I met up with my friend this week who told me that one of our friends from school had got himself a job working on the bar at a strip club. According to her he was able to pay his rent on his tips alone and she suggested that maybe I should see about working there as a waitress. I don’t want to delve too much into my personal life but at the moment am working a minimum wage job just to pay the bills while I get back on my feet and it has been a bit of a shock to the system. And no, NOT because I think I am above working in a job like that; I use to get naked for a living for goodness sake, there isn’t much skill involved there. Am hardly a rocket scientist suddenly finding himself working in Peacocks.
It was a shock to the system because just a few months ago, £6.70 to me was pausing whatever I was watching on Netflix to lift my pyjama top up and talk about blowjobs for 2 minutes to whoever had called me on webcam. But I relish this new normality. It’s nice to be working in a “normal” environment again and to be honest, I was lucky to find something so quickly with a CV that tried willfully to avoid saying what I’d really been doing for the last six years. People at my new job don’t know about my past and once, when one of the women had made a joke about knee high leather boots another woman screeched about how working there was like working in a porno and that I wasn’t to listen to her. I didn’t like to ruin the illusion.
The thing is, for a minute, I was quite tempted. I am an appalling waitress because I am clumsy and have weak wrists (har har) and literally no common sense but I could do with a bit of a boost in the old income department. But then I caught myself.. I’d be around gorgeous naked girls, feeling self-conscious and gawky again as I wander around fully clothed, spilling drinks and tripping over my own feet. Probably best to just leave it.
When I was 19, after a disastrous attempt at a first year of uni, I’d moved back to Cardiff and was washing dishes at a café to save the money to move to London. My boss hated me. Older women always seem to have a problem with me and not because they are “jealous” (don’t be a dick, I would eat my own head before I accused any female of being envious of me) but because of their sheer disbelief at my lack of housekeeping skills and common sense.
I am the definition of cack handed. I’m clumsy and the ability to carry out even the simplest of practical tasks goes straight over my head. I’d take bread out of the oven using my bare hands because no one told me to use a tea towel and any task I did attempt would have to be redone after me anyway. I’d stand over the sink, scrubbing chicken mayo out of plastic ice cream tubs and curse my boss under my breath about how I’d move to London and be a stripper and get a Louis V bag and probably find a really hot boyfriend. He’d probably have a really hot car too. She’d see.
After I’d moved to London, I made my way over to the first strip club that came up on my Google search. I wasn’t really sure what to expect; I love to dance and, I can’t lie, am pretty slutty with it but nobody asked me for any kind of audition when I arrived and I assumed that when it came to it, I’d be fine. I turned up for my “interview” in the day time when they were cleaning up and the place had quite a sad air to it, like an empty Conservative club on a Tuesday night. The carpet was similar to the one at my Nan’s house and all the barrel back chairs were leather. Probably easier to wipe clean. The lady I spoke to just asked me if I’d ever danced before.
“Only after a few vodkas!” I quipped.
She looked at me blankly “We don’t allow the girls to drink before work”.
“No, right, no, no I wouldn’t. Sober as a judge”. Not quite sure why I held my hand up in the Brownie promise pose whilst saying this, but it felt right. She must have thought I was such a penis.
I thought stripping would be easy – I obviously had absolutely no issue with being nude in front of pretty much anyone and I was already pretty experienced with separating men from their money. The woman I’d spoken to had told me to come back that night wearing something “sexy and classy”. When I turned up and was shown to the dressing room in a normal bodycon dress that I’d usually go out clubbing in with a new Ann Summers lingerie set on underneath, I already knew I’d made a mistake. I was surrounded by a plethora of girls in tight, tiny lingerie type outfits, spritzing themselves with baby oil while I tugged at my dress and wished I’d thought to bring stockings.
Two Latvian girls were blasting “Gangster’s Paradise” from a Blackberry and pointedly ignoring me, leaving me to be ambushed by a short, rosy cheeked little thing with a head of ribbon tied ringlets like a baby doll I once had. She was the only one of the girls who spoke to me all night and I couldn’t get over how young she looked; although I knew she must have been of legal age of at least 18 she genuinely didn’t look any older than about 14. She had a plump little baby face and a really soft rounded body with a chubby little belly. To top off this Lolita look she was wearing a frilly little nightdress, frothed with lace around the bottom and little kitten heeled bedroom type slippers. She told me she’d only worked there two months and already made a fortune which, glancing around the room at the toned, oiled up lithe bodies of the other girls encased in satin, silk and fishnet, I found hard to believe.
I hated it from the get go. Out in the club, all the girls converged around the entry doors, ready to pounce on the men who walk in. In my normal clothes, I had no chance of ever getting picked for a dance. Lolita, however, was making a killing. She was constantly back and forth leading men by the hand to the private rooms and giggling coyly. I felt quite uncomfortable that of everyone there, the youngest and cherubic looking girl was getting so much attention.
I got chatting to an Australian guy called Paul who had been abandoned when it became clear he only wanted a beer and he told me all about his job and his wife and their plans for her upcoming birthday. All I could think was “dear God, I hope he doesn’t want a dance now”. I was never going to get any bloody work so I decided I just wanted to go home. I went downstairs to tell the “house mum”, who was in charge of the changing room, that I wanted to go home. She told me I’d have to get the owner’s permission for that. Oh brilliant, apparently I’d unknowingly walked into a kidnap attempt. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time.
One of the head waiters kindly helped me track the owner down who, on finding out I was British, screwed up his face and dismissed me with one hand. I was free! I thought I could do it but I couldn’t. I couldn’t lick a man’s arse – metaphorically, anyway – in order to convince them to let me grind on their lap for a bit. Everything I’d done before – the modelling and the webcam – had an air of detachment from it; there was no actual contact so it was a lot easier to pretend and I could click seamlessly into autopilot. To actually have some stranger so close to me, feeling his breath on me, having to see the expression on their face as they just stare at my body, I just couldn’t do it.
I desperately wanted to be at home but a taxi was completely out of the question as I was now completely broke; the cost of the new lingerie alongside the £30 discounted rate they’d charged me to dance there because it was my first night, had left me with about £3.70 in my purse until God knows when. I left and promptly got followed for my BB pin, dragged towards a club by a man who refused to take no for an answer and finally, was made to look like a prostitute in front of the whole bus stop as a man pulled up alongside it and insisted I come out for drinks with him right this second. I wish I got paid for harassment; I’d buy a strip club and invite all the women I know to come in and bitch about men.
I’ve only ever been to two other strip clubs since, the first being on a sham of a “date” with an ex-Premier League footballer and a bunch of his cronies where, on my way back from the toilets, I was asked by one of the other dancers if I had just started that night. The second time was in New Orleans with a pilot who told me in great length how erotic the arse crack of a woman is then nonchalantly asked if he could see mine. I’d bought my own drink so I just told him to go online.
In hindsight maybe he’d have ended up buying me that Louis V bag. Damn it!