “publish”. My reason is this: Drug use is not funny. While some of those anecdotes were silly and would likely illicit a few laughs, to publish it on my public blog feels to me like it would downplay the seriousness and the dangers of drug use. So I nixed that one.
I chose not to post publicly about the girl who had something slipped in her drink in the VIP room. Under the effects of some powerful chemical, she began washing her money and her cellphone in the sink. That night, I tried to stop her from putting her phone battery in her mouth and choking on it. It was the night of the VIP White Party. When I snatched the battery from her mouth she dragged me down onto the wet bathroom floor, ruining my beautiful, all-white outfit. I guess I just did share the story publicly but the point is… Not everything is print-worthy and I know it.
Instead of posting every detail, I pick and choose what I think is worth telling. A funny thing happened one night at the gas station after work. Yes, I know. I always say, “NEVER GO THERE AFTER WORK!!!” but every now and then, I do. I try to go to the one that’s slightly farther down the road from the club because there’s always less people there. I had an incident this past summer where a guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer followed me there. So, whenever I HAVE to go get gas after work, I have a friend follow me so I’m not alone.
I parked the car and opened the gas tank. “Twenty regular please” I said. The young man working the station that night didn’t ask me the normal cash or credit? He just pressed the button. “CASH” I said.
He just smiled at me and said, “I know.”
I wonder what gave him that idea. Was it the deep, black winged eyeliner on my eyes, the hot pink lipstick, or the smell of perfume and cigarettes that told him I was the type who would always pay cash?
To top it off, I thanked the man for his assistance and then smiled at my friend and thanked him for coming along to look after me. The young gas station attendant heard me say thanks again and looked at me and smiled. “Your welcome” he said in a flirty tone. He totally thought I was hitting on him.
Funny little anecdote, right? Sure, but not enough to be a story on its own.
“If you don’t have anything to write about, why don’t you just make something up?” People have suggested this as a way of countering writer’s block when I just don’t have a story to tell at the moment. The answer is: BECAUSE IT’S WRONG. I consider myself a personal essay writer but I do also write fiction. I could easily write a fictional tale or two about stripper life. However, if I am passing my work off as real experiences, I honor my promise to only tell true stories. This means that when you log on and notice that my blog hasn’t been updated in a while, it’s because I have nothing to report. Or because for one reason or another, I did not consider an experience print worthy.
So, what constitutes print-worthy material? Something off-the-wall strange and hilarious? Something extra juicy or over-the-top sexy? And why bother at all? What about my life is so unique and special that others would be compelled to read about it? Maybe I’m not so different after all. At the end of the day, I’m just another person trying to make it in the world. I just like to share my life in a more significant way than just having social media accounts. I do believe I live an interesting life and I certainly work an interesting job. However, my job only occupies about ten to fifteen percent of my time. The rest of my time, I’m just a normal girl. Well, maybe not normal but you get the idea. I make my living by doing lap dances but I don’t do them twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
I read an article written by a stripper about her experiences in the dating world. She discussed things like being stereotyped and wondering when the right time to tell a new person about her occupation should be. I don’t remember her exact words but she said something like, “When you’re a stripper, you’re a stripper all day long. You’re a stripper when you’re out getting coffee or when you’re walking your dog.”
Those words stuck with me because they ring so true to my own life. I’ve often wondered if it’s the same with other jobs. Teachers and mail carriers and CEO’s. How much does one’s profession seep into his or her everyday life? We all have certain qualities that shape who we are and make certain jobs a perfect fit. Then there are ways our jobs of choice influence who we are and how we grow. We learn different things in different workplaces. But is a former dentist who is forever passionate about oral health the same as a former stripper in the world outside the workplace? I don’t really have an answer to that question.
Part of what sets us apart from others is the way we live our lives. The rest is just the stigma that comes with the job.
I recently visited my friend in the hospital after the birth her son. We met years ago when I first started dancing. She was the cool, wild girl with an upside down cross tattooed on her lower hip. She wore knee high boots and danced to rock music. She climbed up, down, and around the pole, artfully bending her body around it in ways I had never seen before.
Being as shy as I was back then, I didn’t know what to think or say to a girl like that, but she made it easy. She was outgoing enough that I didn’t have to be. We became friends in no time. And yes, I did get the story behind the Satanic tattoo. “I was just mad at my boyfriend when I got it. I had it done in some guy’s basement and I’m getting it covered up soon”.
We became friends right away. I remember we took our kids to Chuck E. Cheese’s to play. I remember the kids’ birthday parties but also the many shared lap dances and the nights we drank just a little too much on the job together. All the turbulent relationships we’d each endured, the shared stripper accessories, and the strip club drama.
By now, we hadn’t worked together in about a year but we’d stayed in touch. After I pulled into the hospital parking lot, it occurred to me that the last time I had seen her, she had pigtails in her hair and we were taking turns torturing some man’s nipples with a pair of nipple clamps. I shrugged, found the card I’d picked up for her, and jotted a congratulatory message in curly, cursive lettering.
When I saw her, she looked a mess from ten hours of labor and an emergency C-section but she was every bit as beautiful as she ever was. I took in the sight of her, a pretty smile, tired eyes, and tangled hair. In her arms was something tiny, dressed in blue.
Newborn babies are like a foreign concept to me. I’ve had two of them myself yet I always feel so strange around them, as though I’m not qualified to hold them. It’s as though I’m afraid I might break them or give them some sort of germ from the big, dangerous, world outside the womb. I held him anyway. Wow, I thought. I had forgotten how it felt to hold a tiny, new person in my arms. Yet my arms remembered. Muscle memory.
As the tiny boy lay in my arms, I thought about the man he would one day become. What kind of things would he grow to do? What kind of life would he live? The possibilities are endless with a brand-new life.
For the rest of the time that I was there visiting, we talked about our children and family life. We didn’t talk about couch dances, VIP rooms, or stripper life at all. We are mothers, women, and human beings, outside of our lives as dancers. We look just like other mothers and other women our age. We just have some colorful stories on our pages.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been dancing for a living for eight and a half years. This fall, it will be nine. I have what I believe is some sort of sports injury to my right shoulder. Either it’s a permanent ailment or it simply never gets enough time to heal because I strain it three nights a week. It doesn’t cause much pain during the day. I forget about entirely but instantly remember when I am woken up at night by the pain. I’m otherwise a healthy, fit, young woman. Dancing has probably done more good than harm but I wonder what the years ahead will bring. I keep imagining myself as an elderly woman telling my thirtyish year old physical therapist stories about my past. “You know, I used to be a dancer… You wouldn’t believe how I could swing around a pole!” I like that even when I am an old, old woman, I will still have some stories to tell.Here’s what I’ll do. I will do my best to post something awesome as often as possible. Sometimes I will. Other times I will be exhausted and my brain will be fried from staying up all hours of the night pole dancing. But when something good comes to me, I will share it. I’ll put it out there for all to see. After all, isn’t that what strippers are best at?