Good Touch/Bad Touch

I'm very particular about how I like to be touched. More specifically, how I DON'T like to be touched. I'm not talking about stuff that's germane to work, as in, don't-you-dare-infiltrate-my-g-string-fortress, I'm talking in general. Ask any of my ex boyfriends. General rules: no poking me in the ribs (I've covered that here before), no tapping (you know my name, so just use it if you want to get my attention), and no highly repetitive/incessant movements (unless it involves my genitalia and, you know, we have that kind of relationship).

“Repetitive motion” is the hardest to articulate. And when I try, I feel like I'm coming off too bitchy. So unless we're extremely intimate, you're never going to know you're bugging the crap out of me. How do you tell someone “OMG stop rubbing my arm like that” without sounding like a total cunt? That's right, you don't. And how do you explain something that bugs you on such a subjective level, to someone who's clearly doing it subconsciously and could only attempt cessation through constant vigilant effort? How do I describe that I like to be touched in long, lingering, aptly-aimed, one-pass caresses? It sounds fucking high maintenance, right? Yeah. That's why I never tell anyone unless I'm fucking them. Like a lot. And sometimes it never even has to come up. It's a chemistry thing.

I remember the first time I realized repetitive motion annoyed me. I was in high school, and seeing a movie with a boy. I was a virgin, so hand-holding and the occasional face-slobber was as turned on as I ever got. As we sat there in the dark, you know, holding hands, he would NOT stop moving his THUMB on my hand. It drove me absolutely crazy. I didn't do anything about it, except be annoyed and distracted for the entire movie. I think I broke up with him after that.

Well, last night I ran head-on into this little peeve of mine. On my initial lap around the club, I passed a table. Three customers, once dancer (whom I know, she used to work the day shift with me back when I was green as hell). The two empty-lapped dudes both held my gaze. Having just got there, I figured I'd keep looking. But on my way around the other side of the room, I decided to go back. I marched up and demanded, “What the hell is going on here?” Blink blink. I love that line. I picked out the obviously-not-from-around-here-are-ya guy and perched on his armrest. I'm really good at perching on armrests.

We talk, I move from armrest to lap. He's from NYC, in town for business, he sells specialty paint, like the rust-prevention kind or the kind they use on golfballs, blah blah blah...and he won't. Stop. Rubbing. My. Back. And my arms. And my flanks. In fact, even when I manage to pin his arm, kinda casual-like, under my elbow, he still moves his thumb, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. His breath smells like cigars. At one point I actually adjust my position on his lap so that I don't have to smell his breath and so I can wrap his arms around my torso and keep them there, pinned. I do a dance, and again, won't stop touching me. When I'm hovering above him, his arms are outstretched and on my sides, like a toddler begging to be picked up. When I'm leaning back against his chest, they're rubbing my thigh like I've spilled a bit of condiment on my fishnets.

Eventually I have to go onstage, vowing to myself to find a better victim while I'm in the fishbowl. I do dances for a guy like this about twice a year, and every time, it's short lived. Whatever they pay me isn't enough to deal with the obnoxious way they interact with my body. I have to move on.

Well, not a whole lot going on that early, so I resign myself and go back to toucher guy. The other two dudes are clients, and my guy's entertaining them, so he's got all the money, which is good. The most good-ol-boy of the clients goes, "Oh wow. You're hot. And you're a liberal! And you're SMART! A smart liberal. Wow, that's so rare." LOL. Also, he has a term for people like me: BEML. As in, "Big-Eared-Muslim-Lover." I say, "But my ears are really small." LOL. I love good ol' boys. They're all just libertarians, harmless really (unless you fuck with their property--then they'll shoot ya). They'll keep their laws off of my body, so we tend to get along pretty well, and there's lots of witty banter fodder. My guy is very well traveled and has patronized various facets of the sex industry around the world, so at least his stories are interesting.

Anyways, my guy has all the money, and I've conferred with my friend who was at the table before me, so I know he's worth way more than just one dance. And so I dance. And dance. And he keeps touching me in ways that bug the crap out of me. I got a ride into work, so I start drinking faster. That helps. I try and channel my new lover. That helps too. I dance and dance and dance. Same shit, over and over, at 3:30 intervals. And he ate it up. I took a break every five songs. I let him know his total every $300 or so. To stave off boredom, I start trying more uncomfortable positions, putting extra weight on my arms, etc, so at least I get a better workout. I think to myself, “Wow. My ass IS really strong, isn't it? Fuck.”

I ended up dancing for him ALL FUCKING NIGHT. For like, literally seven hours. I've never done that many songs in a row for the same person, and the only other times I've made that kind of money have been on nights when at least a portion of it came from hourly. I think he's a bit of a masochist, because he keeps saying things like, "You know how much power you have over me right now, don't you?" Yes, thank you for stating the obvious. The ATMs wouldn't handle what he owed me at the end, and he had to get bear bucks. When he left at 1:00, I'm relieved, because I'm tired as hell. I change clothes, sit in the dressing room, eat my brown bag dinner, and wait for my ride to get done cleaning their tables. I could try and go make more money, but there's no way in hell I'm going to go talk to someone on the floor for ten minutes so I can make maybe $40 off them; I just made a small fortune and I'm spent.

So that's what I learned last night. If you pay me enough money and feed me enough vodka, repetitive motion is okay. Don't tell any of my ex boyfriends. I'll just sound like a bitch.


Superbowl report

The weather fucked us in the ass. Sideways. With handle bars for extra leverage. Ice shut down DFW for two days, the airport closed for a while, storms creamed Chicago and NYC and nobody could get here, people canceled/delayed their plans till days later, blah blah blah, our week got epic screwed. I holed up with friends and made the best of it. It was an ice rink out there.

Our big rush hit on Friday (instead of, you know, Tuesday...goddammit), which also happened to be the day that I started feeling feverish symptoms. The roads were still semi-fucked and I knew I was coming down with something, but determined, I loaded up on dayquil and caught a ride with some waitresses who have an SUV. The main room was full when I showed up at six, but the library was pretty empty. Still, I'd never seen it so busy, so early. Sitting at a bar, I commented to another dancer that it seemed like midnight, like some sort of weird time warp. No windows or clocks, people. Just like a casino.

I did a stage set, and made a (metric) crapton of money in the first three hours of my shift, practically with my eyes closed, so easy. Went upstairs with a table that bought three bottles of Cristal, and was well on my way to a record-breaking night when my immune system betrayed me, and I just couldn't deal anymore. It's really hard to do dances when your skin is tender and your joints ache.

Oh and, did I mention? I fell on the ice three times in the two days prior. I had (still have) a big bruise on the back of my pelvis, and my ab/ass/neck muscles were sore from my body (successfully) attempting to keep my head from hitting the ground. It hurt to walk. Oh AND, the hot water in my tub is busted so I've been washing my hair in my kitchen sink and taking whore baths with a pot full of water and a plastic cup in my bathtub, just washing/shaving the important bits, for four fucking days. My cunt has razor burn (which I almost never get now) from the improper shaving conditions, exacerbated by the fact that I have to keep fending off repeated g-string-fortress-infiltration attempts from these tourists, and my defense techniques only cause their fingers to drag up against the grain of my inflamed stubble as they desperately seek a handhold, making everything all the worse.

But you know what? My job really isn't that bad. And it was the biggest weekend of the year, and I'd be damned if I was going to miss it.

Anyways, I was on the list early enough so that I was not going back onstage, and thus was able to take a good long nap in the costume closet, curled up amidst tulle and sequins and fedoras and boas, with the chills, inside my peacoat, head resting on gallon ziplocks full of stripper gear (remember, I was stuck waiting till my waitresses/ride got off work sometime after 2:30). After about three hours, I came to, and laid there in the dark for another hour, just listening to the radio chatter coming off the managers in the hallway. It was around 12:30, and we were already out of the credit-card-purchased dance dollars aka funny money aka “bear bucks” (meaning we'd sold 40K in those alone, and everyone was now scrambling to get the girls to turn it in for recycling). Strippers were getting skipped off the stage like, every five or ten seconds, meaning they'd sold bottles or skip shots. There were 101 of us signed in. They were banking out there, I could hear the din of the crowd every time the nearest door to the floor would open, I could hear the kind of money people were making on the radio, and there I was, laid up with the fucking flu. In the dark. Listening.

I'd kept my boots on and everything whilst napping. Deciding I couldn't deal with letting people touch me, even after a three hour rest, I changed into my street clothes and just started chatting with folks in the dressing rooms. Little did I know, my regular had been sitting at the bar for two hours, not texting me because he thought I was off making bank, while shooing away dozens of girls. He would have taken care of me, just sit there and talk (which I totally could have managed btw, even in my condition) but was being polite and keeping his distance, letting me work the crowd (which I wasn't doing). FAIL. I chastised him the next day for not telling me he was around. Oh well.

So I'm lurching around talking with the girls, asking everyone how their night was, watching drama unfold here and there, stealing glasses of neglected champagne (which was apparently flowing freely out of all the fissures in the building) because yeah, even though I was sick, I was fucking frustrated and wanted to imbibe. I made a point to be nice to the out-of-town girls, because hey, even though they're poaching the venue where we toil in during the off-season, I know what it's like to be a stranger in a new club, and how much it means to have some babe you don't know be genuinely nice to you and say, “Welcome. I hope you made some fucking cash! Do you need a tampon? Here.” (P.S. Denver girls are way nicer than Houston girls, in my albeit very limited experience as an outsider in those cities). I made sure to thank every single manager, food runner, and the DJ for their hard work (the DJ said, "You know, I was just really glad I didn't have to take a shit"); I HEARD those guys running their asses off via the radio; they were out there getting paid the same thing they make every day, but helping everyone else rake in the best money we'll make all year. I was filled with this overwhelming feeling of solidarity and appreciation. I mean, we're definitely more of a family than any other club I've seen or heard of, and I really love our place, but I was brimming with gratitude that night. We are a tightly run ship, a highly evolved, efficient, money-sucking MACHINE, and we were kicking ASS at it. Like, hard.

On the way home, I make the waitresses take me by a drug store, pick up some theraflu and other associated items, and pass out. That was Friday. I felt a little better on Saturday, well enough to rally. The temperature rose and the roads cleared, so I elected to take my own car so that in case the same thing happened, I could at least drive my ass home early.

Well, the same thing did not happen. I tore that place up.

The club was absolutely full at six when they let the night shift onto the floor. I'd been pacing in the dressing room for a half an hour, feeling like a racehorse waiting for the gates to open. And honestly? I have never seen it so busy in my 4.5 years at the club (and that includes a good stretch before the economy tanked). There were literally no unoccupied tables in the main rooms (dunno about champagne and VIP). At 6:30 I come barreling through a dressing room door to find an unlucky food runner/ bar back guy mopping up the mess he'd just made by dropping the better part of a buss-tub-full of miller lights onto the floor. “Oh NO!” I go. “Ohhhh SI” he replies in a sarcastic-but-dealing-with-it tone. Poor guy. It's the busiest night of the year, and he was in the most trafficked of the (three) entrances to the (main) dressing room too. Really shitty timing. Some dumbass stripper was probably texting and not looking where she was fucking going and ran straight into him. Bummer. Those guys work SO hard.

Next, an older dancer/semi-acquaintance of mine is crying because she got slapped on the ass so hard that she has a welt. Steeler fans are going all barrel-chested wanting to defend her honor. I think to myself, “Ooh. Welts. I like spanking now and again” and then feel bad for even thinking that, because she genuinely feels assaulted. I assure the Pittsburgh guys that the managers have it covered and I run away, marveling at the balls on some of these asshats.

I do a few here, a few there, finally scoring an hourly gig in the champagne room, snuggling up to a man with whom I had some fairly decent physical chemistry (sometimes I do dances for people who know how to touch me, not crossing the lines too much, hitting all the right places while not annoying me by doing things like scratching my flanks) but almost no mental connection despite him constantly telling me how amazing I was/am. So we're back there, I'm chugging water as if it's the proto-apocalypse and all the treatment plants are about to be offline, he's constantly making excuses, “Wow, I can't get hard with all these people watching me” and I'm trying to make him feel like he's the only man in the club, meanwhile RON FUCKING JEREMY is sitting right there like staring at me and Dennis Rodman is across the room (I really wanted to touch him, just so I could say that I touched someone who fucked Madonna...alas) and I think maybe Jenna Jameson too, and this is all very surreal. I mean, I don't care if he gets hard. I'd consider it a compliment to my talents if he does; honestly, it's just further evidence that his ass (read: wallet) is mine. But it's fucking funny that he's making excuses for his dick when he's A.) paying for a service; B.) I don't give a fuck; and C.) an iconic/balding/mullet-headed porn star from the seventies is about six feet away from us the entire time and staring.

I get released back out into the madness, which is fine, because all that guy really wanted was for me to come back to his hotel, and I seriously can't be bothered with that. It's a motherfucking feeding frenzy out there. 131 dancers on the floor (the most I've ever seen), and record-setting sales for the club (but I'll never publish those stats). ABSOLUTE. CHAOS. People are getting lap dances at the bar, people are sitting at card tables in order to buy Dom upstairs. There are tits EVERYWHERE. I heard at least three separate dancers comment, later in the evening, that they were completely disoriented when they walked out onto the floor, it was just that busy. At some point half the toilets are clogged in the dressing room, and we're completely out of toilet paper (I think we sent someone to Sam's to get more?). I'm shocked/relieved that the ATMs didn't run out of money (want to see stripper relations go from camaraderie to cutthroat in about half a second? Take the ATMs offline). Eventually we'll all smell like the same combination of cologne, ego, body spray, pheromones, shame and/or greed, but for right now, it's game on. I feel great. I'm picking the weak ones off the edges of the pack. Eighty bucks here, a hundred there, bam-bam-pause-lipgloss-hydrate-repeat. Hell, just typing that sentence made me feel like going back to work tonight. Too late though. Whatever.

So Ruby and I squeeze some ridiculously easy cash out of some hapless (also drunk) Canadian oil and gas guy named Vance (also the name of my evil ex, and a rare name at that; I took great glee in using the fuck out of this one. Uhm sorry, he had the wrong name? It gets better: while my ex liked to tell me that my ass wasn't adequate, this Vance loved asses and couldn't get enough of mine. Wonderful retribution! P.S. If you're reading this, you fucker, yes, I still hate you), while a bunch of hoss-looking-probably-Packer-fans look on from across the aisle. After I'd gotten bored of taking candy from a baby, I do a few laps, eventually making back around to the hoss-looking-guys-who-indeed-turn-out-to-be-from-Iowa. I pick out the easy one immediately and do four dances, good songs too, absolutely at the top of my game and feeling great.

While I'm dancing for this 300lb-corn-fed-captive audience, his bros (I mean bras, as in “cha bra, check out my sick new trucknuts”) are two feet away, discussing their, uh, philosophy of strip clubs. And OMG, I shit you not, in my (fifteen) years of reading about and/or personally observing this environment, I can honestly call this exchange pure fucking gold. No like, seriously, it's comments such as these that made me get into the business, so that I could be privy to them in person. Ahem: “It's like they're habitually lying to people for money.” (Yeah? You think? How incredibly observant!)....And then a song later: “There's no truth or honesty left in this place!” LOL. I've been like, working up a sweat over here, doing squats on this guy's lap during probably the best ten minutes of his year thus far, listening to his buddies run their mouths thinking I can't hear them talking shit, trying not to laugh. I finally can't stand it anymore, and I break character in the middle of a song to lean over and go: “You know what? Some of us aren't capable of lying like that. Some of us are just ourselves in sluttier clothes. I can't change personae like dresses, the way some of these girls do, I just come out here and fucking relate to people and provide a service, which YOU came HERE to purchase, remember?” They both just stop, stare at me for a second, blink blink errrruh. One of them goes, “Goddamn girl, you got ears like a hawk” and the other manages, “Well uh, there's an exception to every rule” and I just snicker, finish my dance, kiss farmboy on the cheek, take my money and run off to my locker to record those quotes into my phone. Dumbasses. What the fuck did they think they would find here, while on vacation for the stupid Superbowl? A fucking girlfriend? TRUTH AND HONESTY?! THIS IS A STRIP CLUB! You can be anyone you want here. This is one place in the world where you are encouraged to think with your dick. Might as well shut the fuck up, not TALK SHIT IN FRONT OF THE STRIPPERS, and enjoy yourself. Actually, I don't mind the shit talking. As you might be able to discern, it amuses me greatly.

The rest of the night passed in a blur. I have no idea how many people I danced for. The chaos never stopped, not even when the lights came on at two (I think most of the customers thought we stayed open till four. They received a rude flourescent awakening). Towards the end my hey-how-are-you-let-me-engage-you-in-conversation-before-I-make-you-pay-me routine has been reduced to, “Only five songs left! Who wants some?” It really wasn't hard. The dressing room was, of course, more chaos. I'm starving, sore, bruised, sick, and I have to pee, but damn, I could have worked another two hours at least. I get out of there to discover the cops have all the turn lanes blocked off, and have to circle around to a super fanagle-y back way to the highway. Home, theraflu, crash.

On Sunday morning I see a FB post from one of the managers: in his three decades of hospitality management, he's never been so busy in his life. That night at work, while we're waiting for the stupid game to be over so we can get slammed again, I question him for more details about that statement. He tells me that not only has he never been so busy, but he's also never worked at a place where after a night as insane as we had, everyone, customers and employees alike, were all leaving with smiles on their faces. And it's true. We really nailed that one, guys. We are a well-oiled machine, we are an exceptional team of tease and overpriced champagne, and we knocked it out of the park. The weather may have fucked us, but we fucked that Superbowl right on back.

I'm really beat up now. There are significantly fewer layers of skin on my kneecaps than were present a few days ago. I haven't even wanted to get out of bed to eat, and holy god, I need to get laid. The final straw came on Sunday night after our shift, when I got hit in the fucking face with a champagne cork. My waitress/ride took home a re-corked bottle of Cristal (sometimes customers don't want to drink the champagne that they still have to purchase in order to access a private-r room, and we get to take it home), which was sitting between my legs in the passenger seat. The vibration from the car caused the temporary re-cork to work it's way out of the bottle and onto my face. One inch lower and I could be missing my left eye. I've got this really painful (but thankfully invisible) welt on my forehead. My buddy Andy said, “Whoa! That's the part they leave out of rap songs!” LOL.

I'm all tore up, but you know what? I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Bring it. Minus the weather this time.