Friday, September 29, 2006

winning streak

I didn't run away from home, nor did our friend John come back to the club and murder me, as promised. I haven't felt like blogging, and I finally realize it's because I don't want to jinx a good thing. I've been having such ridiculously great times -- er, make that totally adequate -- um, let's just say things have been OK, very OK, and I'm afraid if I do or say anything, it'll ruin it.

This month is the one-year anniversary of me getting fired from the yoga studio for reasons to this day unknown ("not a good match for us"), crying for two days, and returning to the sordid life of iniquity I lovingly call the titty business. I didn't plan to do it for long. I'd never been more than an average dancer for a week here and a week there in shady, two-bit dive bars, anyway. I wasn't drawn to it for the glamor (ha!) or the riches (double ha!) but for the speedy and easeful hiring process. Throw a thong, a bikini top, and a pair of shoes into your back-pack, hit up every club in town on a Tuesday afternoon until somebody gives you a job, and by the end of the day you've got a fistful of twenty dollar bills. Or ten dollar bills. Fives. Ones. Hell, money is money.

As it happened, I went to the two sleeziest joints in town and got turned down. Then I went to a relatively nice place and was hired before I'd walked all the way in the door. Gambler's luck, I guess. Also by chance, it was Texas-OU football day and in the middle of the afternoon the club was full of drunk Hispanic guys up from the Rio Grande valley to make a day of it in the big city. I made $400 that day, which to me then constituted riches beyond my wildest imagining. That's when I understood that you could make real money prancing around in your underpants. As it turned out, that was an unusually good dayshift at that particular ass factory. Still, the pickings were pretty good.

At the time, I wanted to go to Washington, D.C. the next month to see that Dalai Llama with my friend and consort, Barbara. All of a sudden, the money was easy. So I went. Then I went to Vegas, cause I felt like it. Then I went to New York City to visit my friend Emily and welcome my old high school roomie Pam home from foreign wars. Then I went to Florida to see my Grammer cause she's the one who put me through yoga school in the first place and I don't get to see her much and I love her. Finally, I settled down and started saving some money. I never knew how much money I'd make in a day. It always felt like luck, but my number came up often enough. My bank account got so fat and I got so cocky, I told my brilliant and beloved college-dropout boyfriend that I'd send him back to school on my dollar and he took me up on it.

So then all of a sudden, it couldn't be luck anymore. Because luck is not going to support two adults and three cats and a college tuition and two aging automobiles that have to go to the mechanic a lot. All this hit me when we got back from the trip in August. And so I spent most of that month -- when I wasn't at the club -- in bed, shivering.

And then suddenly, everything got good and I started making money. I don't know how, or why, except that I really, really, really wanted to. All of a sudden I'm an ass-shaking, high-heeled money-making machine. I think I finally figured this game out. I think things finally clicked. Or else it's all just a hot streak, and then I'm fucked indeed.

Monday, September 18, 2006

john's speech

Hey, come over here. Yeah, c'mere. S'down, OK? Wow, you're pretty. Hey, how long you been dancing? Two years, huh? So you're an experienced girl, right? OK, cause I need to talk to a girl with some experience. This is the thing. I just got off probation, OK, and I want to have some fun, you know what I mean? I mean sometime you just want to have a cookie, right? Like you just think, hey, I've been a good boy -- I should get a cookie. OK?

So this is what I want, OK, and I will give you a hundred dollars if you will tell me, if you can get me, or you can tell me where, some coke. You know what I mean? OK? Oh, come on, you know where to get it. The other girl knows. Look at me. Look in my face. You don't know? OK, fine. No, sit down.

You're so cute, aren't you? Hey, take that top off. What? OK, dance then. Start now. I don't care. I've got plenty of money. If you can tell me where to get some coke I'll give you anything you want. Hundred dollars. Two hundred. It doesn't matter. Listen, they've been piss-testing me for two years and I just wanna have some fun, now, OK? Is that so bad?

Oh, wow. Put those tits in my face. C'mon, closer. What the fuck, no one's looking. Can I suck 'em? No? OK. No, keep dancing. I wanna take you home tonight. Can I take you home tonight? Please. Please, I just wanna have some fun. I've got six hundred dollars and you can have all of it, I don't care. Why not? Why not? Don't you like me? Is something wrong with me? C'mon. I don't wanna get you pregnant or anything. I just wanna fuck you. I just wanna look at your face when you're cumming, like it was a movie and we were in Russia and you thought you were about to die and it was the last time you were ever going to have sex, that is just so, so, so...

C'mon, I thought you liked me. Don't you like me? I'm a good guy. Don't you think I'm a good guy? Listen, I used to be a quarterback. Yup. High school. Yeah. Quarterback. I'm the guy that counted off for the other guys, that's me, the guy that counted off. The guy in charge. I'm a good guy. I can see that you're different. I can see that. And I don't want you just for sex. Other guys, they want you just for sex. You know that, don't you? Life is short. Life is so short and pretty soon you won't know what happened to you, and a guy like me is going to come along once in your life. I hate to tell you this, but after me it's all going to be downhill. You are never going to meet anyone again who cares about you like I do, OK?

You're sure you can't get me some coke? The girl earlier got me some. C'mon. I just want a little bit more. Just for the drive home, OK, because I've had a lot to drink, and I need something so I can drive. No, don't call a taxi for me. If you do that, I will kill you. I've gotta drive home tonight. Cause I -- here, c'mere, closer, I don't wanna say this out loud -- cause my daughter is with me this weekend, OK? My little daughter and she is just ten years old and I just got off probation this weekend. I waited till she was asleep and then I left, and right now she is there at the house all by herself. Do you think I'm a bad father? You probably think I'm the worst guy on earth. I'm not. There's a lot worse guys out there than me. But I need you to sit right here while I walk to the door, and every once in a while I'm gonna look back over my shoulder. Don't call the police on me. Don't tell anybody anything. I'm gonna look back at you, and if I see you talking to anybody, just remember that I know your name. I know your name and I know where you work, and I could hurt you. I know people that would kill you for fifty bucks, no questions asked. I know people. So look at me. Look at me in the face and tell me you won't tell anybody about me. Look at me.

I knew you wouldn't. You're different. You're nice. I like you. I'm gonna come back and see you, OK? I'm gonna come back and you'll come over and sit with me and dance for me again. Won't you? Won't you do that? You will, won't you? Won't you? Won't you?

never mind

OK, I'm over it.

Got a normal night's sleep. Went to the gym. Did laundry. I'm over it. I think I just needed the attention. C.'s deep into the semester at school, and preoccupied much of the time, and I've been working a lot -- between my four part-time jobs, I'm doing about 80 hours a week. It was nice to sit down for four hours and be told how beautiful I am and how clever and how desirable. And I have to remember, my buddy Joe is a Salesman -- and not the kind who wear the polo shirt with the company logo on it and bother you when you come into the store in the mall, but the kind who is on the phone to China closing multi-million dollar contracts when you call in the middle of the day. No wonder he had me eating out of the palm of his hand. That handsome bastard.

OK, but I'm not going to give myself grief over it. Because at the end of the day (make that night) I didn't go home with him and I didn't promise I would in the future, either. I just had a good time, and there's nothing wrong with having fun at work, once in a way.


Sunday, September 17, 2006


I called Joe midweek, somehow expecting to leave a message, but he picked up. It was the middle of the day and he was at work, doing business on the other line, so it was a very brief conversation. I thanked him for the book and he asked if I was still working at the club, and I said, yes, and we rang off.

Last night a waitress came up to my stage during my rotation and told me a customer wanted to buy me a drink, and I looked where she was pointing, and there he was. I checked myself in the mirror and was relieved that I had done my hair and smeared myself with fake tanner and was looking pretty good. It was "Hawaian Night" at the club so I had on the brown-with-gold bottoms of my actual bikini, and a cute peasanty-beach top and my $3 imitation Louis Vuitton sunglasses from Juarez. It was a good look. These things matter. So I got off stage and did my slinkiest walk over the table and he stood up to give me a hug. He's tall. Tall enough that I still have to tilt my head up a little to meet his eyes, and bear in mind that in my six-inch Lucite heels I am NBA height.

With little ado, we went back to the Champagne Room and scandalized the entire staff for the next four hours by drinking moderately, talking much, and keeping all of our clothes on. The bouncer kept wandering past our couch to eye us suspiciously and wonder what the hell was up with us. "Are you two getting married?" he asked at one point. Later, a manager came over while Joel was rubbing my shoulders and told us the police were in the club. This is a polite way of telling you to stop whatever you're doing because it's crossing the line. Funny thing is, if I'd been using my ass muscles to grind him to orgasm, no one would have blinked an eye, but putting my head on his shoulder and stroking his hair made everyone uncomfortable. So grinding is fine, I guess, but affection is tabu.

I left that night with my throat hurting and my brain in a buzz. This morning I feel sticky and clumsy still. I remember this feeling. It's a crush. How remarkable. How stupid. And, probably, how unwelcome. A stripper's job is to flesh out fantasy. Fantasies don't have feelings; that's part of the deal. A stripper doesn't miss you when you don't call, is in love with you only for the hour a week or evening a month that you can spare, doesn't have a birthday for you do forget. It's a lovely arrangement that way -- simple, elegant. Hell, my number one dance-selling line is "You won't have to call me in the morning."

Besides which, I adore and admire and belust my boyfriend and want to be sorting his underpants our from mine in the laundry for many, many years to come. I'm not going to take a flying leap for a roll in the hay with a 47-year-old high-power-salesman type, however lilting his British cum North African accent, however tom cat his smile. So now I'm Googling brachmacharya, the yogic principle of chastity, loyalty, continence. I'm coming up with stuff like this:
Often translated as celibacy, brachmacharya is controlling sexual desire, redirecting this energy to deepen our connection to the Devine. Uncontrolled, sexual desire and activity can easily bring out the worst in people. When one attempts to completely sublimate or suppress this energy, it has a tendency to manifest in life-negating ways. Only when one learns to channel this energy in healthy, nourishing ways will one be free to deepen spiritually.

Yes, sure. But how? How how how how how how HOW? I need to know, and soon, or else I'm off to flog myself into a masturbatory frenzy over a middle-aged guy with three adolescent children, and then maybe I'll I dunno meditate or something. God help me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

oh, canada

This weekend I was offered marriage and Canadian citizenship by an online gambling magnate from Toronto. Failing that, he also offered to fly me in for a weekend rendevouz in Cancun or London or wherever I might want go. Oh, if only.

This was also the weekend that I began my new goal-setting regime. It's been lousy the last few weeks -- few customers and no one who wants to spend any money. It's the end of the summer, and everybody's either saving to go on vacation or spent all their money on vacation already. Besides which, this is still largely a university town -- 50,000 young people with disposable incomes and poor impulse control leave every June, accompanied by the sucking sound of the municipal economy going down the drain. Couple that with a positive deluge of expenses on my part, large and small, expected and unexpected, and you get that scene with the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass -- "Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." Now add to that a throat infection, a hideous outbreak of acne, and a flare-up of the old clinical depression and you've got Grace moping around the club all night starting at her fingernails and wishing she could have a cigarette. I wouldn't have wanted to dance with me either.

But this weekend I'd had enough and decided to pull it together. I was thinking wistfully of the average money I was making last spring -- easily two or three times my new average since coming back from vacation -- and I decided that fuckit, there isn't any reason I shouldn't make that money again. So I just decided I would. Every time during that day that I felt a flicker of doubt or apprehension about the night ahead, I just repeated the dollar ammount to myself. At work, every time I got turned down for a dance, every time I heard another dancer back in the dressing room ranting about the slowness and impossibility of it all, I repeated the ammount to myself again. It was my mantra. And stunningly, amazingly, magically, it worked. I exceeded that average two nights out of three, and on the third hit it dead on the button, despite that fact that local college football team lost the first game of the season and the mood in the club was quiet and sullen.

But the best night was the night I met the Canadian. At first, I didn't know he was there at all. I stopped to talk to a swarthy, corpulently handsome Brazilian guy in a sports jacket, who seemed to be sitting by himself. A few sentences into things, the Canadian returned from parts unknown, a non-descript 50-ish white guy in a nice shirt. The Brazilian was playing hard to get, so I switched the charm over to Mr. Canada, who was telling me how classless he thought it was to tip the stage with less than $5. This is a great line to use on strippers, obviously. We got along swimmingly, talking about the lovely lines of girls' hip-bones, and how I registered with after the '04 election, and next thing we knew we were back in the Champagne Room getting naked and romantic.

Some customers -- young ones, mostly -- ask me if I don't hate dancing for men who are old or ugly or fat. What they don't know is that when you're a stripper, there really isn't any such thing. Being a stripper, for me anyway, is sort of like being truly in love. Appearances are incidental. What I care about is, truly, what lies underneath -- i.e. your wallet. But the single-minded focus on whether or not you are going to give me money also shows me, peripherally, a host of other qualities that might otherwise be hidden. If I were going to date you, or fuck you, or take you home to my parents, I would be worried about things like your appearance and your circumstances and your station in life and your probable impression on my friends. Freed from these hypothetical constraints, however, I look at you and see your soul. Most of the time, people's souls are boring and/or a little bit gross, but sometimes you meet a real sweetheart, and the Canadian was one. Interesting fact well known to strippers: the guys who give you the most money are almost invariably also the ones who don't try to finger your orifices. And the Canadian lived up to this rule. He did try to get me to go back to his hotel with him, but I can't blame him. I'm hot like that.

Turns out that for legal reasons involving his line of work, he can never come back to the States, though, so I guess I won't be seeing any more of him. Unless I want to fly to London and be his mistress. Actually, I'd adore being a highly paid courtesan to wealthy globe-trotters, but I'm very attached to my boyfriend and value the regard of my family too highly. If only I were a friendless orphan, what a time I could have.

NB: Joe must have been to the club sometime recently and missed me. He left Memoirs of a Geisha at the front desk for me with his name and phone number inside the cover. I should probably call, but then again, do I need the headache of a customer whom I actually find attractive and charming? Answer: As long as he's paying, why the hell not.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

a modest proposal

So this was a new one on me. DJ calls me over and asks if he can send me on stage because a guy just tipped him $10 to play "Sweet Child of Mine" and no one else will dance to rock and roll, and I say I will. This is how a lot of my stories start. I've noticed that too.

I'm on stage in a very newly acquired polka-dotted skirt/top set of which the top is clearly intended for a lady of more generous endowments so that it keeps sliding off. I would have known this if I had tried the set on at StripperMart, but I was racing the clock to get to the club early and avoid the hefty weekend house fees. Then I got stuck in traffic for thirty minutes and it didn't matter anyway. I digress.

So this gentleman comes up to tip me and thanks me for playing the song and I put boobies in his face and he rains dollar bills down on me like snow, which I hear is commonplace up in them Yankee clubs up north, but in Texas is a relative rarity, so I take notice. He invites me back to VIP to sit with him, and three and a half days later, when I finish rotating through all three stages, I go.

He is sitting with a lady, a tall blonde woman of a Certain Age with Nordic cheekbones, sad eyes, and pretty teeth. I am little more than seated when he asks me if I know the difference between dominance and submission, and as a matter of fact I do. They tell me that they have a 24/7 lifestyle relationship, of which is the master, but she herself is dominant to two female subs, one of whom lives with them, and has born her husband's child. And if I need proof, people keep sending them text messages asking their permission to do things. They ask if I am 'freaked out' and I tell them I think it's all perfectly charming. So I do a few dances for the lady, and a few for the gentleman -- your average tubby Texan with a handlebar moustache -- and a couple for both of them and then a few more for the gentleman and then for the lady again. All in all I am in VIP with them for a couple of hours and they are all but injecting champagne into my eyeballs.

So then they are telling me that they have a current opening for a full-time live-in slavegirl to take care of their cooking and cleaning and look after their six-month-old son -- both of them have high-powered and demanding careers -- and fuck the hell out of them at a moment's notice. They ask me about my hobbies and whether I have any pets or children or drug problems and it becomes evident that I am being interviewed for the position, at which point I convulse in giggles. I ask if I will be provided with a uniform. They smile indulgently but are quite serious. I can picture myself getting sloppy with Mrs., but Mr. doesn't do it for me, and I don't deal well with male authority figures in the real world though I can fake it for an hour or two in the club if the money is good enough. I politely decline on the pretext that I have a loving and committed relationship and I get the speech I have been getting all week about how I will eventually realize that he is not good enough for me and then I will come running back.

If I were a little older or younger or dumber or smarter, this would actually be a great offer, assuming it's for real, and who the hell knows. Did I mention that the slavegirl will be provided with room and board, a car, and a living allowance? And Madame will take you shopping as much as you want. Seriously, anybody want to give it a shot? Pidge? Pam? Anybody? They left me their number and I'd be happy to pass it on...

Friday, September 01, 2006

chicken strip

My friend Scarlett started dancing about four months ago at a club on the east side of town affectionately known as Budget Strip, or sometimes Chicken Strip. I tried to get her a job with me up north, but the managers gave her the elaborate call-back-later-and-leave-a-message-with-someone-else-which-no-one-will-ever-return run-around that they give girls they don't want to hire. Why strip club managers are so famously devious about this stuff is beyond me. They are dealing with girls who get rejected five, ten, twenty times a night, for a living. But anyway.

So, out to EconoStrip for Scarlett, and I was worried about her. I've never been there, but it's one of the rougher joints in town by reputation, a tough place for a newbie to be thrown in. I'm proud of her, though; she took it on the chin. When she started she was broke as beans and more or less homeless, surfing from couch to couch, losing job after short-term, dead-end job. I've known Scarlett since we were waitresses at the same 24-hour greasy-spoon diner when we were respectively 19 and 25, and it's been grieving me to watch her drift downhill since. But in the last couple of months she's really been pulling it together. She's lost weight, sublet an apartment, and for the first time since I've known her she has plans for a future more than two weeks ahead. Call it Better Living Through Stripping.

Last week she made a big jump up from Budget Strip to the Yellow Rose, a large and relatively upscale club of mixed but venerable reputation. She seems happy there, and I went in and worked a dayshift with her yesterday to check the place out for myself. I found the place fair to middling in atmosphere -- nice cush leather booths, a fun run-way like second stage with three poles -- and largely dead. Dayshifts are about regulars, and hard to break into. I did a dance here and a dance there for gents whose main ladies had not arrived, and then spent a large portion of the afternoon with a hefty gentlemen who told jokes as a sort of neurotic tic. He was the kind of joke-teller who claims the jokes happened to him -- "So my friend asked me if I'd ever eaten out a Jewish woman and I said" -- and even when he told you something about his life it had the rhythm and pacing of a joke, so that only when he got to the end did you realize that he was talking about his divorce and it really wasn't funny at all.

Scarlett spent a large part of the day sitting at the bar sipping whiskey with a cowboy who bought her drinks and didn't buy any dances. She had to borrow $20 to make her house fee in the afternoon, but then made it back up in the last hour or two and paid me back. At the end of the day, she and I made about the same ammount of money, which wasn't all that much. In monetary terms it was a disappointing day. To make it there, I'd have to get back into the dayshift swing of keeping a regular schedule and cultivating regulars and staring at the clock. Blech. One of the these I love about nightshifts up north is how fast they go. You can't beat it.