(sitting in the video poker room where it’s marginally warmer and the chairs are more comfortable, reading. This was after my anxiety attack about being a tool of the patriarchy who can either do this or minimum wage labour for the rest of her life. Just trying to be calm.)
“Hey. Hey gorgeous.”
“Yes, hi.” He keeps staring at me. “Do you want this chair?”
“No, no. How are you?”
“I’m so good!” This answer is so deeply ingrained at this point that I sometimes answer my friends this way and they look incredibly freaked out because it is nothing like anything I would normally say. Even the intonation is pure Red and not Tilly. “But I’d be better if you got a dance.”
This is always worth a shot. You think that people in the video poker room are just gamblers but every now and then one of them will be a huge spender; my best regular, before he got too taxing and thought we were in love, is one of these guys. I was just being an asshole because he looked like one of the guys who comes in to gamble for pennies and nurse a pbr but he looked astounded and delighted at my question and spent $1000 on me that day.
This guy is not that guy. ”You know what, I’m just here to hang out, have some fun. Watch some ladies.”
That’s just great. ”That’s really great. Are you tipping?”
“Yeah, you know, I tipped some. Now I’m just going to hang out.”
“If you’re done tipping, don’t you think you should leave? I mean, you aren’t paying any more…”
“Should I leave?”
I can’t help a goofy hopeful smile. “Would you leave if I said yes?” I can feel myself nodding, another stripper tick—it’s supposed to encourage them to say yes but sometimes I get carried away and they notice.
“Don’t you think that’s really elitist of you?”
“Uh, to say that you should leave rather than watch us for free?”
“Yeah! Just because I don’t have money!”
(you would not believe how often I have this conversation)
“Are you suggesting that the sight of our naked bodies is something that you have a right to have access to, like air?”
“Hey now, hey, I have friends who are dancers.”
“I feel like you just insulted me.”
“Oh jesus, what if I did. Who cares what I think?”
“No you seem really smart. Do you know who Lily Burana is?”
(Lily Burana is a former stripper who wrote a book called Strip City. Yes, I know who she is. No, I don’t appreciate the direction this conversation is taking.)
“Well I read Strip City and some of my best friends are dancers and I’m really insulted that you think I should leave. I spent 20$.”
There are 18 girls working. That comes out to less than two dollars a girl, if he tipped everyone, which he likely didn’t because we only go onstage once every 45 minutes. However, I actually cannot afford to be reported to the club anymore for bad behavior. Like if anyone told them how often I explain to patrons that we don’t make an hourly wage and that it’s rude to not tip I would probably be fired. I backpedal fast.
“You know what, it’s totally fine. Don’t even listen to me.”
“No, can we talk about this? I feel really insulted.”
“We really don’t need to. It’s fine. You’re fine.” Pat his hand.
“What if I go home and kill myself?”
Oh fuck you. ”Then you have underlying problems that aren’t my fault.”
“No, they are.” He flounces off.
Later the bachelor party he was part of, a group of thirty people, had me and R do a stage dance. It was for both bride and groom so we set them up on either side of the pole and were dancing, (awkwardly, they were both tiny and fragile and we’re both on the tall muscular side) and then a flash went off; I looked up and one of the women from the part was standing at the stage taking pictures.
Where were the bouncers that I pay to watch out for things like that? Nowhere in sight.
It was an awful night. I didn’t cry but a few other girls did. I’m sketching one of them who had a full on tantrum in the kitchen, flailing hysterically before throwing her drink and breaking down. She’s like a blonde minnie mouse, it was kind of comical but mostly sad.