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Keeping ourselves safe

Chase Kelly —  September 5, 2012 — 6 Comments

TRIGGER WARNING-this post talks about rape and sexual assault.

As if sexual assault wasn’t an issue for all women everywhere, dancers face a whole different set of concerns than the average woman.  Being objectified makes most girls feel uncomfortable, and although at some point every girl is hollered at by some toothless wonder on the street, only the Megan Fox’s and Kim K’s of the world are objectified to the level that we are.  Women in the adult industry choose this line of work knowing that we will be sexualized, coveted, and sometimes treated poorly.  We know the perks, so we tolerate the drawbacks without much complaint.   Some crazy assholes think that because we have given them the go ahead to look at us like Barbie dolls that we have extended an invitation to do what they want with us.  As absolutely insane and wrong as it is, it just keeps happening.  Some men realize that what we do is a job and that we are real people outside of work, but some just don’t.  Some think that we are just crazy, drunk sluts and no one would miss us if we were gone.  The stigma in the sex industry has always been the same:  “These girls are objects, they are not human.  It is ok to rape them, and it is ok to kill them, and it is not worth government money to do thorough investigations of either.”  We have always been the victims of heinous crimes.  Just off the top of my head, there’s Jack the Ripper, the Craigslist killer, the Long Island killer, and whoever keeps snatching those girls in New Orleans.  No one does anything to stop it, unfortunately.  The education is nearly nonexistent, and the “She’s asking for it,” sentiment is not limited to any certain demographic.  It’s everywhere.

We (kind of) know where the blame lies, and we know it isn’t with us.  We live in a sick society, too many people, too much greed, the media, bad parenting, etc.  But blame does no more good in this situation than it does in any other.  Blame doesn’t empower us, it enslaves us, and while I support demonstration and activism to educate the public, it doesn’t do much to protect us today.  The SlutWalk in Vancouver might be a really fun event (I bet it’s awesome actually), but if you are going to get sexually assaulted tonight in Kansas City, it really doesn’t do much, does it?

I’ve heard the story a thousand times, of the girl who was followed, stalked, raped, or assaulted by a customer.  If you haven’t been through it, do everything you can to avoid it.  It messes with you more than you think it will and it isn’t worth it.  Lots of girls are headstrong on the safety issue, and it’s so unnerving.  You are a target, empower yourself by being protected, not by living in denial!

It’s sad that society teaches, “Don’t get raped,” instead of, “don’t rape.”  It really does point the finger at the victim, but before you become the victim (again or for the first time), let the light come on.  Realize that it IS up to you to keep yourself safe, especially when you are knowingly putting yourself in a questionable position!  We need to respect that one of the draw backs of this job is that it’s dangerous.  We need to be somewhat cautious.  My inner feminist hates me for saying all this, but she also respects my inner smart, savvy woman who does what she needs to in order to protect herself.

So let’s make a pact to focus our efforts on ourselves as individuals.  Let’s promise to watch our own backs, instead of hoping the guy we’re hanging out with doesn’t have that mentality because he “shouldn’t.”  Lots of people are wolves in sheep’s clothing, so do what you need to in order to protect yourselves.  Being more responsible individuals will strengthen us as a community, and that’s what we really need!  Can we decrease the rate of sexual violence against women in the sex industry?  Yes, absolutely.  Before you even think it, NO, we shouldn’t have to.  But we do have to.  No one is going to do it for us.  Men should be able to control themselves, but it’s becoming apparent that they can’t, so something has to be done.  Please feel free to comment with any other ideas.  These are just a few from my brain:

-We should dress modestly on our way to and from work whenever possible.  Leaving work in a short dress and heels with your stripper makeup still on and your shoe hanging half way out of your bag says, “I have cash on me, I am tipsy, and I am loose,” during the most dangerous hour of the night.  We will avoid giving people this impression by wearing something modest.  If I am not getting paid for it, the attention is unwanted anyway.

-We will not see a customer outside of the club without doing a proper screening.  Always take a picture of his ID on your phone and send it to a trusted friend who knows EXACTLY where you are and what time to expect you back.

-It’s a bad idea to promise things we have no intention of delivering.  It is an easy $500 to say we will meet someone later and then never show, but drugs+alcohol+sexual frustration+thievery=disaster.  Not only is it morally wrong, but it’s just putting yourself in a compromising position.

-We won’t leave the club alone if we are fucked up.  Drunk girls are easy targets.

-We will stick to the buddy system whenever possible.-We won’t go somewhere with a guy so he can “get us” something.  I don’t care if he has all the cocaine in the world and you REALLY want it.  These guys use drugs and money to coerce you.  Don’t fall for it!  These aren’t your friends!

-We will never let someone define our boundaries for us.  We know what we are OK with, and we can and will firmly say stop if someone tries to cross them.  We are not afraid, and we need our self respect more than we need money from those assholes.  We all know that there are GREAT customers out there who want to pay us and treat us right, but we don’t find them if we waste our time with the ones who push.

Will this stop rape from happening?  Probably not, but it might stop yours.  A larger impact isn’t impossible, either.  Stranger things have happened.  When everyone takes responsibility for themselves, the whole improves.  Again, should we have to come up with a solution to this problem?  No.  We didn’t cause it, we are just effected by it, but as the ones over whom the issue has the most chilling impact, we NEED to do something.  We can’t just throw a fit in our pink panties that people don’t see us as more than we show them.  We have to show them more strength and less vulnerability.

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.