breaking my record

back when i first started stripping, summer '06, my record earnings for a single shift was around $1000. then, one night, i broke my record. that's a long and horrible story, but it's time to tell it.

it was early in an evening shift and i was doing my first stage rotation. close to the end of my set, a waitress approached me and informed me someone had bought me off stage. this is a little strange, since you can't buy someone off stage once she's already up there, and also because this wasn't someone i knew. he just saw me and said, "that one." so i put my clothes on and teeter on over to his table, where one of the russians had already sat down and started talking to him, and for some reason he didn't inform her he was waiting on someone. whatever. i patiently wait out the russian girl, and start talking to this guy. i was taking antibiotics for some pussy imbalance or another, and not drinking that week. so he took the shot, and starts inquiring about private rooms. he's a traveler, and at that time we didn't have a one-night VIP membership option, so off to the champagne room we go. we negotiate $400/hr compensation for me, but it wasn't much of a negotiation because his answer to every question was "whatever you want." great.

we get our champagne, which should get me off stage for the entire night, but it doesn't work out that way. the club kept calling me up onto the stage rotation, TWO MORE times to be precise. best i can figure, they'd decided they could milk this guy for more cash because they knew he was an out-of-towner and unfamiliar with our rules. again, i'm not drinking, so every time he has to buy the $75 premium shot to get me off the rotation, he takes the shot. so there he is, having had 3 shots of patron platinum and gods know how many glasses of champagne, and there's little sober me, politely pretending to take sips off a single glass of bubbly. he gets wasted, and we're on completely different wavelengths. i start having trouble keeping a conversation going, there's just no chemistry at all. every time i got up to use the restroom, i'd come back and he'd be passing out.

during the course of our interactions, i'm diligently adhering to the stripper code of ambiguity: make him think he has a chance to go home with me, but be really vague and never give him a direct yes or no response. this is absolutely key, especially with the traveling business guys, since they'd much rather i come finish them off in their hotel rooms, rather than having to rely on the ample masturbatory fodder they recently purchased. they have to think they have a chance.

so we get towards the end of the 4th hour, the club is getting ready to close, and he owes me $1600. he asks me what i want, and i say $2000, because i knew he was paying with a card, and after i turn in the funny money to the club, i walk with $1600. this is a fairly common maneuver, though we're forbidden from discussing the conversion rate with customers. he agrees to $2000, my stomach does a little flip as i feel a wave of victory sweeping up my spine. we order the funny money from the waitress, and she brings a form he needs to sign to match the signature on his driver's license. well, this guy is so wasted he can't even match his own fucking signature. it ended up taking him five tries. five times, he'd sign, she'd take it away and come back saying the manager said it didn't match well enough. the manager eventually came to the table to check out the situation, at which point i'm embarrassed that this guy is so drunk, and trying to smooth things over as he is becoming increasingly agitated with each failed attempt at signing his own fucking name.

we finally get this "money", which is not only the biggest stack i've ever seen, but also a significant record-shattering bounty. i'm giddy, but also nervous. this guy isn't giving me the cash, he's trying to get a straight answer out of me on whether or not i'm coming back to his room, i'm giving him the run around, and even in his drunken stupor, he knows it. that's when he turns on me. he breaks me off a paper-clipped bundle amounting to 1/4 of what i'm owed, goes, "you're a fucking bitch. you can have the rest when you come to my hotel room" and gets up to leave. pulse racing, i frantically attempt to remain calm while gently pressuring him to give me what i'm owed. i play all the cards: "you can't spend that anywhere else," to which he replies, "i'll just have to come back tomorrow then." "but i sat with you for four hours. i could have made more than this on the floor, and i thought we had a good time" and he goes, "i don't give a shit."

well, i'd heard tell of girls sending the managers out the door to chase/shake down customers, and knew this service was always available should it be required. i hastily follow this guy to the front door, and sick my boys on him. i informed them of the ultimatum he'd given me, which only enraged them further. unfortunately i can't leave the club (and certainly not out the front door) in my stripper gear, so i didn't get to see what happened, but my buddy charlie was waiting to pick me up and take me to a party, and saw the whole thing. they surrounded him, insistent and angry, he threatened to call the cops and my favorite manager goes, "oh yeah? and are you going to tell them that you propositioned her for the rest of the money?" and that's when he forked it over.

they file back inside the now flourescent-lit club, and hand me this previously-unimaginable sum of cash. then the head manager starts in on me, accusing me of overcharging him (we're only supposed to charge $400/hr, but i know for a fact some girls charge more and the club doesn't care, and they SHOULDN'T, because i just made them hundreds off the funny money conversion). i explain my position (we negotiated 400/hr, he was a handful, he asked me what i wanted, so i overestimated, thinking we'd negotiate it down a bit, but instead he just turned into an asshole). this doesn't matter one bit to the manager, who threatens me within an inch of my job. i'm already rattled by this whole thing, and am near tears by the time he's done with me. he tells me to not cash it all at once, and to not cash ANY of it for a week, because that's how long this guy has to call the club and re-neg on the charges. yes, that can happen. "oh, i didn't mean to" is a perfectly good excuse, at which point the club gives the girl ONE WEEK to repay whatever she cashed, so it can be returned to its "rightful" owner. total bullshit, but it happens all the time.

however, i'm so pissed off i'm beyond the point of caring, so i cash it all. (he never called, but i walked on pins and needles all week. asshole). i go to my party with charlie, in a wretched mood, especially since i'm still sober and surrounded by drunk people once i get there--except i have to be nice to them because they're my friends. it was difficult. that asshole totally wrecked my night, and my victorious record-breaking evening was soured by the shame and guilt i was made to feel in the aftermath.


that all changed on tuesday night. i went into work super early (like, 6pm) to meet kristopher on his way home from the airport. he and i have a lot of good chemistry, and i am effortlessly engaged when he comes to see me. damn, i still need to write that blog about the "grey area." yeah, more on kristopher later. lets just say we have a great time and talk about really serious shit. so i eat some surf and turf, my awesomepants amazing friend ruby who just got hired comes up and hangs with us for a bit, before i have to go meet my next customer, who's already arrived (who i've known since high school. long story). i felt really bad about having to cut my visit with kristopher short, but it had to be done. i left him with ruby and trotted on over to the other side of the VIP, and sat down to catch up with my old friend. he and i have been doing the "two ships passing in the night" thing for months, so it'd been a while and it was really good to see him. unfortunately we only had about an hour and some change, because yes, i had ANOTHER customer arrive and send for me.

another traveling business guy, i'd met this person the previous night, when he paid me about 300 bucks in the last half hour of a shift that had completely blown up until that point. he'd promised to come back the next night, and here he was. after about 30 minutes in a booth he decides the main floor just isn't going to cut it, so off we go to the champagne room. again with the "whatever you want," only i can tell this guy is about 350% nicer than the asshole in the previous record-breaking story. his work is interesting, his stories are interesting, and he's all about me. he kept handing me cash, but at the end of the night asked me if i needed any more. i quickly tallied what i'd already made, and quoted him an amount that i knew would push me just over the $1700 mark, but still well within reasonable limits in terms of the time we'd spent together. i had my record in my sights, and i wasn't going to let this chance get away. happily obliging, he orders the rest of the cash in funny money, and victory is mine.


what a stark contrast, these two nights; i've come so far since the $1600 shift, it's uncanny. there i was, naive, bad at negotiating, still learning to stand up for what i deserve, just trying to be *agreeable*, and it backfired on me bigtime. i was treated like a piece of meat the entire night, and then treated like shit at the end. that money didn't feel good, it didn't feel like i'd earned it, it felt like reparations for him being an asshole and me putting up with it for four hours. (now, don't get me wrong, sometimes i like being treated like a piece of meat--and even when i sit with guys who appreciate my intellect, there's still a certain amount of objectification that remains inherent. i'm okay with that because i can't change it, but i retain the power to utilize object status to my advantage. i just want to be appreciated along the way, and i felt really fucking appreciated the other night).

in contrast, here i am 2.5 years later, having found a balance between objectification and my subjectivity. i can fully engage with people who's company i enjoy, but set limits on those interactions. i know an asshole when i meet one, and instead have cultivated connections with regulars with whom i share mutual appreciation and respect. though i like all three of the guys from last night enough to feel bad about not getting to spend more time with each, as i would have gladly spent all night with any one, i maintained a good balance between hedonism and shrewd business sense. i successfully juggled my time and interactions, and everybody left happy--and THAT makes ME happy too.

so, yay. i have achieved a stunning victory over both the dollar sum and negative memories associated with my previous record income for a night. now, every time i think about the most i've made in a shift, i don't have to also feel twinges of guilt and shame. i can look back on my record shift as one of my favorite shifts, for so many reasons. thanks everybody, not only did you make my night, but you made the last 2.5 years worthwhile. my gratitude knows no bounds; i was glowing all day yesterday--and it's not just because i paid all my bills in a single night. i have come a long way since summer '06, and you helped me prove that to myself. thank you.

back in the dressing room, i invited five of my favorite stripper friends out to breakfast, we were loud, and it was fun. i picked up the tab, and gave the waiter a 40% tip ;-)



the traveling business guys are my favorite customers, for so many reasons. allow me to enumerate. ahem:

1.) by definition, travelers are away from home, and thus also from curfew-imposing wives who are none too pleased when they come home stinking of booze, smoke, and fifteen kinds of perfume, possibly bearing visual signs of debauchery such as lipstick marks, hickies, or glitter (point in fact, this is why strippers rarely wear body glitter).

2.) the DFW strip club ghetto is about 15 minutes from the airport. the powers that be are fond of enacting zoning regulations that relegate adult businesses to lower income and/or industrial neighborhoods; in our case, this places us at a rather central and convenient location for travelers (take that, laura miller!). we are often the first stop these business guys make after getting off a plane, except maybe their hotel. even for non-travelers, we are a popular place to "wait out the traffic." (yeah, sure buddy, even though it's now...8:30. there's a reason our walls have no windows or clocks.)

3.) traveling business guys generally spend all day doing boring work stuff, networking at conventions, sitting in endless meetings, etc. they complete their obligations and instead of getting in their sedans and fighting traffic back to suburbia, they find themselves in a foreign land, having no idea where the action's at. but there's always action at the strip club. i wonder how many guys always go to strip clubs when they're traveling, just because they don't know what else to do except sit in the hotel room and watch cable television.

4.) many travelers come to DFW to see clients. going out to strip clubs is a great way to woo clients. they come to the club to make money while they spend money. on us. it works out.

the only thing that gets slightly annoying about these guys is the nearly constant offers for hot airport hotel room action. oh, if i had a dollar for every time someone has given me their room number.

and oh, the hangovers these guys endure throughout their trips. i've heard tell of such things, and i've made them come back into the club to nurse their hangovers on more than one occasion. thank you, traveling business guys, for enduring. thanks for getting up for that 6am conference call to india after drinking with me until 2 the previous night, and still coming back into the club to see me. thank you for making sure i know when you come back to town. you're the reason i love working on weeknights, so thank you, traveling business guys, for my free weekends. i love you guys. don't ever change.


back to the ol' bump n' grind

going back to work after a vacation can be really tough, for a multitude of reasons. for one, i typically put on a few pounds during a vacation (especially the holidays...), and this job has made me more conscious of how i look than ever before (and i've always been vain, so that's saying something). vacation weight aside, there's also another physical aspect--stripping is hard on the legs, knees and feet in particular. during a trip, i get to the point where i no longer hear crunching in my knees when i squat down, and then going back to doing squats and wall-sits for a living (in heels no less) takes its toll. i know that, if i work a long shift that consists entirely of dance-by-dance income (as opposed to getting paid to sit on my ass and be entertaining), i'm going to be sore as fuck the next day. so i typically make my first shift back a short one, 4 hours instead of 8. vacations are also time off from stripper-associated body maintenance, like shaving my cunt. plus, i can give it a few weeks to grow into the requisite quarter inch length required to get waxed off, so that's at least nice. what's more, i don't have to dry and straighten my hair after each shower when i'm on vacation. showers can be enjoyed as something other than a pre-work activity. like, say, a post-sex activity instead ;-)

moreso than the physical aspects, it's the mental stuff that makes "getting back on the horse" difficult. i get used to relaxing and being myself, no pressure to be entertaining or agreeable, and then have to go back to work at the end. the thought of walking into the club and meeting new people and making them like me enough to give me money...well, it's daunting. the knowledge that my evenings are now spoken for, that i'll feel guilty if i take a night off and hang out with friends, that sucks too.

also, i fell onstage again. it was way worse than the first time, in terms of the WAY i fell (no, i didn't faceplant, and no, i didn't hurt myself), and the fact that NO ONE came up and tipped me afterwards. mortifying. completely wrecked my confidence on stage too, because i fell in my BACK UP SHOES. yes, the safe shoes. the modest, low heels. i fell in those. so i have some different shoes now, but i pretty much don't feel comfortable up there unless i'm wearing my boots. which means that i don't dance as much, i don't feel stable enough to really move. so my stage sets suck, i don't make anything, and i look like a dork. great. in short, the knowledge that i'll have to dance onstage again is daunting, and another reason i don't want to go back to work.

i typically put off going back to work as long as possible, and then when i do decide to go back, i make sure i've got either a customer or a good stripper buddy coming in to hold my hand. it makes it SO much easier to go in, knowing that i've got some guaranteed money coming my way, or at least a comrade to help me seek it out. moreso than the guaranteed money, it's the familiar face of a tried and true regular that's comforting after a vacation. i already know this person, he already likes me, i don't have to go through introductory bullshit and deal with explaining a.) where i'm from, b.) how i got to texas, c.) what the hell a smart girl like me is doing working in a strip club, which is typically what introductory conversation always consists of. it gets tiresome, having to constantly JUSTIFY myself to these strangers, because i want their money. but with a regular, there's no need for that, and i can relax. it makes it SO much easier to mentally prepare myself for going back to the bump and grind, when i at least know i have a pretty easy shift ahead of me.

well, last night i had both a customer and a dancer buddy coming in, but decided to go in early and risk being sore today. maryn canceled on me, but my customer came in. we had a nice hour or so at the beginning of my shift, talked about how excited we are that battlestar galactica is about to start back up, told holiday stories, and i made money and watched everyone else try and make money (it was deader than dead). i hit the locker room after he left, vowing to try and find someone to buy me off stage so i didn't have to face my fear of falling in these tried-but-not-necessarily-tested shoes i have now. (but man oh man, are they hot as all getup). i made a few laps around the club, thinking "damn, it's still dead," finally finding a table and doing a few for a *really* nice guy who seemed to get the reason why i'm there. quite non-judgmental, refreshing. i love it when that happens.

just as i'm getting him to pay me i spot my awesome local regular, the one from my previous blog entitled, "damn, sometimes i really love my job." i had fired off a text to him earlier in the week, hoping to get a nibble and set a date, but hadn't heard back. as i'd never texted with him before, i was sortof wondering if i had overstepped a line or something. but alas, there he is, looking around, and as i discovered, looking for me. he said that little "nudge" i gave him wasn't at all inappropriate, and besides, it worked, right? awesome. all of a sudden, i knew that my night was going to be relaxing, entertaining, engaging, AND highly profitable. what a rush. i was giddy. it's always the same when i sit with him: we get a cave upstairs (yes, we have caves upstairs), are waited upon by my favorite waitress, we drink (but not particularly heavily), he buys me off stage, we talk a lot and i do some dancing (but not a lot), we eat nachos around midnight, he leaves sometime before 2 and gives me a thousand bucks. he's wicked smart and has great stories. easy. as. pie.

moral to the story: don't put off going back to work, because it could be a $1300 night. but don't feel bad about putting it off, either, because...it could be a $1300 night, and those nights i missed while feeling sorry for myself might have sucked balls and made me feel even WORSE by wrecking my confidence even more. i feel much better about working now. today, the direct correlation between income and attitude/self-esteem is more palpable than ever. man, i can't wait to not do this anymore.