Waitressing in a Strip Club- The Ups and Downs of the Sex Industry

Between the “grab em’ by the pussy” mentality and drunk men trying to kiss you, serving in a strip club is an interesting occupation…to say the least.

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Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

Although being employed, or being affiliated within the sex work industry is still frowned upon, there is money to be made. The problem is, that can depend on where you work. The location I selected appeared to be quite nice from the outside; clean parking lot, gated, lots of lighting. Appearances can be deceiving, though, and I probably should have seen it as a red flag that they were always hiring.

Whatever, I needed income and dancing just wasn’t really my thing.

Plus, I’m cool with my dad.

I was 26 and had never seen the inside of a strip club, but I had worked in retail. Watching dancers walk in and drop the equivalent of your rent on clothes, all whilst being decked out in full hair and makeup, really makes you resent the fact that you’re in school full time and working 40+ hours every week. That’s without overtime by the way, since that time is divided up amongst 2 or 3 different jobs altogether.

Interview and Application

Their application was online of course, and it had the typical questions regarding qualifications, requirements, and so on. The only thing that felt a little weird was the request for photos. A head-shot and a full-body shot, just a normal photo of what you look like every day. While I supposed that makes sense, it is a business on appearances, it’s strange to think that they have a database full of random girls.

The details of the interview were pretty basic and the manager, who we’ll nickname Jeff for privacy, was upfront about the job expectations. I could basically work whenever I wanted to, but I had to close at least two nights a week. Tip out the bartender, show up on time, and behave like a person with basic manners.

Fair enough, but what about the outfit?

To my relief, the uniform was essentially, “wear whatever you want, just be sure it’s black.” This was definitely a moment of elation, I’m all about wearing black, and my boobs get to stay inside my shirt. And hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all against women using their sexuality as a form of income…obviously. I was working in a strip club.

If you’ve got the confidence and it works, do you boo.

Here’s where I should’ve said thanks but no thanks…this man looked me dead in the eye and said I had to pay $45 for “supplies” and a food tray. This is on top of the $10 per night just to work, which is normal for the dancers, but I’d never heard of it being applied to the waitresses.

Ultimately, I figured I’d be making enough money to cover all that within the first weekend.

The First Weekend

The first night on the job actually wasn’t that bad. The evening started off pretty slowly, another waitress showed me around and sent me on my merry way within the first 30 minutes. The lack of patrons should have been another red flag for a Saturday night, but I was just starting out and figured I’d give it some time. There were a lot of servers on the floor already, and most had their regulars.

I walked out with about $25 in tips from various customers and $50 from a guy who’d had a lot of beers. All in all, it was pretty terrible money for the first night…but I was still appreciative of the generosity from Mr. Buy Several Rounds, On Me.

Speaking of which, we were allowed to drink on the job. This seems like a plus, but I refrained from drinking for the most part to avoid the more handsy clientele. If anything, I’d take a soda or some juice.

The very next weekend was exceptionally worse. Maybe it was the club, I don’t know, but there were plenty of dancers and hardly any men in the building. I finally retired myself to a table with one gentleman I’d been serving all night and had a long chat.

He was quite polite, open, and ended the night by giving me a $25 tip. I think I left with about $34 total that evening before tipping out my bartender.

Trinity to the Stage

The second weekend was equally as terrible, but I had at least made a friend. Her stage name was Trinity, she was 18 years old and this was her first night in the strip club, as well as her first night ever dancing. Being 26 at the time, the big sister in me wanted to ask her what the hell she was doing there, she was so young.

She’d just had a baby a few months ago and lived with an older boyfriend, which pretty much told me all I needed to know. She was a super sweet gal and definitely reaped the rewards of her youth in this industry. She went off to give a few dances, and about 30 minutes later came back over to me with $800.

Yes…you read that right. This girl just made my rent in a few minutes less than half an hour.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “why didn’t you just dance then?”

Yeah, I asked myself that very same question, up until she bent over during a dance, and the client literally grabbed her by the pussy.

That. That right there is exactly why I wasn’t dancing. Although the manager quickly stepped in and let the creeper know that this was a no-contact club, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen this kind of behavior from our patrons. It also doesn’t help that some of the dancers were definitely practicing prostitution in the VIP lounges.

Now, if porn is legal, I see no reason why we shouldn’t legalize prostitution. It’s often referred to as the “oldest profession in the world,” and it’s perfectly legal in the state of Nevada as well as several other countries. It gives women a safe, clean environment, with bouncers and people who can protect them should something go wrong.

“I would never want to take away the option of sex work from someone, but I would want to create more options so that everyone can make the decision of whether they want to or not, and so that they can do it safely.” -Emily Symons

The problem that I do have with it, is that this isn’t a brothel, it’s a strip club. When one person sets a standard that certain behavior is okay, it sets the tone for everyone else in the room. I was here to serve food and drinks, help the dancers pull clients (they helped me get tips in turn), and that was it. I had always been great at customer service, and up until this point, I didn’t understand why I wasn’t making any money.

A woman who’d been working there for over a decade pulled me aside and essentially told me that I didn’t fit the fantasy. She made a good point, a lot of these men come to the strip club because they’re tired of look at their wives or girlfriends who have completely let themselves go. They want to see women who have their hair down and their nails done, who don’t mind showing a little cleavage or maybe even a nipple and do it with a smile.

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Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

I don’t know how true that actually was, I’d had someone buy me food, tip me, purchase about 5 glasses of Sprite (which he thought was Vodka, but like I said, I don’t drink on the clock), and then full-on leaned in to try to stick his tongue in my mouth.

I made it clear very quickly that that wasn’t happening, and he left shortly afterward. So, clearly I fit someone’s fantasy, I just wasn’t willing to follow through. I wasn’t even a dancer, and even if I were, they’re there to dance, to entertain, not to have sex with randoms.

Sink or Swim

At this point, I’d decided that if I didn’t walk out without at least $200 in my pocket, I was done. If you’ve never worked in the service industry, a normal shift at a regular restaurant leaves you with about $50 on a slow day. Good days bring in $100+ if you’re skilled at what you do. Seeing as how I was working in a strip club, I was definitely expecting those numbers to be doubled.

The thing is, the exotic dancer world is very dog-eat-dog, and that mentality is common among the servers as well. If you aren’t aggressive about your tables and your customers, people will take them from you and claim that it’s just one of their regulars, and that they’d been requested personally. By this point, I basically said screw it, I knew I was done after this weekend.

As we got a little busier throughout the evening, one person asked if he could pay to see my vagina, to which I promptly declined. A few minutes later, I watched two other waitresses allow him to put his hands down their shorts for money.

That was it for me, I grabbed my things out of my locker and dipped. Perhaps I would have made more in a different club, maybe I just don’t have the skillset for that particular profession. If you’re going to work in one of these places though, be prepared for anything. Observe your surroundings, and don’t let anyone get away with taking liberties that they shouldn’t.

Create a plan for yourself, save your money, and don’t waste time in a club that doesn’t offer the kind of pay you’re looking for. I wasn’t interested in exploring the sex work industry any further than that, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t nicer locations out there, they’re just harder to get into.

At the end of the day, I have no regrets about taking the job. Like anything else in life, you chalk it up to a learning lesson and move onto better things.

Introverted animal lover and financial enthusiast. https://medium.com/the-millenial-investor

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