Friday, June 19, 2009

Taxing Ride

The great thing about working day shift in the summer is, it's daylight when you leave! Today I marched out of the club at 8 and straight into a beautiful pre-sunset NYC summer's eve, leaving behind the Summer's Eve vaginal freshness product buffet in the club dressing room. It was nice enough, and early enough, that I figured I'd walk the block to the subway rather than drop my hard-earned cash on an unnecessary cab ride.

But in that one-block walk a very persistent "gypsy" cab driver (what's the non-offensive term for a gypsy cab, by the way?) kept honking and asking me where I wanted to go, he'd give me a good deal.

I thought it over. Here's the thing (we started off friends*) - a big part of me was like, fuck it, take the cab. I had a very, very lucrative Friday at work and the $20s in my bag were burning a hole in it. Also, I had some shitty stuff happen: 1) My regular, generous customer got really sweaty and wet in the lapdance and pushed his dripping, glistening face into my freshly flatironed tresses, turning them into a pile of frizz (and nauseating/disgusting me at the same time!... I know guys tend to think a little sweat on their dancing girl is a turn on -- just FYI, the reverse is NOT true). What could I tell him? He pays my rent! Then, this other customer who is hell-bent on getting me to call him and meet him outside as a date got all teary eyed in lapdance (2nd customer who has cried on me; I think I'm cursed) when I told him I don't go out with customers (or guys I'm not attracted to (I didn't tell him that part.)). And every time I was doing a stage set he would tip me but without looking at me, and instead burying his face in his hands and hanging his head. THEN, the bouncer was telling a bunch of girls that he was pissed at me because I was "doing so well and not tipping him" - (this bouncer is an asshole who has stolen money from girls, the club, and customers on numerous occasions) so I had to abandon my pride and slip him some cash (which he got without having a drop of sweaty guy's perspiration in his fresh coif! imagine!) so that he wouldn't cause any further drama for me.**

Long story not as short as it could have been, I thought I owed it to myself to be spared a subway ride home, so I haggled with the driver for a minute and hopped in. "How are you, M? Same place I dropped you last time?"*** Shit, he KNOWS me? Conversation as follows:

Him: So, you're still working here? Didn't switch over to the other place?
Me: No, still working here.
Him: Is it busy?
Me: I don't think it's busy, but business is fine in general. What about for you, driving-wise?
Him: Slow, slow. But you don't work night time?
Me: No, I do it occasionally, but I hate getting home at 5 a.m. and a lot of times the guys are too drunk and rowdy for me.
Him: So what kind of guys come during the day?
Me: You know, guys who are on their lunch break, or are married, generally a tamer crowd.
Him: You like this job?
Me: Yeah, I like it.
Him: A Pakistani? Indian? Whatever you are? You like this job?
Me: Yes, I like it.
Him: (pulls over the car and stops) You like this job?
Me: Listen, people scrub floors or tell dirty lies in court or pick plaque out from between people's teeth and don't get asked the questions you're asking me now.
Him: Do you go in the private rooms there?
Me: Yes.
Him: And you still like the job?
Me: Yes. I think I know what you're asking, and no, I don't have sex in the private rooms. Just regular lapdances.
Him: Just dances? You don't do everything?
Me: No, not everything. Can you start driving again?
Him: So, I see. How old were you when you were naturalized?
Me: 3.
Him: You parents know what you do?
Me: No.
Him: You know these other two girls I picked up from your club before. Brandy and Licorice, you know, they came out with a customer and had me drop them off at a hotel. Do you do that?
Me: No.
Him: Yeah, one time Brandy even paid me to keep the car waiting for her outside when she was done. But some of the girls are just like you, they go straight home afterward.
Me: Yeah.
Him: So I saw you on the R train last week, kissing somebody.
Me: Oh... (I'm not sure if he really even saw this, or if it even happened, but he caught me off guard so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. He might have just been "testing" me...) What time was it?
Him: 3 a.m. You're married?
Me: No. I'm not a big marriage person.
Him: What are you doing tonight?
Me: Hanging out with friends. You can just let me off right here.

*Excuse the pop music interjection. My life would suck without you.
**In my efforts to not make my job sound like shit, I should mention that not only did I make good money, I also got a visit from my favorite friendstomer who temporarily erased a chunk of my woes and made me laugh.
***Conversation translated from its original Hindi/Punjabi mix.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cyrano de Berg-her-rack

It has dawned on me: about 50% of my regular customers who seem to be infatuated with me are actually infatuated with male, hetero friends of mine.

Example 1: One of my customers was absolutely tickled when I explained to him the difference between a movie having been filmed in IMAX versus just being projected onto an IMAX screen. When I said the words "aspect ratio" to him, it was like dirty talk! He got mad excited. But the only reason I really knew that is because a film buff pal of mine nerded out on me and told me all this stuff just a few days before.

Example 2: When I started talking about Pau Gasol's moves on the court (I've already forgotten the information at this point...sports? big snooze!), another customer was like "wow, a girl like you sure does know a lot about basketball!" He was completely floored. I was just glad I was listening the night before while some guys hooted and hollered at a TV screen.

Example 3: I talked to a graphic designer about using Wacom Tabs for design and illustration; he ate that shit up. The only reason I know? You guessed it -- dudes who design.

My conclusion is that a lot of these guys dig a woman's body, but when it comes down to it enjoy the company of whatever it is many straight men are socialized to be. (Showing again the falseness of our ridiculously rigid gender constructs!) Wouldn't it be cool to, like, have an earpiece and transmitter so that my hetero male pals could feed me info to converse about with these customers?

It'd be like the movie Roxanne, except instead of a large nose holding the boy back, it'd be a (large?) dick! "Talk to him about the Manny Ramirez scandal!" "Ask him if he's ever heard of X-Men Noir!" "Tell him your new widescreen TV is 1080p!"

In my Hollywood ending, the customers realize that we all exist on a sexual continuum and genders and sexualities are fluid. (Roll end credits)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Rock in a Hard Place

I am a huge Chris Rock fan, with his race commentary and hilarious critiques of U.S. foreign policy. But why are his gender politics so whack? (skip to the 3 minute mark)

As a student, non-abused, day shift stripper, I gotta say - he's way off the mark! Then again, if you're reading this post, you probably already knew that...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In-kind is unkind

Lately I have had a slew of formerly generous customers show up without cash, but with some sort of gift. Thompson Thompson showed up with a huge box of cookies that he must have picked up at Costco or BJ's or Sams. I wasn't there that day, but Sheila kept them for me until my next shift, and gasped/doubled over laughing when I chucked them across the room into a garbage can filled with tampons and sweaty baby wipes. (I wish I knew basketball lingo; I'm sure I could be more descriptive...) I'm sorry, after that asshole's ever-shrinking wallet and ever-grabbier hands (see previous post), he makes me want to toss my cookies in more ways than one.

Then came Sumit, who has gone from taking me to the champagne room to buying me a few rounds of drinks and tipping me $20 to, most recently, swinging by after work to give me a DVD. I must admit, I was touched; I know he just stopped by to give me the DVD. But I shouldn't let the fact that we're friends take precedence over the fact that this is my workplace, yes? Couldn't he have tucked a $5 bill into the DVD cover?

So my recent frustration with gifts instead of cash had me briefly wondering if I was turning into a materialistic, money-minded automaton: the stereotypical stripper. But, really!? Perhaps this is just a reflection how impactful those 'stripper stereotypes' are; I think teachers, lawyers, and graphic designers would complain if they were given cookies instead of paychecks. I have every right to as well! So, Sumit and Thompson, pay up!! (Actually, Thompson, you're getting to the point where your money won't help you with me; I'm officially disgusted!)

Okay, this is not to knock gift-giving in strip clubs. Some of my best customers have given me comic books*, DVDs, perfume, and Victoria's Secret giftcards. And not in lieu of money, but in addition to it.

*Imagine gifting a stripper Art Spiegelman's "Maus." What would Marcel Mauss say?