Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Long Awaited Ask The Waitress

To Dance, or Not To Dance

Gypsy_Jo sent this email:

I danced for 16 years up and down the eastern seaboard, and retired
in 2001. retired, hah, I quit, I didnt retire,lol. thats a story unto
ever catch why most strippers end up in the skindustry? what is that
special catalyst that makes most girls strip? I have my own theory but wonder
what yours might be.

This is a touchy subject for most people, so I'm going to attempt to answer it in the most non-offensive way possible.
As most of you know, my bachelors is in Sociology; well, it will be when I graduate. One of the many papers I have written in my time was for a Victimology class, and I stumbled onto this tidbit:

If a girl is sexually molested in childhood/adolescence, she is four times
more likely to become a dancer/prostitute that other girls. Ninety-five
(95) percent of all prostitutes were sexually molested as

Please note that these are just dry statistics and do not reflect my personal beliefs on the subject as I do not wish to offend any dancers/ex-dancers out in the blogosphere. I simply found the information interesting. On to my personal opinions.

Over the past few years, stripping has become less of a taboo profession, and has entered into more mainstream America. Shows like King of Queens and Law and Order are integrating stripper poles into their episodes, certain rap stars have glamorized the profession, showing girls dancing while hundreds of dollars are being thrown, and celebrities like Janet Jackson are publicly coming forward and admitting their love for stripping. This may explain/have some effect on why girls get into the business in the first place. All they see is the fun aspect of it portrayed in entertainment society, and are completely unaware of what actually occurs.

Another reason may be lack of options. The majority of my dancers have no college education, several of them never graduated high school, and even more of them have children. Dancing is a good way to make a lot of money with no formal education. With no education and no formal training, options for making an actual living in this country are very, very slim.

Yet another reason, though very small, is the actual college girl who does it to pay her tuition. This does happen, just not very often. One of my dancers just graduated college, another one is a year ahead of me, and I am very proud of these girls. These are the ones who will stop dancing after they reach their goal.

Probably, a more prevalent question is not why girls get into the business, but rather, why they stay so long. I've mentioned before that time stands still in the strip club; what I mean by that is this: when working in the same environment with the same people for a few years, you are less likely to notice the passage of time. When things never change in your personal environment, time has a way of "standing still". You may have started dancing at age eighteen, but before you know it you're in you early to mid thirties with even less options and less time to start over. Even worse, after you've been dancing for five, even ten years, you lose the excitement to do your job and start making less money. Not only that, every year there's a new crop of younger, more energetic girls competing for your money.

The ones that are smart (and yes, we have many) will save their money and after a few years leave the business to start something else. The one's that aren't will usually attempt to move into another aspect of the business, be it selling clothes, acting as a "house mom" (more on that in a later post) or, in some extreme cases, will settle down with someone who can either support them financially or is in some business they can integrate to. We've had girls leave to become cosmetologists, peircers, and receptionists.

There is no one specific reason why girls dance, nor is their one reason why they stay. The only constant fact in the situation is that these girls are, no matter how they are portrayed, good people. They're smart, funny, and caring, and it's a shame that most of society perceives them as dumb and stupid, with big fake boobs and bad fashion sense.

I hope that this answers your question, Jo, and I really hope that no one is offended by my opinions today.



Anonymous TomTom224 said...

Ooh, great post, Waitress! If it weren't for a lot of what you said, I would probably sitting here with that regular view of strippers. You know, that 'hot dumb silicon filled dancer' thing. But you've definitely helped me out of that. I've come to realize that most of the time, it's not what they WANT. It's kind of what they NEED to do.

Thanks, homegirl. ^_^

2:01 PM  
Anonymous D said...

Love your comments and you sharing the experiences in this venue. I wanted to share one thought...there isn't one commonality amongst people that choose to become, say, accountants, or teachers. To try to pigeon hole people working in sex and sex related industries is an affront. I've worked with prostitutes and it's an affront to them to all be labelled "victims of sexual abuse or assault" and that's the only reason they are stripping. Puhleeze! It's good money and it's one of the few venues that woman can earn a truly commensurate living as opposed to the men who can do the White Man Networking via golf and shit to get ahead.

Still burns my britches that our world is still so male hormone dominated but I would never blame women for doing what they need to...given their limited options .
Love your blog btw! :)

2:18 PM  
Blogger i'llnevertell! said...

I know, i was afraid of it coming across that way-i almost didn't put the statistics in there because of that. I just get asked that same question over and over again "why do girls start dancing" that i decided to just answer in my opinion. In no way did i wish to make it seem like all dancers/prostitutes were victims of sexual assault, i just found that stat interesting

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course we should all understand, since you made it so clear that dancers are more likely to be victims, not that ALL dancers are victims.

I think that a lot of dancers are dancers due to lack of options. Come from poorer backgrounds, so don't have an opportunity to go to college, get exposed to a variety of jobs outside of the service industry. If you're going to work in the service industry, makes sense to dance and make a lot of money.

Oh- I once read an article about the 'socialization of strippers' and how socialization happens slowly, going to the titty bar, befriending the dancers, learning the culture, taking a non-dancing job at the bar and finally stripping... Being around the curture normalizes the concept of taking your clothes off for money, and it becomes a more acceptable concept to you. (I'm not saying that I think stipping is socially unacceptable)
I bet leaving dancing works in a similar process, stopping dancing, then bartending, then leaving bartending but keeping friends, losing touch with friends, and finally losing touch with the culture.
Love this blog, love this post.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gypsy Jo: You should blog your stories! Or, maybe you could make a 'guest appearence' blog on here!

5:08 PM  
Blogger The Girl with Moxie said...

A very close friend of mine stripped through college and she said customers didn't believe her when she told them that she was a student. She's now got a MBA and doing all sorts of entrepreneurial things. And every once in a while, when she's feeling really frisky (and possibly drunk), she will whip out her old stripper moves and give her man a lapdance. It makes for great entertainment! (And her boobs are very real, I might add.)

5:54 PM  
Blogger Girl said...

It's great to know that some of these girls are setting their goals, keeping their goals and getting out in the end

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Gypsy_Jo said...

this stripper got her law degree while dancing, and fed my small family and paid all my bills with no support from any man, until one wonderfull day I met HIM. HE never once told me to stop dancing. HE never took my money, like I've seen quite few dancers do. HE is still here, 16 years later.
I needed cash fast, thats why I started dancing, and way back in the 80's we got PAID to show up (shocking I know, I wont tell u how much tho) and when the rents due and you need diapers, shaking your ass seems like quick fix, cept it aint. money is an addiction. as I said, I educated myself. I parented. I even was on the damn PTA! I lent money far to many times, and never collected, it was replacable (hah! thats what I thought!) nightly.
then one day,years later, I just had enough. I had recently gone through some family horrors and had quit my "regular" job (40 hr a week variety) and I figured, its now or never and I left the building. havent been in a titty bar since.
I often wonder what ever became of so-and-so and whatsername. I have three friends that I've carried with me, two were dancers, one was my bestest regular, and has been my best friend for the last 12 years.
my apologies again, waitress, for highjackin your blog.
hugs girl, make sure u eat!

1:23 PM  
Blogger i'llnevertell! said...

hey jo, i'm going to law school when i graduate next december...i need to email you and we should talk more

4:56 PM  
Anonymous p said...

Dear Waitress,
I think you handled the question with sensitivity and tact. And I think it's also important for people to realize just to what degree exploitation can be cyclical. This is actually my only beef with people (er, men) who solicit prostitutes and go to strip clubs weekly. Don't they know or care what kind of background some of these women come from? You could argue that some formerly abused women choose to work in the sex industry to help them regain a sense of power over their sexuality. Whatever they need to do to help themselves, I support. But the customers--if it were me, if I were aware that the woman in front of me had likely been molested or raped, I'd sooner recommend a good therapist than pay them to put on pasties and give me a lap dance. Of course dancers and strippers and prostitutes are free agents and in control of their sexuality (ideally). I guess I don't have a point. It's just been eating me lately. Sorry to ramble on...

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Gypsy_Jo said...

P...the term "exploitation" irks me, NO ONE exploited me or my body.exploitation implies that revenues are not going to the person performing duties (whatever they may be). now, for hookers, I guess thats true, the whole pimp thing and all. I dont KNOW for fact, as I have never been a hooker, and dancers ARE NOT in the same category.
No, customers dont know or care to know, for the most part, what kind of lives the girls lived. they come to the clubs to get away from reallity. And to "tip" a girl with advice of therapy...she'd most likely kick you and scream, then have your butt beaten by two 250lbs goons that wear tux's at the door.
and for the record, most guys that go into the VIP/champagne rooms TALK the entire time. or at least they should be, if the girl has any kind of clue how to make money.
yes, dancing is hugely empowering when you first start, after a while, its a job like any other job.

10:24 AM  
Blogger i'llnevertell! said...

P, thank you for your kind comment, and my I elaborate further? Again, i did NOT intend for people to assume that all dancers have been sexually molested in the past. Furthermore, if men didn't frequent the strip club then these girls wouldn't be able to make a living, the majority of them having no formal education.
Secondly, Jo, some of the men do care who these women are and where they come from. I've seen customers fix dancers cars, bring them christmas and birthday presents, and take an overall active interest in their well being. Some men (most men) do come to get away from reality, but there are exceptions to every rule. Thank you all for your comments, i enjoy reading them very much

2:33 PM  
Blogger Hoodlum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:36 AM  
Blogger i'llnevertell! said...

hoodlum-that's actually a very good question. Usually the girls will "fib" and say they were waitressing during college, and it's quite difficult to prove otherwise, unless they happen to work for someone who frequented their club. I think it matters less what you did during college than what you gpa/lsat/gre scores are.


4:14 AM  
Anonymous Gypsy_Jo said...

I never concerned myself with lying about it on the rare occassions that it came up. If I made it seem a non issue, thats what it became. also, some girls will only do this (job) in an adjoining state or city, so there arent so many re-connects later in life.

8:48 PM  
Anonymous P said...

Gypsy, I agree with you that exploitation is a touchy word, and I didn't mean to get your hackles raised.

I do know a couple dancers, who as far as I know don't have any troubling history and do it for the money.

I know dancing and hooking are two entirely different jobs, but they do fall under the umbrella category of "sex work." And if statistics suggest that a large percentage of sex workers, in any capacity, have been sexually abused--if that's true, I'd have major qualms about participating (ie, being a client) in a business that further suggests you're not worth more than your sexuality.

I'm on your side, and I know you're getting paid, and I know you ultimately have control over any situation that arises. I also know that dancing can be empowering. I just have a problem with the kind of guys who benefit from this system.

thanks for listening to me ramble again...

9:10 AM  
Anonymous p said...

"Furthermore, if men didn't frequent the strip club then these girls wouldn't be able to make a living, the majority of them having no formal education."

Back again. I think it's the truth in the above statement that sums up my frustration. Why is that one of the only decent-paying options for women with no formal education?

And another statement that also makes me sad: "they come to the clubs to get away from reality." When do the dancers get the luxury of getting away from reality?

Thanks again for listening, I'm really not trying to be a pain!

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Shadowed_Flame said...

I lived in Vegas a few years back, trying to find myself, and trying to get away from my parents.

I am naturally large (F cup), so everytime I applied for a job, a so-called "friend" would joke that he could take me to the nearest strip club to apply.

I'm body-shy, and I admit that, I have stage-fright, Asperger's Syndrome, agoraphobia, clinical depression, and a host of other emotional problems, and was still recovering from a nasty, nasty relationship.

I know strippers do what they do because they have to, but I knew myself and my limits. I don't have the mental or emotional capacity to handle so many stares. I knew that if I took up that road, it would kill me.

So I took a job with computers, which was easy only because I'd grown up around them.

I ended up highly suicidal for a short while living out there anyway.

I'm recovered from my depression, and am back in school with a stable, healthy life. I have no problems with my shy sweetie visiting clubs, but I don't think I'll ever be able to do so comfortably.

Not without remembering one person's assumption that stripping was all I was suited to do, because my genetics gave me large breasts and a slim body.

Good luck to you.

1:13 AM  

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