Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Was on the Stage

When I was 21, I got a part-time job flinging packages around at UPS, and after a few months, found myself in the best shape of my life. I started looking at myself in the mirror and thinking I was almost hot enough to be a stripper.

My only experience with strip clubs had been a couple of very upscale clubs with good lighting and fresh-faced girls and very strictly enforced "no touching" policies. They were terribly exciting and sexy, and I loved them. I am an introverted tomboy with short hair and no rhythm who never did learn how to put on makeup; I didn't end up in one of those clubs. I tried out at a lot of different clubs, and I ended up in a seedy place in East St. Louis where a "private dance" meant the girl sat on your lap and humped you for four minutes.

I didn't make very good money there; I only stayed for about 3 weeks before deciding that the job would destroy me if I kept at it. I was too shy to really approach the customers, and I was terrified of diseases I might catch if a customer came while I was grinding on his lap, so I mostly only made money when I was on the stage. I think I made about $300 on my best night ever, but most nights were $100 or less. $300 is damn good money for one night's work, though--I can see why so many of the girls kept at it.

My worst night ever was the one I got robbed without even knowing it. The private dance booths had little shelves where the dancers would put their purses, so I put mine up there and started doing my thing. This was about halfway through the night; I'd made almost $100, including the $20 this guy had just given me. After a minute of grinding and gyrating, he stood up, with me still wrapped around him. I was kind of confused by it, but this was maybe my third private dance ever, so I just went with it, and let him push me up against the wall. He kept shifting; I assumed he was trying to get more friction or something. By the end of the song, he'd sat back down, and I finished up with a kiss on his cheek and a "thank you," then took my purse and led him out of the booth. He left a few minutes later. It wasn't until after my next rotation up on stage, when I opened up my purse to put my tips in, that I realized what he'd been doing. My purse was empty. I went home that night with less than $40 for a 10 hour shift.

I guess it was just one of many clues that I wasn't meant for that job. I've long since lost my 21-year-old figure, but I still keep thinking that maybe, someday, I could start working out again and try to get a job at the kind of club I wanted to work at in the first place.