A stripper’s guide to grooming

It’s not easy being a girl. For me, this sentence becomes most evident the morning after. Rolling over in bed to remember that there’s a certain someone beside you. Untangling your entwined legs and gazing at your pull’s handsome face whilst he sleeps. Marvelling at the stroke of genius that inspired nature to carve something so beautiful, so perfect, so awe-inspiringly fresh faced. Until he begins to flutter open his long lashes, that is.

fuck.

Fuck.

FUCK.

In one practised, deft movement, you grab your lace thong (if it’s in sight; any old garment if it isn’t), and with a burst of energy sadly denied to you at the gym, leap into the comforting arms of your bathroom. Under the track lighting and the mirror’s sobering reflection, you assess the situation. One good eye squints back at you whilst the other remains stubbornly shut, puffy and red in protest of the make-up you slept in. Your hair is a labyrinth of frizz, your face is home to a brand new smattering of spots, and the tough love you thought so sexy last night has left you with cheeks pinker than a baboon’s bottom. You give yourself 15 minutes to brutally repair the damage, whilst he slumbers in the room next door, still looking every inch the guy who seduced you last night.

It’s not fair, is it.

Now, I’m not the most organised of girls. I’m not even particularly hygienic, but once you enter into the wonderful world of stripping, you do have an obligation to take care of your appearance. Here’s my guide to savvy grooming, from the top down.

Hair

Here’s a fun experiment for you to try; ‘How many days can you skip washing your hair before it gets greasy?’ If you’re working 4 or more nights a week, then washing your mop before every shift can become counterproductive; it’ll absorb dirt more quickly, and the ends will spilt under the pressure of constant blow-drying. I’d say that at work, the best request that you can ask of your hair is that it remains low-maintenance – hanging upside down on the pole and grinding in small, clammy rooms both take their toll, and if you’re sporting an elaborate up-do then you’ll soon find that it sticks to your face. Long hair is generally a good shout; it’s classically sexy and can add an extra dimension to your stage routine when being flicked back and forth. Don’t flick it too liberally though – customers might say that they want to feel whipped, but they probably don’t mean it in the traditional sense.

Face

Whatever your philosophy is concerning eyes and lips, I’m a big believer in natural-looking skin; that is, no visible bronzer streaks, no iridescent cheeks, and no slag lines dissecting your neck from your jaw. I’m no make-up guru, but I can promise that you’ll be subjecting your face to longer hours and sweatier circumstances than it’s usually accustomed to, so you might want to invest in something a little more heavy-duty than your go-to BB cream – powder helps, and I’ve even heard of girls using stage make-up. Also, protect it. We live in an increasingly age-ist society where the younger you are, the more successful you’re perceived to be. Now there’s nothing wrong with botox, but there ain’t no point paying for what you could have had for free. Shield your skin from the sun. It causes 95% of wrinkles, so fake it before you bake it.

Breasts

These beautiful, beautiful things are gorgeously low-maintenance. You may need to pluck out the odd hair, and you really should moisturise, but apart from that they’re the one body part that are nearly always morning-ready. Wear a bra, apply bio-oil to any stretch marks, and make sure that you tease the nipples before you hop on stage, as they’re so much sexier erect.

Stomach

What did this bland-ass body part get a spot on my list for, I hear you ask. Well, the age-old adage is true – beauty really does come from within. By this I don’t mean replace your cleansing routine with the attributes of a good listener (although personality does count for a lot), but simply think more about what you put in your digestive tract. 80% healthy, 20% naughty is a good rule to live by; it means that we live fuller, more energised lives, but don’t deny ourselves anything in the process. Relish your greens, disown those preservatives, and the rest should come easy. Sugar is the one to watch out for. It makes you fat, greasy and ultimately WRINKLY, and why chocolate doesn’t come with the same health warnings as cigarette packets I’ll never know. It tastes damn good though, so feel free to indulge now and again.

Vagina

So often neglected, so often abused. Us girls have an unhealthy relationship with our vagina. Generations of inherent patriarchy have taught us to hide it, mutilate it, pleasure it in secret and only recently have we been undoing the damage. Now I’m not getting all hippy on you – no-one dislikes a bush more than I, but I do think we should learn to worship at the altar a bit more, you know? First of all, if you do become a stripper, banish any resolutions you might have made about waxing. Any method of hair removal that requires you “growing” between treatments is bad for business, and the chemicals are surprisingly bad for your skin. Secondly, do the gooch, and always shave IN THE DIRECTION of the hair growth. It’s a sensitive enough area as it is, without inflicting upon it the backwards lawn-mower. Speaking of which, SUDOCREM. It’s for nappy rash, which is essentially the doctor’s name for an irritation of the genital area, i.e. shaving rash. Apply liberally morning and night (unless you’re dancing; you don’t wanna remind the customers of wiping babies’ bums), and you shall be blessed with smoother than smooth flaps. And for the love of God, go get an STD check. I’m all for the liberation of sexual politics, but nothing says ‘don’t get another dance’ like the cheeky unveiling of genital warts as you spread your legs…

Bum

Men can be very economical with their words. In as much the same way as we might be into ‘looks’ or ‘personality’, a man’s preferred female figure often boils down to whether he’s a ‘tits-man’ or an ‘arse-man’. Working in an environment where 70% of the women are frequently starkers, I can tell you honestly that with the exception of the boob-jobbed, most girls are either blessed with good tits OR a good arse. So squat. If you’re a small waisted-girl, then embrace your inevitably big booty, and make it your mission to tone, rather than slim it. Fake tan. It may be a leg-lengthener, but that doesn’t mean that you can stop at the crease. Tilt forward slightly whilst applying, and make sure that that tricky bit of skin under the bum cheeks gets enough attention, as you can bet it’s on display when you bend over on stage. Lastly, bring a sheer scarf to work with you. Those high-backed chairs in stripclubs are ridden with bacteria, and being an area that isn’t often exposed to the outside world, our bums are particularly sensitive to picking that up. Sitting on a scarf adds a layer of protection, and can double up as a fun addition to any dance. Above all though, make sure that you thoroughly cleanse the area after every shift, using anti-bacterial spray and a wet facecloth. Spots are dutty, and as you essentially wipe clean your derriere every time you give a lapdance, there’s really no use concealing them once they’re there.

Legs

Just like with the vagina, avoid waxing unless you want to seriously commit to stockings. Moisturise. There’s really no easy way to say this, as slathering lotion all over your body has got to be one of life’s most famed banalities, but sadly it is the only way to ensure that you don’t start cracking in later years. If you’re working that night however, then obviously refrain from greasing up, as you’ll need the friction on stage, and only selfish girls lube the pole for their successor.

Feet

Hands and feet alike are a black hole of time-consumption; your efforts are seldom rewarded with longevity, and if it wasn’t laborious enough applying polish, you have to sit there whilst it dries, too. I’m not personally a fan of nail art; I think it’s too artificial to be considered sexy, and dare I say it, kind of tacky, too. If you’re going to do it though, do it properly. If you’ve got false nails on and one falls off, either re-attach the missing link, or be done with the whole thing. Natural nails should be square, clean and simple, and polish should be applied evenly from root to tip, with frequent re-coating to compensate for chips. We inflict a lot of stress on our soles from dancing, so file the underside twice a week; moisturise every time you get out the shower. And whilst we’re on the subject of feet, use them. Run. Jump. Swim. Cycle. Dance. The human race didn’t evolve from us lying around playing Candy Crush Saga, and it’s good for the soul and six-pack alike to get out there once in a while and work up a sweat.

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What should you pack in your bag?

There’s a lot of intrigue surrounding stripping. Even in our modern-day culture of corporate transparency, exposes and fly-on-the wall documentaries, lap dancing clubs have still retained a sense of mystery, a smoke-and-mirrors nod to the Music Halls of yesteryear. What goes on in the champagne lounge? What secrets are shared in the dressing room? And what on earth do the girls carry in those huge bags?

Ahhh, the holdall.

I remember my first shift, Morrisons bag in one hand, hipster rucksack in the other. Looking around the dressing room at the rows of sleek, hardshell suitcases and feeling like an absolute amateur. Those days are (thankfully) behind me, and I’ve since traded the recycled plastic for something a little more durable. Here’s my list of stripping essentials that no dancer should pack her bag without.

1. Sustenance

If your club is anything like mine, then the drinks prices are going to have been set with the clientele, not the girls, in mind. Expect to pay a tenner for a double, eight pound for a glass of house wine and a fiver for a Red Bull (and this is in the North – I’ve never worked in London but I can only imagine what the clubs charge there). Personally, I’m of the belief that management should provide the strippers with energy drinks on tap – it’s in everyones best interests that we stay on top of our game – but unfortunately I don’t get drafted in to make exec decisions like that. I recommend keeping two energy drinks in your bag at all times, so next time you’re in Tesco or Asda stock up on those cheap, 39p ones (Rooster, Boost or Kick). It’s also a good idea to have some sort of snack. Nuts and dried fruit are great to quell rumbling tummies, and they aren’t substantial enough to induce bloating either. Millets or Blacks stock a decent range of high-energy, high-sugar snacks, originally designed for mountain climbing or high-intensity work outs; keep one in your bag at all times. Energy drinks and kendal cake alike are extremely bad for your waistline, and so I wouldn’t recommend cultivating an addiction, but there will be several shifts when you barely have the strength to make it to 3am, and a well-timed release of dopamine can make the difference between you coming home out of pocket, and coming home 100 quid up.

2. Superglue, scissors, tampons and a sewing kit

Hey, ever wondered what strippers do when they’re on their period? I’m gonna shatter a taboo right now and tell you – we take the tampon out of its little plastic cover, snip off the string, and insert the cotton so high up that it’s not even visible when we spread our legs. Changing tampons when you’ve cut loose the rope is a bit of a nightmare, and requires a lot of foraging, but make sure you change twice as much as you normally would, because believe me, you won’t live down a smear of blood on some customer’s cream chinos. The superglue is for your stripper shoes, whose rubbery sole will start to unfurl – again and again – after the first two months of wear. Be vigilant with securing this sole back in place – damaged shoes don’t only look unsightly, they’re an active hazard on stage. As for the sewing kit – broken bra-strips, holely hosiery, knickers that fit round the waist yet sag in the crotch (I’m talking to you, Primark!); the list is endless, and you’ll be thanking me when you snag your satin bralet on some punter’s coat zip. Want to score some bro points with your colleagues? Strippers are a pretty organised bunch (we have to be), but there’s always a chronic shortage of tampons and scissors in the dressing room. Don’t be a dick with your supplies – a dab of glue here, and a 20p tampon there will earn you more than your fair share of gratitude, and you never know when you’ll need a favour back. In some ways a strip club is like prison, only friends aren’t bought with cigarettes – they’re bought with sanitary wear.

3. A spare everything

You.Will.Need.More.Than.One.Change.Of.Knickers. Bring at least three outfits, so that when you rock up to shift and inevitably feel fat/bloated/too gothic, you have the option to switch. Stockings. If you’ve decided that your going to wear them tonight, bring two pairs; if you haven’t, bring one. You never know when you’ll get cold, or bang, scrape or bruise your knee. If your club ever does themed nights, then always pack a bikini, camouflage paint, a santa hat (or seasonal alternative) and knee high socks, so that you’re never caught off guard. When it comes to toiletries, don’t rely on having the presence of mind to transfer over the products you use in the day into your stripping suitcase. Your bag should have a resident deodorant, fake tan mitt, tube of fake tan, nail file and a nail polish colour that you frequently wear. If you’re a fan of fakery, then make sure eyelash glue, nail glue and extension glue are always to hand, as well as a spare set of eyelashes and nails. And whilst we’re on the subject of what should go into your bag, we may as well cover what should be kept separate within there. Keep a small make-up bag for the sole purpose of zipping up your dirty underwear at the end of the night. The amount of times that I’ve thrown mine back in, and then can’t distinguish what I’ve worn that night within the hazy sea of black lace is untrue, and it’s a laborious, unnecessary process having to re-wash all your kit.

4. Your last-stretch survival gear

Picture the scene. It’s 4am, the girls’ steps are echoing it’s so quiet, and after one last sweep of the floor, you’ve decided to call it a night. Only thing is, management has other ideas, and the only way you’re going home before 6 is if you pay out. Like any wise stripper, you don’t want to part with your hard-earned cash unless its absolutely necessary, and so you decide to see the night through until the bitter end. You’ll be cold, miserable, and any environment that’s not your duvet will seem positively hostile. Have make-up wipes and moisturiser to hand, so that when you do eventually get home, you can just crawl into bed. Invest in a big, fleecy hoody, and some comfortable headphones, so that when the night’s draw out, you’re warm and comforted. Hopefully this won’t happen too often, or your management will be sympathetic, but when the going gets tough – well, it’s better to be prepared.

5. A lock and key

Call me paranoid, cynical or overly cautious, but I wouldn’t even think about starting a shift not knowing that my valuables are safe. This isn’t a reflection on the people I work with – the majority of girls are genuinely decent human beings, who’d be as appalled at the thought of stealing as your man-on-the-street. However, strip clubs have a notoriously high turnover of staff, and there might be up to five new girls in any given week, some of whom will only stay for a shift. Even if your dressing room has a security camera, the managers aren’t necessarily going to see it as worth their while to trawl through a night’s footage to solve the mystery of your missing straighteners – prevention is key, not cure.

Own your profession

As a child, I never wanted to be a princess.

That’s to say, I never craved serenity, empty privilege or domesticated bliss, and I had no real use for tiaras. If you’d have asked me, aged 8, what my career ambitions were, I’d have told you that I wanted to be a marine biologist, an actress, a politician or a television presenter (an eclectic choice, but I did enjoy dolphins, television and the stage). My point is that at aged 8, when our adult personalities are said to be forming shape, I already knew that I needed excitement, spotlight and perhaps a touch of the risqué in my career – I already valued wealth over job security, personal success over unrecognised contribution. For me, stripping wasn’t so much a fall from grace as a logical realisation of the kind of job I would’ve wanted at 8, but wouldn’t have had the acuity to express.

People can think whatever they like about strippers, (and we’re not always above reproach), but one narrative that I refuse to accept is that a stripper has to be a “victim”. For some reason, this brazen lie has been constantly reiterated by both the media and society, and the insinuation is that anyone who takes their clothes off for a living must have been forced to do so at gunpoint.

It’s still judgement – it’s just judgement masquerading as concern.

If you take a cross-section of say, five movies that feature a stripper, chances are that they either come from a broken home, head a single-parent family, supplement a drug addiction or are in some way desperate for the money. Flashdance? Powder Blue? The Wrestler? You get my drift. Tragedy is all well and good in the movies, and I appreciate that it does contribute towards dramatic effect, but the legacy that these movies have is frankly damaging to strippers. It purports a perception of us that is simply not true, and induces the sort of self-righteous mockery that I’m about to outline.

One of the worst types of customer is the wannabe knight-in-shining-armour; the guy who will happily waste away your time for half an hour entertaining the idea of a dance, and then, once he feels as though the two of you have a connection, decide that his night would be better employed persuading you that you’re too “good” for this job, and that you ought to find a nice man and leave, immediately. Here’s my advice – nay – my plea to all established and aspiring strippers. Own your profession. Don’t apologise for it, justify it or condemn it because you feel as though you’re being looked down upon.

Once the red mist has dissipated (and you really should be angry – sickly sweet and sympathetic though this might seem, it’s a thinly veiled attack on the sex industry, if not women as a whole), you basically have two options. 1 – make your excuses and leave. 2 – attempt to show the poor bastard the light.

The unfortunate thing about prejudice, is that – like love – it makes its beholder blind, and so even if you wave a fat lot of money in front of his face, he’s still just gonna see a damsel in distress, albeit a rich one.

When faced with a patronising punter, I tend to say something along these lines; “Let me fill you in on what goes on here. We make a lot of money, we network with a vast demographic of people, and as a result our ability to socialise with whoever, whenever is pretty exceptional. We choose our own hours, wear silk and satin for uniform, and the only deadlines we have to work towards are the ones set by ourselves. We can go hard or steady, dominate or act coy, and we can even just sit back and get pissed with our friends if that’s how the mood takes us. For most of the men that come in here, their only cashable resource is their mind – we constantly exercise both our mind and our body in order to get the outcome we desire. Most of the men in here are either not earning the money they wish they were, or are not doing something they enjoy for a living. If I wanted to go on holiday tomorrow, I just wouldn’t come in. I don’t need references to secure a new place of employment, and I certainly don’t have to consistently kiss arse in order to climb one rung higher on a pitiably low ladder. We spend half of our nights having interesting conversations with eligible men, the other half having our egos pampered as they drool at our naked bodies. And yes we do make £13 (after deductions) for 2 and a half minutes work. And no we don’t always declare tax. I’m sorry but why would I want to leave again?”

In fact, this response can be used on just about anyone. Customers, colleagues (if you have a day-job), nosy neighbours or even disapproving friends; there’s a lot of “concern” floating about, and it can become pretty annoying pretty quickly when people are trying to rescue you from your own job three times a day. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty or ashamed for fulfilling the fantasies of normal people, and you certainly shouldn’t have to feel as though you’re in a last-resort profession. There is a legitimate market for what we do, and (if you want to do well), it requires a highly specialised skill set. Strippers, take note. You probably know by now that you’re in a pretty privileged position – my only request is that, for the sake of our reputation, you shouldn’t be afraid to let others know it, too.

NB: I’m not lambasting legitimate concern. I’ve only ever felt safe, cared for and in control in my job, but I am aware that not every establishment has its workers safety at its core. If you do ever feel vulnerable or harassed at work, then I suggest you leave. Your job contributes a huge part to your overall happiness, and in life, nothing is more important than that.

How to increase your dance count without being a dick

Strip-clubs can be overwhelming places.  You want to make friends, enjoy yourself and cultivate a decent relationship with the management, DJ and bar staff, but you also want to come home with a nice wad of cash in your purse.  It’s a fine balance – you need to pursue the dollar without looking ruthless; appease the girls without acting the pushover.  The nature of our job means that we’re (probably) naturally competitive, but all the same, it’s never good karma to step on the underdog strippers’ heads on the way up the ladder.  Here are my Dos and Don’ts for getting rich without becoming a bitch.

DO
  • Engage the other girls in your banter
For a few, select girls, the conversations between them and their customers will be sacrosanct – a privileged verbal fortress that no-one else is allowed access to.  If you even so much as ask their customer to pass a straw they’ll shoot you daggers, and don’t entertain the thought of a group dance – it aint gonna happen.  You could emulate this approach, but if you want my opinion, these girls are plain uptight – no-one should give that much of a shit about securing one dance; it smacks of desperation and not only does it alienate you from the other strippers, it intimidates the customer, too.  If you’re talking with your customer and there’s another stripper within earshot, it probably won’t hurt to include her in your conversation.  Think of it as the strip-club equivalent of not allowing your mate to third-wheel; if you’re stuck for ideas, ask her to chair a playful debate, or have a cheeky joke together at the customer’s expense.  Make sure the boundaries are subtly drawn out beforehand (you’re not inviting her to steal away your client) and this could be the perfect way to kill two unsuspecting birds.  She’ll think you’re a cool, relaxed stripper whose not just in it for the money, and he’ll think that you’re a genuinely easy-going girl whose popularity extends beyond the paying customers.  Win win bitches.

  • Keep it breezy
You wanna know the no.1 secret to getting more dances?  Pretend like you don’t give a shit.  When I started working I used to think ‘Hard to Get’ was an oxymoron in a place. where the girls put in all the first moves.   We approach the men, we sit on their laps, we initiate the conversation and (if standard procedure is followed) we ask them for the first dance – it’s basically the complete reversal of a Jane Austen novel.  However, there is a line – be it a fine one – between a charmingly forward and flirtatious stripper, and a plain desperate one.  When you’re chatting up a potential customer, you want to give off the impression that you have plenty of options, but that you are kindly bestowing your time upon him.  If he asks you how your night’s going, always reply with the affirmative, and never enter into a conversation unless you have the energy and spark to catch his attention.  Don’t make your intentions clear until at least 5 minutes have passed, but allow no more than 10 to before you ask for a dance.  And for the love of God, never say ‘Please’.  ‘Thank you’ is courteous, and should accompany a kiss on the check for any well-behaved customer following a dance, but remember that they ultimately, should be thanking you.  If you feel as though you’re running out of topics to discuss, then make your excuses and leave (but never to sit, unoccupied, within his sight).  Better he thinks you’re slightly aloof, than in any way boring.  However…

  • Be nice
The difference between hard-to-get in stripping and hard-to-get in the real world?  In the strip club you don’t get to be a bitch.  The stripper who sits, pouting in the corner because she hasn’t made enough money isn’t embodying the escape from the nagging wife that the customer so desperately wants.  People come into these clubs to drink, relax, catch up with friends, and have pleasant, flirtatious exchanges with beautiful girls.  The customer doesn’t wanna know that if you don’t make 10 dances tonight, you’re not gonna meet your rent.  That same customer doesn’t want to know that this ‘whole thing’ is an unpleasant interlude between your Masters and your PHD, and he certainly doesn’t want to hear about the blisters that are forming on your ankles because you still haven’t broken in your shoes.  That’s not to say you can’t have attitude, sass or an evil smile, just make sure that you keep it on the right side of nasty.  Bitterness, jealousy and desperation are universally unattractive attributes, and they’re a one-way ticket to crying to the manager whilst the other girls count their money at the end of the night.

DON’T
  • Poach your colleague’s customers
 
In some clubs, this isn’t so much advice as it is a written rule, and you’ll be ostracised, fined or even fired if you repeatedly set out to sabotage the other girls’ chances.  If it’s not a rule, it’s certainly polite, and you should always take precautions to ensure that you don’t accidentally hijack your mates’ dates.  Keep your eyes peeled to see whose talking to who.  If the club’s relatively quiet and there’s one customer sat alone, check that he isn’t talking to the girl on stage, or that his companion hasn’t gone to the toilet before you sit down.  If the club’s busy, different rules apply.  If you see a girl approach a new customer, then the one she’s just left should be fair game – there are no such thing as sloppy seconds in the club.  Lastly, you’ll get a feel after just a few shifts for who has regulars, and who the regulars are.  Stay clear.  He may want to dance with other girls, and she may be cool with it, but you do not want to get in the crossfire should that relationship turn sour.

  • Fall in love
I have a feeling I’ll return to this point in another post.  Ignoring the stereotype that only old, creepy weirdos step foot in strip clubs, it’s a fact that you’ll encounter such a breadth and diversity of young, good looking and single men that you’re bound to make a connection with at least one of them during your working life.  We might think that we’re impervious to the callings of the heart, but there will come a time when the flirting comes too easily, when giving a lap dance quickens your pulse too, and when all of a sudden you’re no longer seducing him; he’s seducing you.  Whether or not you decide to let your crush blossom into something more is entirely at your discretion.  It probably goes without saying that your club will have rules against this sort of thing; meeting up with customers outside of work is generally a sackable offence, but rules are made to be broken, and as long as your discreet, I’d say go for it.  HOWEVER, once you’ve (subtly) exchanged numbers, or swapped Facebook details, move on.  Flirting with beautiful men may be fun, but it’s rarely lucrative, and while he might buy one or two dances, he probably won’t bankroll your entire night.  If you’re willing to bend the rules a little, then console yourself with the prospect of seeing him again, and if you’re not, then is he really worth damaging your dance count anyway?

  • Sit down
We’ve all been there.  The night’s dragging, the customer’s are being stubborn with their cash and the air con is caressing your semi-naked body with its vengeful ventilation.  In other words, you’re cold, poor and you want to go home.  It’s 1am, and you know that in 2 hours the drunk masses will come hoarding in, but for now you just want to snuggle up inside your hoody and get some much-needed kip.  Strippers, take heed.  This.Is.A.Test.  This situation is what separates the weak from the strong, the losers from the champions, the poor from the…you get my drift.  Once that hoody goes on, it won’t come off, and the minute you rest your eyes, you’ve taken them well and truly off the ball.  A successful night’s stripping is one third charisma, two thirds stamina, and once you lose that precious momentum, you’re fucked.  If you’re starting to feel the strain, have a practise on the pole, or if that’s out of the question, find a quiet toilet cubicle and do enough star jumps to get your blood pumping round again.  Once the customers start trickling in, you’ll be alert enough to dazzle them, and the dances will be yours for the taking.

So you want to be a stripper?

Hello there, rookie.  Nice to meet you.  I remember being you, about a year ago – heart thudding disbelievingly as I filled in my online application, palms sweating as I attended my “interview”, and the physical lurch of dread as I eventually rocked up to my very first shift.

It’s not going to be a typical first day, and I don’t believe that any human wouldn’t be shitting bricks just a little at the prospect of getting their kit off, publicly, for the first time.

The good news is, like most things we’re afraid of, the sense of dread is far worse than the event itself.  Once you’ve toured the club, met the managers and (eek), given your first dance, the rest is a doddle, and before you know it you’ll be six months in, joyfully recounting that clumsy, awkward, bewildering first time.
Actually, it’s a lot like losing your virginity….

You’re in for a ride, and even if you decide that the profession isn’t for you, you’ve done a hugely courageous thing even doing it once, so congratulations.  We live our lives more fully for having looked fear in the eye, and there’s something beautifully liberating about saying to a group of strangers, ‘Here is my body, take it or leave it’.  This might be a long-term career move for you, or, like me, you might be a student deciding that a part-time job stacking shelves in Tesco just isn’t worth your time – either way, you’re about to shatter every hesitation you ever had about getting your boobs out for the lads.

There’s a lot to take in, there’s a lot to consider, and I’ll go into detail about what to do with your money, how to make friends and how to stay well-groomed in other posts, but without further a dew, here are my top 5 tips to make that first shift go as smoothly as possible.

1. Lower your expectations
 
If you’re anything like me, you probably embarked on this journey with stars in your eyes.  After a quick scan of the internet, I read about six sensationalised articles on the Daily Mail about the lucrative prospects of strippers and thought, ‘Yep, I’m probably going to come home with a grand tonight’.  Har, har, har.  The biggest mistake you can make entering into this profession is to assume a natural correlation between how pretty you are and how much dollar you’ll be bringing home.  Stripping is a hard-nosed sales job, and like all sales roles, it’s one third talent, two thirds experience.  If you need the money, and need it fast, then there are other outlets that should be much more rewarding for you.  Pat yourself on the back if, after house fee and commission, you make £50 tonight.  There is big money to be made in the club, but you’re gonna have to learn the ropes first.  Take your time, observe the other girls carefully and have patience – it could be months before you’re pulling in the hundreds.

2. First impressions count
 

What’s the only thing scarier than the punters?  The other girls, of course!  Making new fwiends is always daunting, and it’s even worse if you’re a posh little prick at a Northern uni (me), whose regional-neutral accent makes her stick out like a privately-educated thumb.  Now I won’t skirt around this – the other girls aren’t necessarily going to welcome you with open arms.  There will be one or two nice ones, maybe relatively fresh themselves, who remember how it felt to walk into the club for the first time, but for the most part, there will be hostile looks, unsmiling eyes and a general vibe of mistrust.  My advice?  Don’t be put off.  It’s nothing personal, they’re just reserving their warmth until they’ve sussed you out.  After all, your presence there means more competition, and potentially less money in their back pocket when they go home tonight.  Smile in all the right places, DO NOT allow yourself to get drawn into a bitching session, and keep a low profile until your new colleagues start to ease up around you.  Keep to the club rules, never steal someone else’s customer, and you should be okay. Remember, there will be a lot of fierce, independent girls working here (and a hell of a lot of oestrogen), but everyone’s human underneath, and most human’s are a pretty decent bunch once you get to know them.

3. Make like a rhinoceros 

That is, grow skin so effing thick that a silver bullet wouldn’t disrupt your cool.  You’ll hear all manner of ingenious insults throughout your journey, so you may as well prepare now.  Swinty eye?  Big nose?  A roll of fat around the middle that just won’t budge?  Learn to love those defects (or erase them), because you can bet ya bottom dollar some whiney little show-off is going to bring them to your attention someday soon.  That being said, you’ll also attract a lot of compliments.  Men can be refreshingly simple in their evaluation of women, and to some of them, any reasonably attractive woman prepared to stroke their ego and take off her clothes is basically a goddess.  You’ll be called beautiful, gorgeous, sexy and stunning at least several times per shift, so get used to it.  I used to think I must be something special until I heard an honestly average colleague being likened to Megan Fox.  Take it all with a pinch of salt – strip clubs just aren’t the place for sensitive souls, and arrogance has a tendency to rub people up the wrong way.

 4. Keep your friends close, your purse closer

Let me tell you a story.  It’s about a young, naive girl (me) who, fifth shift in, had struck gold and was set to be coming home with about £120 after house fee and commission.  Whilst sitting at a table with a group of men, and several other girls, she was called up to the stage.  Her purse was sat on the table and, in a show of outrageously stupid politeness singular only to the British, left it there, so as not to indirectly accuse any in her company of being a thief.  Yep, that’s right, I left my WAGES on the table because I was too embarrassed to lean over, grab my purse and take them with me.  Because I thought I might offend someone.  Now guess how that turned out – £60 lighter, that’s how.  The manager, who, in fairness, didn’t know me, assumed it was a stunt to avoid paying commission, but I had genuinely been robbed that night.  Still, tears wiped, money mourned, it was a lesson well learnt.  LEARN IT NOW.  Keep your purse in your lap at all times.  If possible, buy one with a reliable zip and a hand-strap.  Form the habit from day 1 of checking that it remains on your person at all times.  Don’t entrust this cradle of wealth to ANYONE; not the manager, not the DJ, not your own mother, and if you’re called up to stage, take it with you.  Safe. Not. Sorry.
and finally

5. Be Yourself
 

*Yawn* I know you’ve already heard this advice, dismissed this advice, and laughed this advice in the face as you remind it that “yourself” isn’t Beyonce, but there really is something to be said for maintaining your integrity in the club.  As fun as it might seem to pretend you’re just like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, you actually spend about 70% of your time talking to people in this job, and if the whole thing is an act, it’s soon going to become exhausting, both for you and the customer.  Flirt, laugh, dismiss your negative attributes and exaggerate your positive ones, but make sure that at the core of it, the person doing all this is you.  Men might think that they’ve come here for a fantasy, but most just want a nice girl to while away the night with who will happily induce a boner.  Stay positive, stay sexy, but keep it real – you’ll have more fun and make more money for it, so it’s in your best interest.

I hope this list hasn’t put you off.  It’s a collection of words that I kind of wish someone had given me before I first started.  There’s a lot to consider, but if you stay patient, stay true and keep faith, deciding to strip really might be the best decision you ever make.  You’re going to learn an awful lot about yourself, encounter plenty of bruises (from the pole – not from being abused), a lot of tossers and make meaningful connections with some great people (customers and girls alike), so sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you the very best of luck young fledging, and happy, safe stripping.