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xmag.com : February 2003: What's Your Fucking Problem?

I'm not tough enough to be a stripper.

My body was a tight and long stretch of 19 year-old conquest material when I stomped into "Billy's," a roachy dive on the West Side of Manhattan. The AC/DC thudding out its open door lured me in.

It was a Sunday night. The girl on stage looked like a sleepy goat with a fried tuft of bleached hair done up with ribbon in a cupie doll ponytail on top of her head. The songs she danced to rocked and pounded in the smoky room but she swayed her walleyed bargain boob job in a slow eighties two-step.

Sitting at the bar, I must've said something wise-ass about how I could do better and blah-blah-blah because ten minutes after I got my jack-and-coke I had a job. Well, a dare.

I was the only virgin girl in the place.... virgin stripper, that is. The bartender and the bar manager said that if I could do three songs right then without falling on my face, I could have a shift.

I was nineteen. Nothing scared me. I scoffed and peeshawed and went to the bathroom to 'get ready.' And nearly heaved my precious whiskey in the toilet.

"OhGodOhGodOhGodOhGod...." Rarely had my bluff been called when I mouthed off. Usually I was just looking for an easy laugh or a free drink. Now I actually had to throw down. I don't know what was making me so nervous. I didn't care about being seen naked or being seen dancing, but now not only did I have to do both, I had to be fucking good at it. What the fuck did that mean? I had five minutes.

My first song came up. "I Wish You Were a Beer" by the Cycle Sluts From Hell. My hands were numb and shaking so I held on to the pole for the first three minutes. I had on a torn up Ramones T-shirt, a bad stretchy black mini skirt, thigh-high fishnets and cowboy boots, topped off with a dark gray pirate scarf and hoop earrings. Total eighties street chic. I did a back bend to take off my tee-shirt and stupid head scarf.

Next song, "Submission" by the Sex Pistols, I rolled my skirt condomlike down my legs with my ass to the audience. Someone hooted. "I'm doin' it!" I thought. Someone hooted again and I sadly realized a game was on TV behind the bar. Great.

By the last song, Joan Jett's version of "I Wanna Be Your Dog", I thought I had a pretty good handle on things. I just had to look cool while getting my bra off. But then I noticed something terrible. It seemed that almost no one was paying any attention to me. There were four faces at the rack bobbing their heads to the music and some that I could see out of the reach of the lights, but some were keeping an eye on the game, some were chatting. Fuck me! Here I was, ripping my clothes off and trying to look cool and not fall and the bar wasn't at its feet adoring me for doing it. Fuckers! Fucking stupid big mouth!

My last song was halfway done. "This is a nightmare," I thought. But still I gave it my all til' the last lick. I shimmied and rolled my hips at no one, crawled like Madonna in "Express Yourself" and ended in a full split at the top of the stage with my arms up in mock victory.

People cheered and at final tally I made eighty-three bucks. Not bad. They gave me a few shifts but I only danced seven more times before I quit. I realized that although it might look easy, it takes a special thickness of skin and social fearlessness to dance naked for money. Beauty and a high hard ass help, but if you can't deal with how people view you (or DON'T view you) and you're a big-mouthed egomaniac like myself, keep your clothes on.

Some of the most incredibly strong and centered women I know have marched miles through sticky piles of dollars in their crazy heels under red lights through bar haze. Hats off to you, girls. I will never again claim any prowess over a dancer. I'm pretty sure I suck at it.




Hey Ashana.... you were right about how M&Ms help. But I gotta say lately they haven't been doin' it for me. I miss you, Lady. xoxo.






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