Tidbits; 5 Things You Don’t Know About Strippers (Until You Are One)
This is so true, and I can tell you that having had many friends over the years that have been or are exotic dancers most can and will seriously relate to this. Now for those of you who are not a part of this world and may have some bizarre pre-conceived notions, you may want to have a read and learn a few things.
If prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, stripping may very well be the second oldest
— it all depends on exactly when the first uptight humans decided people shouldn’t walk around with their most enticing bits flopping nakedly in the wind. As soon as clothing became the norm, taking that clothing off became a profitable gig for anyone willing to learn how to do it well.
But despite the venerable legacy of this career, and the utter ubiquity of strip clubs in our modern cityscapes, most people know very little about the realities of dancing naked (or naked-ish) for money. So Cracked sat down with exotic dancers from across the United States: Emily, Laura, Zoey, Layne, Helen, Meredith, and a male stripper named Salvatore. Here’s what they told us:
#5. The Customers Can Be Dangerous
We’ll let one of our dancers, “Emily,” sum it up:
“I’ve had guys finger me unwelcomely, pull their dicks out of their pants off. We’re equipped to deal with it, but it gets shitty when they decide they don’t have to pay because you aren’t doing what they want you to do. I know girls who have been pinned down in champagne rooms.”
Yeah, there’s something about women who are willing to show off their bodies without shame that enrages a very specific sort of terrible person. It’s like they can’t stand the idea of the performer retaining any kind of power at all. “If I’m paying to see her body, I should get total access, regardless of what she says.” Every customer service job requires dealing with entitled dicks, but we’re guessing you’ve never had to deal with that.
Entitled dicks are ten times worse when they’re literal.
It’s only a minority of customers — every dancer we talked to said that — but you interact with a lot of customers. That means that women who work at strip clubs will be assaulted at some point in their careers. And we’re saying that studies show it was 100 percent of the cases they sampled.
And in case you think they skewed the stats by, say, declaring truckers wearing “Free Mustache Rides” baseball caps to be a form of assault, let us break it down: 61 percent of strippers report experiencing someone trying to penetrate them via finger, 82 percent have been punched, and a balls-out terrifying 56 percent reported having a customer freaking follow them home at least once. Holy shit, guys, what the fuck are you doing?
There’s no way we can make this sound more horrifying than the chart looks:
And then there are the non-violent clients who hand over their tips with a healthy side dish of “crazy.” Another of the dancers we spoke to — Zoey — said one customer tipped her with a package of tube socks. Another guy, “always came in with old-school bra and panties sets, trying to give them to the girls. He just had huge bags in his car full of really ugly lingerie, like something your mom would wear.”
“My curdshake brings all the boys to the yard.”
If your reaction to all of this is, “Yeah, men sure are terrible!” know that the female customers can be equally bad, sometimes worse. Zoey and Layne both reported women as being more likely to get “handsy.” Zoey remembers one girl who, “… was so handsy with all the dancers, and we’re trying to keep her hands off us without seeming like a bitch in front of all these customers. The second or third time she tried to grab my ass, I moved her hand away again and said ‘Seriously, you cannot do that, you have to stop,’ and she was like, ‘Oh what does it matter, you’re just a stripper.'”
Still, other than the bullshit from the occasional drunk/crazy dude, this is pretty easy money, right? It’s a few hours’ work for all the sweaty dollar bills that can fit in a G-string. Well, keep in mind …
#4. The Work Can Kill Your Body in a Whole Bunch of Ways
As Meredith put it:
“The toll of being on your feet for six to ten hours, basically doing squats and wall sits in heels — it’s going to fuck up your body. My knees crunch and pop when I kneel down now, years later. It’s high-impact exercise, and you’re doing it in fucking heels.”
“Without the DJ music blaring, our joints sound like a fork in a garbage disposal.”
And remember, stripping is the kind of job that brutally punishes having an “off day.” Most of us who aren’t heart surgeons or Special Forces operatives have the option of slouching through the odd day or two at work. Sometimes you’re in a shitty mood, or just coming down with something, and that can happen occasionally at most jobs without hurting your bottom line. Not so for strippers — they’re getting paid in sweaty, wrinkled tips, and customers won’t throw money at the dancer giving them anything less than their full attention:
Emily: “Dog die? Good luck paying your bills. Or, an example from my life, friend dying of cancer? Too bad, rent is coming up. It’s why there is a lot of drinking / drugs in the industry. Being able to act is a huge part of the job.” Speaking of which, guess what else strippers are required to do all day? Be around alcohol and drunk people, and making everyone involved feel like they’re part of the celebration. So good luck, if you’re the type who has a problem with it. “I drink every night at the club … it’s a huge part of the job,” says Emily. “If they don’t drink, some girls have a code-word at the bar. Some men want to have a woman to drink with, want to feel like they’re on a date. So saying ‘I don’t drink’ can hurt your money. So you ask for a house special and that means ‘no booze, please.'”
But that “no booze” request isn’t as common as employee livers would probably prefer. One study reported that 100 percent of women who work in nude-only clubs self-reported drinking during a shift and/or within the last three months. Half of those women reported using “other substances,” a phrase which here applies to both “smoking some pot” and “straight-up crack addiction.”
Bear in mind that they’re doing this during a job that involves upside-down 360 spins, six feet in the air, on an oiled pole.
Salvatore — our male dancer — said, “… most of the time I was working, I was usually under the influence of some sort of recreational drug … couple that with the fact that you may have some self-esteem issues, and couple that with the fact that you want to get done as fast as you can because you are disgusted with what you do sometimes.”
“How did Earl Warren live with himself?”
And that’s the thing — it doesn’t matter how positive the dancers may be about their work (and we’ll get to that in a moment), society undeniably acts like exotic dancers should flee the club every night with their faces covered in shame, while villagers pelt them with rotten vegetables. Salvatore assumed every woman there thought he was either a drug addict, someone with mental issues, or someone who made some “bad life choices” to get where he was (or as he put, thought he was “… a total scumbag”).
And yet …
#3. It’s Not a Field of Desperate, Broken People
All of the above would seem to confirm what society says about strippers (and all sex work, really): that it’s a desperate last stop for damaged people — mostly women — with no other options. But one consistent sentiment among our dancers was that it’s actually a pretty good gig, all things considered. And in general, strippers report remarkably high job satisfaction whenever someone takes the time to ask. A study in Britain found a majority of women in the industry like their job, and took home as much as $74,500 a year for their de-clothed efforts. And scientists (the best sort of scientists, we’re thinking) have conducted surveys on chatrooms where strippers gather, and found that non-monetary motivations were discussed nearly four times as often as monetary ones. Which means they did it for reasons other than “staving off starvation.”
Although you never have to worry about starving with that many singles.
For instance, no stereotype about women who choose to remove their clothing for money is more prevalent than “you must have daddy issues.” We’ll let Meredith field that one:
“Trauma didn’t lead me to stripping; it was the lack of trauma. You have to have self-confidence to do this job. People who were abused don’t handle being sexualized very well. Usually it’s something you have that makes you good at this job. Not something you didn’t have.”
Again, of course someone in the field might be compelled to lie about that in order to make their job sound better than it is. But it does appear that sweet lady Science backs her up: one study found that 66 percent of dancers were raised by both their mother and father (only slightly less than the general population), and 91 percent reported being close with their parents. And 78 percent reported no exposure to nudity or pornography as children whatsoever. We’re going to go ahead and guess more than 22 percent of the people reading this right now at least saw some porn as kids (“Mommy! These people wrestled their clothes right off!”).
This might be a bit more literal, depending on the fetish …
You can no doubt find plenty of stories from strippers who were in fact runaways, or dropouts, or women with low self-esteem who felt they had nothing else to offer the world. Some of you might even be surprised to talk to one who didn’t fit that profile. But that kind of raises a good point about why, in our society, we consider sex work to be so low and disgusting that doing it is automatically considered a tragedy. Especially considering that …
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