The Strip Club: A Hub of Genius and Mental Illness

I have always thought of the strip club scene as part of the underbelly of a city. The underbelly where all the creative, off kilter, devious, scandalous people congregate. I have always had a bit of a fascination with the secrecy vibes of the underbelly scene. Yes, the strip club is perhaps close by other businesses, its suggestive decor there for everyone to see out on the street….but inside, it’s like another world. Starting with the neon glow-in-the-blacklight swirly carpeting, and the musty smell. Perhaps it’s the lack of windows, that really sets the underbelly establishments apart. Bowling alleys give me similar vibes. It just feels like you step into another world, cut off from the real world.

Over the course of my dancing career, I met so many brilliant, but mentally ill people. Whether they were customers or employees, or fellow dancers. There were some really messed up people I came in contact with. Sometimes it was sad- that spaced out dancer was horribly abused growing up, and found her way to the strip club scene and then into drugs. Sometimes it attracted people who were too smart for their own good, if you will, and just couldn’t function in normal society. The underbelly scene gave them the space and freedom that they needed to function at their own level.

There were college sweethearts who were just trying to get through school, and who were frantically trying to keep it from their parents. When those types came in, I kept an eye on them- those are the types that the succubi loved to prey on and I would at least give them a warning about who to avoid. I would want someone to do the same for me, if the roles were reversed, you know?

Some customers were fascinating, both because of their personalities and their fetishes. There is a fetish for everything under the sun, believe you me. I once did a dance for a guy who just wanted me to sit on his lap and hold an unlit cigarette in my hand and slowly wave it around while I talked. He stared at the cigarette the whole time, never at me, never touched me, but I could feel his raging boner. I always wondered what smoking female figure in his life had given him that fetish (and that’s a very mild fetish, btw).

There was a lot of self-sabotage in the strip club. Whether it was the dancer trying to quit smoking, and then getting drunk, which in turn made her pick up a cigarette. Or a dancer going back to an abusive boyfriend. Something I saw a lot of, was the dancer snagging a regular customer who falls in love and offers the dancer the world- buys her a car, clothes, pays her rent, etc. And even if the customer isn’t being super pushy and invasive (which is usually how it devolves), the dancer will still find a way to destroy her relationship with said customer. Usually by doing some fucked up shit to him. There are a lot of girls who come from rough backgrounds, and who get really uncomfortable with people being nice to them. They don’t know how to accepts gifts as gifts- when there’s no obligation or manipulation attached to the gift, they get weirded out and defensive. Now, the majority of the time the customer is going to expect special treatment if he’s paying your rent, of course, but I have witnessed platonic dancer-customer relationships, that stretched on for years. I myself had a customer pay for a car for me, and I had him almost paid back before he wrote off the rest of what was owed as a Christmas gift. Never slept with the guy. There are genuine good guys out there, who really do care about their “special stripper”, but the majority will want sexual compensation. It is a strip club, after all.

The strip club is a fascinating place, both in good ways and bad. It’s such an interesting environment, that’s ever changing….and yet frozen in time. It helps people express their most primal needs, and show off their weirdness and personal genius. There are a lot of laughs, and tears, produced in a strip club. Good nights, and bad nights. It serves a specific need for a community, if it is managed correctly (which unfortunately most of the time is not). Sex is everywhere, and everyone has some level of desire. Sex is a necessary part of humanity.

Lastly, let’s not forget about the pure talent it takes to get up on a stage, strip down to nothing while reading the drooling men below you, and figure out the best routine, best things to whisper in their hairy ears, and grab every dollar they offer.

AK

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