My partner didn't want me to put this one in the Vixen newsletter because he said it would "alienate potential customers." I think he is sometimes embarrassed of my yoniliciousness.
A Jaded Eye
Written in the summer of 2003
I spoke with a homeless, young woman the other day about stripping and she mentioned the word “detachment.” She said she didn’t want to get into the sex industry because she worried about how this “detachment” might affect her. (I know her to have given it away for free in ways that should serve this fear far more appropriately, but didn’t point that out.)
Anyway, her words got me thinking. I’ve taken a lot of time off from dancing in the last few years. And every time I return to it, I find I become increasingly detached.
Words like “cold”, “bitter”, “snappish”, “suspicious”, “distrusting”, and “emotionless” come to mind. And even the man I love is aware of a change in me.
Although that may sound like a terrible side effect of stripping, I am embarrassed to admit that I feel empowered by it. Like a phobic addicted to her panic attacks, I feel stronger, more confident, and more in control when I look at the world through a jaded eye.
I probe each person or situation, looking for the catch – the ulterior motive – the lies. Every sentence is a sales pitch, every gesture a gimmick. And I am not the fool to be swallowed and swayed by it.
What is it about stripping that brings out this pessimist in me? What is the occupational hazard that creates the jadedness in most (dare I say ALL) strippers? At which point did it become easy to say “don’t fucking touch me” or “did I invite you sit here?”
The first thing that comes to mind when I ask myself these questions is the customers. Until now, when I’ve looked at the negative aspects of the industry, the customers aren't the culprit. They are rarely difficult to deal with. But it just takes the occasional lying, cheating bastard to make them all seem deceitful.
Case in point, how many married men have tried to touch me or buy sex from me? How many stags have I witnessed that made me feel deeply sorry for the brides? How many front row guys have I heard say “you’re the very best one” to every dancer in the line-up? How many young boys have told me my pussy is beautiful? Oh, okay, maybe the last one is true…haha.
I think you get my point, though.
So that takes care of the distrustful and suspicious. But where does the cold and bitterness come from? This time my mind jumps to arriving at a hotel out-of-town that has scary / scared-looking men sitting in the hall by my room, a payphone shared by dancers and tenants that is located in the same hall, the sheets filthy and the carpet even worse. A bathroom also shared by all with a small basin-style bathtub that is black and rusted and grimy, a trickling shower and no hot water in the sink.
Ooh, did I cry. That was rent week and I needed that gig. Needless to say, I spent what money I had on sheets and an alarm clock, bathed and shaved successfully standing over the side of the tub and thankfully the girl in the next room smoked weed with me all week. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (bitter).
When you are a woman and you stop crying, you are what is referred to as cold. Don’t it feel good? Oh, I’m sorry (not sounding sorry), did I snap at you?
I had men tell me I was cold long before I was ever a dancer. But I had dancers tell me I was too happy and that it would wear off after dancing for a while.
I cry when I read an emotional story or watch an emotional program (like the news). But I fume and shoot sharp wisps of flames when I’m mad. I love the Lord and want to save the world. But often I can barely see any of the good in people.
Then there’s the waiting. Oh, did I lose you? I’m talking about how stripping makes me jaded. The waiting is the worst. Waiting for the next show. Waiting for the show to end. Waiting for the guy you’re sitting with to give you money so it’s worthwhile sitting there. Waiting for the other dancer to get off stage so you can chat.
Waiting for the day to end, the week to end, the day off to spend with the people you love. But by the time that end comes, you don’t want to be touched by the people you love. You don’t want to dress up and smile and put on an act. That’s your JOB afterall!
By that time, all you want is sweatpants, food and periods of time with no talking. You certainly don’t want buddy from down the street talking about the last time he was at a strip bar, hahaha, and this one stripper was obviously strung out, blahblahblah. SNAP!
And when you’re ready to talk, you want to talk about your time at work. Which girls are nice, which aren’t. What this one loser said to you and then what this other loser said to you! What a nice compliment you received, what the dj’s are like, what the stage is like, what you did that was funny on the stage, what embarrassed you.
But the people around you don’t want to hear it. That is YOUR depraved existence. Don’t drag them into it. The old man thinks you’re trying to turn on his friends. He’s jealous when you talk about “the men.” Your family gets uncomfortable at the thought of you at work (as if it’s all about being naked – you slut!). So hold it in. Keep it all in till you're dreaming about being late for that show, or that you can't punch that guy in your dream hard enough.
Wait a minute, maybe that’s really where the jadedness stems from. It could be the absolute inability to link your two lives, to have flow and peace – Zen - between the estranged pieces of your life. Is this the real root of the matter?
I love dancing. I love performing. I love choosing when I want to work. I love working with so many beautiful, wonderful women who are not innocent, have not been spared the heartache of deep experiences. I love meeting new people and making new friends and talking openly about sex and wearing my schoolgirl costume.
But no matter how much I usually enjoy my job, and no matter how much I am empowered by it and no matter how much I demand respect for my right to do it – I am also frustrated by it, embittered, detached, emotionless – jaded.
Thank goodness I am. Don’t you even try and play me for a fool.