what men want

I’ve said it before, and I will continue to stand behind this statement, no matter how jaded or far removed I become from the biz: everyone comes to the club for different reasons. But there are certain patterns I’ve noticed, and conclusions I can draw therein. Here are a few of them. This list is not complete. It gets ramble-y, but these are some of the most important observations I’ve ever made about what stripping does to relationships and psyches, so fucking pay attention.

Exhibit A: The ideal customer.

The ideal customer knows he’s paying for an entertainment/companionship service, and doesn’t deny this to himself or to others. Last night I was bored and kept following Mazlowe around to her tables, because she picks good ones. We were busy eating and cackling with one of her regulars (this was about the time when we decided that during my last week of work, I should change my name to Pavlov and only dance to “Ring my bell” and “Who let the dogs out”), when he said something really interesting. “How do you explain to your coworkers that you come to the titty bar to hang out with amazingly intelligent beautiful women? Nobody would believe you.” And it’s true, most people don’t get it. But there are exceptional customers out there who get it. They get that we’re at work, they get that they have to pay us for our company, and there’s never a problem with that arrangement. These men must have a combination of some pretty specific qualities: intelligence, empathy, generosity, and loneliness. If they’re local, they have to be dissatisfied with their personal life. If they’re travelling, they have to be bored because they’re on a business trip in Dallas and there’s not anything interesting to do here.

I usually prefer the travelers, because they don’t have any mistaken notions about “what it all means.” Every time I find a local regular, the relationship eventually ends because they realize that they’re not actually dating me. We have awesome times together, but eventually he’ll wake up and be like, “Okay, this feels like a relationship, but I have to pay her to hang out with me. She doesn’t want to be my girlfriend.” That will be that, I’ll take an income hit, and move on. Right now my local regular could become the exception to that rule, because he’s in a romance-less marriage and they’re basically roommates and staying together because it’s cheaper than a divorce. So he’s probably “safe” in that regard. But who knows.

Now, let me be clear. I truly like and appreciate every regular I’ve ever had. I don’t care who you are, customer or not, but you don’t get to be my friend, much less see me once a week or more, if you’re not interesting as hell. Would my regulars be people I could sit down and talk with in an airport bar for six hours while we’re both stranded in, say, Milwaukee? Absolutely. Will I keep in contact with some of them after I’m done? Sure. They’re good buddies, and they have good stories, and I feel that at least a portion of our relationship(s) is/are genuine, despite the commodification. But I won’t keep all of them around. I fantasize about the moment when I get to delete the literally hundreds of phone numbers I have stored. Airport conversation or no, would I be this nice to them if they weren’t paying me? Probably not. I’ve become quite skilled at channeling my affection. But I’m tired. I’m tired of pretending to like people more than I do.

The constant channeling into different outlets can get exhausting. The Aussie and I both prefer to make all our money from one or two sources per evening. As she put it, we tire easily of the “I’m this, I’m that, I’m this, I’m that” game.

Yes, we are selling parts of ourselves. The Aussie said, “This is exploitation on my terms. You think you’re not being exploited in a cubicle? This is on my terms.” It’s true, we’re all whores for our jobs, but we strippers have a little bit more control over where that exploitation comes from, i.e. we can walk away from an abusive situation if we deem it so. The Aussie’s mom said, “We all sell ourselves, in marriage, in life.” And her daughter, my dear friend, extrapolates: “I’m just doing it the way I want to do it. And that’s why I’ve stayed so long. I don’t want a real job until I can do it the way I want.”

Selling ourselves changes the way we interact with “real” people too. I tend to be really social when I go out, relishing in the fact that I’m engaging in real interactions with pure motives. The Aussie expresses something different: “You lose the filter when you’re not getting paid. I don’t want to talk to people when I go out, I want to take ecstasy and dance and lose my shit. I don’t even know how much I’ve given up by [stripping]. I’m not getting laid.”

And it’s true. This job makes it impossible to have a real relationship. You work at night. You’re constantly selling so much of yourself, it changes the way you love. The Aussie says, “I’m so used to manipulating people that I find myself dating people who are beneath me because they’re easy to manipulate.” She’s recognized this, and is trying to break that habit. “I’m excited by people, which is why I’m a good stripper, but my instantaneous connection is sexual, which is why I’ve never had a relationship that grew. Eliza is in her first post-stripping relationship and is having a hard time adjusting to the real. It’s romance, he’s not a customer, she likes him for him, not his money. She’s basically been dating customers and is having a hard time switching back.” Now, my personal experience hasn’t been like this. I’ve had relationships, I don’t manipulate my lovers, I don’t see my patterns with customers spilling over into my intimate life, but most of them were long distance, so I could still control my time (read: work nights and schedule week/ends where I see my bf and fuck off from work). Now that I’m single, and living in a place where I won’t find a mate, and all I could really do is go out on a date here, a date there, and I don’t. I don’t see the point. I don’t want dates, I want love. I’m tired of this. You can’t put a price tag on love. When I’m done here in a few, whatever I lose in income, I will earn back tenfold in authenticity.

Some customers think you can buy love, though. Not all customers are ideal. There are some who are completely deluded, and some who are aware they’re being deluded.

Exhibit B: The Skeptic.

In “Never trust a man with a boat,” I describe how some customers can turn on you once they realize that you’re not dancing naked for them, or laughing at their jokes, or generally being adoring, because you genuinely feel like it. Well, a few weeks ago, I had a really interesting exchange with a guy after I’d done a few dances:

Him: “Wow, you’re really good. I totally think you’re going to go home with me, but you’re not.”

Me: “Um, thanks?”

Him: “No seriously, I feel like I should be giving you my number right now, but that’s pointless, because you don’t actually like me.”

Me: “I do like you. But not in the way you’re thinking. May I be completely honest?” (stealing myself a little here, ahhh fuckit)

Him: “Sure.”

Me: “You’re too short. I need guys who are at least three or four inches taller than me.”

Him: “But I’m five ten.”

Omg. He’s so not five ten.

Me: “No way.”

I take off my shoes (which is considered prostitution in this state btw, still need to figure out the arcane source of that particular blue book law), we stand toe to toe, quite literally. He’s not five ten. Whatever.

The point is: he cut through the crap. He called me out on my game. And he seemed quite put off about it.

Whatever, he deserves it. He clearly didn’t know what he was getting into when he started talking to me.

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