Revealed by Lily Howard

Your father may have taught you how to change a tire; your mother, which fork to use in a fancy restaurant. Your friends may have contributed their knowledge of microbrews, and you learned on your own not to mix Budweiser and Chablis. But there is one monumental lesson which very few men are given: how to act in a strip club.

The adult entertainment industry is growing in leaps and bounds and the cultural interest in it is evidenced by books and movies. Chances are good that you'll soon venture into, if you haven't already (or don't already spend a good deal of your time in) a strip club.

I have been a dancer on Bourbon Street in New Orleans for more than three years. I've seen many things, but what I've seen most often is that the majority of men have no clue how to conduct themselves in a club.

You don't want to be the only man in a group who gets drinks spilled on him or is treated with contempt by dancers. In the hopes of avoiding such occurrences, I have carefully compiled 10 Golden Strip Club Rules designed to have dancers singing your praises above all your envious friends.

Rule #1: Time is Money
In spite of the sequined bras, come hither looks, and lacy garters... this is still a business. If you don't keep the dollars flowing, we will have to move upstream for better bait. It's nothing personal, but if you were a car salesman, would you waste your time and energy on someone looking to buy a Gremlin if you had a room full of potential Porsche purchasers? Although we show our skin to make a living, we are there to make a living. No one enjoys working for free so, if a dancer smiles at you and gets up from your table to sit at another, don't curse her; have empathy. We all have bills to pay and we all need bills (particularly fifties and hundreds) in order to pay them.

Rule #2: Don't Try to Get a Date
Consider visiting a strip club to be the ultimate date. Your date laughs at your jokes, sympathizes about your horrible boss and, when a good dance number comes up, strips her clothes off in front of you. Chances are, you won't be getting that lucky with dinner and a movie. Aside from your late night dreams, the only place you're likely to have this happen is under black lights in a strip club.
Okay, I admit it, some girls have gone out with customers. Some dancers have even married customers. Couples have met under stranger circumstances. But the numbers are slim. I've danced for men and within five minutes they've thought I was obliged to go with them to the nearest watering hole and then to their bed... simply because they'd seen my bare breasts! Contrary to moronic belief, we are dancers, not prostitutes.
Spending 8 - 10 hours a day, three to five days a week talking to men means our daily rate for being hit on is astronomical. Most of us have supportive mates waiting for us at home. If, by chance, you are asked out... consider yourself blessed.

Rule #3: Stay Reasonably Sober
Alcohol can turn the most mild-mannered accountant into a drooling, wiggling, pants-dropping idiot. Alcohol makes ordinary men want to wear bras on their heads and dance like Madonna. Liquored men will jump on stage and proceed to strip. Hey, that's our job!
Alcohol also provokes such memorable lines as, "You have more legs than a bucket full of fried chicken," and, "your nipples make me want to go home and slap my wife." Topless dancing can be a very private experience, but you're still in public. Watch your alcohol intake, and if you need to throw up run, don't walk, to the nearest bathroom to do it... don't use the stage or a dancer's shoes.

Rule #4: Unless She's Cool, Leave Your Wife/Girlfriend at Home
Two years ago if someone told me I'd hear, "My wife loves you and I'll do anything if you come home with us" on a weekly basis, I would have split my bra from laughing. Women are curious about topless clubs (I know I was) and look at them as an adventure. I've seen women come in with their spouses and yell, clap, and tip just as much as the next guy. One slow Monday a couple came in to celebrate their 42nd anniversary. The husband was recovering from a stroke and had lost his speech and the movement in his left side. His wife hired six of us to dance around him. She even helped put the tips in our garters.
Another time, one of the local judges ventured in with his wife and staff. His wife kept yelling at him, "Ask her if she went to high school. Ask her if she comes from a broken home." My reply? "Ugh. Yes, stripper can read. Stripper's parents still married."
One evening a man came in and sat at the main stage with his plump and pretty girlfriend. She sat next to him with her arms crossed, red-faced and obviously uncomfortable. He leaned over the stage with his tongue (literally) out, throwing dollars and sexual comments at us. His date was not enjoying herself and he was irritating us. Finally, one of the dancers "accidently" kicked his beer in his lap.
If your partner is curious, bring her in. If she's uncomfortable, leave (you can always come back later) and respect her feelings. And ladies, if your man is thoughtless like the guy above, dump him. You deserve better.

Rule #5: Obey the Rules
Different clubs have different standards, but when a dancer tells you a rule, pay attention! Where I work, we have a strict "touch and go" policy. Touch a dancer and you go. Bouncers and managers can't see everything, but you never know who you are grabbing. You probably don't want to have to explain to your wife that your black eye resulted from grabbing the butt of a stripper with a mean left hook.
It took all my self control once not to tighten the tie around a short, fat man's little neck after he'd poked me with his wet, smelly cigar and asked me if I shaved all over. Instead, I smiled, stepped away, uttered a mild obscenity and left. When I'm not dancing, writing, or going to school, I study kick boxing.

Rule #6: Be Inquisitive
Here's a quick tip. A lot of dancers are single mothers, but not all have sets of triplets at home that need new shoes. Dancers have the best stories. Ask about the celebrities they've danced for, the bar fights they've been in, or what their last term paper was about. Then swap some stories of your own. Yes, we've been called topless therapists. We'll listen to your problems with your mate, work, or frustrating sex life... just as long as it's within our comfort zone. I love hearing about the police officer who got drunk and stole the station wagon (remember, this is New Orleans) or the man who shot a hole the size of his fist in a crocodile's head and still got bit. You can learn a lot in a strip club. Dancers are like everyone else; we love a good conversation. If you're a dull person by nature, money still talks..

Rule #7: Just Because We Show Our Boobs Doesn't Mean We're Brainless
Once a circle of men were arguing while I danced. "What's that thing called? You know, when you put your feelings on someone else."
I stopped doing my stomach roll to pipe up, "Transference."
The man's face turned red. "Where do you get off knowing what transference means?" His friends were so embarrassed by their ignoramus friend that they tipped me an extra ten.
Don't fall off your chair in shock if we know who the speaker of the house is, or who won the NBA tournament, or the true meaning of existentialism. Not all dancers are rocket scientists, but they don't all drink rocket fuel, either.

Rule #8: Learn to Say No
No in a strip club? Isn't that a contradiction? No. If you're sitting with a dancer whose company you enjoy and she has to go on stage or reapply her body glitter, and another dancer sits down and puts on the full court press, recognize it for what it is. She saw you spending money and wants a piece of it. I'd love to say that it's a big happy topless family and back stabbing doesn't exist, but it does. If you like the dancer you're with and sense she's only smiling to prevent herself from ripping another girl's throat out, politely tell the intruder you're not interested. Your dancer will love you for it, trust me. Don't be hustled by a cut throat. Allow your preferred dancer the hustling privileges.

Rule #9: If You Can't Say Something Nice, Don't Say Anything at All
This is a basic school yard rule but it's also a rule for dancers. A classy dancer will never slam or belittle her fellow dancers. So don't comment about other dancers to the one you're with. Cutting down one dancer will not bring you up in another's eyes. If a certain dancer doesn't appeal to you, simply smile and say no thank you. It's a business of rejection and we understand that we're not going to appeal to everyone who walks in the door... just like not every customer who walks in the door appeals to us. But be nice.

Rule #10: When in Doubt, Tip
I saved the best for last. This is the most basic and important rule of all. Pay attention! If you're sitting at the main stage, tip. Dancers do not make the bulk of their money while they're on stage. Our main income is from private dances. Tip. When we're on stage a tip is an acknowledgment and a sign of appreciation. While it looks like we may be rolling in it, dancers are typically considered independent contractors and have to pay daily rent for the space they work in. Everyone takes a cut and sometimes it takes a while before we actually start making money for ourselves. It's insulting for a dancer to perform on stage and have someone sipping beer while enjoying a free show at the dancer's expense. Enter a strip club with the notion that you're going to part with some cash. Tip. Tip. Tip!

Now that you have been briefed on the mystical power of strippers, you can walk into any strip club establishment with your head held high, a self-assured smile, and your wallet ready and willing.

While you're in the strip club of your choice sit back, enjoy the atmosphere, and admire the scenery. Eat, drink, be merry, and tip freely. The point is for you to have a good time and our job is to ensure that you do. It's your fantasy to take pleasure in, but remember... it's our reality, so respect it.

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