Playing to every man’s fantasy wasn’t exactly a dream of mine, but now that I’ve done it, I’m glad I did. Dancing topless for a group of guys with perma-grins and wads of one dollar bills (or even better—expense accounts!) can make a girl feel sexy, alluring, and alive. Raking in over a grand a night is even better.
I became a stripper twenty years ago after a topless club moved in next door to where I waitressed part-time. Back then, I was also a really shitty stock broker. After easing in as a cocktail server at the strip club, I quickly lost my inhibitions about taking off my clothes for money and began dancing. While I loved all of the attention, the real draw was the appeal of being a shrewd business woman and independent contractor. Where by day I was busy hustling folks to buy stocks and bonds so I could keep three cents on the dollar, by night I was holding on to over 90% of the profits I made on stage or at the tables. When the boys from the firm came into the club, I loved making them pay. They felt guilty because I was stripping for a living. I felt empowered because I knew how to feed on that guilt.
Another way I made money at the club was by figuring out common fantasies and putting those fantasies into action. Men love girl-on-girl action, so my friend Jasmine and I would undress each other on stage. We unzipped each other’s dresses, unclasped one another’s bras, and gently touched each other playfully while keeping an eye out for the men enjoying the show. Long before they sold dirty underwear in vending machines in Japan, I recognized how Japanese business men loved the smell of pussy—so I would go upstairs, change my G-string, wrap my hair in it, and proceed to sell it to them—along with a dance, of course.
Jasmine was the pinnacle of shrewd. She finagled a scheme where a Geek of hers (a moniker we gave men who frequented our club) handed her $1,000 as a tip while she was alone on stage. This created quite a stir, and for one evening Jasmine was the belle of the ball. When I asked her how the fuck she got her Geek to do that, she just smiled at me and said, “It’s my money, silly. He wanted to look like a big man, so I let him give it to me in front of everyone.”
I had a few Geeks of my own. One liked to take me shopping at Victoria’s Secret and go to lunch. It was a treat for him to be seen in public with a hot blonde. I liked taking the expensive, silky lingerie back to the store for money the following day. The free lunch was okay, too. One poor, lost soul agreed to pay me to sit with him night after night whenever I needed a break. I rarely danced for him—the whole point was to get off of my feet for a few minutes—but he still paid me $10 for each song I sat on my ass and drank the drinks he bought for me. These guys felt special because they knew my real name. Here’s a little secret: Strippers like having regulars. We don’t have to work as hard for our money, they buy us drinks that also make us money (the bar gives us a cut), and all we have to do is play favorites for a few hours each night. Sure, some girls sleep with their Geeks, but I never did.
One night my #1 Geek brought me a gift. It was a piece of jewelry that was really sweet but not my taste. Luckily, it wasn’t something that I could wear while dancing, so I figured I could pawn it. The next week he brought me another gift and another. Similar to the first time, I didn’t really like them—but being gracious and classy pays in the long run, so I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell him that. “I’m not coming back here again,” my Geek told me one night while handing me a letter. Now this freaked me out. I knew he was having heart trouble, and I was worried sick that he was going to have surgery or something. I never read the letter. My boyfriend at the time read it and told me that it was sweet AND innocent AND nothing to do with death or dying.
And that’s the hard part. Because there is so much money at stake, and because the men in the club don’t always understand that you’re just pretending to be their confidant, the walls can sometimes come down between the stripper and her clientele.
I’ve never blown a man for money, but I did pimp myself out as an escort one night. A very shy, awkward man needed a date to his Christmas party. At the time, I had long blonde hair, killer legs, and a knock-out smile. I was also college educated. I think the real reason he picked me, though, was because I had (and still have) real breasts. In other words, I can pass in public for something other than a stripper. His party was on a Saturday night—a night I regularly worked and couldn’t really “afford” to take off—and so he agreed to pay me $800 to offset the money I would have made if I had been at the club. We worked it out so that he gave the envelop full of cash to my then-boyfriend. My date and I agreed to some stories for “how we met” and worked up what we thought was a workable she’s-my-girlfriend façade. It wasn’t until around midnight that everyone in the group had us figured out. I felt badly—I even wanted to give him his money back—but I guess we were too much on an anomaly to be taken seriously as a couple.
I only stripped for a year.
That year was 1993, and a lot has changed in the industry since then. For one, the girls now wear incredible shoes that make their legs look like a million bucks. I covet those shoes. The other changes—the ones involving lap dances and private party rooms—are things that make me very thankful I got out when I did. Back in the day, you could dance for a living—a very good living—and do nothing more than strip down to a G-string. In today’s clubs, the girls make their money grinding their pelvises into strangers. It’s so close to prostitution, in fact, that I rarely tell folks I used to strip. When I do, they imagine me on my knees pushing my pussy into a businessman’s rock hard tailor-cut trousers. I set them straight immediately.
Being a stripper twenty years ago meant making money by tapping men on their shoulder, whispering in their ear, and jiggling your boobs about two feet away from their faces. The actual dancing was different, too. The only thing allowed on the floor was our feet. At no time during my stint as a stripper did I roll on my back, crawl on my knees, or spin on my ass. I never once wiggled my G-string down to reveal my butt crack. Sure, I broke the rules (I was told I needed to end the panty parade with the Japanese businessmen, for example), but I also knew the rules were there for my benefit.
Today I’m living a new dream as a “legitimate” business woman who owns a small independent retail boutique. My profit margin isn’t as good as it was as a stripper, but having that experience has sure taught me how to be shrewd, discerning, and figure out quickly who is going to pay and who is going to simply wave that dollar bill in front of my face as bait.