“Outside of work I am a very ‘normal’ person. I see my friends, go to the gym and watch conspiracy documentaries. I don’t think anyone would ever guess…”
Do you feel safe as a 21-year-old stripper in the city?
“Safety is a subjective concept I believe. What I find okay wouldn’t necessarily be okay for someone else. Personally I find myself very safe when I’m at work in the club and my boundary is working outside of the club doing private functions as there is no security. While I still might get someone who tries to touch me or be inappropriate I know I have a troupe of security guards to back me up.”
Have you ever felt unsafe, and can you tell me about it?
“The only time I have felt unsafe is walking back to my car from a late shift. Other than that not at all.”
How did you first get into this line of work?
“I can’t remember exactly… I think I just woke up one day and wanted to do something different so I scheduled an interview for the following day and was working by that weekend. I just googled ‘strip clubs’ and it was one of the first results.”
How did you feel when you first started three years ago compared to how you feel now?
“I feel that I very quickly became disenchanted with the male population. You see every type of person and even the ones you think are nice guys turn out to be disrespectful pigs. It’s made me a lot colder and distrusting in my personal relationships.”
Do you consider yourself a feminist, and do you think your job goes against feminism?
“I am absolutely a feminist and I think the opposite; my job is the most pro-feminist job out there. It’s a profession where the woman is in control at all times, has complete say over what goes and is therefore so empowering. To say it goes against feminism is anti-feminist.”
Are you using it as a stepping-stone to move on to other things?
“Stripping can be a stepping stone to many things. I have chosen to use it in the short term to pay for things I want now, for example a car, holidays, my breast enlargement surgery, and to save for things in the long term like a house. I also hope to secure myself a management position within the strip club I currently work in. Eventually I’d like to progress on to ‘House Mum’ as you can do that when you’re older.”
What is a ‘House Mum’?
“A ‘House Mum’ does things like organise the roster for the week, assign girls to functions, write the nightly table sets, choreograph shows and things like that. It’s a step up and away from simply stripping, which I currently love.”
How do people in the ‘outside world’ react when they find out what you do for work?
“I am selective of who I disclose my job to as I realise it is somewhat ‘taboo’. My dad was supportive, though encouraged me to keep it on the down low. My sister cried when I told her, and my mum likes to portray a facade of support but deep down hates it. Having said that since I forced her to come into the club and watch a group competition she has been a lot more understanding and appreciative of the industry. Most people on the outside of my family are extremely supportive.”
What does your job actually entail, when you get to work?
“So within the club we have a tiered system… some may say hierarchy… Girls begin as just dancer where you turn up to your shifts, perform 15 minute table sets roughly every hour and a half and give lap dances to customers. From there you may do stag parties held within the club which are 20 minute shows with different themes. Then you may do solo stage shows on the weekends, then group shows, then guest performances at a neighbouring venue.”
What are the legal implications of working in the stripping industry, and have they affected you?
“The strip club environment attracts a lot of drugs, as does any nightclub venue. I find a lot of girls deal drugs to make extra money and a lot of girl provide ‘extras’ to customers which is illegal as it is solicitation and the venue does not have a brothel license. I found that out when I was researching a career in the police. I wanted to be an officer, but I would have to quit stripping as it is a conflict of interest being around so many illegalities.”
Would you like people to view the stripping industry differently?
“I would like more people to see stripping as a legitimate profession. The government recognised it as business and consequently I pay tax like anybody else. Strippers aren’t sluts, we don’t want to steal your man and we aren’t all junkies. You’ll find that 80% of dancers have a degree or are in university and probably an equal percentage are in relationships/married/ have kids. We are normal people who see what we do as work; not just a massive party as some might think. We work just as hard as anyone else, if not harder. We don’t earn a wage so we have to hustle for every single penny we make and we should be respected for that.”
It is currently legal for any person wishing to operate a lap dancing club to do so, but they will require a sex establishment licence from the local authority. As most dancers are paid with cash ‘tips’, dancers are required to declare their earnings and pay taxes. The club is obligated to ensure that its dancers are over the age of 18, and that there are suitable security measures in place.