Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stripper Trip

Each time I sit to write about my stripper trip I get consumed by writing about the structure and the general stripper experience. I backspace, erasing paragraph after paragraph of information because volumes already exist about the subject. What I really want to write about, what I actually NEED to write about, is how I fit into the new world. And yes, I am referring to the strip club as a new world since it came with an entirely new set of laws: of motion, attraction, exponents etc that don't exist in the world I'm used to.

I went naive. Sure I've read a mountain of literature on the subject of stripping, partake in other forms of sex-work, and had an excellent stripper mama at my side, but really, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. And really, I was getting myself 'into' it. For seven days Crush and I worked the club, leaving only to eat fast food and sleep. I can't quite say I'm a veteran stripper (these ol' knees aren't quite creaky enough), but I think I interacted with pretty much every kind of patron, manager, and dancer there is, which in one compacted week, is a whole hell of a lot.

On stage at the Lusty Lady peepshow we don't have stripping routines. We might take off a superfluous item of clothing or two but we are essentially naked from the time we start our shifts to the end, continuing our swaying and sache-ing, booty-bumping and grinding from start to finish, pausing only when all the windows are closed and we know no one is looking. At the club everyone is watching like a hawk and I had to learn to walk, talk, and dance sexy and put together from the time I walk into the pit of club until the time I leave, hours later. Most of the time I didn't even try to do the sexy bit, considering I had to incorporate my obvious Bambi standing and near-tumbles, sticking to toothy grins, talking up my newness and my seemingly alien interests and pursuits, and giving more in my lapdances through eye contact and giggling than all the headstands and crotch-to-face splits other girls chose to give.

I'm not much of a hustler. Half the time patrons threw money at me just because I told them as much, choosing to reward my easy dialogue and willingness to just take it all in. Granted, that too is a role that I learned to manipulate to some extent, but overall just being myself seemed to be what it took to pay my expenses and then some. I learned, not so quickly, that being honest and real left me vulnerable to making some real and occasionally intense connections I still don't know what to do with. Making friends with the awkward kid whose friends always left him for dates, experiencing deep seated projections from a solo-woman patron (the only one I met and whom none of the dancers aside from Crush and myself would approach) who wanted to take me home and who I wanted to release wild into San Francisco kink culture, guiltily taking wads of cash and poetic compliments from a hard working Navajo family man who was forced by his wife to go release some steam (though probably not their savings.) After receiving a totally rad bracelet off the wrist of a particularly soulful individual I swore I needed no more mementos from my trip.

While I know I will go back to the club again I can't imagine myself stripping full time. Without the safe barriers of the glass its harder to keep up the fantasy, the always on, always open for business attitude. Though the naivety is less of a hindrance I'm afraid of what may result of my overwhelming openness. Crush taught me to lie about just about everything: my age, my hometown, what I do for work, why I was in town, my sexual fluidity, politics etc. Some things I fudged as safety precautions, but I could not play a different person. I am what I am and I am thankful to those I connected with who were appreciative of that, however there is lots of room to develop the bitter stripper stereotype when everyone  you talk to for hours and hours measures your worth fiscally, even if they are checking out the insides in addition to the exterior. I love sex-work and I don't want to burnout just yet.

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