I may have mentioned that I strip.
Strippers tend to hop from club to club. We suffer from the perpetual delusion that some other club is better. I’ve worked at five different clubs in New York and at some point have hated them all.
I have many theories about this, but foremost: I think earning potential and job satisfaction are directly related. Here, I drew you a pretty graph:
(I doubt this is unique to strip clubs.)
On the low end, there was the dive bar in Brooklyn whose only rule about stage shows was that I could not text. On the high end: the ritzy club where I was compelled to fake tan, wear false eyelashes, and have panic attacks before every shift.
I have a love-hate relationship with stripping. I make so much money, but it stresses me out so much.
I don’t make friends at work because no one speaks English in the dressing room. I have to be high-maintenance girly in a way I hate, and hate funding. I have to be extroverted and pushy with strange men, drunk men, men in packs, men in sports jerseys — types of men I usually avoid. (Nothing personal.) The night shift makes me unhealthy and unhappy. I have an imperfect relationship with alcohol. I have class issues with both the customers and the strippers. Hilariously, I would be happy to have sex in the champagne room, but it will never happen, and that has been divisive.
Right now I am at a lower-end club that I picked for its day shift. I’ve averaged $300 a shift. It pays my expenses and lets me save, but it doesn’t feel secure because I’ve had days where I left owing money. I guess that’s what “average” means. I also guess what I want in a club is to feel secure.
I do find the VIP payout at this club insulting. I can’t say it’s objectively too low — I don’t think it’s wrong to do anything for a certain price — but it’s an insultingly low percentage of what the customer pays. Since the club makes more than twice what I do on a VIP room, they’re really interested in getting me to do it. I’m not.
All said, though, I love my day shift. The hours cut down on heavy drinking, large parties of men, large parties of drunk men, and large parties of drunk jersey-wearing men. I sleep well, see sunlight and feel like a normal person. I’m happy.
But I’m not making crazy stripper money. Just normal stripper money. Unreliably.
And I look at other clubs with big green stripper eyes and it EATS MY SOUL.
This is the conversation I have been having with myself all week, ever since my club dicked me around with a VIP client in a spectacularly nasty way on Monday.
Good Calico: You should stay for at least a solid month. There’s no way to know if you really make money if you don’t have sufficient data.
Bad Calico: But those other girls at the Fancy Club are MAKING MONEY. RIGHT NOW. I could be making that money if I were at that other club.
Good Calico: You could be hiding in a corner, watching thousands of dollars slip past you into the manicured hands of an army of fierce Polish fembots. That sort of happened at your last club. Maybe you forgot.
Bad Calico: But this time it’ll be different! I’ll channel my inner entitlement. I’m channeling it right now. I’m going to get acrylic nails and hair extensions and a Chihuahua puppy to carry in my Louis Vuitton handbag and I will be SUPERSTRIPPER and men will give me ALL THE MONEY.
Good Calico: …
Bad Calico: I mean, once I get hired and start making all that money.
Good Calico: You are never going to want those things and you will always be way too practical to buy them. How do you think a high-pressure club is going to be different this time?
Bad Calico: I’m embarrassed to be not making that money as we speak. It’s DEMEANING. It’s UNFEMINIST! HOW CAN YOU STAND IN THE WAY OF MY FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT?!! I cannot abide another second in this crappy club.
Good Calico: Leaving this club prematurely is really rash. It makes ends meet. You don’t mind showing up to work. You can’t put a price on that.
Bad Calico: I hate that I am NOT MAKING MONEY. And that makes me STUPID. And INEFFECTUAL. Which I am not, AM I, so I obviously need to be MAKING MONEY.
Good Calico: If you dash off right now, it will be awkward. You won’t want to come back because you hate awkwardness. You probably won’t even wait to make a story about going on vacation, and then the club will give you a hard time, and it will be super awkward and you’ll never be able to make yourself work here again.
Bad Calico: But the other club is going to be SO AWESOME with all its MONEY that I’ll never need to work here again! I’ll be embarrassed to have worked here in the first place. We should get in the habit of pretending it never happened. Like, yesterday.
Good Calico: *sigh*
So basically, I’m breaking my vow to work all of February by the end of the first week: I’m taking off to audition tonight. For shame! The club I want to try hired me once, but you never know. I’m half hoping they won’t take me and I can go back to my day shift in peace.