They say ‘the world is a stage.’ And it’s true. Sometimes we put on airs that convey the person we want people to see and like, but not necessarily our actual selves. As a stripper, you have to take it a step further. You have to create a persona that you think will net you the most profit. And sometimes that image changes from night to night, or even table to table. It’s very frustrating, like sales. “I should have said this. That would’ve closed the deal…Uh, I’m such an idiot. I should never have said that!” Everything you do in life revolves around selling: your body, your mind, your ideas, someone else’s ideas. It just depends on the circumstances and the industry. Life is one big sales pitch.
So, bring on the naughty nurses, sexy kittens, bad school girls and every other costume they sell at those stores no one admits to visiting. We were there to be the fantasy for as many men as possible, so the more crap you had in your arsenal, the better. I had so much stuff by the end of my stripper stint, I’m still finding a breakaway thong or an ankle garter in the back of a drawer. I dare not attempt to add up the amount of money I spent over the years. But then again, it was an investment. I enjoyed adding up the money those silly costumes made me. So no complaints. Let’s see…I was a dominatrix, a ‘good kitty’, a french maid, Poison Ivy, a ballerina (of course), Wonder Woman, a 60’s schoolgirl, a teacher, a vampire, a secretary, a pin-up girl, silk pajamas, and my favorite, a sexecutive. Each night I let my mood dictate what I felt like wearing and then my attitude would follow. There were some nights that the outfit just didn’t seem to be working for me. I blame the outfit, but truthfully, it was probably my attitude.
I worked hard on my heterosexual persona. What choice did I have? At the time, I knew it would be stripper suicide to run and tell every horny guy in the place that I was gay. (maybe not all of them, the freaks!) But wouldn’t it just ruin the fantasy that I was really titillated at the prospect of getting naked for men? I mean, it still gave me a little rush, but the biggest thrill was the almighty hundred-dollar bill. I’d say the almighty dollar, but we all know how far that goes these days. I couldn’t stand lying. It is truly against my nature. Not that I haven’t told a little white fib or two, but I keep them to a minimum, saving them for an absolute necessity. And I considered this an absolute necessity. Why did they need to know anyway? It’s not like I was trying to date any of them or get to know them on a personal level. It was my business, right? There goes my rationale again. But, you have to admit, it’s valid.
And so I smiled pretty and made great conversation with these incredibly chatty, amazingly generous strangers. Too much conversation. One evening I was having a pretty good time with a guy I just knew was about to get a room with me. We were laughing, having an easy time getting to know each other. At a point in the convo, I knew that he wasn’t going to ask me for a dance (it’s a gut reaction…an experienced dancer just knows) so I decided to take advantage of a lull and go for it. Why not? He’s a man looking for naked company and I’m great company with no qualms about getting naked so…the answer was no. Why not? According to this guy who had just wasted about 40 minutes of my night, it’s not that I wasn’t attractive, it’s just that he was having such a great time that we were more like friends or even brother/sister and it would be awkward seeing me naked. Wow. I never saw that one coming. And just after that wonderful revelation, he hits me with a mack truck…’You’re so smart. Why in the world are you doing this?’ Hmmm, where have I heard that before? Several times over the past few months, in fact.
I thought things over for the next few days. Out of sheer angst, I didn’t work for almost two weeks. I couldn’t understand what was so wrong with having a brain and a body. And why wouldn’t a man want both? And finally, a light bulb clicked on. Yes, right above my head. Silly stripper, brains are for wives! Why come to a strip club to deal with smart women who have opinions and insight? They can deal with that at home or at work. They come to a strip club simply to revel in flesh. No words, no thoughts, just nude. Now. I went back to work to put my theory into action.
I played stupid. Twirled my hair, stared at the ceiling, grinned like there’s no tomorrow, and stuck my boobs as close to their face as I could without suffocating them stupid. I even giggled and I’m not a giggler. It’s either funny or it’s not. I increased the pitch in my voice too, like I had been sucking on a helium balloon. It worked. I found that I could segue into asking for dances much more seamlessly than when I was part of an intelligent conversation. My aloofness was a welcome relief to guys itching to get away from nagging wives or tedious jobs. And the more I bounced my boobs, the more they smiled and forgot about what they had been talking about in the first place. Who knew? I was making more money, but I was losing IQ points in the process. I got mad. Is this really all it takes to distract a man from a conversation? It’s not saying much for mankind. I discovered that I didn’t like being ignored unless my breasts were at attention. I also realized that there are just as many stupid men as there are stupid women and why should I lie about having an opinion on political matters or sports or other current events. I shouldn’t have to fake that, right?
Wrong. In that club, you do have to fake it. They know you don’t really want to be stuck there, listening to their drivel, surrounded by smoke, pretending to enjoy dancing for strangers. So why fake it? For the same reason almost everyone fakes loving their job. It’s a living and I was making a good one thanks to men like them who enjoy watching naked women. But I wasn’t going to just shut my mouth and silently play along to get along. That was definitely not my nature. I was going to make it, but, just like sex*, I was not going to fake it.
And so I talked. And talked. And talked. I told jokes, I argued about politics, I complained about sports and I laughed. But only if something was really funny. And when a guy said that I was too smart to be a dancer, I had a witty response: ‘Yes, and it’s your lucky day. You get a girl with beauty and brains. That’s why it’s going to cost you double.’ This usually net me a laugh, some dances and more often than not, a healthy tip just for being a smartass.
Towards my latter years, I discovered that the sexecutive look really worked for me. It defined me as an entertainer. And it was a bit butch, hinting at my sexual orientation. I loved it. I was no longer willing to lie about my sexuality. When I was asked directly, I answered honestly, with no regret. They either accepted it or they didn’t. And I didn’t give a damn which it was. I was determined to not lose my sense of self or downplay my intelligence out of shame or regret. So I flaunted it. I wasn’t running around in a couple of pieces of string anymore either. Why give it away when you can tease them by revealing just enough to get their interest? I had class and I wanted them to know it. My black business slacks said “I’m a bit demure”, but my rhinestone bra said “I have assets, and it’s going to cost you.” But the fedora and mirrored shades…they said “you will respect me, because I’m smarter than the rest of these bitches.”
*white fib; I have faked it two times in my life but I had a good reason…I was just too exhausted for it to be worth it anymore.