Thursday, January 16, 2014

These Days

I drive up, hand my keys to the confused-looking valet, heft my giant bag over my shoulder.  I have no makeup on, and my car is a more or less a POS.  "I'm Nico, I'm still new, I've worked here two times."  I'm continually testing out the new name on my tongue, and I've actually worked at this establishment briefly before, but I digress.  I breeze through the door, so happy to be there, convinced I will make money.  It's the place I've been hearing the money is at for the last 6-9 months.  There's a home basketball game and the stadium is kitty-corner.  It's a Saturday night.  The front is held open for me by another valet.  I'm delighted by the gesture.  I say "hi" to the guy who re-hired me with a genuine chipper tone to my voice.  I walk farther into the club, smile and wave at Cage Matt* (he works in a part of the office they call "the cage," you talk to him through a little hole like at the movies and he orders food for you and sells you thongs.)  He's a delightful man with a Southern accent and he's extremely charming without being flirtatious.  I adored him immediately.  I walk up the long staircase to the dressing room, telling myself over and over "this is your home now," because it's been a rough departure from the club I've been at for the last year.

My heart ached to leave my former club, but I wasn't making much money anymore, my rights and freedoms were being flagrantly shat upon (see prior blog entry) so I chucked up the deuces and tried not to miss my friends too much.  But I did.  So I came back on the Thursday night prior to this story.  I was overjoyed when I got in the dressing room I knew so well, jumping around and hugging my girls.  I spent an entire hour between my stage sets just catching up.  One girl in particular was back from Florida after being gone almost a year.  I wanted to hear all about it. 

Something was amiss.  As I checked the bulletin board backstage, I noticed two troubling notes. 

Note #1 claimed the crowd preferred modern and/or classic rock, and hip-hop and rap (you know, the music that's written usually ABOUT strip clubs and strip club culture?) was almost completely banned.  This was already almost the case when I left, but it hadn't been finalized in writing.  This was a crock, shrouded in the racism on the part of the family that owns the club.  I was told by the DJ once, "They don't want to attract 'that kind of clientele,'" when I asked for something like Missy Elliott.  I almost exclusively worked night shift, and the patrons weren't the day shift variety: old and/or blue collar rock fans.  Night shift crowd repeatedly had asked me personally for more rap and hip hop.  Therefore, their argument that "we need to play what the customer wants" was fallacious entirely.  The night of my return, I had a customer actually ask my coworker, "Could you guys please play something one of you wants to hear so I can finally see someone smile?"  Girls were turned down for dances because the customers disliked the music that much.  Also, as I mentioned in my previous blog, creative freedoms like being able to choose your own music are extremely important.  I simply cannot and will not twerk with a smile to "Pornstar Dancing" or whatever that godawful Nickelback song is called. In "real life," I alternate between college station indie music and rap and hip hop of all eras and varieties.  Rap is for stripping.  The dirtier, the better.  I want to hear the voice through the speakers talking about stripper poles and pussies, or something pretty close to it.  I want the voice through the speakers to be talking about sex acts as I do tricks with my butt, and in an ideal scenario, people throw money at it.

Note #2 was far worse.  It was basically written panhandling, authored by the club owner, a manager, and a dancer.  It was asking us dancers to help fund two bouncers' trips to Vegas. Yes. You read that correctly.  The argument was that the one had just left the company after many years of loyal service (this is true, and I am grateful;) and that the other hadn't taken a vacation in four years.  Oh really?  So.... the fact that you somehow apparently worked constantly for four years, salaried, with tips from us  nightly on top.... but can't afford a trip is somehow our problem?  When airfare right now is less than 200 bucks? My head is spinning from the logic.  It mentioned that their airfare and hotel had already been paid for, and that there was a donation envelope at the bar.  Was I reading this correctly?!?! You want me, the person who is not only rubbing my body on gross strangers for your establishment but tipping you both nightly to throw you some extra spending money?! I absolutely adore those men, and realize it wasn't written by them, but FUCK. THAT.  I made a manager aware of this blog today, and so if by chance either of these two men reads this, please know that you both meant a lot to me, and I used to love and value the club to a degree you probably never knew. I *loved* it there.

The nail in the coffin wasn't reading those notes, or making $80 that night.  It was the text from my former manager trying to get girls to work, and opened with "Happy Popsicle Day!" This text was asking girls to come in on the day during the "polar vortex" that the temp, with wind chill, was -50 degrees where I live.  New club, and all other clubs, were closed that day because OF COURSE.  Because exposed skin can freeze in 5 minutes or less in those temperatures.  FROZEN. FLESH, YOU GUYS.  After I saw online that they were running a no-cover special for customers that day, but weren't cutting deals for dancers (well actually, the owner was graciously offering a "BOGO"- pay for day or night shift and work the other one free. How nice of them!!! Just wonderful.)  Goodbye.  We are done here.

I'm starting to settle in more to the new place, reuniting with strippers from years and clubs past.  I'm getting along with the staff, especially the nice kitchen guy who saves me soup at the end of the night.  It's just so MFing taxing to be on my feet in the shoes, never taking them off, giving semi-hover dances (basically a continuous squat;) meandering through the large, multileveled club in my 7" stilettos. There's also no pole there, which I miss very much.  I've been wearing a back brace ice pack thing that a physical therapist gave my mom.  It looks like one of those belt things that guys whose necks are wider than their heads wear when they're lifting an absurd amount of weight. I'm starting to look forward to retirement this fall, even though it scares and saddens me to say that.

Final note: I hope the squid ink-based shampoo and conditioner the stripper/contortionist/hair stylist I've reunited with got me from her special store works the magic she promises, because right now my $170 cut/color is looking a little momish or even Hannah Horvath circa mental breakdown, and we can't have that now, can we?

*name has been changed

1 comment:

  1. I do love how you've taken a previously one dimensional aspect of life and given it a more in-depth persona. I know it has always been as such but it has truly never written about with such poise.

    Your writing is elegant and engaging. I do hope you continue; the exploration of this all is quit fascinating. (That last statement is not meant to hold a perverted tone...really.)

    -Apollo XVIII