A lot of people ask how I got into stripping. How did I decide to give up a life of guaranteed paychecks to living life lapdance to lapdance? How does one make such a life altering decision? Well I’m glad you asked.
It all started when I found an ad on southeast Iowa Craigslist seeking a massage therapist in West Michigan. The ad said a woman who had graduated from a massage therapy program in Iowa was looking for someone to take over her position as a massage therapist in a chiropractic office, as she was moving across the state. I had graduated from that massage program, and I went to school with a girl from Michigan. My curiosity was piqued. I emailed the reply address and said “If this is Amanda, tell her Christyna says hi!” I received an email the following Monday with an elated response. It WAS Amanda. Apparently they had such a turnover rate in the office that they were desperate and decided to take out an ad around where she had went to school. “You’re not doing anything, why don’t you come ride the train up for the weekend, interview for the job and see if you like it!” Gee, thanks Amanda. I know I was 23 with no ring and no kids but I didn’t think I was doing “nothing.” But she was right. I sent my resume, booked my train ticket and headed for Michigan.
It was late September when I arrived but the sun was warm and the breeze was cool coming off of Lake Michigan. As soon as my toes hit the sand I was sold. I had been warned my new boss-to-be was more than a little uptight, but nothing was going to stop me from this beautiful new experience and opportunity that had fallen into my lap. I tightened up my bootstraps, honed in my good girl persona and went into the interview open minded.
I should have known how bad it was going to be when he asked me to put the following things in order of importance during the interview: job, family, health, happiness and God. Um… I knew what he wanted me to say. So I said it, begrudgingly. This was almost as bad (and illegal) as the time I was asked if I was pregnant during a job interview. But I needed this new job, this new life outside of the small town I had grown up in and continued to stagnate in. I’d be whatever he wanted me to be. He didn’t need to know that I had been a drug addict, tried to commit suicide 3 different times or had somewhat agnostic beliefs. Actually, I was excited to be anywhere where no one knew my past. Needless to say I aced the interview, returned home to pack my belongings and moved to Michigan that October.
I started my new job strongly, wowing my new coworkers and boss with my personable demeanor and work ethic. I even received a raise due to my ability to manage the practices website with my hidden talent with WordPress and html programming. Things were going great, until they weren’t anymore. I would be developing x-rays or organizing client files when I would overhear my boss talking with clients about very unrelated topics. “Kids these days think it’s ok to be gay” was one verbatim statement forever seared in my memory. We were instructed not to accept clients with Medicaid, and I never saw one black person walk through the door either. My workdays consisted of constant eye rolling until it progressed to my jaw and fists being clenched in sheer rage. It had been a mere three months. I had to get out of there.
The day I walked out of my job was the same night I walked onto my first stage as a stripper. I quietly took my massage therapist license out of its frame, removed my profile off the office website, left my keys on the counter and left for lunch. I never returned.
Weeks before I quit I spent hours researching how to become a dancer. I tirelessly Googled tips on what to wear, the proper shoes to buy and how to give a lapdance. I scowered the underground Tumblr community of sex workers and read blogs on everything stripping related. As with any job I’ve had I wanted to come organized and prepared. I called the club and asked how to audition. I went to the local Cirillas, bought the necessary shoes and underwear (exact words: must cover butthole) and showed up for work.
My first night was a blur. I shook with insecurity and uncertainty. I was taught the different house fees, tip out fees and rules of the club. I read every single word of a 5 page contract and signed it, fearing I was signing my life away. I steered clear of the other girls after reading horror stories on the Internet of what veteran strippers do to new girls. Only recently have I heard stories of what the other girls were doing and saying behind my back when I first started. They told customers I was a “dirty girl” and did extras in the back. They conspired with other girls and customers to try and trip me or spill drinks on me. I was blissfully unaware of all of this because I was making money, and lots of it. Customers love a new face, especially a first time dancer. The most ridiculous thing that happened, and happens every day, is when a customer tried to give me advice on how to do my job. Yes, 50 year old white man, please tell me all about how to be a female stripper, I’m all ears. One useful word of advice stuck though: smile. (Eye roll)
I didn’t set out to be a stripper. It wasn’t as if I grew up aspiring to work in the sex industry and give a deliberate middle finger to all authority, but as I’ve grown older I find it increasingly harder to work for bigoted men in power. I refuse to let my paycheck be signed by someone who openly discriminates against the marginalized. I know other dancers didn’t make this conscious decision either, but I find solace in my like-minded band of bitches who refuse to settle for a 9 to 5 because society tells them to. I don’t feel like I’ve changed many people’s views of sex work, nor do I feel like I’ve made any progress in liberating women, but I have had the luxury of working for myself, setting my own boundaries and schedule, and capitalizing on my sexuality and personality. I don’t recommend quitting your day job to dance, but I do encourage exploring your own goals and dreams and striving to achieve them while standing strongly with your ideals. I want to inspire women to be their own boss and put their foot down in the work place. Don’t settle for less, don’t sit quietly in the office while observing injustices around you. Push back. The Era of the meek, demure woman is over, and the new generation of the strong, determined, independent woman is here to stay.