The Kindness of Strangers

There’s something to be said for the kindness of strangers.

Earlier in the year I found myself dealing with the consequences of a 10 week encounter with a narcissist. I cannot claim faith to accuracy and call it a relationship but the aftermath can be likened to wading through a quagmire of tepid feces. It was that good. On top of this, my dog fell suddenly ill with auto immune disease. The process of tests, financial draining, her fast deterioration into an ongoing illness, watching the light in her eyes dim, the energy in her limbs fail, pushed me beyond the brink of any sadness I had experienced up to this point. This is surely my year to learn some lessons, as two days before my birthday, I found out I was pregnant. To the narcissist. Bleh. Just when I thought my basket was full.

I spent my 35th birthday at work. Thankfully a place that has a few precious stars who blink at me through the darkness, let me share their radiant light, and hold my shoulders to help me get me off the floor, look me in the eyes and tell me that I’m strong when I had forgotten this was ever a word that I could apply to myself. One of these wonderful girlfriend’s of mine introduced me to her regular customer and he took a shining to me. He’s a tricky one to be booked with for an extended period of time. In general conversation he begins on a subject but doesn’t wait for a reply, barrels over the top of you, completing 32 segways and 33 subject changes by the time he takes a breath for air. He is a sweet soul but somewhat disconnected. Literal. Confused by the patchwork of social mores, the tones and rhythms of conversation. My girlfriend left the room to go and do her 20 minutes on the stage and I was alone with him. He made the observation that I looked sad and asked me why. I told him about my dog who is the closest person I have to me. I told him that nobody in the whole wide world, loves me the way she does. That she is the only person I have who would put me first. Take a bullet for me. Lay starving next to me, rather than eat my arm to save herself. That I don’t know how I would face a day, in the current climate of my world, if she were to die. That this is what I truly believed. That is how I truly felt. I’ve never been so terrified of the possibilities of my own action unto myself, should her heart stop beating.

In this moment, for just a few minutes, the customer changed. He suddenly became a friend. He engaged with me in a way many of my close friends hadn’t been able to. They once made jokes as I sat with tears running down my face, squawking about how big my tits were now. How amazing! What a coup! What a silver lining! I couldn’t even keep company with most of my own girlfriends during this time. They meant well, but I could not laugh at the situation I was in. I did not know what choice to make. I felt like an anchor of sorrow attached to a decrepit dingy, that had already been dredging the bottom of a stupid shitty pond for 7 weeks since I found out my dog was sick. How could people not be tired of my tears? I avoided dinners and celebrations. It was all too loud and overwhelming, enhancing my already hormonally enhanced anxiety. I was alone no matter where I was.

In a small room, at my place of work, this stranger looked at me, and spoke to me with such genuine love and kindness. With the innocence and well wishes of a child who understands the feeling of sadness, but doesn’t understand why it has to be a part of life. He did not seize the opportunity to overstep the mark and touch me. He did not try to take what he could get, while the getting was good. Nor did he condescend to me, or raise himself above me to give sage, unsolicited advice. His human heart spoke to mine with such compassion and truth. The likes of which I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered from a stranger before. We are pen pals now. He never fails to surprise me with the words he wraps me up in. The most comforting embrace. The most gentle tendrils of kindness permeating my every cell, to make me feel the ‘ok’ is in there somewhere. This man has been a gift to me. He is special. If someone had suggested that the kindness of a stranger whom I met at work, while I was pregnant and naked and feeling so very alone in my heart, would be the thing that would resonate with me, I would have broken at the suggestion. But he appeared. And thankfully my heart was still open enough to accept his love.

He writes to me,

‘Hang with the ones that are positive and positively reinforce you and your ideas, the ones that make you feel free… Be amazed and bedazzled by all the cool aspects of life, interact with truth and the beauty of all your skills and entirety of your shining being will beam out.

Billie the Legend can do anything and everything by looking after herself and her pals and embracing intelligence, empathy, and day after day braveness

And as I said in an earlier screed:

“take care,

sleep well…

remember to think of those that love and care for you when you lie in bed,

feel comforted in their embrace…

and you will sleep….

plus talk when you need to,

to the ones that will really listen (and not judge),

the ones that really do support you 100%”

All the best and thanks for your email esteemed buddy.”’

It’s these encounters that make me wonder “How lucky am I?” and to know that I would rather reveal myself in both sorrow and joy, than to stay hidden and let these people pass me by.

There are not enough words to give thanks to the strangers and friends, work mates and  birds flying overhead, fleeting moments of beauty, acts of kindness, that have supported me through this year. Coming out at the other end with a smile on my face is a testament to all of those people and little things that were there for me the whole time. Even when I wasn’t ready to open my eyes and see them.

  

 
* Thanks for the tattoo D.Ferguson, another kind stranger. Two words that always help me from an old friend from across the sea C.Lambert

* Image of “Big Bird Alone Under Lamplight in Central Park” by another angel of mine A.Rovedo

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Dreams Come True!

Last night I was on the club Catwalk. Front centre pole, otherwise referred to as “Cellulite City”. It makes girls who have no cellulite, look like they do, and girls who do have cellulite, look like they need to fast. Forever. I’m in the latter category. But whatevs. I work my angles and find the shadows to keep me safe. Can’t remember if I was working my angles last night though. I’d had 3 tequilas, a hideous glass of cheap Australian sparkling and 2 vodkas in the 1.5 hours I spent with my regular customer. Effectively rendered myself entirely ineffective. SMASHED. He came and went so I was left to populate cellulite city with my thighs and ass alone. We did ok, not quite a metropolis. The music was good. Better than usual and I vaguely remember moving really slowly. Mostly so that I wouldn’t fall over or hit my forehead on the pole. I have a bad track record with stationary objects.

I looked up and saw a little Indian man coming toward the stage, his shiny bald head catching the light as he emerged out of the darkness. I beamed a big, happy, drunk smile at him. He beamed a happy little smile back.

“Hello, how are you going?” I said.

“I’m good. How are you?” He replied.

“I’m great! What’s your name?” I said.

“Blah Blah. What’s your name?” He replied.

Standard mind blowing opening conversation.

“Billie. Would you like a dance?” I asked.

He held out a little wad of $5 and $10 notes and gave them a little waggle up and down. Not in an offensive carrot dangling way, just in a wad of money waggling way.

“No, no. I don’t want you to dance. I want you to lie down.”

I’ve never been asked to do this on stage before so I made an effort. I lay down on the stage with my back arched and my legs elongated toward the ceiling, my ankles crossed lightly, making beautiful iridescent shapes with my body by catching the light just so.

“Open your dress.” He instructed.

It’s not a dress. It’s a playsuit but I didn’t think it was the appropriate time to correct him on the specifics of my garment.  I let it slide and pulled aside the two pieces of black fabric that drape over my breasts so they were exposed and peaking toward the ceiling. He stood there smiling at me from the shadows and then extended his arms, reaching his hands forward into the light. His wad of cash was sitting atop of his left palm, and with his right hand, he began to flick each note over the top of me. Slowly and deliberately at first, then with the reckless abandon of a small Indian man who is living his African American hip hop hunny DREAM, while also making a dream come true for an extremely drunk  stripper who had only moments ago been schlepping her way up and down and around a pole in cellulite city. Maybe the lights aren’t as bad as I thought…. No. They really are.

Fast forward 25 minutes to the smoking room where I was dressed and ready to go home. Lipstick wiped off. Fag in hand, slurring my way through a rubbish conversation with one of the other girls. A dancer walked in and asked to have a drag of my cigarette because her customer had just tried to stick his finger up her butt hole. Turned out it was my little Indian friend with the shiny head, ticking yet another one of his dreams off the list.

Black Dress 2_2

LOLITA

  

One of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen or could hope to see in real life. The actual unicorn of mine, and many other’s dancing careers.

I remember the very first time I saw Lolita in the locker room. Accompanied by the first of her string of egotistical, maniacal, narcissistic BFF’s. She was awkward at only 19 and I remember detesting her hair. It framed her face like a big boofy triangle, the contained frizz creating waves like a logo for a product designed specifically to control this issue that could really ruin a girl’s day. She didn’t say much but annoyed me just through her association with the mad queen who had the most shatteringly loud voice, laugh and presence in the room. The Queen of Hearts once tried to behead a friend and me for a transgression that existed in her crown alone. As the Queen flounced loudly from the Red Room, Lolly slipped us a shy smile and for about a millisecond her beautiful soul made contact with mine before she lowered the lids of her blue eyes and was swallowed up in the charged crimson wake of the Queen.

A couple of years later we became friends and 4 months after that I watched her marry her man in the country. A small affair of around 30 people. It was a blast. Their family and friends were an incredible testament to them. Funny, wild, intelligent. Drunk as fuck. Still intelligent. Drunker as fucker. Less intelligible.

Together we speak the same dialects of ridiculousness. Her skills are unsurpassed, well framed but never contained within the knowledge of a couple of languages and a library of literature who’s pages have been thumbed and folded in rapturous flips and turns.

Exhibit A

Billie: My petit bon oui citron chi chi. So sorree for tres over slumber incident. Was tres bien to google you bon bon shakie bon bon xX

Lolly: Spankyou muchlies le bonbon! C’est not un problem for le sleep-in, I like to catch le rays in my le car. Und sankyou for de presents in de bag, you are such an un le rockstar rock le roll schnazzle le dazzle******* X

Exhibit B

Billie: For the love of SERGIO!

Lolly: He doesn’t like George Michael…BOOOOOOOO!!!!

Billie: He is above the law.

Lolly: He is ALL man…he is like the perfect love child of Don Juan and Jesus…

Billie: …and a little bit of Johnny Depp for good measure. A measure I treasure. A sax in his dax. A song in the schlong?

Lolly: …a careless whisper in my hairless crisper…

Billie: …heart beat skipples, skyward thy nipples.

At first she may appear as quiet and awkward as she is beautiful but the layers go further and further to reveal something worth waiting for. It’s like holding a beautiful wilting ballerina peonie in your hands. So you peel off the outer layers of the wilted petals, with each layer the petals become more f-f-fresh. When you finally gain access to the heart of the flower you find a gigantic cartoon cock and hairy balls with confetti spoofing out of it right into your face. When Lolly is drunk the layers are dispensed of. She’s not shy or quiet when she’s tipsed. And in the case of full retard drunk, the gigantic cartoon cock with all of its confetti spoof goodness spritzes away indiscriminately like one of those hard core sprinklers on a high school oval.

Lolita is a professional. She rarely lets life outside the office get in the way of her paperwork. It’s rare to see her effected by negativity, or to witness her reacting aggressively to any one of the million awful things people say to us. She is die hard loyal to the club. She is die hard loyal to her friends. I once walked out the backstage door and saw her holding a friend of ours as her chest heaved with tears. Lolita had both her arms draped around the girl’s shoulders, her face downturned to the crown of the sobbing mop of hair as she gently said, “Don’t cry Sandy…. Please don’t cry.” The simplicity and sweetness of her was enough to melt anyone’s heart. She was like a child pleading with the mother and a mother comforting her child all rolled up into one big ball of love and compassion.

Recently our home club changed its rules as a non-touching club. A meeting was held on the Monday, to announce the new rules would commence on Thursday of the same week. I didn’t have the heart to attend the meeting. I was barely working anymore and I couldn’t match the outrage of my friends. It felt fucked up and awful but at the end of the day a business decision for an evolving industry that, as one of my dancer friends put so well, will probably be nothing but a burlesque feature show in 20 years time. I was just so sad to see a solid group of strong women break. I’m glad I didn’t go. Lolly was so upset. I was told that her tears poured out of her and that seeing her lose it “was like watching a unicorn cry.” A lot of girls quit. They felt violated and betrayed. Because it’s not just where we work, it’s our home. And these girls that we work with are our Ya Ya StripperHood. They give us the acceptance that some of us haven’t received from our families and a few of our friends. Together we giggle at how the narrow world beyond our magical kingdom would misconstrue our experiences. How much fun and laughter they miss out on just because they have a hive of bees in their bonnets about things they will never understand, at how they miss so much because the bees buzz too loud for them to hear the songs we sing. The tears of our unicorn seemed to mark the end of an era of enchantment. The golden years for the golden girls. Everything seemed altered. But our unicorn is still there, glimmering brightly in the darkness, heart still in tact and laugh still carrying over the bass of shit ass techno.

Alone in the Land Down Under

Today I was out and about and noticed lots of cop cars and an ambulance outside a house near the park. I’m not an accident perve. I didn’t whip my binoculars out for a look and so I remained clueless for most of the day. As it turns out, Greg Ham had died in his house, alone and been found by friends this morning. He was the guy responsible for the flute riff in “Land Down Under” by Men at Work.

I fucking love that song.

I can’t even tell you how many nights I would go out with my friends, packet of textas in my bag so that we could draw dodgy imitation 18+ stamps on the backs of our hands and gain under age entry to seedy jizz fest clubs in the Canberra bus interchange. Those were the days. The air inside thick with sweat and sweet with the smell of Midori cocktails. Sixteen years of baby faced age and dancing on podiums to songs like “Land Down Under”. And Bon Jovi. Always with the Bon Jovi.

I was skyping my sister just before and I told her about it, we did some googling while we talking and I read an article about his death. One of his neighbours had had no trouble spilling her guts to the press about how he “looked like he’d done it hard”, “had obvious health issues” and “was a good guy who used to walk the streets and look a bit daggy”.

A lightbulb went off in my head when I read this as I realised that Chockie and I had walked past him in the street on Good Friday. I remember it because I live in a quiet, half wealth-half hipster, inner suburbs area and I’d never seen a guy like that before. He looked like a total hobo, long stringy hair, and his neighbour was right, he did look hard done by but he had a gentle presence. I smiled and said ‘hello’ to him and when he looked up, I was stunned by the bright, bright blue of his eyes. He looked at me, as though he thought I was looking at him, and thinking what a bum he was. It struck me as sad for someone to walk around like that constantly thinking that people are judging them. Although, I guess I have my nights like that at work.

This whole Greg Ham thing has made me think about Frank.

I’ve not seen Frank for over four years. He was a big, fat, old man who would come into the bar fortnightly and spend a couple hundred dollars of his pension early on in the night. He had a few girls he would see, and often if I got there on time, I’d swoop him up. I think the first time I met him I gave him a lap dance for about 3 minutes and then just sat talking to him. From that day on, we just chatted. It was easy.

Frank was super fat. He was so fat and unhealthy that he got diabetes. He had to have a ventalin every now and again for his asthma but I could hear him wheezing with each intake of breath. His breath. Holy shit. It actually really did smell like shit. Like he’d stuffed his face with a turd for dinner and forgotten to brush his teeth before he came in. I would sit next to him, and hold my breath while he was speaking, and then when it got to much, I’d rest my head on his chest to avoid copping air shitticles in my face. He was comfy to cuddle. And I knew that he really appreciated the human contact. It was kind of like cuddling up next to my grandpa. I’d sit there like that and he’d stroke my hair out of my face and tell me stories.

He was a lovely man. I learnt a lot about him. He didn’t have any friends, or any family that he got on with. He lived alone and didn’t even go to his sister’s for Christmas because they always ended up fighting. She bossed him around and he didn’t like that. He described his mum as a mean old bitch, but out of fear of living his own life, or out of obligation to her, he’d taken care of her til her dying day.

I felt bad taking his money. But I also knew that a couple of the girls he saw weren’t very nice and I justified that if he were paying for company, he may as well pay for someone who actually really liked him, despite his stench. I asked one of the girls if she would sign a card and put in some money for a present for him for Christmas. She looked at me with suspicion. As though I were laying a trap. I let her make me feel like an idiot, I worried it might be too intimate to give him a gift that was only from me. So I didn’t end up getting him anything. Just giving him a big hug and saying “Merry Christmas Frank. See you next year”.

I never saw him again. He didn’t come back. I have a feeling he died unnoticed. Alone in the land down under. A fat, hopeless heap on the floor. He is one person who I wished I’d let into my life, just so that he didn’t have to be alone. Given him my number, or my email or something. And then maybe when he died someone could have contacted me, and I could’ve gone to his funeral and shown his family that he did have someone else who cared about him. That he had a whole other life that they didn’t know about. At the very least I should have ignored that skinny mole and written him a Christmas card telling him how sweet I thought he was and how I really liked him and his stories.

Planet Penis Strikes Again!

Working at strip clubs, it never ceases to amaze me what can be construed as an invitation. Leaning forward and looking into a guy’s eyes is obviously asking for a kiss. To me, it’s trying to engage with my customer.

Holding onto your own g-string and snapping it against your own thigh is a beacon for a guy to grab it and try and pull it down.  To me, that just means I’m 7 minutes and 49 seconds in my 10 minute routine.

Bending over can only be sign language for ‘I’ve been a very naughty girl, please old man, discipline me and slap my arse.’

Apparently merely walking past a man – particularly those of Indian descent here in Melbourne – out on the floor can be a request to have his hand gently cup your ass and slide up towards your cha cha. No, no, sorry you fucking idiot. I’m just making my way from the toilet to the bar. Hopefully you caught some residual urine and faecal matter when you tried to casually violate me while I was passing through.

Is behaviour like this really acceptable on Planet Penis? I guess it must be very confusing. This having a penis business. When you’re being sent messages from two places at the same time there will, no doubt, be mix ups. Culture, manners, empathy, compassion, upbringing all seem to get flicked to the wayside on Planet Penis.

They just don’t understand the concept of a service that has been purchased. Melbourne is also rife with illiteracy as few men seem able to decipher the letters that spell out “Touching is illegal in Victoria”, or “Do Not Touch or Harrass the Dancers.”

Having said all that, the men aren’t all to blame. Personally I’m not into letting guys touch me past my calves. There are some girls that don’t mind it, and that’s fine. As for the girls who don’t even seek the privacy of a room when they are letting men grope them, grinding on cocks, biting and licking ears (thank you to that special lady dancing across from me on Monday night) for an extra how-ever-many-dollars, can all you please change clubs and move to Kittens. You know, the strip club with the brothel license?

We need to help each other AND help those poor stupid people from Planet Penis. They don’t really know any better. It’s us ladies that need to set them straight. Bring back the strip tease and down with the strip would you like a side of my saliva and a hand job with that?