Locker Room Series: #2

2009-08-07 17.45.26-1“Despite the Global Financial Crisis, Lolita, Tazo and Billie still know how to have a good time.” Circa 2008.

 

It’s not all 50 and 100 dollar bills cascading their way through the air and into our garter belts. It’s hard to keep your spirits up and make money when the club is dead. The men get swamped by girls, one after the other, after the other. The abundance of choice can turn a regular customer into an absolute cunstomer, adopting the distinctive smarmy arrogance of a man who can have anyone he likes. He can’t. Otherwise he wouldn’t be sitting in a strip club alone on a Tuesday being a basic dick.

Up against these odds it’s easy for us girls to become bitter, nasty, man hating, impatient, exasperated harpies. However, if you’re working at the right club, with the right people, non-profit organization nights don’t have to be a total drainer.

DRESS UPS IN THE LOCKER ROOM FIX EVERYTHING.

In an unfortunate turn of events over the last few years, the frequency of slow nights has increased and all the club’s costumes have been flogged by financially destitute strippers aka bitches who don’t know how to handle their money and/or love to steal stuff. Nowadays we prefer to pool our resources at the end of a night, make a run for someone’s house and raid the costume box to the sweet sounds of Hall and Oates. 

    

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It Aint Over Til…

It still doesn’t feel quite over yet somehow. I’ve been surprised and disappointed at how long it’s taking for the palm of that event to open, for the fingers to unfurl. They just seem to keep unraveling, appearing at moments from nowhere. Most of the time I feel fine but it doesn’t take much for me to way more stressed out than any reason will warrant. I’m trying to be positive and appreciate all the things at home that I missed so terribly and to find the comfort I imagined would be here, waiting to help all the awful bits go away. Every now and then I feel the weight and speed of panic smothering my face, a condensed ball in my chest that wants to lose it’s shit and blow it’s way out of there. I’ve come home, and seen my friends, cuddled my animals, surrounded myself with flowers, started going for big walks again. But my room feels cavernous, not the cocoon I was expecting. It doesn’t hold me close. Home is strange. Maybe I just need to buy more flowers.

It’s been interesting to observe myself interacting with people who have read that post. It’s good to acknowledge it and to say thank you to the ones who reached their arms out to me from across the sea. Strong arms, direct ones, the ones that show you they’re there and they’re ready to try and feel what you need from them, and give you whatever they can. I try to be natural about it. Like it’s just another topic of conversation. Which it pretty much is with people who aren’t too close. It’s done and dusted in a couple of sentences. Strangely enough it’s with them that it feels the easiest. But it’s hard to see some people flinch, some of the people I really care about. It’s hard to notice those changes in posture, manner, the flicker of something across the face, and not see in those things a reflection of the residual disgust and avoidance I still hold in myself. The thing that is hardest to shake off since it happened, is the flickering film in my head that’s been playing out. Old scraps of video events from my lifetime of times when I should have asserted myself but I didn’t, and now I think maybe I’m not the strong person I thought I was.

Maybe it is hard for people to talk about this stuff. Maybe I’m just so used to sitting around in the club, the unlicensed but professional confessional, having people spill the beans on their darkest secrets. Being told tales saturated with the most fucked up betrayals, perversions, weaknesses, and crimes against law and life. I don’t think twice to be open about my life in conversation and I don’t flinch at much. Us girls don’t really have censored topics around the dinner table, we are who we are and it is what it is. Is it possible that for a normal person, rolling in the normal world, it’s as hard to bear the burden of the victim as the burden of the perpetrator? Because you’re not really meant to talk too much about it?

It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. Even a few days after it all went down, I’d expected I’d already be over it. This stuff happens all the time. I already knew that. I’ve got a lifetime worth of witnessing and hearing tales of fucked up bad behaviour underneath the broad umbrella of the sexual violation genre. I got off lightly while he got off nicely on a minor offence. It’s been hit after hit for the women I’ve known throughout my life. A couple of days after it happened, I spoke to my sister and we literally did an inventory of our parent’s friends from when we were kids, “Who was the neighbour? Was it Owen? Oh….Peter! Really? I thought it must be Owen cause he did that hand up the t-shirt thing to me a couple of times.” We cackled at how morbidly  ridiculous it was that all these years later, these small time rookie violations came out of the woodwork of our childhood. I feel like I’ve always known about things like this. Why did it feel so bad at my age? Surely I should be stronger than that? Was I being dramatic? Indulging a victim mentality? Because really, a lot of the things I just wrote feel so cliche, they apply more to victims of rape and ongoing abuse. I should be over it by now after that little dalliance.

Such a dirty word these days, ‘victim.’ Flung as an insult like wet shit in a rodeo pen, or resisted and battled off like an intruder trying to wedge their way in the door. Nobody wants to be one, and when they are, no one wants to admit it. Such a defeat. Such an admission of powerlessness. Take the power back girl! Reach for the stars! You are your own worst enemy! That action, those words, have no meaning unless YOU give them  meaning! Nobody can bring you down unless YOU let them! Smiley face, smiley face, heart.

Go fuck yourself inspirational slogan.

Not everyone’s life is as good as their instagram or facebook timeline would indicate. Not everyone’s day was like a walk down a pastel path into a pastel pine forest with white fake real handwriting scrawled across the vista saying something whimsical and easy with some hashtags underneath #blessed #lovethelifeyoulive #smugcunt (credit for that last hashtag to my adopted parents in NYC, circa October 2014, Spotted Pig and shoestring fries). Sometimes people hurt you and it isn’t a defeat to let yourself feel it. To ride the waves until they subside. Low self confidence, self doubt, stress, feeling unattractive and gross, heavy head, heavy heart. But whatever the case, I do really have to get over it. And stop thinking so much. Do little things that make me super happy – filling my room with flowers, seeing my friends and walking my dog. Should probably hold back on the excessive eating though. Maybe lingering on this whole thing has just been the fat little piggy inside me taking advantage of the perfect excuse to eat more derishuss sugary treats…. The fat lady singing the signal to end it all, could actually end up being me.

I had so many people write to me after that post. So many people at different stages of dealing with their own version of the same story. Some are years upon years later, so when I read over these things, I don’t feel alone. And I don’t feel so much of a victim with shit on my face from the rodeo pen. So thank you to everyone who did. It meant a lot to have you tell me that what I wrote meant a lot.

Your post quickly brought back a memory of

The whole time, I thought it was me.  That I was creating this idea in my mind…”

In that split second… He sped over the curb and drove to the car park entrance right where I was standing.

I know the feelings you’re feeling well.”

I kept asking myself if it had been a legit interview, because I couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. I didn’t know whether to be upset with it or not.

To be honest, I couldn’t even defend myself if people decided to say that I asked for it to happen to me – even though I know it was wrong.”

…a long time ago now, but the same emotions i thought I had locked down were brought on by reading your post.

I reacted in much the same way. I even gave the guy a kiss on the cheek.”

I haven’t read your blog as I fear it’ll be hard for be as I have overcome so many sexually abusive and other sorts of abuse and I worry that reading it will revert me back to it. I just want to say…”

” The women I know who haven’t been sexually assaulted or taken advantage of in some way are such a small, small minority.”

I didn’t exercise any of that power, and then it was like I never had it.

You described so many of my thoughts to a tee. I am taking steps to deal my shit better in preparation for the arrival of our baby girl…”

I am sending you love and strength and positive vibes from afar…in a way that the sisterhood should stand beside one another.”

Love you. That is all x”

Take as long as you want to feel what you want to feel.                                                    As long as it takes before you’re standing tall, beating your chest                                      as you howl & prance                                                                                                      until even the monsters under your bed                                                                            will bow down to you before they begin to dance

The Girl Had Wings

I was recently reminded of a glamorous stripper girl I worked with a couple of years ago. She was sweet as sugar and nice to talk to, until she started talking smack about my best mate. But that didn’t come to pass until a long time after her labiaplasty.

She had a voice like the gravel rubbing itself up and down the back of your throat after a hard night on the ciggies, and a dry sense of humor that suited her voice perfectly. She would arrive at work without makeup dressed in a hoody and pink velour tracksuit pants, looking like a day-to-day girl. Then the 2 hour transformation would take place….

Her falsies were in the top 5 biggest I’d ever seen. I’m talking about eyelashes…. She wore an excess of glitter and so many sequins and rhinoplasties, I mean rhinestones, that I felt absolute wonderment that such a stunning toothpick of a girl could manage all that extra weight without teetering over in the super tall sparkly platform stilettos that she wore around the club. She always wore white and shined bright like any diamonte being sold as a genuine Swarovski that I’ve ever seen. She was the sort of girl who’s favourite quote would be Marilyn Monroe’s “If he can’t handle me at my worst, then he doesn’t deserve me at my best.” Ugh. Pretty well suited to the kind of guy who would have “No woman no cry” as his life motto.

She did a little military drummer girl show that I actually really enjoyed. She was excellent at beating her own drum to the rhythm of somebody else’s song. There was something so sweetly aggressive about her performance in this particular Halloween outfit. As though she were really trying to bang it out there and show everyone that she didn’t give two fucks about anything except owning who she was and being a loud and proud stripper in a super hot fictitious civilian services costume. Here to fictitiously service you civilians and service you good. In a dancy way. I never saw that girl jump the gap between the two sex industries. And it is a HUGE gap for most girls to jump. But that’s a whole other chapter in itself.

Some girls dance like the devil in the pale spotlight so that they can travel. This girl liked to travel too. Thailand was her Number One, ichiban daisukidesu destination. Every time she returned she was loaded with goodies. One time at band camp, a plastic surgeon in Australia refused to perform the super size me, level up! augmentation she was craving so she was forced to take a tropical hospital vacay in trusty Thailand. She returned with tits so enormous that from behind she appeared to be a bronzed prepubescent girl dressed up in her mum’s heels holding basketballs close to her chest so that they bulged beyond her snowy egret frame, creating the silhouette of a fantasy cartoon of any Comicon attendee.

She told me in conversation that she had also had her labia trimmed and that it was the most painful thing she had ever experienced, and that the doctor gave her the option to keep the wings of her vagina in a little jar of solution. I was stunned. I wasn’t even offered my wisdom teeth when I got those fuckers hoisted out of my face. No one ever offered me the left over pieces of myself! Well, they offered them to her. And she graciously accepted her labia in a little plastic jar. Like the ones you pee into for a urine sample. The one with the yellow lid.

Forever more when I think of her, I will imagine her going home after the club closes at 7.30am and chucking her work bag on her bed with the frilly pink and white covers. I will imagine her peeling off her Top of the Charts lashes and beginning to ritualistically remove all signs of the night. Gently cleansing her body and face, soaking her white and tan-stained clothes in a bucket by the shower for the night. Going into her bedroom and getting down on her hands and knees to reach into the back left hand side of her wardrobe retrieving an old shoe box from the floor. Gently unfolding the tissue paper wrapped around her jar of vagina and holding the jar in her hands for just a few moments before she shakes it up a little. And as the glitter softly falls around the snow globe encasing the angel’s wings she used to have, she sits, counting her money.

The Big O

  
People often feel a little guilty about objectifying us girls when they visit a strip club. I guess that’s one thing to feel bad about if you’re an asshole about it. But it’s also condescending to think of strippers as victims of objectification. I mean really, no one seems to feel sorry for the 14 year old Kate Moss in that Calvin Klein campaign. It’s the very thought that turns it from an appreciation to an objectification.

It’s what a lot of women like to think so they can feel sorry for us and be safe because obviously we are all fucked in the head, which therefore makes us less appealing, and therefore less likely to steal the husbands or boyfriends of theirs that we have absolutely no interest in stealing. These concerned girlfriends and wives obviously haven’t heard that thing about how crazy girls are the best fucks in the forest because if they had they’d be increasing their benzodiazepine intake to allay their fears of members of orthodox or born again church groups; women living in isolation on self sustaining farms in bum-fuck-no-town-no-where bunking on mattresses stuffed with sustainably farmed organic straw in shipping crates collecting the hair shed from their bodies to reverently stuff the pillow of their long haired guru; and of course girls in mental hospitals who can be unpredictable and on all kinds of meds. And they certainly would not see the correlation between the benzo use of themselves and the latter. No need to worry so much about the strippers or the crazies. The kind of bitch who will go after your hapless man, powerless like a deer in tit lights, will not be contained to just one industry. That kind of bitch, is that kind of bitch, no matter how she makes her money.

It’s what a lot of men like to think so they can feel like nice guys when they ask you “What are you doing in a place like this? Doing a job like this? You’re such a nice girl. Funny. Smart. Beautiful. Sweet…” As though they are really, no I mean really seeing us as humans. As if you can’t be all of those things and take your clothes off for money. As if you can only be all those things if you star in Disney kids shows (ja cause Britney and Lindsay are such awesome idols for your children), or work with special needs kids, or work behind the counter at Baker’s Delight getting paid $12 an hour and stuffing your face with samples of sundried tomato pull apart bread all day long – I only say this because that’s what I’d be doing…. No offence intended for anyone who actually does work at Baker’s Delight. OMG and shit quality custard tarts!!! I would smash those all day every day til I was sweating sweet gooey custard that I could collect from my arm pits and scrape back into empty pie shells I bought from Woollies on a Saturday morning, refrigerate and then eat all over again in the afternoon.

On the nights that my humour is still in tact and guys ask me what I really do for a living, what income in a respectable trade I need to subsidise, I often tell them I work with people with special needs. People who dribble and sometimes even vomit on themselves, don’t understand social etiquette, have addiction issues, anger management problems, mental retardation coupled with sexual perversions, autistics from across the entire spectrum and people with Aspergers disease who don’t understand emotions and how their words and actions effect others.

“Wow! Really?? That’s so saaaaad. Those poor people. How long have you been doing that for?” Sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I let them in on the joke. Sometimes I don’t.

“Yes, I really do work in community services…..in a way. Yes, sometimes it really does bring me down. It can be pretty intense. Yeaaaaaah.”

Sometimes nasty ladies of the 9-5 circuit come in and objectify us too. They sit at our podiums specifically to snarl and snigger at us and talk about our cellulite, or how their bff 4 eva sitting next to them is waaaaaay hotter than that girl on the stage, or how she has been going to Pole Divas for nearly 2 years now and is totally so much better at that descending angel inversion than that girl is…oh, and waaaaay hotter too. I imagine this last type of girl actually ends up demonstrating this inversion on a pole at 1 Oak in New York’s west side, or any which one of Melbourne CBD’s unsuspecting sign posts in the wee drunken hours of her “later that night” montage. Unashamedly displaying her g-banger and the half of her butt cheeks that drew the short straw and didn’t get to hang out the bottom of her skirt that night. This epidemic of pole rape is sweeping its way across many nations like wildfire. And it’s not due to globalization or climate change. I hope it never stops because it’s insanely entertaining and hopefully therapeutic cause these girls obviously have something they need to express that isn’t seeing the light of day or the dark of night frequently enough.

On the flip side of that female market there are also many feminists out there defending our rights as real people with real feelings and to them I’d like to say thanks for the sentiment of care but without delving into a muff that I don’t know that much about having never done that myself, us kids are alright! And if we aren’t, it’s not due to being objectified by strangers. If this were the case I’m pretty sure every girl who walks the street out there in pretty much every country, fat or thin, short or tall, would also be in a high risk category and worthy of an armed defence force and pamphlet literature containing A LOT OF UPPER CASE BOLD text.

To be honest, sometimes it’s a relief to be the object of my own heart’s desire. To just be a shell of a girl. Shiny and bright. Under lights that erase the imperfections of my body that I notice daily. Languid limbs dancing slowly to my own song on a pole in the middle of a snow globe. Suspended in time with glitter falling all around until the floor is covered in a life that seems brighter than the shit day you just had, the Aunty you visited in a hospice last week who’s skull is the most prominent feature of a face that once had a sparkle you’ll never forget. It can be your 20 minutes of peace that set, or your one accumulated one hour of happiness that day. Unless they play top 40 Katy Perry, Skrillex or any one of the empowering Pink ballads on the system. In which case your day is still fucked and the soundtrack to your nightmares has been decided for you by the DJ who is too busy getting a blowjob in the booth to care what kind of ear violation he is subjecting you to.

Objectification is in the eye of the beholder. Hold onto it, or let it go but please don’t spoof into my sparkle globe with your condescending cunt or cock confetti.

   

With Time, The Unexpected

I have a regular customer who is more of a friend these days. I’ve known him for five and a half years and I never would have thought that I could develop a relationship like this with someone I met at work. We aren’t particularly close but I have a real soft spot for him. We easily go six months without speaking but I truly care for this guy. I don’t know when his birthday is or if he has brothers and sisters. The small stuff doesn’t matter.

The first night we met, I remember seeing him go for a few dances. So I asked, and he accepted. Man, I thought he was the biggest weirdo. He was SO into the dance. Like, holding-onto-the-bar-grunting-and-groaning into it. His would push out his chest, and his eyes would literally roll back into his head. I’m thinking, ‘Is he taking the piss out of me?‘, ‘Does he need help? Should I be checking his wallet for some kind of epilepsy card and calling an emergency contact?‘, ‘Did he just cream his pants?

Granted, my lappies did used to be more graphic. For the first year there were spreads and boobs in faces willy nilly. By the time I got home from London in mid 2007, I’d switched channels from XXX to Disney. And so it was that as my dances became less centrefold, he became less strange. He would come in occasionally and spend up to $100-200. Never any more than that.

My ex-boyfriend was just the kind of guy that people imagine a stripper would be with. Charismatic though rough, extremely intelligent but very lazy, incredibly abusive, manipulative and riddled with drug and alcohol addictions. Made me feel like dirt about my job, but more than happy to be jobless for 6 months at a time while I supported him, or on the odd occasion that he helped himself to my cash savings. In 2008, on my first night back at work after breaking up with him, this particular regular came in to see me.

He sat next to me in the back room, on a sunken old chesterfield with his arm draped over my fully clothed shoulder. He paid $700 to sit there and listen to me while I told him my sorrows and cried my face clean for 3 hours. It was beyond raccoon eyes. That much salt water flowed down my face, that there was not a spot of makeup left on it. I was such an emotionally battered and withered person, that I wanted to move back to my home town and make it work somehow. I wanted to quit dancing because my ex told me ‘You’re nothing but a piece of pussy. You’ll never be happy and you’ll never make anyone happy. How could you? So many guys have seen your cunt it may as well be your face. Look at you. Who the fuck would wanna be with you? I don’t fucking want you. You’re a fucking piece of shit bitch.’

To this day, I remember these words. Verbatim.

I thought if I quit dancing, that it would fix everything and he would love me. My customer listened to me tell him all of this. Every single word of it. I could see he was so sad for me. His brow was furrowed with worry as he said, ‘I don’t know that he’s right for you. But if you really want to go home and stop dancing, I’ll lend you $10,000 so that you can afford to take time off, and get better, and work things out. I know you’re good for it. I know you’ll pay me back when you can.’

His offer was not accepted. But has always been appreciated. I will never, ever forget his kindness. When I think about him my heart swells a little with a mixture of warmth, sadness and affection. I still dance for him, once or twice a year. We’ve been out for dinner. I think he just comes in so I don’t feel discarded. We know each other well now. I still dance for about the first 2 minutes but I know he’s not into it. Gone are the groans, the eyes no longer roll. I always end up sitting and talking. We are both indifferent to the dancing, but we respect the tradition of where and how we met. It’s almost a homage. It was the beginnings of our unexpected friendship.

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