My exit strategy from the stripper life and why I will never fully leave
-‘Make sure you have a fall back plan’
-’Save your money so you can walk away tomorrow’
-’Invest your money into a business or a qualification for life after’
-’You just don’t want to still have to be a stripper at 40’
At the beginning, these were a few of the nuggets of advice I would receive as a baby stripper. I found myself repeating this to younger girls coming up later on in my dancing career. Of course, on the receiving end, as a 19 year old making more money than I could imagine, I didn’t take heed. Emotional immaturity and a belief that I could always make more tomorrow, meant I squandered my cash on parties, shoes and a whole plethora of expensive items that I quickly grew bored of and discarded in favour of something newer and shinier.
This continued for a couple of years until 2006. The global recession hit in Europe and my earnings took a nosedive, literally, overnight. It was tougher and more of a graft to dance. The time had arrived when I could no longer consult my diary on a previous year. No more pinpointing what nights I would be guaranteed a better night than usual or be sure I could go in one night before rent was due and walk home with the cash. Stripping became unpredictable, and some days you were up and some you were down.
Dealing with change
I’d had my first night when I walked away owing the club money 3 years in and all of that sage advice hit home. I would definitely take advantage of the benefits while they lasted. Furthermore, I finally realised I needed to use my money wisely in case tomorrow didn’t come. I had quickly learnt that I couldn’t rest on my laurels and accept the seasonal nature of dancing. Some months of the year were significantly quieter than others. I would have to chase the money when it didn’t come to me.
My first trip away was to Germany to a tiny town called Bitburg, just on the Luxembourg border. Another stripper I worked with, at the time, had lived there previously and made regular weekend trips back. Situated right next to a huge US air force base, it was ripe for the pickings every weekend. The money rolled in and was always worth it even after the expenses were taken into account such as flights and travel. The club only opened on a Friday and Saturday and all of the girls working there travelled in. This gave me further exposure to another way of dancing that I hadn’t contemplated. The travelling stripper.
Living the lifestyle
I got advice from the other girls on various locations and soon I was working in Norway. From there, I met another girl who gave me the contact for a club in Key West. This continued and I proceeded to dance all over the world for a period of about 7 years. Sometimes with girls I met along the way and sometimes alone, taking in Denmark, Austria, France, Portugal, Germany, Australia, the USA and many more. There were a fair share of mistakes, taking some bad tips, but, thankfully, these amounted to nothing more sinister than horrific living conditions, girls doing more than they should be or lack of money. I came out pretty unscathed, with a few stories to tell but it can potentially be a dangerous world when done irresponsibly.
Whilst I was travelling, I enrolled on a remote learning course in Gemmology. I figured I still loved the dancing lifestyle and I didn’t want to give that up but I really needed to get a vocation behind me. I had the best of both worlds, fitting my exams and on campus modules between trips and doing my coursework in whatever exotic location I found myself in.
Eventually, the time came to cut the cord with stripping. Ultimately, tired with the customers, the hours and living out of a suitcase. I was not making the money anymore because mentally I was kaput. My last night was emotional. I didn’t make a fuss as I knew many girls left and were lured back quickly not being able to handle the pay cut. I wanted any potential return to be without fanfare and notice should being a regular person not work out.
The seed of an idea
Of course, being a regular person didn’t work out. I made some of the best friends in the world dancing. Regaling me with their tales of their nights at work made me miss what I really thought I wouldn’t. My fellow dancers. Girls still contacted me wanting tips on where they should go next and their experiences. Consequently, it was during one of these conversations, a few months after I was failing miserably at a life outside of the industry that things took a different direction.
A very good friend had taken a job through a well known agency in New Zealand. They had failed to mention the club she was going to offered ‘jacuzzi’ dances. The agent was then nowhere to be seen when she then had a dispute with management over a large cut of money being taken in no-show fines; she had been in hospital. She did eventually get in touch. They dismissed her with a message indicating they were going to do nothing about it. Their relationship with the club was more important.
Making it a reality
I started thinking. This was not the first time I had heard of such a situation. I had a vast wealth of contacts over the years dancing, all over the world. I also fully knew what it is like to be in the dancers shoes and the problems that can arise. There is a distinct lack of dancer friendly agents, especially working internationally. Many are owned by men with absolutely no idea of what it is like to be a dancer. Admittedly, without the enthusiastic encouragement of my close circle of stripper friends, I would never have had the confidence to pursue this brainwave. However, I decided to explore the idea and see where it went. One thing you can always count on with strippers, is the love of a harebrained scheme!
As a test, I got in touch with a few of the clubs I had particularly enjoyed working in. Following this, those that had worked well for trusted friends. I started a group on social media and within days had over 300 members from friends telling their friends. Things took off straight away and I love what I do.
I relish hearing from girls that they are loving their contract and I get great satisfaction from helping girls rectify problems they may have. I receive drunk, emotional phone calls at ridiculous times of the morning now and accept it as part of my life. However, I have to admit, I learnt to be a counsellor from years on the club floor and I am pretty good at it so this doesn’t bother me. It keeps the tedium from the admin and the desk job interesting, gives me new challenges and sending a girl away happy and content is what makes all of it worthwhile.
It has been a lot of very hard work and sleepless nights with bumps in the road. That hard work will definitely continue for a while. Only ex dancers will be eventually on the payroll. That is one thing I absolutely know for sure, should the time, hopefully, come for expansion. They are the only ones who truly understand and, I feel, are in any kind of position to really be there for the girls, as a middle ground with the clubs.
I am a UK based, owner of an international stripper recruitment agency called Showgirls International. I have over 10 years dancing experience worldwide. When I think I have seen it all, something proves me wrong and that is what keeps me on my toes and still fascinated with the industry!