"Well, here girlie, I won’t buy a dance, but I’ll get you a drink and help you scout out some real money."
The young man was former military, quite handsome, and passively insulting me. I was still standing at the bar because I was amused and currently had no finer option for company. He took a gulp of his watered down whiskey, and spoke confidently, "I’ll tell you a trick that I learned in the service; find the guy with the nicest watch, that means he is of a higher rank. That means he has more money. You’re welcome."
Ah, if only it were so simple.
Unfortunately, for strippers and car salesman, there is no neon sign that indicates a worthy investment of time and effort. And while even criminal profilers can be mistaken, it’s fascinating and daunting to consider that one really knows nothing, by studying something.
Here’s a shocker: strippers talk about money. We talk about how we can make more of it, we talk about how little we are tipped, we talk about the regulars that we’ve cultivated, and we talk about ways to sniff it out. And while it’s an industry no-no to brag about earnings, most strippers can sense the success rate of her peers. I explained it to my therapist thusly: consider an office space, with multiple therapists. Now, nobody should be counting how many patients other therapists see, and yet everyone has a pretty good idea of which office gets the most foot traffic. But what determines success? Is it a big smile? A shiny pair of heels? The bounciest butt? What about the luck of stage timing? Music choice? Hustling is a fine art, or a delicate science. And there are so many variables.
Who are our customers?
It depends upon where you work. Dancin’ Bare sits near Interstate, and many of the clientele are very blue collar. Alternately, Beaverton clubs like STARS cater to a white-collar and polo-necked shirt crowd, which is why there is an entrance fee, and the staff wear suits. The clientele you serve will determine the types of conversations that you have. Curiously, the conversations can still vary so much, that I have yet to find a correlation amongst club goers and venues. In six years, and approximately 1,2000 shifts, I have worked at Spearmint Rhino, Mystic, Union Jacks, Stars-Bridgeport, and currently, Lucky Devil Lounge. My sample size is fair, for this informal study.
I’ve noticed that clientele in higher income areas tend to be more demanding regarding the preferred aesthetic of their strippers: in the bourgoise clubs, the question I was asked the most was "Why do you have pubic hair?", second only to "Why do you have so many tattoos?" This is not surprising, I speculate that many Bridge and Tunnel folks want or have been socially reinforced to expect their nude ladies to look like Barbie. And Barbie is hot as hell, but we all don’t look like her, nor do we want to.
In more laid back atmospheres, fellows and misses of the middle and lower socio-economic classes overwhelmingly compliment my tattoos. In blue collar crowds, my tattoos tend to be admired, partly because tattoos tend to be expensive, as most respected and established artists in Portland have an hourly rate of $140+, so, when a person who makes $10 an hour sees my body, to them, I’m literally covered in money. In poor, white America, tattoos are seen as a symbol of wealth and therefore, status. In wealthy white America, tattoos are seen as counterculture, subversive, or criminal. And so my clientele is partly determined by my aesthetic, and only altered if I charm them with conversation, and sway their person to like my personality, in addition to my body.
Who are our favorites?
Overwhelmingly, strippers like it when customers understand the nature of the interactions in a club. Strippers exchange their time for your money. It’s quite simple. But there will always be that bozo who feels "owed" dinner or a date or a blowjob, simply for tipping. Customer Entitlement is a scary quality to have to dance around.
Who do we despise the most?
Again, we despise the entitled and the misinformed. One of the worst things that I’ve actually heard on a shift is, "If I tip you, I’m contributing to your exploitation." I walked away, but really, wanted to scream NO DUDE, YOU SITTING HERE STARING AT US WHILE SIPPING A $2 BEER FOR FIVE HOURS CONTRIBUTES TO MY EXPLOITATION. There is an industry saying, "staring is stealing." And there are people who think that because we are peddling intangibles, we are not really "selling" anything. Try that shit with a door man, masseuse or therapist. We are doing you a service, we are visible, we might be touching you, and are probably listening to you.
Who has the most money?
Intel is the largest employer of Oregon, with approximately 17,000 employees, and they have people from all over the country that fly in and out of our city. Nike is the second largest with approximately 5,000 workers.
In dancing at Lucky Devil, the club pulls a surprisingly diverse crowd, despite the edgier aesthetic and location in inner industrial Portland. Most of the clientele that I speak with are either service industry workers, tourists who read good reviews of the club, or traveling businessmen. It’s quite a swath.
How do they earn it?
Lawyers tend to be incredibly tight assed, at least with me (please sirs, feel free to come to Lucky Devil and prove me wrong). There is no correlation between how much money a person HAS and how much they will SPEND. That old "Look at his watch and shoes" trick means nothing. If only there was an easy indicator to find all of the potential clients that really thrown down the cash.
I’ve literally been tipped the most in one night by a guy wearing Basics sneakers. I fondly recall the man who worked at a dildo factory and always stunk like armpits. He would rent the entire private room with all of the shift girls, spending hundreds in a few minutes. Yet I don’t even think he washed his hair more often than once a month.
My informal study lacks hypothesis, and I’ve yet to conclude it. But in an exercise of good ethics and good capitalism, I follow a simple credence: "Be nice to everyone, even those who can do nothing for you. But here’s hoping that they will hit the ATM."
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