A while ago I ordered a dancer "cult book" called Lapdancer by Juliana Beasley. I got it in hardcover, the book first came out in 2003. I wish I could copy and paste the entire ten page intro and the last five pages written by Juliana here because it is very interesting and covers a lot of what it is to be a dancer/exotic dancer/stripper. The book is full of photographs (Juliana did the photography too) of dancers she encoutered in the clubs and she also photographed the customers. The photos are a bit gritty and there is nothing glamorous about it, this is not upper end Manhattan dancing or the nicer gentlemens clubs she did her photography in. But it is reality. It is a social study of some sort and very interesting. There are also some dancer's stories weaved in through the pages.
I will quote some of Juliana's text, "This book begins with the premise that dancers, like all good actresses, have lives outside the club."
"But these "intimate" relationships, fundamentally dependent on the exchange of cash for services, are easily disposed of. The outcome of relationships with regulars was always the same: after several thousand of dollars and hours of pseudo-therapeutic conversation, he'd ask me out on a date. I'd put him off, and then he'd become frustrated, realizing I wasn't going to meet him outside of the club. Sometimes he would just disappear without a trace, perhaps moving on to the next club and the next dancer who might fulfill his dreams; other times, distraught, he would come in a and explain that our relationship would have to end because he could no longer continue dropping a grand a week, or maybe he had worked it out with his wife or maybe he was just bored with me. Whatever the excuse, the fantasy was over. What had once been a delightful courtship had turned into another binding commitment to a demanding woman."
"I once asked a Turkish man if he would like a lap dance. He was well behaved and nervous while I danced for him. He told me that he had never had one, that this was his first time. I expressed my sadness about the recent earthquakes that had devestated his country. He then looked at my arm and noticed a tattoo I cover with makeup when I dance, and which in low light looks like a burn. He rolled up his sleeve to show me the terrible scars on his forearm. He asked me if I too had been burned. I reassured him I hadn't. I was struck by his innocence, by his desire to find similarities between the two of us.
Despite all of our differences, within the time limits of the lapdance, we had been led to momentarily find things in common. I doubt I would ever had this interaction with this man otherwise, nor with the countless other men and women I met over the years, people who taught me many lessons about myself and about life, valuable friendships that would had been lost had I never first walked through that club door."
AMEN to that!
I am currently working in FOUR (!) clubs. Like really now.....? Even I feel slightly exhausted thinking about that and feel like I should hire a personal assistant just to keep track on when and where (just kidding of course) but it is nothing unusual for dancers to work at several clubs in Portland. One of them I am at once a week and that one will close its doors soon because something else will be built on the land it sits on. Stuff like that happens. Another club I am at once a week as well but I think I will change that to once every other week or just quit, not worth my time. Then I recently started at another club and so far I have been there once or twice/week. Another club I go to once in a while depending on my schedule that particular week. I have an offer from one of the newest clubs in town to start working there and I could probably work at several clubs in town if I wanted to.
Portand has WAY TOO MANY clubs, most of them are hole in the walls and kind of crappy overall in appearance and lack in dancer and clintele quality. Or like somebody told me, "those haunted places which smell like a special cocktail of cat piss, mold and cupcakes where you perform". Ya......something like that. I actually did work at a club last year that reeked of urine (yes, GROSS I know), from the men's bathroom. And the Great Alaskan Bush Company in Anchorage smelled really bad of urine in the vicinity of the men's bathroom when I first started working there. So do not blame the dancers for that piss smell, most of us dancers smell yummy and have good bathroom habits. I said most, in Portland I have actually encountered several dancers that need a long hot shower, thorough body scrub and apply a thick layer of deodorant.
Check out this note I recently found hanging in the dressig room in one of the clubs I work.
And to end this entry a pic of me. Gotta run......have to shower before work tonight. Gotta smell yummy you know!