Archives For community

No matter what your job is in our economy driven society, it defines you-so when you become a stripper (or sex worker), that means something pretty serious.  Everyone asks you what you do, and every time, you have to agonize over what to say, or choose to just blurt it out and take the social consequence (Read So, what do you do?).  The worst part isn’t the strangers, though.  It’s your friends, and sometimes even your family.  The feeling of being a novelty to the people you love is really hard.  I remember a conversation I had with an escort friend, in which she said she felt like a girl we both knew kept her around to be able to say, “This is my escort friend, ____.”

People have a bizarre curiosity when it comes to what we do for a living.  It can make it really hard to feel cared about when you have a job like ours, the only people who understand are other girls who do what you do, which makes you feel crazy, because then all of your friends are strippers, and what does that say about you?!  Being a social outcast is something that NO ONE wants to be, especially people who have never really felt “normal,” like us.  Finding a balance between your identities can seem almost impossible sometimes.  I have googled obsessively to figure out how to keep my professional and personal life separate, but like everything else, the results were aimed towards young professionals in an office setting.  Being that we are a fringe tribe of people, most “stuff” won’t apply to us.  We need to create it ourselves and embrace that we are a little bizarre, a little different, and beautifully unique.  That’s what Survive the Club is.

So, all of your friends who “get you” are strippers, big deal!  Strippers need to stop beating themselves up for liking each other.  Somewhere along the way we were told, “Strippers are junkies and liars and thieves, and they will fuck you over, steal your customers, steal your boyfriend, and kick your dog,” and, “women never get along.”  Despite being women and strippers OURSELVES, we still assign these qualities to others, thinking that we are the only ones who are cut from a different mold.  This kind of “strippers suck” (or “sex workers suck”) (or “women suck!”) attitude just adds to our own self loathing and keeps us divided, and keeps us from making progress!  I don’t know whose idea it was to make strong minded, empowered women hate each other, but it’s a bad idea.  We, more than anyone else, need a little love.  Maybe no one else can see it, but we can recognize in each other that strength and independence are born out of hardship and loss.  More than anyone, we deserve a little tenderness, and there is no reason not to give it to one another.  Of course, avoid the girls who are life sucking leeches.  In this industry you need to learn who those girls are and recognize them (and be mature enough not to talk shit, just to ignore them!) and who can help you become the woman you want to be.  This is a job that lacks mentorship, and that sucks.  I would have done things SO MUCH differently if I had someone I could ask questions to, bounce ideas off of, and adjust my behavior to not repeat their mistakes.

Outside of work, explain to your friends that you don’t really want to talk to much about it.  Tell them not to ask how much money you make, ask them not to probe about your customers and how they act.  Encourage your family and civilian friends to treat you the same way they did before, do your best to act the same way you did before, and tell them that you’ll let them read your memoir after you write it.  When you need to vent, know that there is a community here for you to do that to.  You can email me anytime with your thoughts, concerns, questions, or ramblings and I promise to respond.  Keep hobbies outside of work that you love, whether it’s learning a new language, going to school, making jewelry, painting, yoga, WHATEVER, but something else that has a community that you practice with.  I am a loner, so many of my hobbies are “on my own” hobbies, but I have learned that the community ones really keep me much more grounded in reality.  Thank you, girls, for being part of my community.  I am SO lucky to have you.

xx

Chase

**featured image by Lee Jinju

Evolution of a Stripper

Chase Kelly —  September 1, 2012 — 1 Comment

As women and as dancers here in the 21st century, we been victimized by a lot of people.  We have built so many defenses against the way society and media views us.  We have built defenses against what society and media have built men to be.  We have built defenses against our parents, our lovers, and even ourselves.  Remember that post about conditioning?  We have conditioned ourselves to tolerate things that are intolerable, building all sorts of fortresses around our hearts and arming our minds with tons of weapons.  So many of these mechanisms were built under distress, though, and we have begun to see the results of these defenses as “who we are.”

By suggesting that we evolve as dancers, I am also saying that we need to evolve as people.  Each person has things that they do that they know simply do not work, but for some reason they just can’t stop.  This is because they are used to acting a certain way, continuing to do so will help them avoid the discomfort of change.  I will be the first one to admit, change is really uncomfortable.  Learning to be a better version of yourself feels so weird, sometimes it’s like I want to crawl out of my skin, but you know what?  MY LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER.  Taking the time to examine myself as a person and keeping notes about everything so I can actually monitor the change has been the most liberating thing I have ever done.  It has led me here, to be able to share everything that I’ve learned.  I know that I will help people with this project, and I chose it because I passionately believe that we can reprogram our faulty systems and make ourselves happier, and make the world a better place for young girls everywhere.

So what does this have to do with dancing (besides everything?)  Here’s one:

Our building insecurities, our diminished sense of self and self-worth, and the constant feeling of being misunderstood has taught us that we are the safest emotionally if we display our personas loudly.  We flap our mouths at coworkers and at customers nonstop, telling them about what we think, feel, believe, and especially what we hate or disagree with.  By broadcasting our feelings, we have created a simple system: the people who listen or agree are cool, and fuck the people who don’t.

This is just such a faulty way to live.  Not only does it scream your insecurities to everyone who will listen, but subliminally, you are programming yourself to be stubborn, angry, and bitter.  You are turning people off before they even have a chance to get to know you, like you, and especially pay you.  The next time you work, how about you try this: ask questions, don’t EVER talk about the club, how you feel about stripping, or how you feel about anything for that matter, unless you’re saying “omg, I totally agree!”  I am going to ask you to stop being an insecure little girl (at least at work), and for the time being, evolve into a business woman.  If you can get a guy to open up to you, you have him in the palm of your hand.  He goes home to his wife, kids, or girlfriend who all put every thought and feeling out into the world for him to process.  At the strip club, we need to give him a place to decompress from all of that.  Just shut up, listen, and dance.  Your wallet will thank you!

At work, you need to maintain professionalism, but mostly you need to protect that insecure little girl inside of you.  I am NOT asking you to ignore her, I am asking you to shelter her.  Usually this means not getting too fucked up at work.  If you are not in your right mind, you are likely to slip back into comfortable habits.  If there is a part of you that never got the love and support that you needed (I am willing to bet there is) I think you should nurture that, but I don’t think coming at customers with every belief you’ve ever had about anything ever is the way to protect her. I think you are just making her poor.

Evolution takes time.  It takes learning the basics of all the things you know nothing about but have convinced yourself you’re an expert on.  Faking it til you make it works, but not if you never make it.  Start digging at the parts of yourself that you don’t like—somewhere in there lies the trigger of what made you that way, and once you identify that, you can change it!  If you have deep emotional issues, are the adult child of an alcoholic, addict, physical, emotional, or sexual abuser, please consider looking for a therapist in your area to help you dig into this part of your subconscious, and read Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward.  Bringing your dysfunction with you into the strip club can be especially damaging, and unfortunately is what leads to “stuck in the club” syndrome, which slowly and heart-wrenchingly turns into “bag lady” syndrome.  I have seen it happen, please don’t let that girl be you.