i had a guy come in, looked like he was in his mid-thirties, well dressed, didn’t give of a creepy vibe at all, which was refreshing that night, as i had been dealing with creeps all night. guys in sweatpants. eugh. first rule of being a stripper is “never trust a guy in sweatpants.” but this guy comes in, i’ll call him john. he looks good. well-dressed, but not like a suit or anything, not one of those guys. just casually dressed, clean, hair styled. a nice guy. so naturally all of the ladies on the floor spot him at the same time. it was kind of hilarious actually. it was like when a new guy walks into a saloon in one of those westerns, right, and all the old timers look over at him. that was this guy. fresh meat, right.
and right off the bat we can all tell he’s new. he’s green. he’s never been to a strip club. maybe once. he’s glancing all over the place, it’s too dark, there’s too many weird lights. he’s looking at all the guys sitting by the stage, the guys drinking in the back, in the comfy chairs, with ladies trying to get a dance out of them. cheap motherfuckers. he’s looking and he’s judging, because he’s in that position. i get it. you have a set of morals hammered into you at a young age, and walking into a strip club for the first time usually challenges those morals. you have to start thinking about women, about women as sexual objects, about women who are okay being sexual objects, about women who love their sexuality and aren’t afraid to show it. tits and ass and pussy and all that flashing around. guys who look skeezy as fuck, guys who look so put together you wonder why they’re even in a strip club … it’s all there, a little societal microcosm for your developing brain to wade through.
green guys are tough to deal with. a lot of them don’t have any money, or they have a shit ton of money. it’s hard to tell. this guy was dressed nice but i got the feeling he didn’t have any money, so i decided to warm up to a guy i knew had money, one of the regulars who likes to sit in the back and talk about the trailblazers while i waggle my tits in his face. he wears blue jeans and a t-shirt with oblong grease stains on it, his face is a constant battle between five o’clock shadow and a fresh shave. he smiles when i compliment his teeth. what can i say, i’m a sucker for a guy with nice teeth.
new guys generally run the gauntlet–all the women eventually sidling up to him, letting him know the rundown of prices and all that. “gauntlet” is not our word, it’s a word used by a guy who comes in often. quiet type who gradually opened up over time. he called if the “gauntlet.” i like it. anyway, this guy was about to go through that and i got this sense that he wasn’t uncle moneybags, so i let the newer girls go after him while i tend to nice teeth guy. he and i start talking, getting reacquainted, he tells me about his wife, i tell him about my boyfriend. after a moment i ask him if he wants a private dance, he says yes, we both stand up and i take his hand, turn toward the booths in the back, and–there’s the new guy, standing about three feet away from us, awkward as fuck, hands in his pockets, but this determined look on his face. behind him lie rejected strippers in his wake, the younger ones tinged with a hint of damaged self-esteem, the older ones already casting glances across the room for new men to chase.
proximity for women in the sex industry is an important thing. men within three feet of you change the atmosphere of the room, so to speak. nice teeth guy, he’s a foot away, but i’ve vetted him, i know he’s cool, i know during a lapdance he sits on his hands and doesn’t come in his underwear. he’s respectful, gracious. new guy, he could be anything, so despite my years of doing this job, i still feel the hairs on my neck raise up, a chill run down my spine. and yet, his face, so soft and sweet, he has patchy stubble under his neck and on his chin. a thin wispy mustache. his hair neatly styled, but you can see the cut itself is a little rough, like maybe his mom cut it for him.
and then, his voice, above the din of thumping bass and drums, says, “excuse me.”
“yes?” i reply. here’s the gist: he found me on instagram after a friend of his talked about how great of a stripper i am. his name is eric. he wants a lapdance from me, and only me. he drove into town from beaverton (this makes me laugh). he has money. he has plenty of money. i turn to nice teeth: “would you mind?” i ask, and nice teeth shakes his head, chuckling to himself, sitting back down to watch felicia dance. i’m fine, i know this, the club has plenty of excellent bouncers who will rip a man’s dick off the instant he even tries to touch me. so i’m not worried about eric. i take his hand, i tell him the rates, i tell him about my specials. he nods to all of it, says he wants a private lapdance. a long one. i ask him how long, ten minutes? “an hour,” he says. i say we don’t do hours, and he pulls out this wad of cash from his pocket and says, “how much is a ten minute lapdance?” “sixty,” i say, and he starts counting money. “i want six ten minute lapdances,” he says, and gives me more than what it would cost.
so i’m like hell yeah and i lead him toward the private booths, with a small detour to let the DJ know that i’m going to be incapacitated for the next hour. i also manage to catch the eye of troy, one of the bouncers, and i give him a look like “stay close.” he nods and follows us from a distance. i hand the stack of money to a fellow stripper,
i take eric to the farthest booth because i like the privacy. the rooms are cozy but big enough to twirl around in. there’s a couch opposite the door and mirrors on the walls and ceiling. it’s dimly lit, which thankfully hides the still-healing pole dancing bruises on my thighs. i tell eric to take a seat. he asks if he can remove his jacket. “as long as you’ve got a shirt on underneath,” i quip. he doesn’t respond. under his jacket he is wearing a black polo shirt. he’s a small guy and skinny.
outside, the muffled 4/4 bass drum beat shifts from one tempo to another, a slower beat. the DJ announces a new dancer: carolyn, a newbie but incredibly strong on the pole. she asks me for tips with guys and bums the occasional cigarette outside. the slow beat influences my hips and i slowly undulate my body onto eric’s lap. “you know there’s no touching, right?” eric nods, and then bursts into tears. like, sobs, sobs so hard his chest heaves. and suddenly i go from sexy stripper to mother hen. i slide from on his lap to on the couch and hugging him, softly at first, but sometimes you can tell when a person just needs a good bear hug.
what’s wrong, what’s wrong, it’s okay, i keep repeating. he was dating a girl who died suddenly of a brain tumor and he didn’t know how to deal with it. he was so in love with this woman that the idea of moving on from her was causing him physical stress, and he decided to confront that by going to a strip club. just to watch the women dance. his friend gave him my name and where i worked, and mentioned at some point that strippers love guys who talk to them. that kind of pissed me off; i don’t care if guys talk to me, i care if they pay me money and don’t sexually assault me. but anyway, this guy was hurting and he just wanted someone to be there. i understand that. he’s not my first crying guy at the strip club, but his story was definitely the saddest. his girlfriend had been dead for almost a year and he hadn’t dated or hardly gone out. he knew he was supposed to move on but didn’t know how, and i guess he thought coming to a strip club would help. i don’t know if it ever did, because after the hour was up (mostly spent crying and talking), he gave me a hundred dollar tip and left, and never came back, ever. believe me, i’m still looking for him. i think about him every night. i hope he’s okay.