What the Strippers Taught Me
First, know that I believe if someone wants to take their clothes off and titillate strangers for money, then that is their business. Choice is what the woman’s movement was all about anyway.
Secondly, I believe everyone has something to teach you – even the ones you’d never trade places with.
I have never been a stripper. I don’t understand why anyone would want to be. And, I have only ever had the occasion to see or talk to a “gentleman’s entertainer” three times in my life. But, those times taught me some things.
The first time I met a stripper was at a party about 20 years ago.
I remember this woman looked like any 20 year old might in Washington, DC (where we were). I asked her what she did, professionally, because that is what you do in DC. Your job is your identity. She answered, quite matter-of-factly, I’m a stripper. I recall being speechless. I probably said something like, “wow.” This is probably because that’s what I – being just 25 years old — could only muster on such short notice. She then went on to say how she had to leave. Her hair extension appointment was in an hour. And, apparently, she made much more money with long hair. I recall being appalled that hair length would have such an effect on her tips. But, then again, this was my first foray into a conversation with a professional exotic dancer.
Now, 20 years later, I started studying burlesque dance and the art of striptease for fun. (It’s important to keep one’s mind and body alive with fresh skill-building.) A number of other students and I decided to visit a strip club. We wanted to see how women danced outside of a private studio.
I realize my saying that going to a strip club to look for new dance moves is kinda like the guy who says he reads Playboy for the articles. So, I give up – in advance – that everyone will be convinced of this fact. But, it’s true. You can only learn so many dance moves without venturing out in to the world. So, that’s what we did. And, I ended up walking away with some lessons much, much better than how to bump and grind.
Both times I visited said gentleman’s clubs, I was with a bunch of women. No husbands or boyfriends came along. My male friends tell me they are shocked that they actually let us in. Apparently women don’t spend as much money. Also having “real women” sitting with the male customers makes the guys feel uncomfortable, like they’ve been caught or something. But, somehow, the bouncer let us in. We made sure to spend money and ignore the men. (I think we also were better customers – handing out $5s instead of $1s – and there never was any threat of us launching ourselves at the dancers.)
First, the art of striptease has a long history. At various times it was considered an art form. But, today, the movies have you believe anyone who strips for money is 1) a woman who has six kids at home — whom she has rescued from an alcoholic — and has no other choice to make this much money in such a short period of time in order to win that custody battle, or 2) is a woman who is also a drug addict and hasn’t a clue what she’s really doing.
I can’t tell you the real story.
But, what I can tell you is, that in my trips to said clubs, I saw beautiful but normal-looking women who seemingly came from all kinds of backgrounds and circumstances. Also, watching them “do their thing” was informative. So, I thank the women I witnessed and hope they are healthy and happy. Here is what I learned:
1. Professional strippers manage their energy brilliantly.
It takes some serious energy management to dance, entertain and act interested in strangers for hours on end. But beyond that, these ladies know how to put out exactly the amount – and kind of — energy that gets them what they want.
They watch men’s reactions with an eagle’s eye, adjust their tone accordingly, and never, never steamroll their prey. They will be assertive, but not aggressive. They are direct, but you don’t get the sense they are going to hurt you. They know their male admirers must be enticed, intrigued and pulled in before getting close – hence, the long, slow crawl from the stage to the tip rail where the men wait for them.
Strippers understand that being strong and being vulnerable are not mutually exclusive.
So, while I am tempted from time to time to just “let the frustration fly,” “dump,” make demands and ultimatums, and other marital energy steamrolling activities, I remember the stripper energy management technique. And, then, maybe I can remember how, it’s not that productive to launch myself at Husband when he first walks in the door, throwing my day’s happenings like hand grenades, failing to see the weary look on his face because he had his own daily bombs to handle. I have learned to assess the situation first, and know when to pull back and when to move forward.
2. Strippers know mystery is valued.
Stage names and encouraging the “upsell” to “that mysterious room behind the curtain” are just part of the game. If you want to know more, you – the guy – must act interested to be let in on the secret world.
Really good strippers (read: earn a lot of money) also know that men – when they realize they must encourage the dancer to stay focused on them either with dollar bills or attention — are more vested, long-term.
So, want your spouse to stay interested? Practice a bit of intrigue. Everyone wants something that is privileged, unpublished, classified – something that is secret. Let him know you are giving him something no one else gets. Then, mutually reward one another for that attention. Taking one another for granted is marital death.
3. Strippers don’t take any crap.
They ask for attention, but that doesn’t mean they are a door mat. A certainly gentlemanly behavior is required at all times. So, while you ogle the beautiful dolls, be polite. One of the golden rules around receiving a lapdance, specifically, is no touching. You’ll be thrown out immediately. Manners are non-negotiable in strip clubs.
This goes for Husband-Wife stuff, too. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you get to throw your manners out the window.
4. They dance even when they don’t feel like it.
Strippers have a job to do – even when it’s having to entertain some guy (who she’d normally never look twice at) making ga-ga eyes at them. Her response? Thank you for noticing.
This is a similar task to being married. Your spouse needs to feel your love and patience – even when you have worked eight hours, been to the dry-cleaners, the grocery store, driven through Rt. 29 traffic hell, and the first thing he asks you when you walk through the door is what’s for dinner? You don’t always want to converse with your spouse, but you should be thankful they notice you’ve arrived home.
5. Smelling good counts.
Strippers take into account the whole package they are presenting – from looking good to smelling good. In fact, as one of my friends said, they smell like freshly baked cookies. (We found out, from the strippers we encountered, that they wore lotion by Bath & Body Works called “Frosting”.)
While I am a proponent of dressing (and smelling) like you want, do take into account what your significant other likes. Everyone has their own version of what looks good, smells good, tastes good. Be your partner’s brand of delicious at least some of the time. (Ditto for them.)
6. They know what earns currency: focused attention.
As a business owner, I found the business behind the strip club fascinating. The real money does not come from the single dollar bills handed out at the tip rail or even the alcohol sales (watered down as they were). It’s all about selling the $25, three-minute (timed) lapdance. That’s where the bucks are. And, men pay. Laser-focused, private attention is considered valuable in a strip club – to both stripper and recipient. Everyone wants to be chosen.
You want partnership commitment, adoration or something else as currency in your relationship? Focus. Commit. Choose him (or her). And, see no one else. Be interested not just interesting.
End of lessons.
So, what I did not appreciate at the strip club? How some of the guys made the dancers positively grovel for a mere single dollar bill. How simulated sex moves on the stage were more valued than showing off real dance moves. How the men never smiled.
(A friend called the look they did have on their face, the “trance.” Actually, she put another word in front of “trance,” but I’m pretty sure the Internet police would lock me up if I repeated it here. Oops, I guess I did look at the guys at some point.)
Did I learn any new dance moves? Not really.
Will I ever return? Probably not.
But, while you or I may not believe in a stripper’s choice of profession, just remember: there are lessons everywhere.
Thanks to Alicia Steel from Loveawake.com dating site for providing this article.