A guy fell in love with me off my rack. I like when this happens, it spares me the trouble of having to sit and make small talk while gauging their level of interest and income. It was the kind of night where I kept finding myself having conversations about extras; one particularly oblique one went like this:
“Do you work on the side?”
“No, this is my only job.”
“No, do you work on the side?”
Beginning to understand but annoyed enough by the stupid question to play deliberately obtuse, “I go to school.”
“No, do you work on the side?”
“No, this is my only job.”
Really angry now, “NO DO YOU WORK ON THE SIDE?”
Blink blink. “I just don’t understand what you mean. Do you want a dance?”
“I don’t want a dance! I want to touch you outside of here!”
I hunted around once I was offstage and finally found my enamoured man at the bar. He was ecstatic to see me; I don’t like prolonged conversations in general. Take the money and run, that’s my motto! I mean that’s an exaggeration, some conversations are really great—the banker on the way to Qatar comes to mind—but for the most part they run exactly the way I post them. Kat said at some point that most of her conversations with customers run along the same predictable track which, left uninterrupted, would go all the way back to the moment of her conception. So tedious.
This man kept touching my knee and trying to caress my thigh, his hands kept darting toward my crotch and then restraining themselves before I actually had to hit him. Mentally I heaved a sigh of exhaustion; the trend set by Do-You-Work-On-The-Side was going to continue.
“Are you ready for a dance?” I asked him.
“Yes!” he said enthusiastically, before ruining it all with, “but after I get my drink.”
Fuuuuck. He assured me that he’d already ordered but I could tell he’d order some froufy time consuming drink, the line at the bar was long, and moreover, it was obvious the bartender had already forgotten. I was in for at least another ten minutes of tedious conversation and paw-blocking before I could get him in the dance area and have actual control (and money). I reminded myself about moving, about how I have bills to pay and a mattress to purchase, and moreover, a 40$ cancellation fee from the Friday night shift I cancelled so I could pack for my big extravagant trip to San Francisco. So dumb. So here we were.
Eventually I caught the bartender’s attention and she started making his drink. I asked him to order a snack for me too.
“Do you want to wait for it here?” he asked.
What, so I can keep fending your hands off me for free? “No, let’s go dodances!” I cheered. He beamed at me.
If I hadn’t already known this guy was more trouble than he was worth, his next comment would have yelled it loud and clear.
“I should have worn sweatpants!” he told me brightly as we started.
Unsurprisingly, like the girl from C—–, this gentleman was an airhumper.
Thank god he did not also moan. I had to physically restrain him by holding his hands as the dance progressed, and more than once he darted in for a kiss, actually planting a nasty wet one on my shoulder at one point. Household goods, I reminded myself. Bills. Making in three minutes what takes over five hours of changing diapers to earn. The bouncer was watching me anxiously, I kept baring my teeth and rolling my eyes at him every time my back was turned to my customer. The wet spot on my shoulder begged for sanitizer.
“Let’s do more after you eat,” he suggested. That sounded like a terrible idea, but I’d already wasted so much time and energy on him, it hurt me to think of kissing more dances goodbye. I’d just have to start over again with someone else. We sat down and immediately his hand went back to fluttering over my crotch. I grabbed it firmly and held it as I ate, realizing I wasn’t even hungry and was definitely annoyed. He took a chip.
“Here! You eat some!” I let go of his hand and pushed them toward him. Big mistake. I flinched as it dove back into my lap, looking like it was getting in position to fist me. What the fuck.
He laughed and pulled back. “I scared you, huh?”
“Let’s do another dance,” I suggested. I could go back to holding his hands, he could go back to paying me, I would feel more fairly reimbursed for this crap, and then I could wash my hands of him. And that food. And just literally wash my hands.
“Ooooh, you can’t wait for it can you?” he crooned in my ear, flecking my dry shoulder with spit.
“I am at work,” I offered patiently. He looked blank. “I mean, no, I just can’t wait to dance for you some more!” I pulled on his hand. “Let’s go!”
The bouncer looked startled to see me heading back with a guy who was so plainly a handful, but what are you gonna do?
In class with my favourite professor, a dapper, intelligent, and sometimes hilarious professor of Jewish history (I would go straight for him if only he weren’t gay), we are covering medieval Jewry under the Islamic empire.
He spreads his arms wide. “It’s legit!” He picks up his coffee mug. “I’ll see you next class. Don’t forget the readings.”
The day goes by, I do whatever it is I do when I’m not at school or work (more coffee, extensive time at the bookstore or library, yoga, maybe a pedicure) and head in to work. It starts off slow but I get a few dances, which is nice. There’s a tall dark and handsome guy at the bar who I walk up to.
“How’s it going?”
He shrugs. “Good, good. How are you?”
I don’t know, bored, hungry, chilly, not really in the mood for small talk. Want a dance? “I’m great! A little chilly, but warming up.”
“Well, look what you’re wearing”
“Bikinis in January are an occupational hazard. Where are you from?”
“Oh really? Have you been here long?”
“A few weeks.”
“And is this your first time at [club name redacted! duh!]?”
“Then you haven’t had a [club] lap dance before! are you ready?”
“I don’t believe in that.” He hesitates, asks, “Can I speak honestly with you?”
If you were wondering, this is always a bad sign and you should always say no to this question, at least in a club, but in the spirit of honest intellectual inquiry I say valiantly, “Of course!”
“I think this is all very degrading. I don’t like it.”
I can’t even engage with this. “Okay, well, I hope you have a great night!” I pat his shoulder.
The next time I see him it’s three hours later and he’s sitting at my rack with some annoying female customers. One of them throws a dollar at me and shrieks, “Isn’t he so cute? He’s from Islam!”
The guy from Israel and I share a glance; probably the only thing we will ever share. Because hanging out in a strip club with girls who are A) not working and B) don’t know the difference between Islam and Israel is inherently less degrading than talking to strippers.
“Islam?” I ask her. “Really?”
She bristles at me. “Yes, why.”
Practical applications for the degree I’m going into debt for: lecturing strip club customers on the difference between a religion and a country.
I circle the room in an uninterrupted round, trying to make sure I’ve noted every customer and gauged their level of interest through eye contact or a smile before committing myself to having to actually sit down and talk to them. My favourite time of night, especially if I’m not getting dances right off my stage sets, is the two hours from 12.30-close, when mostly all I have to do is walk up to a guy, announce, “you look like you need a lap dance,” to drag him off to the private dance room like a Neanderthal dragging a clubbed bit of prey.
I vary it, sometimes they need a “wild dance”, but actually that one makes them give me side eye, like I might take that Yeah Yeah Yeahs song seriously, get a little crazy, cut off their head, or dance dance dance til they’re dead.
Tonight I think they need “a really dirty lap dance” and this is going well. I haven’t felt like I’m dragging the clubbed spoils of war back to the dance area, so much as going back under the bleachers with delighted boys at a middle school dance, to sneak shots and make out. It’s been rare this January to get customers so gleeful about spending money.
I walk up to a man standing by the first stage. “you look like you need a really dirty dance,” I purr into his ear.
He frowns. “I look dirty? How do I look dirty?”
oh for god’s sake. “no, sugar. You look like you need a good old dirty dance.” I’m already annoyed and bored by this conversation and want to walk away but feel like I have to see it through.
“oh yeah? Why’s that?”
“oh, I don’t know. You’re just so clean cut and buttoned up. You need to loosen up.”
“well, I’m a cop. So I need to stay buttoned up.”
oh jeez. I can’t help laughing at the whole stupid interaction. “fine by me!” I smirk, and pat his arm. “have a safe night!”
“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?”
In class today we had a guest speaker, a curator from the local art museum. Her lecture, on Japanese block prints, was lively and interesting; I’ve gotten lucky this term with the good lecturers.
She paused at a faintly tinted print of a couple embracing under a cherry blossom tree:
…Erotica, of course, was the cash cow of the print industry. For better or worse [name of museum redacted] has almost none… I think you can trace that to the interests of our donors. This print is from early on in a folio; as in this image here they generally begin with almost genteel foreplay while later on it will move to more athletic prowess. These two: the woman, almost certainly a courtesan, acting modest and retiring, while the man entreats her–I can’t really read you the top bit on this page, but I assure you that nine or ten pages in the dialogue has for the most part dwindled to ‘ooooh’.
For no good reason it reminded me of a particularly pointless conversation with a customer a few weeks ago.
He didn’t seem like an especially good prospect, but his friend–currently in the bathroom–did. We watched the usual suspects hop up on stage and then one of them face planted in the other girls lap. Various lesbianic poses ensued, and a worthwhile amount of dollars flowed.
“Wow,” my companion said. “Yikes! You must be so horned up! And those two!”
“What?” I asked, more to get reassurance that he had in fact spoken out loud the phrase “horned up” than because I hadn’t heard him.
“It just must get you all so worked up to work here! They must be so horned up!” He stared at the two on stage again, one of them inverted on the pole while the other stood, face in the pole girl’s crotch.
It looked like work to me, strenuous and mildly uncomfortable, hanging upside down while your friend gave you head for a few minutes, then moving to the next pose, maybe tongues half way out for one of those lesbian kisses that cry out for a man to do the job right. It wasn’t hot, it was stage germs and random girl ass germs and money germs and bacteria and even more tedious: performative lesbianism for not enough money, dollar bills to be having unsafe sex amidst other peoples ass germs. killjoy I thought.
“Totally,” I assured him. “We are totally… horned up. Like all the time. We even have pillow fights back there sometimes. Naked ones. And we giggle.”
“Wow,” he said again, looking deeply satisfied.