not tough enough to be a stripper.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.