Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stripper Mentality, Defined

It has occurred to me that I should probably take some time to explain the nature of stripper mentality, both a psychological phenomenon and the namesake of this blog (and my Twitter, @strpprmentality).

Talk to any strip club manager for long enough, and he will surely bewail to you the piteous difficulties of his job - attempting to control the chaos created by a troop of bikini clad, irrational, and oft intoxicated dancers. See, this is because (he will tell you) of a thing called stripper mentality, in other words, the way a stereotypical stripper thinks. Personally, I tend to feel most strip club managers are a bit daft, incredibly dopey, and possessing of an insatiable need for attention... but then again, I'm a stripper. A manager would say that's just the mentality speaking.

Due to the lack of research on the subject, there's a bit of contention as to what a stripper's mentality entails. Some say that strippers, by default, have low self esteem, which is why we work in an industry where we are showered with attention from throngs of lascivious men. With this (and other notions painting strippers as a generic class of sad, damaged, and pathetic women), I politely disagree. There is nothing more sad about dancing than there is about plumbing, waiting tables, or punching numbers in a cube. Every vocation has its obvious perks and pitfalls.

Likewise, there is nothing particularly sad about strippers ourselves. Contrary to the belief of some, the majority of us were not sexually abused as children, nor have we turned to the industry out of desperation, nor do we cry every night over how miserable the job makes us feel. Surely this is the case for some, but my experience in strip clubs has led me to make the acquaintance of a great many bright, happy, and capable women who are not haunted by the shadows of Candy, Destiny, Faith, or whatever name they've chosen to use.

Now that I've described what I do not agree is inherent to the mentality of a stripper, I'll own up to some stereotypes that are absolutely true. The first - and arguably most important - each and every one of us thinks that we are the hottest, wittiest, most amazing bitch to ever grace you with her presence. Why? Because we'd sure have a hard time marketing ourselves (i.e. selling dances) if we didn't! Stripping is a competitive occupation - it's not as if we just prance around, take off our clothes and get handed fistfuls of cash all night long. (Though it certainly is nice when that does happen!) The majority of our income is derived from lap dances, champagne rooms, and the like, and the club is full of other girls trying to make the same sales to the same group of Sirs. If you do not have confidence, you simply will not succeed.

Our self-inflated egos absolutely carry over to our interactions with the management, DJs, and floor staff, and I can imagine how frustrating that must be for them. We are right about everything. We know exactly how you should run the club and what type of music you should play. We should be allowed to leave the moment we tire of working. You must immediately drop what you are doing and attend to our every need. Oh, and do you think you could run get me a glass of water? Thanks... Sigh. Allow me a moment to bask in the glow of how good it feels to be so motherfucking awesome.

Ok. That was fun.

Secondarily, most strippers do seem to require an awful lot of attention. Whereas the self-aggrandizement depicted above is part and parcel to the actual work, I consider the attention-neediness to be more of a side effect, or perhaps a predisposition. And while I definitely agree that it seems to be a major characteristic of the stripper mentality, I'd argue that there is a reasonable faction of strippers who are not naturally desirous of constant praise and worship, myself being one of them. Personally, the only kind of attention I truly enjoy comes in the form of green, rectangular pieces of paper. (That would be money, duh.) However, the larger half of the stripper population does seem to be affected with a bit of the look-at-me-look-at-me syndrome, and I feel the same goes for the management as well. This is why romantic interludes between the two groups are not only frequent, but also ALWAYS A TERRIBLE IDEA.

Finally, we strippers do seem to have a penchant for getting wasted-face at the club, and there are two notions as to why this is the case. Some believe that strippers drink because becoming intoxicated is the only way we can deal with getting loved on by nasty old men who like to talk to us about how soft our legs are and how our nipples are such a nice shade of pink. I will tell you, it does help. That's not to say most of us are not able to do our jobs sober. We can, and sometimes we do, but it's a hell of a lot more frustrating and a hell of a lot less fun. I bet the same would probably be true for your gig, Mr. Steam Boat Engineer... Too bad we can drink, and you can't! Jealous? Also, though, to look at it from a logical standpoint - we spend eight hours a night at a bar with a bunch of drunk Sirs who also want to buy us drinks (at least those of us who work in full-bar clubs). Who wouldn't want to party it up? Of course, here too there are exceptions, and there are many dancers who remain sober at work. Admittedly, I am not one. And I'll have another Red Bull Vodka, please.

So you take the delusions of grandeur, constant need for attention, and 16 shots of Liquid Cocaine, and you get the stripper mentality that meddles with the sanity of any non-dancing individual who finds him or herself in the challenging and exciting position of working at a strip club. Get enough of us together, and you're bound for a shitshow, guaranteed.

That said, I entirely admit to adopting the stripper mentality, and I don't think there's anything wrong with it... that is, as long as it gets left behind at the club when the night is done. Because inside the club, you're the most amazing stripper ever to teeter on six-inch heels, and you can do whatever you motherfucking want. But outside the club - Honey, you're just a stripper.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Attack of the Former Frat Guys

One recent night at Babe's, it seemed that I was consistently sitting down with Sirs who were complete and total douchetanks. Now, before I elaborate, let me explain:

As an entertainer, I realize that it is my job to do just that: entertain my Sirs (and Ladies). Therefore I'm generally game for any subject of conversation, including, but not limited to, sports, geography, the weather, favorite kinds of alcohol, your penis, my vagina, etc. On this particular night, I will admit, I did not arrive at the club in the greatest of moods, due to an unfortunate incident involving my hotel, the police, and me wearing nothing but a thong (but that's ANOTHER story), but I did my best to leave that baggage in the dressing room, along with my sweatpants, scrunchies, and other things a stripper has no business taking out onto the floor. In this respect, I was aided by several shots of Jager, and I feel that my disposition was rendered sufficiently positive.

Furthermore, I do not throw around the term "douchetank" lightly when it comes to Sirs, and I am lucky to work in a club where the same seems to be the prevailing attitude. Despite some stripper stereotypes, the majority of the other Babes are primarily fun and happy people (at least for the purposes of the job), and most nights are light on drama. You know, for a strip club anyway. So I am not easily piqued by simple lack of strip club ettiquette... by hesitance to tip or refusal to buy dances, even when these things are accompanied by a penchant for making lewd remarks. If you're not spending $, I may not spend a lot of time hanging out with you, but as long as you're having fun and not causing too much of a scene, you're ok in my book.

That's all a rather lot of exposition just for a couple of douchey customers, but given this is my first entry here, I figured I may as well explain a little bit about my methodology in the trade.

Asshat #1 [A1] arrives at club
Stripper Mentality [SM]: Hey baby, how are you doing tonight?
[A1]: I'm doing alright. How are you?
[SM]: I'm having a great time! What's your name?
[A1]: Asshat #1.
[SM]: I'm Arlene, it's nice to meet you.
[A1]: Pssssh, yeah right. Don't even bother. Strippers always lie about their names and everything else, trying to trick people. blah blah blah.
[SM]: Right... So I've gotta go get ready for my stage set now, but I hope you have a nice time.

Wait, what? You come into MY place of work and immediately insult a tenet my JOB? I apologize, Sir, but I have no interest in spending any more time with you, regardless of how much money you may think you have or how important you may think you are. No one is trying to lie to you by giving you an assumed name. On the contrary, in addition to our names, we also assume that you are, in fact, intelligent enough to realize that it's AN EFFING STAGE NAME. Especially when half of us are named after flowers, cars, and alcohol! You, Sir, are a fool. Moving on.

[SM]: I'm Arlene, it's nice to meet you.
Asshat #2 [A2]: It's nice to meet you, Arlene. Are you in school?
[SM]: No, I actually graduated about a year ago. My degree's in communications, which covers PR, marketing, and journalism.
[A2]: So why are you doing this?
[SM]: Well, I spent about eight months looking for a "real" job and couldn't find anything remotely promising, so I decided to just take some time to have fun and experience life while, hopefully, the job market gets itself back in repair.
[A2]: Uh, yeah right. I don't believe you. You're going to do this forever.
[SM]: Right... Well. Actually, I one day hope to reach my goal of becoming a prostitute with a heroin addiction. But we'll see.
[A2]: (watching impressive pole trick on stage) Can you do that?
[SM]: No, not quite yet. I've only been dancing for about three weeks now, so I'm still in the learning stage.
[A2]: Ugh, your stock is quickly dropping.
[SM]: Huh? Did you expect me to lie?
[A2]: You must not want to make any money.
[SM]: Right... If you'll excuse me, I must go use the ladies room. Nice to meet you though.

WHAT. I can't even explain how large of a trainwreck that conversation was. I can totally accept the fact that a Sir might be surprised to learn that I've finished college. While I'm by no means the only college educated dancer, it's not usually expected by our clientele. So I could really even accept that part of the conversation and attempted to have fun with him by making the sarcastic comment about prostitution (which I am pretty sure he did not get). But then... MUST everything that comes out of your mouth be antagonistic? If you, indeed, came to the strip club to argue, you most certainly will not be arguing with me for long.

There were a few more guys that night who conducting themselves along the same cocky, arrogant, and adversarial lines, but I'll spare you the examples. (I certainly wish I had been spared.) At the end of the night, I was really at a loss for why I'd encountered so many guys of that type.

It wasn't until the next day I realized many of them had mentioned attending the Dave Matthews Band concert. So... former frat guys? Lacrosse and baseball players? I don't know, but I hope they do not return soon. I'd prefer a handsy older man with a thigh-hi fetish any day of the week.