Some tips on staying alive…

Whole religions and cultures and species have been built around the central idea of staying alive. As a young white female in the US, staying alive isn’t too hard. My main predators are other humans, and they’re mostly focused on people who are more marginalized by me. Of course, being a stripper and living in a van make me more likely to be targeted by some.  I’ve developed some neat-o adaptations to lower my chances of getting wacked, and now I’ll share them with you in the form of five handy tips. Some, of course, will apply to you more than others, depending on whether you are a van dweller, a stripper, a woman, or none of the above.

1. Relax. This is the most important part. If you are afraid all the time, you won’t know when to really be afraid. You’re an animal, you have good instincts, and they will tell you when it’s time to be afraid. Optimally, you should be relaxed and tuned in to your environment enough to enjoy it, which is also enough to know when something’s happening.

2. Sleep is when you’re most vulnerable, so pick your sleeping spot well. There are two main philosophies here: safety in numbers, and safety in being alone in the middle of nowhere. I subscribe to both. If your in a town, look for a Wal-Mart and park in the middle of a bunch of RVs (if you know where the sun comes up, park on the shade side of a big one). If you’re in a National Forest, get waaay back off the road and behind some trees where you can’t be seen from the road.

3. I learned this from whores and coyotes: never tell where you’re sleeping and never sleep in the same place two nights in a row, especially if people have seen you there. The exception, of course, is if you’re staying in a friend’s driveway or setting up camp in an isolated spot.

4. If you’re leaving a strip club at closing time, wait for the parking lot to clear. An ounce of prevention, you know. Also don’t go straight to where you’re sleeping. Just make it a habit to drive around a little. It’s good to drive past where you’re going to sleep and circle it so you know what’s around you before you go to sleep (I learned that from coyotes too).

5. Never tell a cop you’re a stripper. Never tell a cop you live in a van. It’s “okay” for them to do whatever they want to sex workers and vagrants. If a cop is harassing you, be placating and submissive. Move slowly. Cops are trained to be hyper vigilant and they can and will interpret almost anything as a threat. Match your speech patterns to theirs and they’ll be less likely to shoot or arrest you. As soon as they let you go drive straight out of their jurisdiction, even if they said they would leave you alone.


  1. Um, no, but the building I parked behind last night does and I pick it up with my wifi card.

  2. Great advice, T.

    This thing about parking in Walmarts… don’t Walmart mind? You don’t really get that here (although now I am really going to start looking to see who’s parked in supermarket car parks late at night).

    s kate.

  3. Oh, no, WalMart loves RVers. They come in and spend money when they park in their lots, so WM made a corporate policy allowing overnight parking (except in towns with laws against it). Along any major freeway, find an exit with a WalMart and there’ll be bunches of RVs there at night… and mixed among the RVs are vans and other creative homes.

  4. Wow, I’m way late.

    Alternate parking spot. Hospital parking lots. Free security, bathrooms, and usually very inexpensive food in cafeteria.

  5. This is great! I once rode my bike across the country and my biggest pet peeve was being constantly told what would cause me to stop being alive. My favs? Prairie fires, mountain lions, coyotes, two kinds of Indians and a deranged trucker in a blue semi somewhere in Nebraska. I nearly always picked being REALLY alone when I camped and even then slept more lightly than I normally would. The thing is, though, that Rule #1 so nails it on the head. If I was as constantly terrified as people told me I should be, how would I have known when I really did need to get the hell out of dodge?

  6. Well put, clear, succinct suggestions for prevention / self defense! Bravo! I agree with all of them and add that if you are ever on foot, in a cemetary, at night is a safe place. Also, when driving cross country, if there’s no Walmart type of place, then I have found church parking lots certainly much safer than say a “rest area” off the highway. This country is loaded with churches.

    Love that you learn by watching those wild matriarchs!

    I hope to see this shared on forums for women….

  7. Bravo, esp. #1. I sometimes travel and camp solo on a motorcycle, and get a great many incredulous “aren’t you afraids?” in lots of places. No good living in fear, but no excuse not to strategize and prevent trouble, either.

    If you ever end up near Oakland, CA, I’m a teacher for a women’s self-defense collective there. It’d be good to get more of your practical observations and suggestions, and you might have fun in one of our self-defense classes.

  8. Slept in a church parking lot in Windsor, Canada. The people were really friendly to me in the morning and there kids got a laugh out of starting a snowball fight. All in all it was a good experience.

  9. who knew that googling “peeing in a van” would get me to a cool blog/lady like you?! :)) thanks for the tips. I’m just finishing up re-doing a ford cargo van. I agree – the ‘reflex’ stuff is ‘da bomb’. di the entire inside w/it – then glued in a suede-y cloth layer. just got the bed built & in. yippee! actually bought one of those ‘porta-potties’, but now I’m wondering whether to just wing it. Anyway – thanks! be seein ya in a WalMart!

  10. Well, I am not a van-dweller or a stripper, but I think tip #1 is excellent advice for just about any creature. Most definitely including myself. Thanks!

  11. WOW, you are really intelligent! Great tips! I’m just taking an old 5th wheel camper out for a couple of months and you have had some really good tips. Too bad people judge you for what you look like or what you do.

    I used to play darts and the place I worked for a while, they liked a small strip club. We played darts every week. I told the girls I just play darts and am happily living with someone. I had some of the best talks of my life after they finally believed me! (BTW, I like women’s eyes and tend to stare at your eyes so I think that helped!!)

    I admit MANY guys I wouldn’t trust either!

    I can say that fat/skinny whatever you will find someone who loves you for you. Best of all you can pick fat/skinny whatever because many types loves other types too. I have had and like most body types. 😉 But don’t “settle”! Be picky!

    I’ve been a computer guru for most my life working with a lot of corporate types. It takes everyone to keep life interesting.

    What is amazing is that I just recently starting using computers for personal interaction since I stopped working but I’m 48. It was always just business all these years and like the other person said I was real surprised to find such an interesting person while looking for dispersed camping tips.

    I’m learning quick.

    Take care,
    Yep real name too but I don’t want to use my email here because I’m afraid of more SPAM.

  12. Another- WOW – i was in Walmart today and noticed one of their isles had a sign where the a/c,humidifiers were & under it it said “stripping” and that it was funny and gonna post a pic of it- so i did a search and “walmart stripping” to see if i could find anything interesting to post with it… and found this site! I have only read this page thus far- but very cool and informative! i have friends who are strippers and admire that they have the confidence for it. Cool Site! *kudos*

  13. The great Alaskan Bush Company Show Club former stripper, Mechele Linehan

    got 99 years yesterday for offing her old boyfriend ten years back…and I wonder what you thought about the whole thing?

    My wife and I were talking last night about how good sex and bad sex and no sex is so about power and powerlessness and how you feel about yourself. I like reading your blog because you seem to feel so good about yourself, your body, your mind… and you seem so honest and committed to Bohemian freedom. Ever dance at the Alaskan Bush Company Show Club where Mechele Linehan danced ten years ago when she was 25? She seemed to be leading a total other life then a whole lifetime ago…deceit, murder…inspired by a movie? Why does what you do seem so honest and what she did seem so full of a totally different path worth 99 years in the slammer…yet both paths involve stripping? Blog on. Love to hear your thoughts.

  14. I agree with all the staying alive tips. I wrote a book, Tripping with Gabrielle, about my life as a homeless hitchhiker back in the late seventies early eighties…what Tara says is right on, 100%! Thanks girlfriend, keep up the spirit and the fire.


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