Violet was my stripper name. It is not a name that I particularly even like, but the stage name I wanted, Victoria, was already taken. The only thing the name Violet brings to mind for me is Rose McGowan’s comments in the movie Jawbreaker about the name Fern being nasty and Rose being too cliché, Violet is classy and perfect. I still love the irony. I was 18 when I started and 18 when I retired. Sometimes I miss it and sometimes I don’t. Girls who work in strip clubs are given a bad name and I would like to let you know that at no point in my life have I ever had a problem with drug or alcohol addiction.
A morning for me starts at about three or four o’clock in the afternoon. Every morning I roll out of bed, curse the daylight and myself for sleeping so late again as I push through my five roommates to the one bathroom we all share. If I am going to work tonight, I’m going to have to take up the bathroom for well over an hour to shave ever inch of my body.
The drive to work is a forty-five minute one that crosses the state line. No one in my family knows that I’ve been stripping. I started stripping because my roommate worked there, I thought it sounded glamorous, and I needed a lot of money, even more than all that, I wanted my boyfriend to tell me not to. He never acted like he cared enough to tell me to stop, so I kept on going back for more even though it I know it isn’t for me.
My roommate Nichole and I pull up to Southern Exposure in Princeton, West Virginia at about 6:30. We have to be checked in with the DJ at seven so I haven’t given myself much time to get ready beforehand. I throw my initial $3.00 floor cover charge at the bouncer as I race back to the locker room. As the other girls put on their costumes that are actually made for professional strippers, I pull on some lacy baby doll lingerie that I bought at Wal-Mart a couple nights earlier for about $5.00. I brush on very little makeup, about half as much as the other girls, and race upstairs in six-inch stiletto heels to check in.
I am the seventh girl in tonight’s lineup of twenty or so girls. I have plenty of time to work the floor before I go up on stage. I have to convince at least two guys to buy me a drink before I pay off my dues and can actually start keeping the money that I earn. I am not a hustler and it is very obvious. There is a very diverse group of girls who work here. There are wives with husbands and children who don’t know they are here, there are women who have been working here for 10 years, but mostly the lineup is made up of girls who won their amateur contest. The amateur girls are usually Virginia Tech and Radford University students who are trying to make money to pay off their bar tabs, rent, and college tuition.
Instead of searching for a customer to make some money off of or sitting at the bar asking the house for a freebie drink, I make my way back upstairs to hang out with my favorite DJ; after all, I do still have another eight hours of work ahead of me. I pour my little heart out to the DJ, James and he tells me all about his woman problems. Who would think that an attractive DJ in strip club would have so much trouble finding a woman? After about 30 minutes James sends me on my way. I only have a couple more songs before it is my turn up on stage so I have to go back downstairs to the locker-room to freshen up a little bit.
Even though it is my fourth or fifth night working at the club and I have been on stage over 20 times, I still shake as I dust my knees with baby powder and make my way up the shallow stairs well to the stage. I have no actual dance moves, but nobody else does either. There is no dancing when it comes to being an “exotic dancer”. I was never taught what to do, I was just sent out on stage and “be sexy”. I awkwardly shimmy across stage to the pole and do my one pole move, a very simple spin that looks a lot more impressive than it really is.
My first song is Incubus, “Pardon Me”. For my first song I get to dance fully clothed. I start on the left side of the stage giving each customer who is sitting in the front row their own little show praying that each of them will give me at least a dollar. If you know your strip club etiquette you will know that you should not sit in the front row in a strip club unless you plan on tipping or getting your overpriced beer poured into your lap. Rob Zombie’s “Spookshow Baby” is song number two which means it is time to go topless. I continue to hump the stage and make more awkward not-so-sexy motions still working my way over to the right side. My third and final song is Radiohead, “Creep”. I tried to pick the shortest song that I know for the last one since this is where I am fully nude.
Relieved for my turn to be over, I snatch up all of the single dollar bills that I missed that are lying across the stage and my clothes and run back into the locker-room. I’m less than relieved when I see that I have only made about $15, but it is still early in the night and I have time to try to make some more. Some girls get pulled back to give private dances or are immediately bought drinks when they get off stage, but I’m not one of these fortunate ladies. Today I will have to work hard to get my two drinks paid for and I am going to have to start working a little harder.
I see the tenderhearted Diamond sitting at a table with one of her regulars. When the two of them are together they usually let me join them and in turn he buys my two drinks and if I am lucky a few more. After the first two drinks, the bar will pay me $6.00 per drink I sell and I still get to drink the drink. Luckily for me, today he’s feeling generous and buys me four drinks before I excuse myself to find my own customer.
I have bills due soon and even though I have a regular job also, I need to make some money tonight to pay for everything. I sit with a few of the guys who tipped me while I was on stage. I always seem to go for the guys who are in their early twenties and are obviously not there to spend money, unfortunately my taste in strip club patrons is about as good as my taste in men in the real world.
Hours go by and make no money. I go back up on stage for three more grueling songs and come back down with only $10.00 more than I had before. This time, I get lucky… “Violet please come to the private room, you have three song” comes across the loudspeaker as I come off stage. Thank God. Sure I will only make $20.00 off of my three song lap dance set, you have to make your money a little bit at a time.
I’m relieved to see a younger guy who is under 21 waiting to receive his lap dance. I hate getting seasoned strip club veterans back here because I really have no idea what I am doing. Even though he has an “N” on each had to show that he is too young to be served alcohol, he reeks of whiskey. I sit on his lap fully clothed and I do not even have a chance to take anything off before he throws up on himself, narrowly missing me. I’ve never had this happen with a customer, but a bouncer promptly comes to my aid and helps the customer to the bathroom. The bouncer tells me that I don’t even have to finish the three songs because he was drinking underage and has now been kicked out of the club.
When I come back out, Nichole grabs me in the locker-room ten minutes later. A guy that she’s known for a few years is here and she wants me to meet him. His name is Travis and he works at the Macado’s back in Radford, Virginia. He buys me a couple of drinks. He promises me that I will see him again the next night that I work and tells me that Nichole and I can come by and see him when he is working and he will give us free food and drinks.
By now it is the end of the night. Other than being thrown up on, it has been much like every other night that I have worked here. I never make outrageous amounts of money and I never go home with customers. I put back on my regular clothes and get packed up to drive Nichole and myself home. The bartender hands me my bar slip to sign, then the manager hands me the ticket for how much money I have made through the bar and lap dances for the night. As a security measure we all sit around until all of the cars from the parking lot have left the half-mile radius.
Nichole and I drive the 45-minute trip back home with a slight liquor buzz. We share our stories about the night and grand totals over Bagel Bites and beers. We make up our own schedule at Southern X, so Nichole and I make plans to go back next week on the same day, say our goodnights and go to sleep in our respective beds.