Regan is telling me about the place she’s going for tattoo removal. She, like me, has a teenage bad judgment tattoo, but unlike me has done the research on getting it removed and is in the process of this. She has seen me in action enough to know I’ll be interested.
Hiding in the poker room (the warmest room in the club, with the most comfortable chairs) reading a textbook (The Jews, which I later find out has started a rumour that I am a religious zealot. Ok.)
A finger pokes into my chest. “What is that?”
Do not look up, do not respond to provocation.
“It’s my birthmark.”
“Pfaw, no it’s not! What is it really?”
“It really is.”
“Well… What are you reading?”
“Yeah but what book?”
“A printed one.”
I can hear Regan, playing poker and cleverly hidden by the back of a chair, snickering. I can fix that.
“You know what? She has tattoos!”
Regan sucks in her breath but it is too late! Too birds one stone, the guy has wandered off.
“You got tattoos? I got a tattoo! Here, lemme show you.”
“So, how much is it?”
“It’s 1,500 down and then I pay–” whatever, I forget how much she said she paid, “per session. And it hurts like a motherfucker. But yours will be easy because it’s all blurry thick black lines!”
“Are you being sarcastic?”
“No! That’s supposed to be the easiest. But until then, Red, Kat Von Dee has some amazing tattoo hiding make-up you can use!”
“Kat Von Dee could do me and tattooed girls everywhere a bigger favour and tell the men of the world how deeply we don’t appreciate talking about our tattoos and how it’s fucking dumb as shit and also annoying and I hate it.”
1- only hers is a fairy and between a blurry Louise Brooks with guns and a fairy I will take my tattoo any day. But mine does make customers (weak-willed things!) think that I am angry and cost me extra effort for lap dances–which honestly just makes me more irritable, so yes, removal looks appealing, esp if in so doing I remove the inevitable future countless fucking pointless conversations about it.
(I want to come up with a more clever title than that but I’m not sure it’s going to happen)
It’s so weird and awesome not having class this week. Every term I forget how great vacation is. It’s like a sample of being graduated except without student loan payments looming.
I was talking to a customer who flat out told me he wasn’t going to get a dance. But it was early and the club was empty so what the hell. He was making me laugh, he said he came for the garden burger. That’s just as stupid but much more funny than the guys who used to come to [redacted, locally famous old strip club in [redacted]] and then tell me that they didn’t need to tip because they were there for a beer, or worse, because they were friends with the owner. As if they couldn’t grab a beer at any of the other bars littering our rain sodden streets, or talked to the owner–a burnt sienna nudist who spent most of his time crisscrossing the country in an RV with his wife and sticky small dog–on the phone. Then you know they’d be sneaking peeks, or full on watching in the mirror like I’m dancing naked onstage for my health. Or as a charity gesture.
So this guy was in the club for a garden burger. Ok. I’m forgetting what else he was saying that was making me laugh, but he gestured at the pole.
“So is that hard?”
People always want to know about pole tricks and they rarely, rarely tip for them. I mean, they’ll throw down a dollar or two but it’s nothing in terms of the physical effort involved in any but the most basic tricks.
“My sister’s an ER nurse,” he told me, “and she tells me the gnarliest stories about strip club injuries!”
I wondered irrelevantly if the girl who wanted to pay me to make out with her–also a nurse!–was his sister. Pulled myself to attention.
“Oh yeah!” I said eagerly. “There was a staph outbreak at one club several years ago, and once I fell against a broken mirror and cut my palm open. I’m still kicking myself for not suing that owner!” I waved my palm at him so he could see my scar.
“No, pole injuries.” He said it heavy with significance, like that made sense.
“Girls who fall off the pole?” I had to think about it. I actually haven’t seen this happen many times in the 7 years I’ve been stripping. To quote my pirate scholar classmate, I could count the number of times on one hand and have fingers left over. And two of those times were me.
He was getting kind of impatient and condescending. “No, burns.”
I don’t even know why I’m typing this up except that it was so bizarre and dumb. Maybe I should tweet about it and see if other girls have seen this mass plague of friction burns sending hordes of strippers to the ER, cause that’s how he was talking. Like he had this inside information and is all hip to the dangerous world of strippers and strip clubs. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about and he shook his head indulgently at me. Clearly I have so much to learn! I’ve gotten crazy bruises from the pole, but never once have I gotten a “friction burn”. My problem is the total opposite. If I’m getting friction burns from anything they’re going to be on my ass from doing lap dances.
I wish I had the kind of sticking power/skin that could grip the pole to the point of immobility and friction. I fell off the pole a few times last week. Neither time hurt but it was embarrassingly hilarious. The first time I climbed up for an inversion and my shoe started to slip off–mules: really cute but once the plastic stretches not the most secure–and I stupidly became more concerned with keeping my shoe on my foot than my body on the pole. I’m still not sure what happened but in the middle of fiddling with my heel I felt myself somersaulting off the pole, someone yelled “Timber!” and I was in a graceless heap onstage before I could stop.
The next time was during a mid. There’s a really low-energy looking trick that involves holding yourself on the pole with one armpit and thigh and knee pressure while you kick your other leg into the yoga pose “dancer” and hold it behind you. It looks pretty and simple, but holding on with just pressure from one leg is exhausting. For some reason it’s much easier to do upside-down.
I called my friend Regan onstage to help, and she advised doing it inverted so I could feel where I needed to keep the pressure and where my leg needs to be. I flipped upside down and maybe I put on too much lotion that morning, but again before I knew it I’d slipped down, landing on my back and staring up at Regan’s astonished face, right before she started laughing hysterically. She’s like one giant muscle, this girl, and she suffers from the same chronic bitchface that I do, so we’ve bonded. But really, she’s amazingly strong. If I were a customer I would get a lap dance from her because I would be afraid she could kill me if I said no, but they’re too busy looking at her boobs to register her biceps.
No, this kind of thing doesn’t happen to her. I doubt she’s fallen off the pole since she started dancing. I need to work out more. And maybe get that foot lotion from Sally’s that makes you kind of sticky.
“Hey, how are you?”
“I’m doing well. How are you?”
“pretty awesome! Are you ready for a dance?”
“I have to be careful, I don’t like to get dances from lesbians.”
“I think that the energy that happens during a lap dance is really amazing and special, between a man and a woman. It’s really special, and something that can only happen between a man and a woman. And if a woman is a lesbian, and she’s in that dance you know, and she’s dancing and thinking about women and he’s feeling really special, she’s exploiting him.”
I mostly think about how tired my thighs are getting or how hungry I am or how funny that guy my friend is giving a dance to across from us is acting, all air humping, but ok. “i’m only gay for pay!” I assured him brightly. “sometimes I just make out with my friend onstage for money. So we’re good!”
“I don’t like that either. I just don’t understand why people want to see that.”
“so… Do you want a dance?”