A consultation with my calender yesterday showed that this was my most profitable week at this club last year. Unlike most Americans, but probably like most strippers, I don’t fill my calendar in advance: instead I fill it retroactively, jotting down the night before’s earnings every morning-after-work. The calendars are all in a big envelope, so that sometimes when I’m trying to figure out where to go dance I pull them out and consult the past like tea leaves: what did I make this time last year? What did I make last time I was at this club? That club?
Normally I’m pretty good at taking off whenever the urge strikes, but when I checked my calendar and saw that I made almost four grand this week last year, I decided to ignore the urge and stay. Sunday was bad. Three lap dances bad. I told myself if the next day was bad I’d leave. Monday was bad. One lap dance bad, but I managed to charge $80 for that dance and got tipped a few $20’s on stage. So I told myself one more day….
Today was a stripper meeting. These are hilarious. Last summer Susan managed to record one on her phone, and I had high hopes of it making its way to YouTube. “I ain’t naming names but I seen some fucking ho’s sucking dick back there and it’s cutting into my money!” This stripper meeting was boring in comparison. There are a lot of really sane women this year, so mostly we just got reminded about the particulars of the laws pertaining to selling alcohol (we’re not allowed to ask for drinks: soliciting alcohol is on par with soliciting prostitution in Alaska) and dances.
Afterwards we all got dressed, fifty kinds of on top of each other, back in the dressing room. Montana strippers playing Twister with the Wyoming hotties, the blond from Idaho spilling her bag over my bag. I set my make up bag on someone’s curling iron that was hot (yay for terry cloth bags that don’t burn). I lent an old new girl a dress that she was crazy appreciative of, and then dressed the self depreciating girl (you know her, every club has one) up in a rhinestone encrusted outfit that made her shut up about her stretchmarks and cellulite.
Out on the floor there were two customers, eighteen strippers, one regular non-customer. I sat with him and he told me how he’d just finished becoming legally ordained as his own religion so that he can still smoke in restaurants even though they made a law against it. Smoking, you see, is an essential part of his religion, which blends Christianity with Native American traditions like tobacco. The bear whisperer was on television and I secretly read the subtitles over his shoulder while he fingered his last ten dollars, counting it out over and over again and telling me it was a shame that there weren’t any spending customers tonight.
Later, there are customers, I talk to one. “Do you have ID?” he asks.
“Yeah, babe, do you?”
“Well, I heard this place has a crazy reputation,” he says.
“Lets go to the VIP, I’ll show you why.” I smile and wrap his arm around my waist.
“No, that’s probably illegal.”
“Oh, no, we’re not allowed to do anything illegal here, hon.”
“How old are you? Did you show your ID to work here? You know a lot of these girls get fake ID’s. A lot of them aren’t really twenty one.”
Another strip club expert. He asks where I’m from, and when I tell him where I was born he asks what a girl from a place like that is doing down here.
“I don’t know.” I’m really not sure. My whole life has been improbable and crazy. How does a girl who grew up one a remote subsistence trapline in the wilderness come to be a hobo stripper? “I should be there, on the river,” I tell him. He looks up at me, smugly. He’s read about girls like me, you know. “I think I’ll go back, actually. I’m going to leave now.”
And I do.
In the end, it really is that simple.