I need $2700 to move to Arizona to begin grad school.
As I've explained before, this expense was a bit of a surprise, because a) I didn't really think I'd even get into grad school, and b) all the other times I've moved across the country, it's been much cheaper, probably because gas prices were a lot lower back then.
Anyway, I've had the summer to make this money, and I knew that my job at the library wasn't going to cut it, so my plan was to quit that job and sign up to be a test subject (human guinea pig) at Covance Clinical Research in Madison. I've done several of these studies before, and they entail sitting around watching movies while eating free food for a week or two while letting nurses/researchers take your blood every so often, and they usually pay between $1000-$4000. Awesome, right? Except that the one study I signed up for this summer--the only one that fit my school and moving schedule--got cancelled at the last minute.
So I had to come up with a way to make this extra $2700 in just one month. Yes, one month. I looked at getting a normal job, but I wanted to avoid the multi-week waste of time known as the hiring and interview process, where muckety-mucks sit you under fluorescent lighting and batter you with stupid trick questions like "What is your greatest weakness?" just so that you can have the privilege of making a couple bucks an hour. I just wanted to cut the crap and start working immediately.
Aside from being a human guinea pig, I know of only one other (legal) way to quickly make some serious cash without any of the bureaucratic bullshit.
Yep. Pole dancing.
Or stripping. Or exotic dancing. Whatever you want to call it.
I've been dancing on and off since I was 20, although the last time I did it was the summer of 2006, before I started college. At that time I hoped I'd be able to "retire" and put away my dancing shoes (and outfits) for good, but I kept them in the back of my closet just in case. Just in case I ever need a lot of money in a hurry.
A respectable woman in the same I-need-$2700-immediately situation might have instead chosen to take out a loan or ask her parents for money, but the middle/upper class burden of respectability is not on my shoulders. I also hate debt and believe that taking large sums of money from your parents after age 24-ish is a disgrace. Better to make your own money and be self-sufficient and not owe anyone anything, I say.
If you know me in real life, you might be wondering how I can even be a stripper since I'm neither pretty nor one of those giggly, ditzy, tan-with-fake-tits types. But you'd be amazed what thick, tranny-like makeup, a lot of hairspray, a sexy outfit, and acrylic heels can do. Combined with dim lighting, a lot of smiling, and a few mischievous winks and air-kisses, they can turn a man into a wobbling blobby money tree, ripe for the picking. "You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen!" they'll say. "I would love to get a private dance from you!"
Anyway, on July 6 I was hired at the nicest club in the area, which is 12 miles away from my house (which is quite a workout on my one-speed granny bike...the one with the basket and the dingey-bell). As of this post, I have worked five days and made just under $2,000.
Dancing has never failed to rescue me when I've needed money. However, it sucks in most every other way.
And I'm not talking about the guys who come in and recognize me from high school or college ("Hey, I know you! I sat behind you in linguistics!").
What I'm talking about is this: Being a stripper means being half actress and half salesperson. Since I have formal training in both acting and selling, being on a stage, acting the part of The Happy Wanton Stripper, and selling lots of lap dances comes fairly easily to me. I'm sober 100% of the time and keep a very professional attitude towards the job. However, other girls see these clubs as a place where they can come in five hours late and drink themselves into a coma. Not all dancers make a lot of money; some only go home with $20 a night, or less.
I usually don't stay in one club for long, because I go to make x number of dollars, and once I reach that goal (or find a better job) I quit and return to my regularly scheduled life. And because I'm never in a club for long, I am perpetually "the new girl." And when "the new girl" comes in and sells WAY more lap dances and gets WAY more tips than the girls who've been there for years, that itself is grounds for extreme suspicion. If a new girl makes a lot of money right off the bat, it must be because she's a COCKSUCKING WHORE!!!
Take last night. I was at work at this nice club, and right after I got off stage and went to the dressing room, some dancer, whom I never seen before and whose name I didn't even know, approached me. Her eyes were totally bloodshot, she had a drink sloshing around in her hand, and proceeded to get up in my face and scream at me.
"I need to have some words with you!"
"About what?" I said, wondering what type of sewage was about to gush out of her smeared-lipstick mouth.
"You fucking know what I'm talking about! You fucking bitch! Doing dirty shit during lap dances! I saw you back there sitting on some dude's lap and putting your heel by his crotch and shit! I saw you! I saw you! I know what I saw! You fucking slut!"
Wow. Sitting on someone's lap when they are wearing jeans and I a dress? Gosh, if that really happened, it sure is horrible. Ranks right up there with war crimes. And putting my foot near a fully-clothed person's groin, probably by accident because I'm a klutz (and earlier that night I had accidentally kicked a customer in the head)--? Just stone me already, for heaven's sake, for I am a filthy whore indeed. Filthy, I tell you!
"Well, you're quite mistaken--" I started.
"I'm not fucking mistaken! I saw it! I saw it! Don't fucking shake your head and laugh at me, you fucking bitch! I'm a clean girl! I don't need to do that sick shit to make money! How am I supposed to make any fucking money when you're being a fucking whore and taking all my money! I'm a clean girl! I don't need to do that nasty shit!"
"No, you're a drunk girl," I said calmly. "Look at yourself. You have a drink in your hand and your eyes are bloodshot."
"My eyes are bloodshot because...of my stupid-ass contacts!" she stumbled. "I've been wearing these same contacts for a year, that's why my eyes are bloodshot!"
That's brilliance, right there.
"Stop fucking shaking your head and laughing at me! You fucking bitch! Fuck you! Get out of my fucking club! This is my club!"
"Your club?" I chuckled.
Well, all the other strippers were just fit to be tied over that last comment. They saw it as concrete proof that I was guilty of...sitting on someone's lap with my clothes on during a lap dance, or whatever...and they all started screaming at me at once, saying they were all best friends, they were all family, they've all been there for years, and I have no right to intrude on their family and disrespect their seniority.
Honor among thieves, I suppose.
But tell me, do you know what it's like to be called a slut by someone wearing nothing but a thong? Do you know what it's like to be called "low-class" by a drunken, screaming 19-year-old with a tramp stamp and a pierced tongue?
Stupid, silly, idiotic, pathetic...hmm. There has to be another word that can can describe my intense disgust for this ridiculousness.
Unfortunately, I still need to work a few more days to reach my financial goal--no doubt with this screaming alcoholic girl trailing me and telling anyone who will listen that I'm a filthy whore. Fortunately the manager totally took my side and called this girl a moron. "You just keep doing what you're doing," he told me. "She's just jealous 'cause you're making a lot of money and she isn't. I'll keep you over her any day."
For some girls, dancing is a time-efficient way to raise money for school, travel, or self-improvement. For others, dancing is the only job option, and is the primary means of fulfilling a vicious drug habit. I am lucky in that I lack drug habits and have an education now, and a future. So I am trying to stop rolling my eyes at these poor girls, who probably came from abusive, poverty-stricken homes, and stop being so repulsed by their absurdity and lack of life skills.
Trying, I said. Maybe someday I will consider volunteering with such girls to help them get out of that lifestyle. In the meantime, I am looking forward to throwing away my dancing shoes FOREVER and getting on with my sane, rational, drinking/drugs/drama-free life.
And remember, there is absolutely, positively no sex in the champagne room.