NEW GIRL MONEY
New Girl Money is a phenomenon that is acknowledged by everyone but has hitherto escaped formal explanation. Whereas the trained eye of the Lifer sees the New Girl as a bumbling idiot, patrons and serial regulars alike see a bird leaving its nest and are eager for a test drive. The capacity to feel authentic nervousness, lost around the point where the brain and spinal cord de-fuse as a self-preservation tactic for authentic off-the-clock vaginal wetness, is interpreted by customers as enthusiasm.
Everyone’s watching the New Girl. Early behavior in the club establishes pecking order rank. While you’re traipsing around the club stoked/amazed by the newfound monetization potential of your genitals, be warned -- landmines are everywhere. Everyone’s silently observing you, cementing your status for all of time. That said, save for situations featuring drama of any kind, strippers have the memory of sieves.
CO-OPETITION IN THE CHICKENHEAD COOP
Before I experienced it for myself, I assumed that the dressing room would be a cauldron of cattiness punctuated by hazing at the hands of girls who look like they should be in a Sorority but would never actually be allowed in. I was both surprised and relieved that this was not the case.
A healthy spirit of co-opetition regulates the emotional ecosystem. I like to envision the mechanics of it as an intricate fractal slicing the concept “us versus them” into self-similar variations repeated ad infinitum. Beneath the largest “them” all strippers share (customers, duh), it’s clean dancers/dirty dancers, ultra-hustlers/bottom-feeders, hustle buddies/mortal enemies.
Like prison, unspoken rules keep the peace and order. You will probably have to cross a couple to learn what they actually are. Here are a few of the basics:
1) DON’T FUCK WITH ANYONE’S MONEY -- pulling a customer off another dancer’s stage is taboo, but approaching during the seconds in between sets is fair game if you move fast. As they usually constitute major percentages of income, macking on someone else’s regular is a sure way to make an enemy instantly. But when you’re new, it’s impossible to know who is “off limits” and who is not.
After you realize you’ve moved in on claimed land either move on or feign ignorance and try and milk some of that New Girl Money before the regular’s chosen stripper returns. Then pay her a compliment, Regina George style.
2) DON’T DO EXTRAS -- “Clean” dancers that follow the club rules regarding allowed levels of contact and nudity stand in solidarity with one another.
3) DON’T CHARGE LESS -- At clubs where dancers are not legally employed by the club, it’s technically up to the dancer to set the rate. While it may be tempting to haggle as an overall strategy to get more dances, DON’T DO IT. If you sell your shit on discount you ruin it for everyone else and ultimately yourself when someone even more desperate slashes their prices even lower. You do not want to fuck with Race to the Bottom economics. Nations have crumbled under the might of this force.
Following basic stripper etiquette will win you respect and allies, but a little friendly or not-so-friendly competition is in your own best interest. Hot chicks equal competition but we all still want them to work at our club because it validates our own hotness for getting hired.
Competition also equals motivation. While most of us are in the back whining, the aging veteran whose regular just got snatched up by some hot young tenderoni is stalking the floor making passionate come-hither eyes at everyone to even the score in her own mind. When a bitch whose very identity is based on her ability to be hot is forced to defend her hotness, watch the fuck out!
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to bond with people at an accelerated pace in an airplane? Well the club is kind of the same deal. Spend one average-to-slow night in the dressing room commiserating over the lack of generosity, the hike in stage fees and that one bitch’s awful body spray that smells like bubble gum-flavored antibiotics and you’ll pick up some friends pretty fast.
Most newbies start out on day shift. You will make friends here the fastest because it is always dead and you are always bored. When it’s dead but early, boredom-combating strategies are light-hearted entertainment (making kites out of the free local newspaper and bar straws then flying them in the parking lot). But when there’s only an hour left to go and you have 30 dollars in your pocket, legitimate distraction from Life In General is a priority (whippet binge in someone’s car).
Lest you think this gig is all about the Benjamins -- mostly by way of his homie Washington -- let me state four words that prove the contrary: ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. I swear, I went onstage in a tux and bowtie and some ho painted bruises on her face and went on as “RiffRaff” all night. The creepiest part was that there actually was a regular in attendance who does, in fact, actually look like RiffRaff.
For Halloween we dressed up as zombies and spent most of our time before midnight in the back rehearsing the Thriller dance. [I wish I could share the video footage, but this is xoJane, not The Dirty!]
This is how far the jokes go, to the point where we will collectively sacrifice potential money in the name of some drag theatrics and a good rick roll.
BONDING THROUGH BROKENESS
When shit gets real tough you will turn to your colleagues because they actually understand -- unlike all your friends in the know -- that you don’t drive home every night lightly misted in Veuve, casually toss your nightly stack into a walk-in closet used specifically for tax evasion, and go for a night swim in said chamber like Scrooge from DuckTales.
Stripper rent comes at the same time of the month as civilian rent, and the corresponding dip in income just when you need it can and will leave you fucked if not prepared. The common threat of unreliable income can be a great way to come together in the name of scheming potential side hustles.
Things we have schemed:
- Installing a webcam in the dressing room, getting one of the ubergeeky regulars to make it go viral through Reddit, and splitting the profits.
- Taking full advantage of our legal status as “independent contractors” and running a highly organized cooperative Groupon deal behind management’s back.
- Writing a manual on how to approach, talk to, and eventually score with chicks from a stripper’s perspective. BUY NOW and get a free consultation of your pathetic online dating profile. Take that, Mystery.
Things that have actually happened:
- Slangin’ special brownies at work wherein savvy regulars had the option of ordering a “combo” dance. In the best case scenario, said regular will eat the cake on the spot and return in an hour totally disabled -- all the more incentive to make the product extra dank.
- A disastrous stint wearing Barney and Baby Bop suits in the middle of July through a Craigslist “children’s party mascot” ad (we thought we would be Disney princesses!)
- Taking a cue from our sisters North of the 49th parallel by modifying the infamous “loonie toss” with quarters wrapped in dollar bills only to come to the obvious conclusion 30 seconds in that getting what are essentially small rocks thrown at you sucks!
WHORES OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER
If life hadn’t dealt me a hand in which I found myself stripping, I have no idea how I would react to my man going to the club. I would probably automatically assume that all the dancers at said club were piranha-leech hybrids lining up to bleed my dude dry of all the bling he would have otherwise spent on me then fuck him for free just because “he’s cute.”
I’d insist on going with him and then be the insecure chick making out with her boyfriend at the tip rail and then desperation-fucking him every day for the rest of the week to ensure that he knew I was just as sexy as those GODDAMN WHORES.
Then one fine shift you find yourself laughing at those insecure bitches at the tip rail instead of sympathizing with them. You’ve broken societal/parental Rule Numero Uno: Don’t take your clothes off in public for strangers. And just like that, with little fanfare, you’re now one of them. The hated.
You’ve earned it.