Saturday, April 10, 2010

"haha no, i am from the island"

i used to have a myspace blog. i'd write about all kinds of random stuff. i was closing that account today and i read through to see if there was anything i could share with you. here's a post from a night i spent working at one of manhattan's shittiest clubs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

i know it's best to put on a brave face and pretend everything's okay. but right this minute i happen to have insane PMS, i'm broke and lonesome and it feels like the world's ending. my friend, will, said something to me the other day that i'm trying to keep in mind, "you've been taking care of yourself since you were born, and you're going to keep doing it." i know it's true, but right now things feel dire.

anyway, tonight sucked. i went to work at this filthy strip club (pussycat lounge, if you've been there you'll know what i mean when i say that it is a Total Dump). i went there in the first place because i heard it was the only place in new york with no house fee. well, have you ever heard the expression you can't draw blood from a turnip? as in, of COURSE they don't charge, the girls would have to be making money in order to be swindled out of a house fee.

the place itself is little and weird and could be charming if it had been in any way lucrative for me. the girls dance on a narrow platform behind the bar, and so basically every customer is sitting at the tip rail, only there's a bar in between. it's bizarre. you dance for half of every hour. the girls dance into two groups, one group goes up on the hour, and the other goes up on the half-hour. i said, "with all these girls dancing at once, how will you know which tips are yours?" they laughed at me. "oh, you'll know." they said.

i did see what they meant once i started working--you know the tip is yours because you have to dangle your leg precariously over the edge of the platform so the patron can put the dollar in your garter. or you can just reach over the bartender's head with your arm. not that i'd know from personal experience, though, since i DIDN'T EVEN MAKE ONE DOLLAR TONIGHT.

there were hardly any customers, and the few who were there already had girls sitting in their laps. there was one guy i danced in front of for a long time who had a stack of one-dollar bills (maybe 15 or 20) in front of him. clearly they were with which to tip the dancers, but he was such a stingy bastard. the way he was sitting there all drunk on the power of those one-dollar bills was positively nauseating. he COULDN'T use them to tip, because as soon as they were gone he'd shrink back to his actual size, becoming a little dried out raisin of a man.

when i got off "stage" i tried to get him to buy a dance. no go.

the next time i went up to dance there was a decently dressed guy who came and sat right where i was dancing. he didn't tip. at all. during the whole 30 minutes. not a good sign, but you have to try, so i went and sat with him and talked to him about nothing for a good ten minutes before i even offered him a dance, which felt downright charitable to me. he was chatty cathy till i brought up the dance, then he seemed annoyed and was like, "you know, on mondays, the guys who come in aren't really coming in for the girls. we're coming in to watch football and just unwind after work." oh right, the game must have been on a commercial break the whole time i've been listening to you blab, and the whole time you were watching dance. and it's important for you to watch the game HERE because there aren't a million other regular bars that show monday night football.

i've met this guy over and over and over. this is the kind of guy who goes to the hustler club and refuses to spend any money on the girls, claiming that he's here for the chicken wings. "there's just something about the sauce here," he'll say. you can find this same guy at any strip club anywhere in the country, nursing the same beer for hours, just one chair back from the tip rail, so he's still getting a prime view and never having to pay. the kind of cheap, smug asshole who wants to see naked girls for free and feels entitled to do so.

in the words of laurel frank, "oh! dear diary!"

there are so many ways to get someone to buy a lapdance, and so many, many ways for them to say no. the best one tonight came from a man with an intensely pockmarked face and the most bizarrely fucked up grill i've seen in a LONG TIME:

me (after two scant minutes of small talk, i cut to the chase): "so, i'm ready to dance for you now."
him: "oh no. it's too dangerous."
me: "dangerous? what do you mean?"
him: "i think you know what i mean."
me: "oh, you mean you might get an erection?"
him (embarassed that i've used the clinical term instead of alluding to it in vague references): "well. yes, that's right."
me (trying to snuggle him in the direction of the lap-dance area): "oh don't worry about it guy, it happens all the time. totally natural. let's go"
him (wiggling free from my embrace), firmly: "haha. no. i am from the island."

how could i argue with that? i wasn't even sure what it meant. or what island. i was guessing jamaica, but it could've been any number of other islands. haiti? barbados? aruba? iceland?

there weren't any new customers so i went into the dressing room for a minute, (and by "dressing room," i mean utility closet with a wall of lockers--all of them already claimed, btw, two stools, and a cracked mirror. the entire space is about five feet by five feet and absolutely grimy. you might think i'm exaggerating, that no dressing room could be that small and dingy, but i'm not. and it was) to read a few pages in the book i'd brought along. i finished the third teenage vampire novel yesterday. (it was only out in hardback so i bought it and then kept it in perfect condition so i could return it. i carried it around in a ziplock back without its dustcover, and was super careful not to dog-ear any of the pages or read it while eating. worked like a charm.) today i needed a new book to read so i chose one off jessi's bookshelf, "two girls, fat and thin," by mary gaitskill. i read "veronica," and loved it so i thought i'd give this one a try. well, when cracked it open today in the utility closet, i realized that i'd already read it. i liked the book, but not enough to read it twice. so then, with nothing to read i knew i should get out and hustle the same few straggly customers. instead, stalling, i chatted with the other girl who was hiding out in the "dressing room." she was nice: "jenny."

after a few minutes of chatting, it was time for us to go back on stage. i noticed that jenny danced with the languid complacency of a lusty lady employee. it used to drive me nuts when i worked there, but at least it sort of made sense--with an hourly wage, girls felt no need to hustle, or to even please the customer at all. (i thought this was annoying and short-sighted and that it would eventually drive the business straight into the ground.) but here, a little more effort seemed to be in order. but then... did it? i was dancing like a stripper and jenny was lolling about disinterestedly on the floor and both of us had made the same amount of money: ZERO DOLLARS. oddly, though, i looked over a little while later and jenny had a dollar in her garter. i wish i could say i thought, "well, good for her." but what i actually thought was, "wow, that's weird."

yeah. so. i worked for a little over two penniless hours, and then i was like, fucking fuck this. i can MAKE NOT EVEN ONE DOLLAR in the comfort of my own home. wearing CLOTHES, with SLIPPER SOCKS on instead of these stripper heels. (i'd like to say it was a matter of pride or self-preservation, but what it really ended up coming down to was slipper socks vs. stripper heels.)

i was like, "hey can i take off and come back tomorrow when maybe it's busier?" the manager, who was actually pretty nice as far as strip club managers go, goes, "naw honey. if you leave you're quitting." his tone was that of an actor who, in delivering his line, was hoping to convey a feeling of regrettable non-negotiableness, just one of those sad facts of life. "well, son..." in actuality, though, my leaving but not quitting probably WAS negotiable, but i just didn't have it in me. and i wanted to leave there and never go back. and so i was made to deliver the line: "okay, then: i quit." it's not something i've gotten to say very often and it wasn't as satisfying as you might think. especially given the fact that i was only under their employ for a couple hours. no fanfare. just a surprised, "oh," from the manager.

jeeeeeez. now what.


  1. Hey there,

    I just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying your writing. I've spent the last couple of weeks reading your archives. Thanks for sharing your stories!

    I just started reading Norwegian Wood, so it was fun to come across a mention of it in your blog.

    Take care,

  2. hey! thanks. i'm glad you like it. xoxoxox andi