I approached the big double doors. Chest thrust out, head up, a big smile on my face. The bouncer pulled the door open without so much as a second glance at me, and I entered the dim foyer. I hitched my bag up higher on my shoulder, took a deep breath, and made my way up the stairs. My insides were squirming but I tried hard to act as if I had done this a million times, like I was a seasoned pro. It was my first night working at a strip club.
Before I began stripping I had very little experience with strip clubs. Taking my clothes off on stage was not new to me, having performed burlesque for the last 4 years, but I had only been to a strip club a handful of times, mostly to cheer friends on in the Miss Nude competition at the Crazy Horse. I had never given or received a lap dance, unless you count the drunken shows my boyfriend received on occasion, which surely were anything but sexy. My only knowledge of strippers came from movies like Showgirls and Striptease, plus a short lesson a good friend of mine, and veteran stripper, gave me when I caught up with her in Melbourne the month before. “Make sure you have a clutch with your stripper survival kit in it,” she told me over a baked potato on Smith Street. “Lip gloss, phone, and baby wipes. Don’t ever use body glitter – the men won’t thank you for it when they go home to their wives with glitter all over them. And don’t forget to stick your tampon string inside.”
“Erm…what are the baby wipes for?” I asked.
“To make sure toilet paper doesn’t get stuck to your cooch after you pee.”
I crossed the floor and approached the long bar, where a woman was busy getting stuff ready for the night. “Fuck” she said, after I explained I had been told to come in tonight for my first shift. The hiring process had been pretty straight forward. I sent an email with a clip of one of my burlesque routines, and they sent me back an agreement to sign and told me to come in the next week, on Wed 19th December, 2012. Full training would be provided, apparently.
“Well, they didn’t tell me anything, and I’ve got a shit ton to do. Alright, quick, and I’ll give you the tour.”
I quickly followed her as she showed me the two lap dance rooms and gave me the run down. $60 for 10 minutes, and I got to keep $45. Oh, and absolutely No. Touching. I wasn’t allowed to touch the men and they weren’t allowed to touch me. This rule had been clearly outlined in the agreement I had been sent, along with the dress code: evening dresses, no knee-high boots, and no g-strings on the floor. I assumed this club was a bit more conservative than others, or perhaps Australia had stricter rules in general? Whatever the case, it suited me just fine. The manager showed me to the dressing room, which was located behind a stage surrounded by mirrors and sporting two poles.
The dressing room was clean but well-worn, and showed all the signs of housing women night in and night out. Bobby pins littered the counter, pink lockers sported graffiti and bumper stickers, piles of platform heels were all over the place along with a constant smell of hairspray and fake tan. I found a place in front of the mirror, which was a bit uncalled for, as I had arrived fully made up already. I wanted to get ready at home so I could fuss over my hair and makeup with only my cat to judge me. I fidgeted with my makeup whilst trying to stare at the small group of girls on the other side of the room out of the corner of my eye. They were tan, and lithe, and all sported long curls that spiralled half way down their backs. Their teeth seemed impossibly white to me in contrast to their dark tans. They were helping each other get ready and happily chatting away. They took no notice of me.
I took my outfit for the night out of my bag: a gift from my seasoned stripper friend. It was a long turquoise backless dress made of lycra, with lace panels that only just covered my breasts and splits up the front all the way to my hips. It seemed to suit the “evening gown” specified in my agreement, whilst still showing off as much skin as possible. I strapped on a pair of heels I had purchased from a sex shop the night before and checked myself one last time in the mirror. “Go make some money”, I said to myself as, clutch in hand, I made my way out on to the floor for my first night as a stripper.
Tune in next week for Part 2.