One of the best things about being a stripper is the other strippers. Strippers are everything, like a little version of all the women in the world. We are married, single, mothers, foster parents, welders and teachers and social workers by day, law students, art students, alcoholics, recovering addicts, anorexic, body builders, athiests, christians, witches, prostitutes, and prudes. The strip club creates a certain kind of intimacy. We peer into each others cunts to check for tampon strings and blood. Sometimes we fight over customers or politics or whatever we’re passionate about. On slow nights we hang out in the dressing room and talk about relationships, abuse, addiction, anal sex techniques, or our favorite flavor ice cream. All this comes with no obligation to be friendly outside the club, it just is what it is.
I don’t feel like it’s a good idea to blog about the women I work with now. They might find out and hate it, and the fact that I would hide it from them in the first place seems like an indication not to do it. So I’ll write instead about women I’ve worked with years and years ago.
I met Sparkle at a little club in West Virginia. She was a tall red head with a bad boob job, the kind where they look square. She was rail thin with sparkly green eyes and funky gloves that matched her funky leggings.
“Hey,” she said the first time I met her, “you look like a girl I dreamed about last night.”
“Maybe I am,” I smiled.
“Hmmm… do you have a boyfriend? Really tall and muscular with tattoos?”
“Shiiit,” the house mom interjected, “Tara’s a lesbian.”
Sparkles eyes got big. She gasped a little, then turned to me. “Aren’t you afraid of going to hell?”
I told her I didn’t believe in hell, and for some reason that put her right at ease. I told her about being a witch, and she told me about the Angels her god sent to help her out. See, there were voices that talked to her, and the Angels told her when they were good or bad. Like right now, the voices were telling her that the government had cameras behind the dressing room mirrors and they were watching us, but the Angels told her that was a lie.
We comisserated over our fear of the government and the unpredictable scary things it does. She lived with a CIA guy once, and he was the one who’d “given” her schizophrenia. I gave her a look. “You’re right,” she said, “I hafta stop blaming my shit on other people.”
A few nights later we were doing a champagne room together with a guy who fell asleep halfway through. We scooted him to the edge of the couch and sat down to resume our conversation about the crazy government people. She said her ex had kept her locked in a bedroom and force fed her acid while he told her about monsters and people who wanted to kill her lurking just outside the door. Holy crap, he DID give her schizophrenia. I felt so bad about that look I’d given her before.
Sparkle was so open about being crazy that people picked on her. They called her Spackle, and the DJ always played songs about crazy people for her. It didn’t bother Sparkle one bit though, she just kept wearing her funky outfits and talking to the angels. I learned so much by watching her handle people trying to fuck with her.
Eventually she stopped working there, or I did. Strippers drift, ya know? So stripper drift happened and we both drifted on.
A few months later I was in the juvenile court waiting room with a couple kids I was advocating for when I looked up to see Sparkle breezing through the room in one of those fancy suits. I retreated to the bathroom. Can’t have people associating me with the crazy stripper, right? When I came out she was still there, sitting with the lawyer of the parents. She must be a witness on the case… but if that were it I would already know. I sat back down with the kids, who’d taken my absense as an opportunity to dump my box of a hundred something crayons out.
Sparkle sat down next to me. “Hey, do I know you?”
I feigned a haughty ignorance, “um, no, I don’t think so.”
“Didn’t you used to work at a… club… in West Virginia?” she winked. Crap.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m a child advocate,” I told her, winking back.
“Oh that’s great,” she said, and started telling me about her new job with the attorney.
In the end, she helped me a lot in bringing the parents lawyer around to the kids side, and neither of us ever let on that we knew each other.
Oh, and the funky leggings? She was still wearing them.