People often want to know how stripping and escorting affected me. I think I have enough distance from both to be able to begin to answer the question. Since stripping came first, this post is first.

The immediate effects of stripping were obvious: crippling knee problems, back aches, secondhand smoke, plenty of firsthand smoking, too much drinking, constant colds and coughs. And because I was never a good hustler, the constant rejection ruined my self-confidence. I was just too real in the clubs, too much myself. I never built the armor some other girls seemed to have. Of course, I also met plenty of girls who had the same problems I had. Stripping is not a job for everyone. (In escort work, my realness was an asset, not a liability.)

On the plus side, I was in great shape without having to work out and my skin was perfect all the time because of my constant care. I was the master of small talk, could out-dance anyone in a regular nightclub and learned a lot about music and rhythm. I loved having my daytime free.

I went right from stripping into escort work. Still, some things from stripping stay with me.

  • Realm, the perfume I wore during my four years of stripping, still means “work” to me, even though it’s a great scent. (Men always loved it. I tested other fragrances but none got the visceral reaction Realm did. It works for me.)
  • I’m only now beginning to able to take a shower without thinking “work.” There’s a lot of difference between taking a shower for hygiene, for work, and for pleasure. It’s been hard to separate work from everything else.
  • I miss StripperPower.com and Elle’s adventures. If anyone knows where she went, please let me know.
  • I can do anything in heels, although I prefer platforms. I’m quite at home in plastic shoes. I know how to properly walk in heels, probably better than in flat shoes.
  • I’m no longer fond of pantyhose or stockings. I prefer bare legs with my heels.
  • I’m not afraid of false eyelashes and I know how to use them.
  • I know how to highlight my body with makeup, if need be.
  • I know the art of tan lines.
  • I can still outdance anyone in a nightclub, although I generally prefer to give lapdances to my partner in a dark corner. It’s fun without worrying about the law or money. And I know things that they can’t possibly teach in any strip-dancing class (like how to get a guy off through his pants without using my hands).
  • Lapdances generally don’t make me horny. It’s always a competition with myself to see if I can improve. I’m judging my skills and their effect. It’s still a work attitude, but now with a different reward.
  • I loved pink as a little girl, but outgrew it. As a stripper, I renewed my love affair with pink and it hasn’t ended yet. I also fell in love with marabou.
  • I don’t like hanging out in nightclubs on a regular basis. Don’t care for overly loud music. And I don’t consider strip clubs to be a fun night out. Yet…
  • If I am out, I feel right at home in any strip club. But I always judge the place as to whether or not I’d work there and how much money I might make. It’s hard to view it as entertainment.
  • And there’s absolutely nothing wild or “naughty” about going to a strip club. Another common social taboo ruined for me.
  • I overtip bartenders.
  • I order simple drinks.
  • I dislike all these no-smoking laws springing up all over the US, even though I’ve stopped smoking. Smoking, drinking, music and nightclubs just belong together.
  • I still have my work clothes and shoes. You never know. Even though they’ve been cleaned repeatedly they still smell smoky.
  • I still spend ones ($1 bills) first. And I still keep paper money in a certain order.
  • I can eyeball a stack of bills and accurately determine how much is in the stack, even with mixed bills. I can weigh a stack of bills in my hand and know how much is there.
  • I still have work-related nightmares that involve me in a strip club, trying to bring drinks and give dances at the same time to customers that I can never find. It’s one of my stress/failure dreams.
  • I’ve met many men and heard many stories. I’ve also developed my own system of racial profiling based on my experiences in the clubs. It ain’t nice but it seems to be true. Other girls have noticed the same behaviors I have.
  • It took a long time for me to stop judging men I met (outside the club) as to whether or not they’d spend money on me in the club.
  • I still get waxed regularly.
  • Every chance I get, I nap for exactly two hours: 3-5pm. That was my naptime every day for four years and it’s still my naptime. I don’t need an alarm clock, but I can’t get up before 5pm either.
  • Going back to my natural sleep schedule and eating three meals a day put weight on pretty fast (combined with not dancing for seven hours a night).
  • My body is thoroughly done with alcohol. I don’t drink very often. When I do, it’s rare to have more than two drinks.
  • I noticed I felt a lot sharper when I stopped stripping. Was it the more natural hours? Or the lack of drinking?
  • Although my legs and butt still have a semblance of their former shape, nothing beats dancing in high heels as a lower body workout. Dancer legs (whether stripper or not) are the most beautiful legs.
  • For a few months afterwards, I couldn’t get to sleep before 3am, no matter what. Drove me nuts because I was getting up early.
  • I can count to really high numbers in multiples of 20 better than most people.
  • I know how to properly use liquid latex.
  • Within a month I’d lost my stripper’s knees: the roughened skin on my knees from crawling around onstage. It was freaky to feel my smooth kneecaps again. I spent hours rubbing my own legs the first few months after I quit stripping.
  • If I want a truly sexy swimsuit, I go to a stripper store. Why bother with anywhere else?
  • I’m extremely conscious of the light around me, as well as my body position.
  • I have dozens of different walks, all with different effects. However, they all require very tall heels.
  • I still find notes to the DJ in my CD cases.
  • Listening to a song night after night (often 2-3 times a night) for years, is the true test of whether or not a song is any good. My opinions: I loathe AC/DC and hope they all die a painful death. (I would rather listen to “The Thong Song” over and over than suffer through a single AC/DC song.) Van Halen is next on the list. KISS doesn’t fare much better. Boston and Journey should stay out of the recording studio. On the other hand, Def Leppard made quintessential stripper music and I think Whitesnake’s “The Still of the Night” is probably the sexiest strip song ever — provided the dancer is flexible. Ricky Martin makes extremely danceable music. Traci Lords has a couple of good songs too. The “Lady Marmalade” remake is terrific. Type O Negative has several sexy, woman-worshipping songs. There are plenty of others, but this will do for now.
  • I never danced in a nude club. I really wish I had because I wanted the experience, at least once.
  • I learned a lot about champagne, both cheap and expensive. I’ve been expanding on that knowledge ever since — with great pleasure!
  • It was somewhat insulting to learn how many men think “stripper” is another word for “prostitute.”
  • It was even more offensive to learn how many men think “stripper” is another word for “drug dealer.”
  • On the other hand, I learned that if I didn’t like the conversation or if I didn’t like the way I was being treated, I could get up and walk away — never having to see this person again. There’s always another man in the club. Men are not a precious commodity.
  • And I’ve learned that I don’t have the freedom to walk away in the “real” world. I can’t accept that. If I can set my limits in a strip club, why not out of it as well?
  • I learned to never ever let a drink out of my sight, nor to drink from a pre-opened bottle of anything (except from behind the bar).
  • I learned that I am not epileptic and that I can keep my balance on 7-inch platforms in pitch blackness with a pulsing strobe. It’s a skill, of sorts.
  • I learned that strippers are completely expendable and interchangeable as far as club owners are concerned.
  • I snort with laughter every time I read a book by a former stripper who claims she never did any of those nasty things she saw other strippers do, or that she never went home with a customer (paid or unpaid).
  • I hate anti-sex work activists who non-consensually victimize me for my job choice. Stripping was not the best job for me. I’ve described it as “soul-sucking” and it was. I bet working in an office for four years would’ve also sucked the soul out of me and I would’ve had computer-chair-butt instead of stripper-butt. Stripping isn’t a perfect job for everyone. Neither is it something to be demonized any more than any other job.

Of course, this list is my perspective. Boyfriends might have other input.

31 thoughts on “after the fact (stripping)

  1. Ian,

    Glad you enjoyed it.

    It took about two weeks to come up with the list and I still come up with little things every day. I’m surprised with how much the job impacted me, but then, ask me in four years how I’ve been impacted by starting a publishing company.

    XX

  2. i know what you mean i love stripping i tryed to leave it one day it did not work so im back but this time im bein more of a courtesan rememberin my training

  3. I have been in the industry for 3 years,It seems like yesterday was the first time i walked in to a strip club.I started dancing when i was 19 and now being 22 I am in a different part of my life than when i started . I love the hustle the energy you get from the stage and who does’nt mind the attention from every man in the room It has been 1 month since i have been on stage and a miss it every day.

  4. Lynn,

    Thanks for your input! Sounds like you were someone who thrived on stripping. There were a lot of things I liked about it, but the negatives outweighed the positives for me. Everyone is different.

    Are you going to go back or have you moved on and just miss it?

    XX

  5. Pick should always be a girl’s favorite color, no matter what! Amanda, I read your book and reviewed it for Spread. I loved it, you are an amazing person and I love to read your writing.

    Inara

  6. Read the blog and loved it. You are right on with how it really is. There’s lots of opportunity in the sex industry and to get a good chunk of it and still retain your self worth is an accomplishment only the strong and smart hustler can obtain. I love to perform and have no regrets. Kudos to you and all the exotic dancers like us !

    Xoxo,
    @nn@

  7. Quit dancing two years ago and Miss it all the time… not because it was the most awesome job for me (it wasnt) but because of many of the things you mentioned. its funny how we all empathize those stereotypes of men… I am the same way in my daily life now. its not nice but i do cary those things around still… :o) thanks for the blog post! amazing

  8. Megan,

    Thank you and thank you!

    As far as men go, I often walk around now and can tell what sort of escort experience the guy will want. Talk about TMI!

    XX

  9. I quit today. My knees can’t take it anymore and my lack of hustling skills makes it not worth it in this location (SF) and this economy. I feel you on being too real. But I will miss the theatrics of it all. Maybe I’ll take a break, get on my feet with a real job again and go back to one night a week for fun and side money. It’s funny how once you quit and go back, you make more in one night than three! (or at least that was how it was for me after a 6 month break).

    Thanks for this post. Strippers are so often misunderstood and I feel like noone understands what I am going through.

  10. Rache,

    I hear you re: your knees and lack of hustling skills. I tried stripping in a couple Vegas clubs in 2008 and it was NOT worth it. Ugh. But maybe the economy had something to do with it. Or that I had real work to do and needed to get up early for. Much prefer escort work for my income (though it’s not for everyone).

    No one’s done a study (I don’t think) but I bet there are more moonlighting strippers than ever due to the economy.

    You’re very welcome for the post. If you haven’t read Casey’s blog, give it a try:
    http://caseydancer.livejournal.com/

    XX

  11. Love your blog… I’ve been dancing 6 years… back in the days where you could make tons of money for looking cute and having a good personality…This industry has taken a disturbing turn for the worse. I never was a good hustler, and while I have yet to meet anyone who was innocent in a strip club, I most certainly never went :there” wherever “there” is… but this economy has brought out the worst in people, and between the constant stress, the emotional detatchment from myself, the different twists and turns, and highs and lows of the buisness… I have never been more ready to walk away and never look back.. If you stay in the industry for any length of time it has a way of changing you… for me… I hate dancing.. the first 3 1/2 years were awesome..but after that..i’m so done with it… I talk to some of the girls who’ve left and I get scared bcuz so much of my life included dancing… it was an addiction, and an escape in some ways… I’m now almost done with my R.N. degree and will have to return back to “reality” soon… just scares me bcuz I wonder how long dancing will haunt me… it really has hardened me and jaded me against men. I havent looked at the world through the same innocent eyes as I once did. as much as I hate it, I dont regret it… just maybe the length of time I did it for… anyway…I know what u mean about messed up knees, and how certain smells and songs remind you of work. I hardley ever go out to the bar… cuz when i do I find myself wondering who I would be able to get a dance from… I’m hopeing there is a way to cleanse myself from the life I lived as a dancer…

  12. Miss Jane,

    I felt MUCH the same way as you do — one of the reasons I knew I was burned out and done with dancing. (Yes, I looked at all men as customers.)

    Becoming an escort changed my view of men toward the positive. While some may say I’m even more jaded, I do still look at men as potential clients and how they would treat me. Judging who to spend your personal time with based on how they respect you is not a bad place to start.

    That being said, you don’t need to become an escort. Continue with your life, work as an RN. Time away from the club and environment and attitudes will make a difference. As will getting normal sleep and a healthier diet. Don’t spend your free time in clubs, find something else fun to when you go out.

    Stripping is not a job for everyone. It’s a very hard job and most of us aren’t prepared to handle the psychological demands. I’ve met very few women who have the cast-iron ego needed to be a stripper. Just because you did a job you weren’t suited for is nothing to beat yourself up over. You learned a lot. Let it go and move ahead. You will 🙂

    XX

  13. I loved your blog. I’m a dancer ready to find an RT job but I’m also very scared to leave the freedom dancing provides and I find it hard to look at men and respect them no matter where I am because I feel like they are all the same deep down.. weather its in a public, professional, or any setting for that matter. I hope getting out makes me a happier person:)

    Thanks

  14. Aaah… great. Stereotyped by sex workers, now. Actually, I’m kidding, but it’s not the first time I hear this. Lots of clients are attached and it gets to the providers after a while.

    Look, we’re all the same and we’re all different, and that’s the only truth. Same can be said of anybody or anything else, BTW. Whether you focus on the similarities or differences is up to you.

    My $.02. 🙂

  15. Ardi — Thank you!

    Getting out may make you a happier person, but only if you find something that does make you happier. If you just go into another stressful job, you won’t be any happier (and may hate your loss of freedom).

    As for the guys, not all men are asshole strip club customers. However, you will always be able to walk through life and spot them. It does make it easy to avoid having to interact with them outside the club, though. And frankly, there’s no law that says you MUST respect men. They should earn it.

    XX

  16. I found this from doing some Google research on stripping. I’ve been thinking about trying it out as soon as I can get a car, mostly because it seems like a good way to make a lot of money fast–which is what I need. I’m pretty much desperate at this point. I’m 19, in college, and living off a student loan. My parents are in the sh*t financially since the recession hit and I feel like I’ve got to do something to improve my situation. I’ve never had a job, so the older I get the harder it is to get hired anywhere “normal.” And I feel like stripping would fit in best with my schedule. So my question is, do you honestly think it’s worth it? I consider myself to be a pretty tough, hearty person and I’ve got the body for it. My only real qualm is, how difficult will it be for me to get a different job after I decide to quit?

  17. Kara — That’s a loaded question and a tough situation. Remember, the recession has hit strip clubs too. Doesn’t mean you can’t get a job in one, the question is whether you can learn how to make money in a club fast enough to make it worth your while.

    Clubs today make their money off stage fees, so they’re generally happy to hire as many girls as they can. You pay your stage fee when you walk in the door, so they don’t care if they overpack the club with dancers — THEY’RE making money. Whether or not YOU actually make money is a different story.

    After you find a club you can work in, you’ll have to deal with dancer craziness (dancer craziness is substance-fueled and/or fueled by the panic of not making money). You’ll have to deal with constant, often horrible rejection by customers and a lot of their bullshit. If you’re not making money on the floor, you will be very tempted by the opportunity to turn tricks outside of the club. You may well be tempted by the “cool” clique of people inside the club. These are the ones who party all the time and for whom stripping is a lifestyle, not a job. All I can say is that being “cool” doesn’t put money in the bank. Making money puts money in the bank.

    There are a ton of stripper blogs who cover these pitfalls way better than I do right here. Basically, the question you should be asking yourself is if you have a steel will, a steel ego and a plan. You’re going into this to make money so focus on that. It’s tough right now.

    Take care of your body. Stripping is physical work and can be hard work. If you have an accident at work, there is no workers’ comp. There is no health insurance either. Driving home after clubs close is also a great way to get into an accident, even if you haven’t been drinking.

    I wouldn’t even be worrying about your post-stripping job. If you strip for only a few months or a year, you can just lie on a job application or leave that part of your history out. Unless you’re in a state that requires you to register as a dancer — who’s going to know differently? If you dance for several years, that’s a different issue. By that time, you’ll probably have an exit strategy in place anyway.

    Best wishes!

    XX

  18. I am a stripper and I have NEVER gone home with a customer Amanda not everyone thinks hooking is ok. The worst thing I ever did was go to a bar with 2 customers and my friend dancer. I ended up at a Denny’s with “my guy” he bought me breakfast and I drove home for an hour drunk on the expressway so I wouldn’t have to go to his house and sober up. No. I have not ever “went home” with a customer.

  19. And maybe if you weren’t wearing a blonde Halloween store wig guys would have not made fun of you at strip clubs. Just saying.

  20. Stripping sounds like an experience that you have to be well prepared for. Thanks for your insights. It is unfortunate that the experience can make women jaded toward men, but a good reminder to stay respectful. Kudos to those that have the strength of self esteem to get through it unscathed. I certainly would not be able to. Quote from Sigourney Weaver in new show”Political animals” is applicable here, “if I read half of what they wrote about me I would not get out of bed in the morning.” Another well written interesting post!

  21. Mary — Wow, do you have issues. This post was about me, not you.

    A fair amount of girls go home with guys from the clubs — I most certainly did not accuse all strippers of doing that. (Just like not all strippers will eat at Denny’s, though you do.) And, men with massive issues towards women go into strip clubs just to hurt women — I’m hardly the only victim of this. Every stripper I know has met these psycho guys in the clubs. Except you, of course.

    Mostly, I’d like to know how you know what I wore in clubs 10yrs ago. Use your psychic powers to pick the winning lotto ticket instead.

    I’m guessing you haven’t stripped very long. Wait a few years.

    Michael — Thanks for the positive thoughts. Men can really make the difference in the stripping experience, though why most decide to make the difference in a negative way is beyond me. It’s unfortunate.

    Most strippers don’t have the ego to come out of it unscathed. Not anything the world prepares us for because up until blogging came along, no one wrote honestly about the work. Plus, not everyone is cut out to be a cold-call salesperson. I sure wasn’t but it took me a while to figure that one out.

    Ha! Like the quote!

  22. I know this is an old post , but I came across this while searching “stripper knees” and I loved reading it . So accurate and funny . I think my biggest worry is going nowhere . I am currently a dancer and have been for a few years . I’m always looking for new ways to take care of myself and ease dancing pains like my knees for example. I definitely think people underestimate dancers and the job in general . Not an easy job . Dancers listen to more problems than therapists and sometimes dont get paid .

    1. Mary Jane — Thank you!!! I don’t know if I helped out with stripper knees but glad you enjoyed the piece. (Sorry for the formatting errors, have cleaned them up. Years of transferring written posts between themes and updates and such.)

      If you can afford a visit to an orthopedic surgeon, do so. They may need images of your knees. A correct diagnosis of your issues is valuable info. I found out my knee problems are that my kneecaps track incorrectly (they wobble and therefore causes soreness from rubbing things that aren’t meant to be rubbed). PT and knee braces have made a ton of difference. I just with I’d bothered when I was stripping. I assumed I needed surgery so didn’t see a professional. I don’t need surgery, even 20 years later. Muscle strengthening and proper alignment have worked wonders.

      Stable, hard plastic one-piece shoes are also way more supportive than leather-soled shoes which flex and wobble all over the place. You may have already figured that one out.

      Hell no, it’s not an easy job. Escort work is also therapy work, but you get paid more and it’s a more pleasant environment. It’s not for everyone but it’s there.

      Have you considered having a Niteflirt line? Get paid for your talk therapy!

      When I was burned out of stripping I was stuck, until I realized I wanted to try escorting. Going into the mainstream workforce, starting at the bottom was SO demoralizing. If you want to transition into something non-sex work, my best thought is to find something you wish to do and start a business around it. Start it now, while you have the chance to make the seed money for your business and pay your bills. And hey, advertise it to your customers! (Or other dancers, depending on the demographic of your business.) If you have no idea what you want to do and haven’t opened an investment account, I strongly urge you to do that instead, yesterday. Read Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam and get started. Yeah, the market’s down this very moment. That just means any money you put it is going to rocket up when it goes up (and it will, in time).

      Best of luck to you!

      https://www.amazon.com/Millionaire-Teacher-Wealth-Should-Learned/dp/0470830069

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