A Strip Club is a magical place. A fantasy playground.
On NYC’s Wall street during the 90’s, greed and easy money created the Age of Excess – starring “The Wall Street Strip Club” as the corrupted den of iniquity.
I was weary of bartending nights. My circadian rhythms were in overdrive from years of vampiric hours. Pouring drinks till 4 am; quick pit stop on the way home to drink the blood of a virgin before settling into my coffin for the day.
Jana, a fellow actress, was a dancer (i.e. stripper ) at the Doll House, a Wall Street strip club. She lured me into bartending there with promises of night time tips during daytime hours.
The outfit was cringe-worthy: a Vegas cocktail slut / Magenta from “Rocky Horror” get up. Bustier, fishnets, 4-inch spike heels. I somehow convinced myself I hadn’t compromised my ideals. Yet.
My very first day, I developed an intense girl-crush on a beautiful Latina. Long, dark hair. creamy skin, and a slamming body. She looked like a teenager.
She was a teenager. At 19. Tanya was already a single mom to a 3-year-old; wise beyond her years, and funny as hell.
She sounded exactly like Rosie Perez. It was fucking adorable. She was saving money for college so she could give her kid a better life.
She looked up to me. I was older. College educated.
I adored her. She had an ass like J Lo.
Many of the day girls were moms. Students. Actresses.
A couple were Straight-Up Whores.
Frankie, the manager, was a big, burly, scowling strip club cliché. Big Daddy to an incorrigible bunch of bad girls. Incessantly ill-tempered because he was always short staffed. A job description that consists of drinking at noon and grinding against stiff cocks doesn’t exactly lend itself to responsibility.
One advantage to working in a strip club is getting blazed mid day. Tanya and I bonded quickly. After we’d sneak-smoke a fattie in the dressing groom, she’d spray Bvlgari perfume like air freshener and play her favorite game, “manipulate Samara into taking her clothes off onstage.”
“C’mon, Samara, Frankie’s such a prick today! Can’t you just dance this one time?”
“Sorry, I left my anal bleach home today!”
NO WAY I was getting up there. Until..
…the day she got one of her regulars to pay me $500 to do a 3-song set with her.
$500? for three songs? That little brat got me just high enough to do it. Plus, she double-dared me. You feel me?
I wiggled into one of her cheesy stripper dresses. Day-glo neon lime green leopard with matching g-string. This was not ironic; this is what they wore.
I made a valiant attempt to walk in her 7-inch fuck-me platforms.
“Can you really get used to these?” I asked her.
“You can get used to anything,” she purred back at me.
We entered into intense negotiation with Geo, the DJ. He demanded payola to play your music. And I wasn’t getting on stage without the exact right music.
I paid. I wanted it to go exactly like this:
“Hypnotize,” Biggie Smalls,
into “No Diggity,” Black Street, finish with
“Hip Hop Hooray,” Naughty by Nature.
We threw back some shots of Cuervo.
They called us up in trios – me, Tanya, and some fucked-out bleached blonde with enormous implants who looked like she’d drank too much tequila and passed out in the sun.
The 90’s predated the age of the suburban house frau requesting a stripper pole for Mother’s Day. That gleaming silver column onstage was largely ignored. Occasionally a girl swung around it. Hung on it, drunkenly.
I wanted to shimmy up that silver shaft. Make it my bitch. A couple of years prior, I had kicked a drug habit and replaced it with the gym. I had mad upper body strength.
I straddled the pole…inched my way up, nice and slow. Till I was at the ceiling.
And decided to slide all the way down. Upside down. Using my quads to keep it slow.
And once at the bottom, I ended up in a wide straddle. Thanks to yoga.
Facing away from the audience, I leaned forward, arched my back. Grabbed a handful of dress in each fist, and pulled it up over my butt.
Bounced my ass really fast against the floor. I saw that shiz in a rap video,
That bounce was a fantastic clit massage. I was grinding my pelvis onto the stage like it was a man. My head tilted, my long hair a curtain over my face. It felt really good.
Mmmmmmm. I forgot for a minute where I was.
The feel of a hand on my leg startled me out my stoned floor hump. A customer pushed a $20 bill in my garter.
I looked back. Every guy in the club was looking at me. Not at the 2 naked girls.
I hadn’t even taken off my dress yet.
Song 2 starts. Shit – we’re supposed to have our dresses off by the middle of the first song.
“No Diggity” is a hot jam to get naked to. By the time Black Street said,
“Yo Dre, drop the verse,”
I dropped my dress. I was surprised how easy it was.
I danced a lot after that, but preferred bartending. Working as a stripper is a full-time mind fuck. Pouring a drink is just pouring a drink. Dancers convince customers that they’re really INTO them – their strip club “girlfriends.”
That stripper who really digs you? – I hate to break it to you. She doesn’t. The only part of your body she’s really into is your wallet.
While we’re giving you this erotic experience? Rubbing our breasts in your face, and breathing in your ear? We’re looking at each other over your head and rolling our eyes. Sorry.
I did perfect the art of the worlds slowest, most sensuous lap dance. I developed a string of clientele off of it. I would get lost in my own head; move my body, really slowly, in a certain way, and get really turned on, just like my inaugural floor hump. Ironically, it was never connected to the man underneath me. But it was my signature “thing.” Everyone had something.
Some girls just gave blow jobs in the champagne room.
Wall street honchos would think nothing of dropping $2000 on a group of us for dinner. Or taking a limo with a couple of us to Atlantic City and blowing $5000 overnight.
They’d come in and offer to fly us to the Bahamas. Puerto Rico.
The first time a customer announced he was flying a group of us to Cancun, I said sarcastically, “Yeah. Right. We’re all flying to Cancun.”
And he replied, “Bitch, you’ll know you’re in Cancun when your face is in the pillow and my dick is in your ass!” That became the “Line Heard Round the Clubs.” Repeated and laughed at, endlessly.
It all boiled down to math. The Pythagorean Third Theorem.
The Strip Club Patron Rule Of Inverse Proportion:
The more money a 90’s Wall Street asshat in a strip club had, the less class and intelligence he was likely to possess.
Money bloated the scene into something surreal. Normalcy became something else entirely. We’d start the night at an after hours club and end up on a plane with an entourage. I only went if Tanya went.
Our one rule- we never slept with them. EVER. They were always way too coked up or drunk to even remotely get it up, anyway.
They did occasionally want to watch us “have sex.” Bisexual chic is all the rage in strip clubs. We’d kiss, moan and try not to laugh until whoever it was passed out. Then, we’d pick his pockets and go on a shopping spree go out for pancakes.
17 years later, Tanya is still one of my closest friends. She lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters. I’m god mother to her younger one.
She went back to school and became a nurse. She’s a single mom and works hard to take care of her family, like always. She’s still gorgeous. More so, at 36.
Those foolish girls who danced at the Doll House, partied at clubs, took ridiculous chances and traveled with strangers are long gone. We’re suburban single moms, working to support our families.
We wonder, would we ever want her daughters dancing in a strip club? It was whorish. Immoral. Dangerous.
It also grew us up. Taught us about people; the complexities of needing; empowered us as women.
When we weigh it out, the pros always outweigh the cons. But if I’m being honest here – it’s only because it was the goddamn PARTY of the decade and I’m glad I was invited.
But the truth is, when it comes to her daughters – NO WAY.
Because as much as it served us, gave us the strength for the lives ahead of us – it did something that we don’t wish on either of her daughters.
It robbed us of a certain innocence. We saw a side of the human race, a view from the inside of that arena, that we wish we hadn’t.
Today, I have mixed feelings about having worked there. My consciousness has changed. I no longer view strip clubs as empowering for women.
They’re disempowering. They create an environment where men can openly objectify women. Strip clubs reinforce the notion that women are more highly valued for their outward appearance than for their intelligence.
It’s pathetic that we’ve capitalized on this objectification and created an economy in which the skin trade is worth $500 a day, but incredible teachers molding young minds get paid dirt. We can’t even attract strong talent to the most crucial job in the world because it pays so poorly.
But a woman can show her tits and make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. And I fueled that system. So did Tanya.
And we sure as hell are not letting her daughters do that. That system needs to END.
Do you know anyone who ever worked as a stripper? What would you say if your daughter waned to dance in a strip club to pay for her education?
Do you like me a little less because you know I worked in a strip club?
Talk to me. I’m listening.