Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Running Into People You Know While Stripping

I used to work in a Strip Club - this was my view, every night...

Daily Beast columnist Miyoko Rifkin wrote a story called "The Surprising Truth About Running Into People You Know While Stripping" which caught my eye for two reasons. Firstly, I worked (briefly) in a strip club last century so I have some small knowledge about 'the life'; and secondly I too met women I knew from school who became strippers (and also some who were prostitutes).

There were a few instances that I ran into a friend from high school at the club where I was a house dancer. I wasn’t uncomfortable having them see me perform naked, or even give them a lap dance. The conversation would generally just end in a “damn, I wish I had asked you out in high school” statement. It wasn’t weird, or shameful for me to have been known as a person, and later seen as a stripper. I was both of those things then, and still continue to be. But the dramatic difference I noticed immediately about strip club culture, was the level of humanness and honesty that was allowed because of the level of vulnerability.
~ Miyoko Rifkin 
It really is quite surreal, because often those women (I say women, even though we were all just a few years, or less*, out of High School) were not the girls at school you might have thought would 'fall into' the sex industry. The thing is, when you meet eachother for the first time, you both take a mental pause before both realising "we're both here to make a dollar" and then that's that. Depending on how well you knew them at school you may or may not have conversations reminiscing about the old days, but usually it was just a metaphorical shrug and then back to business.

Sure, at some point there would be the obligatory brief explanation of how they came to be strippers but it was moot - we were both doing what we were doing, and it was what it was. I had the advantage of seeing them naked, and they didn't - because I was the DJ. Sometimes the girls would go into longer explanations because they were nervous but I would always cut them short. I didn't need to hear the longform story because I'd heard them all before. All the girls wanted from me was an acknowledgement I didn't think they were sluts and whores, and they could carry on guilt free.

I was happy to give this 'absolution' because I honestly didn't think they were sluts and whores (even if they were slutty or prostitutes) because who am I to judge? I was a bit of a male slut myself, so what? If you like sex, so what? You're meant to like it!

The only ones who didn't give a fuck what I thought were the ones who'd been in the life already for a few years. WTF did they care if that sophomore kid was now DJ'ing in the same strip club as them? You do your job and let me do mine. By that stage I wasn't the first 'familiar face' they'd seen while dancing and they'd already learnt to work the angle and play the punter as a mark:

"I don't give a fuck, as long as you make it rain sweetheart!!"


*PS - there was one girl I was kinda sweet on in my last year of High School but she was three years younger than me so 'off limits'. We got on really well, and she was crushing on me majorly, but I always kept her at arms length because jail bait, even though she looked and acted a lot older than her years.

When I worked in a strip club I visited another club on one of my off nights - and there she was, on stage! She was about 19 or 20 by then and we chatted later and I have to admit my immediate thoughts were "you're not jail bait now". It was good to see her again but I took it no further (as much as part of me wanted to, as did she) because I got a sense that she was... trouble. She was still the same girl but her innocence was completely lost.

My hunch proved correct when 2 years later she got busted for distributing meth and earned herself a 6 year stretch. I suspect she took the fall for her boyfriend, who was a biker and highly placed in his 'motorcycle club'. I lost track of her after that.

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