Alibi V.25 No.6 • Feb 11-17, 2016 

People in Your Neighborhood

Interview with an Independent Contractor

If you’re lonely on V-day, remember to keep your hands to yourself

Tippy Toes
Illo by Rob

What is your preferred job title?

Oftentimes I just tell people I'm a stripper for the sake of being blunt, but for technical reasons, it's actually “independent contractor.” I work for myself and I have to pay the club that I work at a house and door fee to allow me to work at their establishment. Or you could say I'm an entertainer.

What are your hobbies?

I like to travel. I was living in Guam for four months dancing over there under a contract. Hopefully I'll get to go to the Virgin Islands soon doing the same thing for about a month. Other than that, dancing has always been a hobby. I started with jazz and ballet when I was 8-years-old and did that until I was 18. I also like to do origami. When I get bored, I look on YouTube how to make things like an armadillo or an elephant. When I was in Guam I learned how to make a vagina out of a dollar bill—it looks awesome!

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up and what are your current goals?

The very first thing I ever wanted to be was a figure skater. Then I got a little older and I loved animals so I wanted to be a veterinarian. As for now, I'm just going to continue working and saving money. There's something called the Earthship [Biotecture] Academy up in Taos that I think is really interesting. You build houses out of recycled materials that are self-sustainable. Hopefully I can do that someday and buy some property and build some houses.

How did you get into this line of work?

I started when I was 19. I guess just because I was a dancer, I thought it would be similar. Of course the first time I went into a strip club it was completely different—there wasn't a whole lot of jazz and ballet going on!

Do you do any sort of training to be able to do what you do?

Yeah. I'm lucky because I have that background in dance. I mean, I'm 26-years-old and I'm still really strong because I never stopped dancing. I stopped dancing in a dance company and in classes when I was 18 but I went straight to dancing in a club when I was 19 and maintained those muscles throughout. And the pole itself does work out your upper arms, legs, butt and core so by doing it you maintain that strength. In the past five years, it's gotten incredibly athletic; it's insane, the abilities that people have. It's incredibly hard. You mess up a lot. I tried it, and I looked bad until I looked good. A lot of girls hold back from being good pole dancers because they're afraid of looking stupid while trying it, but if you don't push yourself, then you're never gonna get better.

Does dancing for all of those people ever bother you?

I think it's easier to dance in front of a large group of people than to dance for one person. Whenever you're selling a private dance, it's far more intimate and exposing. A lot of girls have a hard time with it but I think I just like the attention. [laughs] Every girl is different. Some girls are really shy and a lot of girls are like, “Yes, it's my time to shine.”

What's going through your mind when you're up on stage?

Honestly, nothing. The moves usually just come to me as I go and the fact that they're un-choreographed is what I like about it the most. I'm never gonna mess up because there is nothing expected. I get lost in the music—a lot of times I'll be singing the words to the songs I pick out myself.

How do you deal with customers who are rude?

I've dealt with it poorly and I've dealt with it with good manners before. Sometimes I just get really angry—I've slapped customers before or pushed them down—and sometimes I just start crying and run away. Other times I'm just, like, whatever—detach myself from the situation and walk away thinking these guys are punks and they came here to put women down.

What is something you wish everyone who enters a strip club knew?

To keep your hands to yourself. Don't try to get away with it because you think it'll slide.

Does your family know what you do for work and do the social stigmas around your line of work ever affect you?

I have an awesome family and they all know. I told my mom a couple months after I started and she told my dad and he was like, “Oh.” Then she told my grandparents and they were like, “Well, she's still our granddaughter and we love her.” As for the community, usually I don't tell people that I'm a dancer until I really know them. So I guess I must think there's some kind of negative stereotype if I'm so reluctant to tell people when I first meet them, but I guess I don't meet a whole lot of people these days. I have a really strong group of friends that I've known 10 years, I've got a boyfriend that I've been with for 3 years and I've got a bunch of family that I go and visit regularly in another town.

Advice?

Never judge your self-worth on your appearance and hold the same expectation of others. I mean, if you want to be beautiful, that's okay, but never forget that the best things you can leave to resonate in a person's mind are the opinions you express, the jokes you tell … and not the way you look.