I had no job.
Stripping isn’t a job…it’s an activity with the chance of random prosperity. A job has a set schedule and routine that is required to receive a paycheck. A paycheck is a form of payment for services rendered. Out of that paycheck taxes are paid to the country in which one resides to help pay for the privileges associated with living there. As long as you do your job, you will receive your paycheck. If you don’t do your job, then you will be fired and no longer receiving said paycheck. And with a job comes opportunity for advancement. None of what I have mentioned pertains to stripping:
For one: no real schedule…they try, but there are ways around that. And no, they don’t involve managerial ‘favors’ (unless you really, really have a thing for him). Two: taxes are optional…most clubs don’t report your earnings to the IRS. They don’t really give a damn, just pay your house fees. I paid taxes on what I earned simply out of guilt because it definitely wasn’t a requirement. Okay, okay, I paid taxes on a portion of what I earned. I figured that was fair since Uncle Sam wasn’t showing his ass every night for his countrymen. Three: getting fired doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t come back. In fact, if you just show up the following night like nothing happened, the manager might have been too f*ck%d up to remember he fired you. I’ve seen it happen. And four: how many strippers do you see becoming managers? Exactly. Oh, they’ll become a waitress or even a bartender, if they’re lucky. Usually this is because they’re sleeping with management or, they’re preggers and have been a loyal, non-problem-causing dancer for a number of years. But I see this as sideways mobility, not upward. And is managing a strip club really moving upward? A little bit, but in the whole scheme of things…you’re still someone’s bitch. In a suit.
I had no job and no friends. At least in Orlando. So, I weighed my options. I had one…Find a job in Orlando. I scoured the papers, even considered retail but at five or six dollars an hour? WWYD? And then one lonely Saturday night found me sitting at home, bored and not feeling like getting dolled up, driving to Tampa and working all night. I decided to check back in with the lesbobar. The blonde host was there again and I couldn’t help but count the money hitting the stage. Each time it hit the floor, I calculated how much gas I could save not having to drive out of town so much. And it would be so much more fun! I could perform, make money and break the monotony of stripping thereby making my presence in the club that much more effective! Brilliant, I tell you, brilliant!
Until that blonde bitch didn’t give me the time of day. “Yeah, everybody says they can dance.” True, I felt her on that one. But then I asked for an opportunity to audition. “Okay.” I was prepared to kick my heels off right then and there, until she traipsed off into the crowd. Okay, I thought. I get it. I’ll just go then. But I’ll be back.
And I showed up the following Saturday. She acknowledged me among the throng of sweaty lesbians. And she especially acknowledged the $20 bill I put in her hand. That warranted me a little bit more face time once the show was over. I hung around well after the crowd dispersed and she took the time to show me around, give me some information on the show and what it entailed. I was in. She told me to come back the following weekend with my music and she’d put me in the lineup. It’d be sink or swim. Awesome, I could do that. I looked forward to the following Saturday. After not making it into the lineup because of overbooking, I really looked forward to performing the following Saturday. And once again, no room. I was getting brushed off and it hurt my feelings. Nothing more to elaborate on. I was upset, but mostly hurt because I just wanted a shot just like any professional performer. Oh well, I rationalized, her loss.
My trips to Tampa became frequent, as it was my only source of income. I was making money but I was still quite uncomfortable with not having something solid coming in. No matter how little it was, it was documented income and a job that would keep me rooted in reality. A strip club is not a safe reality. Or even sane, to be honest. Living without sunlight as a vampire may be in vogue right now, but it’s just not healthy. 1000 i.u. of vitamin D a day is very, very good for you, whether it’s artificial or from the sun. There are no windows in strip clubs for a reason. Not just to keep people from seeing in, but more to keep people from seeing out. Clubs don’t thrive if people get a reminder of reality. Ever been working a graveyard shift and the door to the outside opens, letting in a sliver of sunlight? It shocks you, jolts your system. Sunlight can clear out a club faster than a bomb threat…men remember their families waiting at home, dancers remember how nice the sun feels on their skin without a hangover…reality=death to clubs everywhere. I didn’t want to get caught up in the fantasy. I had no idea how hard that would be.
The drive from Tampa to Orlando is a pretty smooth journey. It became automatic and the time went by fairly quickly. I developed my own schedule, which helps my mind prepare for work. Remember my lesson: to be sexy, you have to feel sexy. So the drive helped mellow me out and prepare for battle. I did my hair and make-up at home. It’s a much, much calmer atmosphere than the hectic yelling, cackling and bitching of a dressing room. Having a quiet beauty routine does wonders for your mentality and plus, I enjoyed it more. And I left at the same time every night. Routine is everything. I can’t stress that enough. Sometimes I’d bring a snack for the drive: crackers, fruit…nothing too heavy. Feeling bloated in a thong isn’t sexy for anybody. On this particular evening, I didn’t have any quick road snacks so I stopped at my local fast food chain and got a 5 pc nugget…all white meat chicken in a light breading, all for 99 cents. No sauce. It adds unnecessary calories and makes quite a mess if you’re not used to being a multi-tasking driver.
It started out like every other drive. I had the mood music going…A/C…and I ate my nuggets. It had been raining earlier in the afternoon and the roads were still drying out. I thought nothing of it until a speeding car side-swiped me on the highway and I swerved to avoid the collision, right onto the wet grass with tires that didn’t have the best traction. I was headed straight for the concrete wall that made up the underpass below another highway. I tried to swerve back in the other direction and fishtailed out of control. According to the officer, this was the moment of fate that probably saved my life, other than the size of my jeep and my seatbelt. The back end collided with the end of a guard rail that extended just enough out from the underpass that it snatched me from going head first into the wall and also broke some of my momentum. Ripping out in the process, it flung me onto the opposite side of the grass…into oncoming traffic. I’m not sure how many times I spun or how close I had come to flipping over, as I knew that at one point I was on two wheels. I finally came to a stop. My body was shaking so badly as I slowly looked around at my car. It was destroyed. Every bit of it except for my seat. Crumpled metal everywhere. All of the windows were smashed except for the front windshield and by the time I faced forward again I was able to take a breath, only to smell nothing but gasoline. And through the cracks were headlights coming straight at me and they belonged to a semi, blaring his horn. I couldn’t move a muscle.