Ah, Flashdance. That bizarre every-Friday ritual in which the entire shift's dancers are rounded up into the dressing room like so many prime heifers, given a short pep talk -- SMILE! -- and herded on stage all at once, to the tune of the "Mission Impossible" theme.
I assume the intended effect is a wild frenzy of female pulcritude, but they are not reckoning for the general slackness of us day girls. Where we should be giggling and jumping up and down, most of us are standing around numbly onstage, or shivering like orphans. We are then to jump down and mill through the crowd, putting our bums onto lunchtime customers for 5-10 second intervals and demanding dollars, in much the same spirit that bums clean your car windows at stoplights and then ask for a tip.
But cynicism aside, today was my best day since Christmas and I like to take it as a sign I'm finally pulling out of my cedar fever/PMS/body dismorphia slump. Also nice: it wasn't all from one customer. While those gents who occasionally waltz through the club scattering G-bills and proposing marriage are a thrill, it's nice to know you can pull a good day without them.
And speaking of marriage proposals, today I received my first. OK, I'm kidding, sort of. On stage for my last set before Flashdance, I noticed a fellow in a red tie making googly eyes at me from VIP. He even tipped me, which was a bit of a surprise. VIPs rarely tip at this club; they just sit back and flash their Rolex watches and Italian shoes at you and wait for you to race over and collect like the lucky girl you are.
This chappie was attentive, though, and I made him priority one during Flashdance. But you're not allowed to sit with one customer; you have to circulate for about twenty minutes, spreading good cheer and simulated blowjobs. By the time I got back to Mr. Red Tie, he was eating a steak dinner, so I buzzed off and made my rounds. Came back again, made party chat, answered all the basic questions.
Yes, I like to dance.
No, Grace is not my real name.
My real name is Fantasy. Just kidding, it's Ecstasy. No really, it's Bambi. No really, that's it. I know. Blame my parents.
Yes, I think you're very handsome and nice and you certainly know how to treat a lady. Yes, I feel the super-special attraction between us.
All that out of the way, we move over to a couch in a dark corner and get down to the real business of the afternoon. Guy moves FAST. I have to play super-shy college girl to keep his finger out of my twat, and even then, reminders have to be issued with a fair frequency. But I'm making good money, and I keep it up.
Every time I tell him something he wants to hear he marvels about how wonderful and special and amazing I am. After an hour he's telling me that he plans to remarry, and when he does it will be someone just like me. Then he's asking me to lunch. The money I'm making is too good to cut things short, so I say he can e-mail me about it. Now I've got to think of a way to weasel out. I do really hate lying. I guess the trick is to remember that his involvement is that of a big game hunter, not a lover, so that while I may disappoint him, he won't actually be hurt. Or so I tell myself. Damn me, why do I have to think of customers as real people? I know good and well they don't think of me that way.
Also in play, my all-time favorite customer, the Plumber. This late-forties successful blue-collar guy is sending himself back to school to study political science, just out of curiosity. He's affectionate (but not in a creepy way) respectful and kind. When I say I'm glad to see him, I really mean it. When he looks tired, like today, I'm genuinely concerned. He never stays long and never buys more than two dances. On the other hand, he never asks for my phone number, never wants me to meet him anywhere else, never tries to make our relationship something that it isn't. There's a comforting reality to our interactions: I'm a dancer, he's a customer, we like each other, end of story.
And: my Evil Scientist, who is totally inhuman, absolutely sweet, and the most racist asshole I've ever met. He brings Klan material to the club for me to read and pretend to consider and told me he'd rather I fucked a dog than dated a Negro. He also takes all his table scraps home to his neighbors' dogs, and always tips the one raddled, middle-aged junkie waitress in the sea of curvy, college-aged ones. He loves to buy me dinner and make me eat, although he has to be high-pressured to buy dances. When I do dance for him, he's exceeding gentle and polite in a physical sense, but the things he says to me should curl my hair.
Mr. A. The most thoroughly inoffensive guy on the planet. He's a club institution, pours money around like water, buying snacks for the waitresses and shots for the DJ's. I'm one of his second-tier players. If his favorites -- invariably the most beautiful and veteran dancers -- aren't around, he'll get two or three dances from me. He likes to hum along with all the songs, and doesn't make eye contact.
And now goodnight. I'm off to shave my snatch in preparation for tomorrow's festivities.