I have spent a good part of the last 8 years of my life working as a stripper, and as you would expect, I get very triggered by people who have no understanding of the industry telling ME, and other women, how I should feel about it or telling me that I'm being exploited (I'm looking at you SWERFs! (sexwork exclusionary feminists)) and I am writing this to give a bit of my perspective on the industry to those who don't understand it or who are curious.
A lot of people who meet me in the outside world find it hard to believe that this hippy, world travelling, spiritual goddess is also one of 'those' kind of girls (the whores, sluts, hustlers), having no idea that actually a large amount of women in the industry are exactly this type of woman... but that's not something you see on TV or from your 1 drunk experience going into a strip club on a Saturday night for your mates stag do.
I will be talking mostly from my perspective working in various strip clubs/gentlemen's clubs in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. I have also worked doing private parties which is quite a different experience to working in clubs as you tend to have less 1 on 1 time with customers and focus more on the group. This is a huge subject so over time I will write a few posts and probably do some videos about a variety of stripping related topics.
The industry is as diverse as we as humans are, all the dancers are unique individuals with their own perspective of what they are doing, and all the customers have unique desires for their experience, different expectations and judgements of what it is going on, and this combined makes is a very unique and ever changing job where no 2 nights are the same and there are so many varieties of interactions to be had, and you have a lot of freedom to chose who you talk to and who you don't want to interact with (if you are in the right clubs, I have left ones who force you to dance for anyone who asks, even if they're a disrespectful asshole but that has only been 1 club)
Over the years I have changed a lot, and my experience in turn has changed too. The kind of customers and nights I had as a 19 year old party girl who drank too much is vastly different to the mature, conscious and (mostly) sober woman I am today, and the long in-depth conversations I have with the customers and the lightwork I do in private dances. The industry has also been changing due to the hookup culture, internet/camgirl takeover and the general sexual liberation and changing of taboos where it is not considered quite so risque anymore to strip (yet the old prejudices and stigma of women in the industry continues) which has changed the amount of customers coming into clubs (and in a way, kind of made them higher quality actually, as the cheap and rude guys prefer to just use tinder or cam sites than to pay good money for a private experience.)
So, is it degrading or empowering? Well, I love being naked. I love my body, I love dancing... I love having people worship me, fall in love with me and throw insane amounts of money at me to just be able to spend a little time with me. I get off on it (hello ego!), I enjoy it and the only time I hate the job is slow nights when I'm NOT getting naked for people.
The job has allowed me to travel around the world, live comfortably and debt-free, learn to love my body and myself, kept me fit and opened me up to a world of insight around relationships, sexuality and flirtation. I have been able to work through chronic illness and mental health issues do to the flexible shifts and understanding managers who let me come and go when I am physically and emotionally able to. I also get to take off time around my period when I need to, and work a lot when I have some expenses that need covering! So 1 week I'll work maybe 1 night when I'm not feeling well, the next week I'll do 4 when I have the energy and need the cash. This has been the most important thing for me as someone who respects her body and mental health, so I can take time when I need it to rest and relax. I also pop in and out of clubs while I travel, so I have some around the world where I just do a couple of weeks while I'm in the country then disappear for a year or 2. It is hard to think of any other job which can allow that kind of freedom and still earn me a decent living! This has given me a way to pursue my art and other passions without being a starving artist (Though I do quit stripping every now and then and live as a broke artist then get exhausted from the stress of not being able to afford anything and go running back to the clubs)
I have met some truly amazing men and women through the work. Kind, gentle, loving men who are SO good to me, shower me in love and compliments and truly respect me, my time, emotional labour and respect my boundaries. THANK YOU to all these epic men out there who really rock my world! I have had some amazing discussions about all kinds of interesting topics and met people I would never usually get to interact with, and I know I have helped a lot of men have a unique perspective on various things and get to see a different way of living and a viewpoint that they wouldn't usually encounter in their corporate or male-dominated work places.
When I started stripping I was this awkward 19 year old who didn't think she was sexy, was kind of coming to terms with knowing she wasn't UGLY but didn't think she was anything special. All these amazing people who came to watch me dance, booked me and spent time with me truly helped me become the radiant and confident woman I am today. And the other dancers... It's kind of hard to hang around regular women once you've been around such open, honest, down to earth and self assured women like the strippers! You have to have a lot of self confidence and be pretty tough to make it in the industry so often the women are some of the most inspiring and tough females I've ever had the pleasure to work with.
And of course, like in life and in any job, it hasn't been all peaches and cream. Some customers are assholes! Anyone working in any customer service job can tell you that. I honestly had more assholes to deal with working as a bartender than as a stripper though, and at least as a stripper I can tell them to fuck off and speak my mind or simply walk away (something you don't get to do in food service which personally for me is degrading)
Some customers have crossed my boundaries when I have given them the rules, they try to push it and touch me where I say they can't touch me. I have now taken this as a time to be a consent teacher and make sure they really understand, because I know these men are the date-rapists and the ones doing far worse on the women they do take home or date if they can't even follow basic rules like 'don't touch, no licking or kissing' when it is set out very clearly and with security around. This is when the angry feminist comes out to play and I make sure to educate them and make it extremely clear that they are not following consent and respecting boundaries and that it is sexual assault (yes even if I am a stripper) and if it comes to it they will be removed from the club and I get to keep their money. Not surprisingly it is usually alcohol and cocaine that are the biggest encouragers of this behaviour, coke-heads get such a big ego that they actually convince themselves that we want them and want their touch, and drunk people, well we all know about the effects of alcohol on some people. Consent and boundaries are a very big issue in the world right now and we're finally getting progress, it was a lot more common back a few years ago that men didn't understand these concepts than it is now. But things are changing and I now believe it is part of a strippers job to be teaching consent and boundaries, though it shouldn't have to be.
Another thing I have loved while working as a stripper is to really see what a variety of women work the job and how sometimes the most unconventional dancer will make the most money. People think that only skinny, big boobed women strip but often it is the bigger girls who actually get the most private dances. It's the masculine, intimidating girl that does... or the really plain looking girl. Men really don't always go for the typical looking stripper and often are more likely to spend good money on the women who are smart and know how to talk to them. The typical look might get more attention on stage but the longer bookings and regulars go for personality and something a bit different, I also think it is because they are more relateable.
Now as for the customers, I'll tell you a secret....
Men are actually super sweet and cute when they're alone and not around their mates, even the macho ones. They might head to the strip club yelling 'YEAH TITS AND ASS!' then as soon as you're in a private show with them, they melt like a kitten at your touch and are in awe at the beauty of the feminine. They soften, they appreciate and they just want to be seen, held and loved. And men deserve to be seen, held and loved. They should be able to enjoy the erotic feminine respectfully without guilt and shame. We live in a really weird world where there is so much sexualisation but also so much judgement for actually enjoying it even when it is consentually offered. And women are beautiful creatures! I mean come on, even 'straight' women get turned on by other women. Yet men who want to enjoy this with someone who isn't their partner are told they are seedy perverts. Creeps. It is wrong of them. Sure, objectification and dehumanisation of women is wrong but that is a different thing, a strip club might bring those kind of people in on occasion but that is not the core of what is happening there. It is essentially a place of worship of the feminine where we women put ourselves out there, adorn ourselves and dance while people come to worship, bring offerings of money and appreciate the divine feminine in all her glory. It may be modernised and in plastic heels and twerking around to heavy bass music instead of in a temple like the old days, but capitalism and consumerism has lead to this, and it is what it is (and I have performed in converses to Tool plenty of times and got the biggest tips ;) )
You can judge it and hate on it all you want, but you don't have the right to tell me about MY experience with the job and what I KNOW to be true. A lot of people have different experiences and maybe they hated stripping, but there is a lot of potential for good and bad in the industry and how you approach the job will determine your experience. Once I switched my perspective and decided to see it as a place of feminine worship, my clients changed, my abundance changed and my feelings towards the job changed. I will at a later date go more into this perspective shift and some advice for other women in the adult industry who want to change the game and have a more healthy relationship to their work.
So what do we want, as strippers, to have a better workplace? I've been at a lot of different clubs with a lot of different rules and it comes down to basic workplace health and safety, ending stigma, a minimum income (I have gone home negative money quite a few times over the years) and ideally a new and evolved industry that will coincide with the shift in the conscious collective to a more diverse place. I have an amazing idea of a dream workplace where all kinds of Sensual Arts are available, where there is no drugs/alcohol and where men and women can both enjoy themselves, including couples and groups. There is SO much potential to transform stripping into something more conscious, more powerful and even more respectful... taking that core desire for a place to appreciate divine sexuality and sensuality in all it's glory and experience a type of intimacy and lust in a non-sex environment, where you can be hypnotised by amazing dancers and artists and really indulge in your hedonistic style in a professional and safe environment. Until this comes along, we can actually have this kind of experience at your usual strip club if we chose to have that perspective and we ask for it. If we chose to adore and respect people who express their sexuality in this way, if we stop judging men for wanting to witness the erotic feminine and if we actually respect the WORK that strippers are doing for it's multi-dimensional power beyond just getting naked for money.
There is so much more I want to say about this topic but I will split it up into more blog posts, so if you want to hear more about this make sure you sign up for my mailing list and follow on instagram :)