Top earners in the world of stripping know the art of the hustle. They understand that for men to feel comfortable spending money on them, they have to feel comfortable with them.
For the first few weeks of my stripping career, I didn’t engage with the customers. Instead, I walked around the bar, hoping they would come to me. I figured if I looked attractive enough, men would be lining up to book me for a private dance.
But no matter how sexy I thought I looked, it wasn’t until I actually sat down and talked with them that I’d get bookings. That was when I learned that men don’t come into strip clubs simply to gaze at beautiful naked women. The majority come in to have someone to talk to.
Strippers are, essentially, naked therapists. It’s not just dancing on stage and having patrons throw money at you. It has more to do with interpersonal skills.
Once I started to talk to customers, I discovered just how much straight men depend on women for emotional satisfaction. And the more I listened, the more money I made. Men like to talk, and they want validation from women that what they have to say is important. Strip clubs are about providing a fantasy for our customers. When men enter a strip club they leave reality and enter a world where, for a price, women will laugh at their jokes, flirt with them no matter what they look like, and make them feel special.
The best clients are the ones who are respectful and generous with their money. Patrons who tip the girls will get more attention and special treatment. Going for a private lap dance is a more intimate experience between a dancer and patron.
If you treat us as human beings, as well as tip us or buy dancers, we will show you a great time. Treat us as pieces of meat, and refuse to pay, we will ignore you.
We don’t have to be nice to you if you are being rude to us. The sex industry is a rare workplace where the customer is not always right.
Over time, dancers create a relationship with customers. These men become what we refer to in the stripping world as our “regulars” who feel they have a connection with a dancer so they come to clubs specifically to see her. Often Instagrams are exchanged so that the regular can be informed when the dancer will be working.
For the dancer, the relationship is strictly professional. But for the men, they often genuinely care for the woman. Some hope that over time if they spend enough money on their favourite dancer, she will start to see him outside of work, while others understand that it is a relationship to be kept inside the fantasy of the club.
I wasn’t struggling financially when I decided to become a stripper, I was just curious whether to see if I had what it took to make it in the industry. I had a passion for performing after graduating university with a theatre degree, and figured stripping would be a job where I got paid to perform. I had an idea in mind that thought it would be easy money. I thought that being pretty and knowing how to dance were the only attributes I needed to become a stripper.
I had no idea how mentally exhausting the job would be, and how much it would teach me about business. I now know that to work in this industry you need a thick skin and a strong sense of self.
As someone who became a stripper for the performance aspect, I was shocked to learn how little it has to do with stage presence and all to do with building a fake relationship with patrons. Stripping feels like going on 10 different dates with 10 different men in the space of nine hours.
Each man is trying to convince you to go home with them, while your only goal is to make enough money to pay rent. It is a physically and mentally demanding job that not everyone can handle.
Stripping isn’t even guaranteed money. Strippers are independent contractors, so our earnings depend on tips and private dances. Imagine going to your job and spending hours doing what you have been hired to do, only to leave with no paycheck. This is exactly what happens to strippers when customers refuse to tip.
But if you work hard, the rewards of money and lifelong friendships with empowered women can make it all worth it.
Stripping is actually a sport. Dancers have incredible athletic skills that require a lot of training. Hanging upside down on a pole with only your thighs isn’t as easy as we make it look.
I took pole lessons for a year before applying to be a dancer, because I respect the athleticism behind stripping. Holly, who has been stripping for eight years and a dance trainer for five, would advise anyone who wants to get into the business to take professional pole classes. And she strongly recommends that you do not learn it from YouTube. Holly’s an enthusiastic performer and found that stripping was the perfect career path for her to pursue. “It's not often you get to do a job you’re absolutely ecstatic about and get paid well to do it,” she says.
But, most importantly, the best part about stripping is the empowering women you meet. It was these women that drew another friend, Indi, into stripping. “I was always attracted to stripping because strippers represent the type of woman I've always wanted to be,” says Indi. “I love the celebration of femininity. The women I work with: powerful, self-assured, diverse human beings. Through stripping I've established this strong sense of sisterhood that I've never felt in my life before. I'm surrounded by incredible women!”
Us dancers have to deal with a lot in our job, but it makes us stronger. We are hard working women who are simply providing a service, and we do not deserve the negative stigma attached to our industry.
We are not exploiting ourselves, if anything we are exploiting the patrons. The only people being degraded in a strip club are the customers who empty their wallets in the hopes that a beautiful woman who’s trying to do her job will come home with them. We do not need your pity, we just need your understanding.
By Vixen Temple