By Chuck Strouse
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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
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I turn to him as though seeing him for the first time. "So?"
"I miss you, Rikki," he pouts. "Why haven't you called me?"
Howard is the president of a large company, which he signed over to me on a bet one night after too many beers. He prides himself on the fact that he neither has, nor needs, any friends. He hates his job, his life, and his ex-wife A this last being the reason he frequents the club, combing the talent pool for a marital replacement that will exact sufficient revenge. He has asked me, and several of my colleagues before me, to be the mother of his children.
Howard only dates strippers. He looks for financially and emotionally needy girls he can take out of the club and make "productive" members of society. His fantasy is to tame the whore. He has drawn up several marriage contracts for me (all including various grids and graphs), assuring me that if I accept his offer he'll waive the need for me to sign a prenuptial agreement. Before taking a business trip earlier this year, he changed his will, leaving everything to me in case something happened to him. It's not surprising that some young girls get hooked on the perks of this job.
I sit at Howard's table, leaning forward coquettishly, feigning interest in his monologue of self-pity, because I know I won't have to dance while he keeps getting cash advances on his credit card for me. Howard's game, like most corporate types, is that he likes to be put in his place. He spends his days giving orders, hiring and firing, and in order to tip the balance he needs to be treated with a firm hand. He likes to be verbally disciplined. So I cut into his monologue every so often to let him know what a self-centered pain in the ass he is, and he pays me handsomely. It's a symbiotic relationship: I get what I want, he gets what he wants. And for him, it's cheaper than therapy.
Throughout the night, each girl takes her turns on stage, stripping to the music of her choice. It's an excellent advertising opportunity for tabletopping, but by now I'm sick of my song selections, and a little sick of my routine A it's hard not to be when it's the same old thing night after night. With one of my sexy faces on, I look out at the customers eagerly pressed up against the stage. I'm dancing naked in a room full of strangers. I'm bored, but I know my face won't betray me.
After your set is finished, you work at soliciting tips from the customers sitting nearby. If the audience liked your dance, you're inevitably asked to tabletop by at least one customer. Then, once you're on a box, everyone is interested in you. It's an "if someone is willing to pay for it, it must be sexy" mentality, so very often the first tabletop after your set leads to others. But the stage can also be a waste of time, taking you off the floor and away from a paying regular to dance for a crowd that may or may not tip. The stage is toughest at the beginning of a month, when everyone has bills to pay and there are too many strippers working and not enough customers tipping.
While on stage, I always take the opportunity to scope out future marks. I make eye contact with the least-attractive men. It's a pretty safe bet they don't get much attention on the outside, and that they would be willing to pay for the attention of a young, pretty stripper who seems to enjoy their company. A lot of strippers tend to overlook this. I avoid attractive men, especially the "pretty boys" some of the strippers choose to sit with. These men are used to getting attention on the outside; why should they pay for it?
During my set, I also make extensive eye contact with the men sitting at the four corners of the stage, to ensure that they will tip me. The rest works according to the Herd Theory of Male Behavior, which dictates that a kind of social domino effect will get the guys sitting in between to follow the example of those on the corners. It never fails: If you can get some to tip, they all tip. This herd mentality explains much of the behavior exhibited in the club.
It's late, and the customers gathered around the bar are starting to resemble the cast of America's Most Wanted. They're all drunk, and many are desperately making their last attempts at getting a girl to go home with them. They're tighter with their money, freer with their hands. I usually stay on the floor all the way until closing, when they turn the lights up and kick everyone out. This is when I make my last rounds, looking for a mark among the few customers left at the bar.
I see this young guy sitting at the end of the bar. He pulls out his money to give me a modest tip, but I see he has a hundred-dollar bill with my name on it. I tell him he has a nice smile, thank him for the tip, and start to walk away, knowing he'll call me back.