We make $1000/night, and lead glamorous lives of luxury
Yes and no. Talking averages here, that is incorrect. It’s 2014, and last time I checked, the world hasn’t recovered from the global recession. Spending money on a stripper is a luxury expense, not a mandatory one, like your light bill. Dancers are working longer hours and more shifts than a decade ago, because it’s like that now. Respect the hustle. I’d say that on average, strippers are making between $150-400/night nationwide, but there are no figures out there to validate this. Of course there are nights where sometimes we make a LOTTTT, but it’s rare. Also, take into account all the times a dancer works her entire shift, and leaves with $30, or nothing, due to “house fees” and tip out. We’ll get to this later. It’s commonplace.
We aren’t in school or don’t REALLY have a degree because strippers are DUMB
“A degree in what, you said?? You’re in school where?” *gratuituous eye roll/smirk* Because really, how could strippers be in school, or have undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate degrees? If that were true, why would you be stripping? Also, wouldn’t that mean that you’re “too smart to be doing this” (a line I’ve heard more times than I can count.) Once, by simply dropping some basic scientific jargon (“genotype”, “phenotype”, “allele,”) to a geneticist I had in VIP, he practically had to pick his jaw up off the ground. The idea that strippers are all ditzy bimbos is alive and well, and simply not true.
We’re drug addicts/alcoholics
In the 7.5 years I’ve been in the industry, I don’t see a higher rate of drug addiction and/or alcoholism than in the general population. I really don’t. Sure, there’s the stray tweaker stripper who bounces into your club for a few weeks, then is fired or vanishes. Or maybe there’s that one “house girl” (someone who’s a vet at that particular club,) who leaves work sloshed, night after night. But what about that guy I just saw at the grocery store by my house, reeking of booze at 4 pm on a Sunday? What about the intern at Merrill Lynch, strung out on adderall? Strippers want to stay in control of the situation, make sure we’re the ones taking you for a ride, and profiting as much as possible. To do this wasted, consistently, is simply not conducive to our M.O.
We’re all heterosexual nymphomaniacs
We all have “daddy issues”
Why is this particular theme so prevalent in the mythical ideas about strippers? At risk of getting too personal, I have a very loving and supportive relationship with my father. He was there for my growing up at every possible event, every milestone. This may be true for some dancers, and certainly is, but let’s look to a scene from the premiere episode from this season of Girls, where Jessa (a non-stripper,) is in rehab, talking to another patient to talk about how common this is:
Jasper: “Filtered through the kaleidoscope of your own daddy issues…”
Jessa: “I do NOT have ‘daddy issues.’”
Jasper: “Please, please, please, we all have them. Now periodically, if you can, take time to reflect on the daddy issues that your daddy had with his daddy, and his daddy with his daddy and his daddy before him and every daddy that’s been going on daddying before that daddy. I know you know this, you’re quite wise.”
Now a quote from my mother, who I am also close with, and who is loving and supportive: “No one gets out of this life unscathed.” Just like drug addiction and alcoholism, I don’t believe ‘daddy issues’ to be any more present amongst strippers than the rest of the world. I just don’t.
We all have a history of sexual trauma
Here’s some fun facts about living in the United States and being a woman, stripper or not:
So basically tons of women all over the place, in your office, your mom, your classmate, your girlfriend, have been sexually assaulted or raped. Has it happened more in the lives of strippers? Who knows, and who cares. There is no official data on the matter. This is a huge problem.
We’re generally unclean humans
Do you have seriously ANY idea how clean strippers are? How much time is spent preening, tweezing, waxing, washing, shaving, wiping, and spraying places non-strippers probably never even bother with? How many times have we all heard a joke where the punchline is something like “that’s about as clean as a stripper’s vagina?” Well since you must know, dicklette, we’re very fucking clean. Why? Because we’re salespeople, and our product is our physical body. Why would hygiene ever be lacking? Use your head. No, the one on top of your neck.
“By stripping you’re just taking the easy way out”
The easy way out? How easy does it sound to you to climb onto a stage in a room filled with other people, take some or all of your clothes off, and try to look convincingly sexually attractive while dancing? Does that sound easy to you? That’s just the beginning. What about talking to men who smell weird and say awful, perverted, unspeakable things? Being rejected again and again, throughout your shift, every shift; that’s what happens as you go around, soliciting lap dances or VIP/champagne rooms. Sometimes customers will say unbelievably mean things about your body/face/appearance with the nonchalance of a weather forecast. Easy? No. Facing stigma, ostracism, and mockery from friends and family, which sometimes is the case? Yep, real easy.
We hate our jobs/lives
Some do, most don’t, probably no more than the person who’s been working in a factory their whole life, wondering where all the time went.
We can’t do anything else/this is our only option
I don’t have children, and I have a four-year college degree from a great school. There are no terrible circumstances making me do this. I, like most dancers, do it for the freedom, financially, and literally. I do this so I can pay off my student loans faster than I could in any other legal profession with my degree in this economy. I do this for my future, but this is not my only option. It’s my choice, and I love it. Lots of mothers do it so they can spend more time with their children, and provide them with a better life than they could otherwise. I see nothing wrong with this, and if you do, maybe you should think about why.
We can’t sustain a romantic relationship
Nah. As long as a romantic partner knows and acknowledges that stripping is just a job, albeit a heavily stigmatized one, there generally aren’t any problems. There are loads of married strippers.
We all sell “extras”
This may be true in other countries, but not here. Of course some do, but not all. Stripper ≠ prostitute, so please stop asking. No, I don’t want to come to your hotel room.
We all know pole tricks and make most of our money onstage
There’s “stage clubs,” and “hustle clubs.” There are clubs that don’t even have poles. For the most part, out of the eight clubs I’ve worked at, the money is in giving dances, and maybe only half the girls know pole tricks.
Our money is 100% profit
This one irks me the most. You see, strippers PAY to work. Once hired, strippers sign on as “independent contractors,” leasing the club’s space. We pay nightly to be there. On top of that, there’s tipping: the DJ, the manager(s) or door/floor guys, and the house mom (if applicable; look it up.) For those that file taxes, there’s a huge pay-in at tax time on top of all this. I’d say in general, strippers only keep 60-66% of their actual earnings.
We make all our money of rich white old guys
Nope. My most lucrative regular was an undocumented immigrant, who, according to him, had all that money because he worked constantly and lived at home, rent-free. In the wake of the recession, the times, they are a’changin’, and this applies to who has the money in the club as well.
Being a stripper is inherently degrading
The last time I felt degraded in the workplace was busting my ass for minimum wage at a retail job. “Minimum wage” is not a livable wage. Doing what I do now, I make in a night what I’d make in a paycheck, even though I was working on commission. If I was the customer who got too drunk and spent hours in the champagne room, and woke up with an outrageous credit card bill to explain to the wife, I’d say that’s pretty degrading/disempowering.
Strippers don’t have morals- how could they?
I’d say that if you assume that strippers have no morals and are gold-digging robots, there’s something more wrong with you than me. I don’t remember signing a pact with some malevolent force, giving up my soul. Last time I checked, I participate in family functions, and love my family and friends- male and female- intensely.
Isabel Kennedy has been dancing naked (or mostly naked) for money since 2006. A freelance writer and artist based in …
Director CFS Entertainment