Men's Articles

I Moonlight As A Stripper

Strippers - aka exotic dancers, peelers, stripteasers or, in a more sophisticated word, ecdysiasts-are a misunderstood lot. Yes, most of them are in it for the money, and there's no denying that it's good money. We're talking upwards of $350 for approximately 10 minutes of dancing, strutting, teasing and, of course, stripping. If the money is persuasive enough, some even give their audiences "the full monty".

But, contrary to popular belief, sex is not part of the package. Don't confuse them with prostitutes. Strip dancers here will tell you that they aren't necessarily sexually liberal people who'd readily jump into bed with clients. In fad, many of them are just regular people like you and me. Stripping is just another part -a secret part-of their lives. Step into the mysterious private worlds of two young strip dancers, Sara, an office manager, and Ben, a teacher, as they share their stories.

A Shy Gal's Double Life: Sara

"I've never been a very confident girl. In fact, I am by nature easily intimidated, shy, and have little self-esteem. No one would ever guess, looking at boring Miss Goody-Two-Shoes me, that I'm a freelance stripper. Which is just the way I like it, because I want to keep that part of my life under wraps. "I'm trained in ballet and have been dancing all my life. Some of the girls I knew through regular dinner-dance gigs who were already stripping suggested I give it a shot, too.

Considering my lack of self-confidence, I dismissed the idea at first. But after some thought, I decided to give it a go. "In a way, I'm glad I did. Strip dancing is very different from my mundane life. It's like a second life in which I can be someone else and leave my old, inhibited self behind and feel empowered and in control - if only just for a few minutes. Of course, I won't deny the money's good, too. I get paid about $400 to strip down to my lingerie, double if I go topless, which is as far as I'd go.

"The first few times were not easy for me. Until I was totally at ease with the job- and the baggage that came with it-I always performed with another dancer. But even though I'm now experienced enough, I still make sure that I have someone with me. After all, I'm just a regular girl, and you never know what kind of trouble you can get yourself into. Better safe than sorry.

"I've learned the hard way the importance of laying down my terms in black and white to clients. Once, when I was still a newbie who didn't know better, some guy grabbed my buttocks, probably assuming that touching me was part of the deal. I got really angry and pushed him away. Although he apologised afterwards, I feel, in retrospect, that I could have handled the situation in a more professional manner. Now, I make it crystal-clear to my clients what lines not to cross.

"Although I'm no longer a novice, I still get really nervous before every show. Sometimes, the old insecure me surfaces and I wonder, 'What if they don't like me?' But, being a perfectionist, I take great pains to choose the right music for the concept or theme of the party (the menu includes French maid, S&M, school-girl, etc.) and just lose myself in the music and the character I am playing.

"To keep fit and presentable, I jog, swim and do lots of stretching. I stopped going to the gym after I developed unsightly muscles. I am also very conscious about what I eat, although I don't diet. And of course, bikini waxes are a must. I guess I've come into my own and have grown to be comfortable in my own skin and become more confident. Clients' feedback has been encouraging, too."

"My Dignity's Still Intact"

"I've visited high-class strip clubs in Australia. There, they have such exceptionally talented performers. When I saw how they moved, I understood why they call strip dancing an art form. I was wowed. Strip dancing isn't something to be spat on. I really believe it to be an honest living. "Sadly, over here, most people assume stripping is a flesh parade that inevitably leads to sex; that female strippers are 'loose' and have no problem baring all, anytime, anywhere. That's a very narrow-minded way to think.

"It's true there are strippers who'd stop at nothing for a few extra bucks. Once, a fellow stripper acceded to a client's request to perform oral sex in full view of the party. For how much money, I can't remember now. But I've never crossed my boundaries. "Someone once told me, 'If you can't walk out of a gig with your head held high, don't do itl' I couldn't agree more. Those sobering words have stuck with me since. And I've never left a gig without my dignity and self-respect intact.

"Save for my younger sister whom I'm very close to, none of my family, friends or colleagues know about my other life'. Not even my boyfriend of four months. To keep that part of my life secret, I make it a point to find out whom I'll be performing for beforehand. I never allow pictures or filming during my performance and I always wear a mask. "While the idea of living a 'secret life' sets my adrenalin pumping, it really gets to me that I can't be truthful to the people who are closest to my heart.

"It's Not Sex - It's Showmanship" - Ben

"I never imagined I'd be a strip dancer one day. But opportunity walked right up to my doorstep and knocked on my door when I was 18. I was a waiter at a local bar that had theme nights where dancers dressed up as cowboys, knights, nurses... you get the drift. As it happened, someone at the bar found out I'm a trained dancer, so I was the obvious choice one night when they needed a stand-in.

I knew in an instant that I wanted to strip dance for money. Now, I perform about twice a week. "It is easy to write strip dancing off as all sex and sleaze. Artistically speaking, I think people here don't appreciate sex. They seek it and are desperate for it, but are too shy to admit that they need it. And most of the time, they just want to get it over and done with.

Maybe that explains why the physical appearance of strip dancers is ohso-important to local clients. More often than not, they get turned on by the performer and - what a shame - not so much the performance. So if, say, a female strip dancer does not have big in-your-face boobs, she's less than qualified, doesn't matter if she's a great dancer. That's so superficial!

"In stark contrast, strip joints in Thailand-even those in dodgy red-light districts-put great effort into their shows. The music, the costumes, the choreography-every detail is meticulously planned. You can have an average-looking performer looking like a superstar on stage. Heck, he or she can even be a plus-size dancer. There, it's the performance, not so much the performer, that teases.

I've picked up so many gimmicks from my trips there. "That said, I don't deny that sex is part and parcel of the job. A guy could be getting married the next day but he might ask to bed the stripper at his stag party as his 'last night of fun'. Personally, I think that's disgusting. But requests to take it a step further are not uncommon. I would sleep with a client if I fancied her enough, and I have, although money wasn't involved.

If I'm not attracted to the client, I politely turn down her offers and explain to her that it is not what I do, and that my girlfriend would not allow it. "Although, truth is, I never saw the need to tell my ex-girlfriend of three years that I was moonlighting as a strip dancer. While she was aware I that I put up the occasional dance show, she hadn't an inkling as to what really went on. I don't really consider strip dancing a huge part of my life, anyway, because it doesn't take up much of my time. I'm in it mostly for the money-and believe me, I make more than a principal does just from these gigs.

"My family knows I strip, and my cousin even hired me once to strip for her friends. Of course, my colleagues and students at the neighborhood school I teach at are in the dark about it, and I hope it stays that way! There's always that fear of incriminating photos or videos taken at parties making their rounds, exposing my secret sideline. I'm sure images of me in a tasselled leather thong wouldn't go down well with anyone at school! My career would be pretty much over if I was found out."

"Knowing What My Audience Wants"

"Knowing what my audience wants" "In this 'job', I get to meet all sorts. There are the expatriates, the rich highfliers, the party boys, the single 30-somethings, the married women, the just-turned-21s... Through experience, I've come to understand what different audiences like. "Women prefer their stripper to be well groomed and all suited up. They like to be teased and to watch you peel your costume off till you're down to just your thong. I would consider stripping to the buff for an all-male audience -there's nothing to lose, right? But that would cost at least $700.

"One of the wildest parties I've ever performed at was a birthday gig for two girls, cousins, who'd just turned 21. It was held at a two-storey suite at a top hotel. The striptease was a present from their group of guy friends. The instruction to the other male stripper and me: Be wild! They meant business, those blokes. They even screened us at the lobby (told you physical appearance rules here!) before we could proceed to the suite.

"We were shocked at what we saw when we got to the suite it was a much bigger party than we'd expected. There were men, women and - get this - kids! 'Are you sure you want us to do the wild thing?' we double-checked. The paymasters affirmed it. So 'wild' it was. "We stripped down to our Gstrings, but the girls were screaming, 'Full monty!' No deal, though, as they weren't willing to shell out more money.


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