101 Things People Say When You Tell Them You're a Stripper

You can tell a lot about a person by what they say when you tell them you’re a stripper. They always ask. “What do you do for money, traveling around in that van.” Or even if they don’t know about the van dwelling, it’s “so, what do you do.” I used to tell people that I took my clothes off for money, or danced naked with the fairies, or whatever came to mind. Lately I just say, “I’m a stripper,” and try to play it off all smooth, like saying you’re an investment banker or a paralegal.

The best people will respond in the manner it’s spoken, and say, “oh, cool.” Or, “you can do that wherever you go? Great.” They’re pretty rare.

Some people will look a little shocked for a second and then tell me that it’s okay. Like, “oh! Well. That’s… okay. I guess.” Really? Are you sure? Cause you know I could never live without the random approval of some stranger. Older men are usually conditional with their approval. As in, “well, I guess that’s okay. As long as you’re being smart and saving money and not doing drugs.” I like how they think it’s any of their business, and sometimes I’ll ask them if they do their money, and if they find it hard, as an investment banker, to resist drugs?

Other people want to reassure themselves with their approval. “I guess that’s okay, if you’re just doing it to put yourself through school/save money/feed your kids?” Or, the ever so common sympathetic middle aged woman: “I had friends who did that! You can just make some money and then stop.” I used to feel guilty about smashing their stripper fantasies, but now I take a certain kind of delight in it. “Oh, no, there’s no chance of me stopping. I’m a stripper for life.” “No, I’m not going to school. Why, are you?” The worst, but most hilarious, is when they totally miss the irony.

Then there are cute, sweet people. Once a friend of a friend’s husband was under the bus with me, looking at rusted out brake lines, when it occurred to him to ask how I made money.

“I’m a stripper,” I told him, just as I rolled into a puddle of brake fluid.

“Oh, like in the oil fields?”

“No, like in the strip clubs.”

“Oh!” This caused him to jump and bump his head on the rear axle. “You don’t do it all the way, do you?”

“All the way what?” I asked, wondering if he was asking if I went “all the way” in the VIP room or something.

“All the way naked!!!” he said, horrified.

Once, in the same town, I met a woman who was the director of an art center. The next day she introduced me to some of her possible investors as a girl who travels around in a van and “lives by her wits,” with a big wink and a nod at my tits.

Often people take my stripper-ness as an opportunity to unpack their favorite stereotypes or pop psych theories. Cause, you know, strippers are all victims, starlets, and bad poets. Oh, and how could I forget? There’s the whore with a heart of gold, too. Especially in Alaska, where whore’s actually funded much of the gold mining and provided most of the social assistance for years before government established itself and ran them off. Just the other day someone sent an email telling me that he doesn’t go to strip clubs because he can’t stand the vibe, the constant crushing of all these poor girls movie star aspirations. Wow, how did he know? That’s totally why we all decided to be strippers!

Once, my ex and I were selling her jewelry at a fair, and the woman in the next booth was having some fibromyalgia/MS problems with pain and moving her hands. She lived in a short bus, so we packed her stuff up for her and my girlfriend drove her bus to her parking spot. Before we left, she asked how we could afford gas, and I told her I was a stripper. “Oh,” she pronounced, “you poor thing. You’re going to have such self esteem problems.”


“Oh, yes, it happens to all strippers.”

Wow, thanks for informing me.

The worst are the guys who try to prove how cool they are by bragging about what shitty customers they are. You know, they’re so cool they get free blow jobs whenever they go near a strip club. Or they’ve had six girlfriends who were strippers so they could teach me a lot about the business. Like, you should act really really slutty. I don’t even know what to say to these people, so I just walk away.

Or, as soon as they find out I’m a stripper they wanna buddy up with me and put their wives or girlfriends down. Like, strippers are so cool, and their wife won’t shave her pussy. Yeah, I wouldn’t shave my pussy for your fucked up free enjoyment either. What the hell? Or they explain to me how innocent and dowdy their girlfriend is, and then turn to her and explain that strip clubs are dens of sin, meat racks of naked women, full of the crushed dreams of aspiring starlets and bad poets.

Better than that, but just as frustrating, are the ones who try to correct me:

“I’m a stripper.”

“No, no. You’re an Exotic Dancer!”

“I’m not a fucking ballerina,” I tell them, which I learned from this really awesome stripper in Indianapolis once, while having a conversation about this very thing. She said that people always tell her that she’s lying, and I’ve had that happen a couple times too:

“I’m a stripper.”

“Haha, you’re not really.”

“Yeah. I am.”

“Noooo,” they look you up and down and you can see them thinking you aren’t blond, you ain’t got fake tits, “you don’t look like a stripper.”

“Um, thanks. But I am.”

“Omigod that’s so funny, but no your not.”

Oh, yeah! I totally forgot! I’m not a stripper, I’m an exotic dancer.


  1. at least you have a whoooole range of reactions to what you do! when I was still studying Egyptology, reactions were:

    a) what do you want to do with that later on?
    b) why?
    and my all-time favourite moron question c) but aren’t you afraid of the curse of the pharaoh?

    I got c so many times, people should have been embarassed

    now that I study journalism, people say: “oh” and in extreme cases, they say “hmm, what kind?” and it ends there

    cool post, keep those comin’!

  2. Hi Tara
    I heard of your blog over here in the UK whilst listening to all night radio on the BBC. Your weblog was recommended and I had to get up and check it out.
    I bought Ishmael off Amazon last week and am half way through. Thankyou, it’s relevatory. You are a very inspiring person, good luck in all you do and as for people’s reactions; as Lou Reed says ‘stick a fork in their ass and turn them over, they’re done’.
    best wishes

  3. “Some of the smartest people I know are strippers,” I said to a woman once when she told me she was a stripper. I think she appreciated a novel response. 😉

  4. @ Blissfully Wed: Novel does not always equal our appreciation, believe me (though your response was lovely). Some of the stupidest shit I’ve ever heard in the club comes from people who are trying to be original.

    My favorite is the slow-to-come “I was a stripper, too” confession. I was talking to one woman, who, after I said “I’m a stripper,” went from “My sister did that” to “I was a doorgirl at a club” to “Well, I actually stripped, too,” within five minutes. It was awesome.

    I also like it when people ask me interesting questions.

    I guess I don’t interact with that many people who don’t already know, though.

    Oh! I stopped at the convenience store on the way home from work a while back and paid in singles, and the clerk asked me, “Have you been to see the strippers tonight? Ya got a lot of ones!” hah!

  5. Well, I felt pretty good about myself after reading this. 🙂 Before I started reading, I asked myself what I would say, and my first thought was, “Cool!”

    I figured this would be the most frequent response, so I was hoping for the article to give me some better ideas…

  6. You aren’t a stripper.

    …You’re my hero!

    Seriously, I’ve been reading for a while… I love your wit. And if I could dance I’d slap my fabulous ass up on a pole right there with you darlin’! …Don’t let the idiots bring you down.

  7. I’m so novel I talk about cows, vampires, and technology all day. I’m so novel everyone gets bored of me, leaving just me…. One day I might just be a van gypsy, I don’t want to plunk down only to be bored with my surroundings. My girlfriend is the only person that keeps me from going crazy while we are being schooled.

    About the actual article, its like gay people being ridiculed or being treated incorrect, ie not like a human. I’ll fucking kill anyone who can’t understand a job like stripping and the person behind the job.

    I love you blog, it owns.



  8. This was great, I just smiled the whole time I was reading it. 🙂

    This past weekend I went to join my family on the east coast (I’m in Seattle) for a surprise b-day party for my mother’s 80th. It was the best. But why I mention that is my sister (my little sister who is now 48) told the best story. I’d never heard this one. Here goes.

    One day when she was 12, she threw open her bathrobe and said, “Look, Dad, I have tits!” He just said “Congratulations.”

    You have more self esteem in your little pinky than most of us on the planet. I love your blog. ~Cheryl

  9. Great stories, Tara … as a worshipper of your art, (and of HAT-Ma 😎 ) I loved the many reactions you described. Knowing your personality as I do through here, and through HAT-Ma’s tales, I can just imagine the expressions on some of those faces.

    Thanks … today was a suckass Monday in SoCal, and I needed the mirth …

    BTW … I went ‘all the way’ naked once … they told me to go all the way back … 🙁

    ~ Irish

  10. Hi there, I left a comment once before a few months back when I first found your blog and got all inspired by you. Especially since my dancer name was Tara for ten years of stripping! Im 35 now, 36 this year and keep regularly reading your blog among others as im considering a comeback and need that reality check from inside the industry, rather than the scorn and stigma which exists in the public sphere. I know I could still do it. I did Tokyo for three years and London for a year and the rest was here in Australia. I learned so much in those years and was confident and free. Im sitting back in my own house now and doing uni part time but am a little bored or something. That urge to hop in the car and drive somewhere new is still there. Its nice to just air my thoughts with you. By the way my friend and I used to delight in telling the punters (or whoever was asking) that no, we arent at uni, we’re fulltime dancers all the way !, Oh us poor lost souls, no man to make decent wives and women out of us. Men would ask “are those real?” and Id say “reality is what you make it”, or in answer to “are those yours?” ” nobodies asked for them back yet”. Keep enjoying your job sister, and celebrate being one of the few women on the planet who loves and enjoys her body.

  11. You namedropped my town (Indy) so I had to delurk. 😳

    I’m glad my standard response (“oh cool”) is the right one. 🙂 (I’ve been friends with several strippers,so I don’t expect them to all be some weird demographic or something).

    I found your blog via the fabulous Ms Susie Bright and have been hooked ever since, travelling vicariously through your stories and learning cool herb knowledge. So this just to say, Thanks 😀

  12. when I was a prison guard it was always one of the following:

    – do the inmates ever hit on you?
    – are you ever sexually attracted to the inmates?
    – have you ever seen two men do it?
    – but you don’t look like dyke

  13. What a great post. I love your response to the investment banker, re. does he find it hard to resist drugs… 🙂

  14. @ Rachel: “… celebrate being one of the few women on the planet who loves and enjoys her body.”

    Is that ever true…such a sad state of affairs.

    The first time I ever went to a strip club, I was taken there by a couple of asshole guys who I’d just met (we were counselors at a famous camp in Alabama). I had one semester until I graduated from college. I’d been a Women’s and Gender Studies minor and had been researching my thesis; and I’m pretty certain that topic of conversation was what made those guys diverge from the pack of other counselors’ cars–which had been heading to a group night at a bowling alley–to the strip club.

    There was no women’s restroom at this place, so I had to use the dancers’ dressing room. I peed, and stopped to reapply my lipstick in the mirror, when one of the girls complimented me–it was a new MAC shade, and I shared. And I asked the girls in there:

    “Ok, so, this is my first time ever in a…strip club. (I wasn’t sure if “strip club” was a derogatory term…I was so self-conscious. It’s hard to hold one’s own as a mousy little girl in tortoise-shell catsye glasses when a girl made of breasts standing in acrylic platform heels is smiling down at you). And, I’m a feminist, so I’m not really sure what to think…who’s the ‘victim’??”

    The best response (and eye-opening) experience of my Womens’ Studies career:

    “Honey, we walk out of here with $500 a night. Who do YOU think’s the ‘victim’?”

    I wrote my thesis on the hidden curriculum of my liberal feminist education.

  15. well people say wacky stuff no matter what your job. being a stay home mom was the same. people said almost the exact same weird things on how it ruined your self esteem…..what do they know?

    Also don’t forget you are a writer.

  16. When I think about stripping, my first reaction is why do men pay for it? I guess I don’t understand human behavior very well. If a man is nice, kind, caring, etc., he should get all the sex, visual thrills and attention he needs at home. Heck, what do I know? That’s what fascinates me most about stripping.

    I was a cook/chef most of my younger life. I have to admit to feeling the same about that. I never understood why people didn’t just cook their own yummy food more often than not.

    Hmmm…must go ponder all this…. Thanks Tara 🙂

  17. “I’m not a fucking ballerina.”

    I laughed so loud it made my cat jump.

    Tara, that post was a kick in the pants.

    And I’m with Avalon – I’m using that line on the on next asshat who gives me their conditional approval of my job. The last person who started in on me about making sure I was ‘saving money’ and not ‘turning into a drug addict’ was an otherwise perfectly nice male nurse’s aid at (of all places) Planned Parenthood. Good grief.

  18. True that!! I also find it funny that these guys think we party like rock stars 24/7, but hey thats what keeps the fantasy alive. I giggle to myself and think I can’t wait to get home, play with my dogs and hopefully catch “The Golden Girls”(good, clean fun!)

  19. Yay! What an excellent post! I get so much of the same crap. Sometimes it makes me laugh, and sometimes it just gets on my nerves. 🙄 I don’t work another job, I am not in school, and I have no plans to quit stripping as long as someone wants to pay me for it. These days, with proper self- care and all the new technological advances in cosmetic procedures, we can strip for decades- yay! :mrgreen: When people give conditional approval, as if it is ok if we strip as long as we are doing it for some ultimate purpose that will benefit all of mankind (such as putting ourselves through law school), I want to start handing out copies of Atlas Shrugged. I HIGHLY recommend this book if anyone hasn’t read it, as it is my favorite book. 😀 And I’m going to use the investment banker line! Thanks for that! Your blog rocks!

  20. Actually, in the 1980’s a lot the Wall Street traders used to do blow. You’d walk around the financial district and there’d be these 20-something guys in suits sniffing with rolled-up Benjamins out of little wrappers of tinfoil at lunchtime, right on the Street. It was crazy.

  21. alright…and what was the problem again? do what you want and live with the consequences… However, some people might just be dickheads, others might be sincerely concerned about you. Every job might have a specific profile of risks. One risk for people in the entertainment business is drugs. Has not much to do with stripping. but if you hang out with walking “money” late at night, every night there are these temptations. no one says that means you must do drugs, but to deny the risk does not make you cool or smart, and people pointing it out must not be assholes. maybe they also have experience? or maybe they have just read a book or two and a scientific study or two? well, but who cares. seems you are only happy as long as everyone just tells you how cool they think you are…. besides, you will first have to wait and see how cool you are. obviously you cannot judge yet where this will lead you in your life. but again, do what you want, accept the consequences.

  22. Hi Tara!

    Your blog is my not-so-guilty-pleasures. Especially when I read it at work! 🙂

    Sure, you are a stripper, but I’m sure you’ve had to make some pretty ‘exotic’ moves in order to evade the unappropriate moves of others!

  23. This reminded me of every single time someone asks me what my major is and I have to explain to them. It’ll usually go like this:

    Them: “So, what’s your major?”

    Me: “Linguistics.”

    Them: “Oh…huh…well, what are you gonna do with that?”

    Me: “…be a linguist?”

    I understand most people don’t know what linguists do and they have no idea this whole “study of language” thing actually exists, but the kinda people that ask me this are usually well educated enough that they should have at least a vague understanding.

    And yes, I have on more than one occasion (out of sheer frustration) said “I’m going to be a cunning linguist.” Most people get it.

    An interesting note: I have never been to a strip club, despite having the legal ability to do so for almost 3 years. I’m not sure I have any reason to go. I think it’s kinda silly to pay girls to take off their clothes; I’d much rather be challenged with talking them out of their clothes. But like I said, I’ve never been, so maybe there’s something I’m missing!

  24. My answer is easy:

    “I’m a programmer. I’m sure you get a lot more respect from customers than I do.”

  25. You are a stripper…you do not deserve an opinion just take off your clothes and dance. It is the only thing you are good for.

  26. A very cool ex-drug dealer turned mechanic told me that when he dealt coke, everyone in his family talked down to him about how he made his money. BUT who did they call when they needed a cash “loan” on short notice? Uh huh. Done it myself, given money to loved ones who told me stripping was “bad” for me & I needed to stop. Hah, guess they were glad I didn’t listen!

  27. First time here. I really liked the way you tell your stories. Too bad you have to deal with so many jerks.
    I am jealous that you get to travel so much. I don’t travel as much as I would like to.
    How often do you relocate?

  28. My only question is: do you enjoy stripping for a living?

    I also think that most people respond to your (career?job?vocation?) in an awkward way for two reasons: 1). Our society is still totally hung-up in regards to sexuality, especially so when openly displayed by a woman, and 2). because most people assume that earning a living by stripping in clubs would basically suck (nasty, unattractive guys leering at you and all that). But hey, maybe you do enjoy aspects of stripping in clubs, or just stripping for the sensual experience of it, and location doesn’t matter. Or maybe club work isn’t as skanky as some think it would be.

    More power to you that you’re putting your voice out here. I used to get all kinds of complaints about TV ads when I told people I worked in advertising. Every field has it’s challenges. Best of luck in all your endeavors, girl, naked or not.

  29. Brooke, I try very hard in my life not to do things I don’t enjoy. It makes for a good life. 😀

  30. Awesomeness.

    I used to strip and whenever I tell someone that, they like to tell me about their token stripper friend and how down they are with it.

    Then I became a whore and that really set them speechless. 🙂

  31. ! Finally something on the internet I actually read … and that wasn’t numbered:

    X Reasons Why You Never Have to Read Again.

    1. Smart people read here.
    2. Bored people continue reading here.
    3. Stupid people continue reading here and here.
    4. Everyone stop reading here.

    Thanks that was good.

  32. I suppose it keeps you fit, and if you enjoy it, why not?

    Still, I wouldn’t do it for my life. Not that I’d be embarrassed. I just wouldn’t like being paid to sell what I try to define as dignity.

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  34. d just posted a typical response.

    I love how “keeping us fit” is all you got out of the entire blog. Not to mention it wasnt even mentioned!

    Dignity – yes. Must be better to have my husband beat me BEHIND closed doors so I can keep my dignity.

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  36. your blog’s awesome! im so enlightened and learned a lot.

    people react exactly the same way when i say i’m not doing engineering, im doing BA, which I like. They think people who study BA are losers. Education means finish your schooling and do engineering or medical. It’s like that in India.

    I hate judgemental people.

  37. As long as they are under 37 – 34 or so,
    Im like cool I think its a great way too see new places and meet people (I dated a Stripper for about 8 Months), if they either have a degree or are in College, its like being a Professional Athlete (Football to be Specific), do it for a few years , save at least 30% of your Income then you can always do something else later in life.

  38. What about the guys in the club that try and save you “what are you doing with your life get it together you’re too pretty for this..”
    Oh that’s another one too. “I thought strippers were supposed to be ugly.”

  39. I very much enjoyed reading this. I’ve had a heard time trying to figure out what to tell people and deal with the judgement. Telling my boyfriends family is stroll hard for me but I don’t want to lie. Thanks for this lighthearted take on telling people your a stripper. I also don’t like to suger coat it by saying I am an “exotic dancer”

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