“Your man is safer here than at a nightclub flirting with lots of single girls.
We are not interested in him, we are just doing our job.”
My descent down the zebra patterned staircase, lined with fuchsia coloured lights, reminds me of something out of New York’s most famous nightclub, Studio 54. But, I’m not in New York; I’m in Adelaide.
With dimmed lights and the bass of the sound system vibrating beneath me, I surprisingly don’t feel as uneasy, or awkward, as I thought I would walking into Hindley Street’s premier gentlemen’s club, The Palace. However, entering the strippers’ dressing room for the first time, hidden away from the main stage behind a thick curtain and heavy door, is probably a different story.
Ever had that experience when your whole life flashes before your eyes? Well, opening the door to where all the ‘behind the scenes’ action takes place, I had a similar vision – except mine involved flashes of breasts, buttocks and female genitalia.
Lined with full length wall mirrors and baby pink lockers, plastered with stickers like ‘Girls rule, boys drool’, the girls seem unfazed as we enter the room, casually continuing to hand-lather bronzer on their toned naked bodies, amongst a faint smell of hairspray.
Confronting as this is at the start, my mind gradually wanders from the image of the different shaped boobs and bottoms right in front of my eyes, before I realise that I’m probably living every man’s ultimate fantasy at this very moment.
And girls, for those of you who haven’t been in the private lap dancing rooms, don’t worry, I sussed it out and your men are being monitored in full view of the many security cameras. It’s not the sinister space you always envisioned with a big king sized bed, handcuffs and fluffy pillows.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
Moving away from the thumping bump n’ grind music, bare flesh and beauty products, I sit down privately with one of the girls, who will remain anonymous, before she starts her 9pm to 5am shift.
With her back arched straight, hands cupped in her lap, and a black satin robe clinging tastefully to her toned and bronzed body, she looks more like a Victoria’s Secret model and, to be honest, I feel a little intimidated at first.
Without hesitation, she tells us what it feels like to get naked in front of strangers; how she deals with the negative stereotypes; chats about her supportive boyfriend (yes, you can be a stripper and still have a boyfriend),and confides that her parents and friends have no idea about her ‘secret’ life.
As I warm into our conversation I am blown away by this gorgeous, confident and down to earth girl…
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR ‘STRIPPING’ EXPERIENCE SO FAR?
It’s a lifestyle change; it’s not just a job. You’re selling yourself, so you’re working for yourself. I’ve never worked for myself; so, your body and your personality is your business. You have to also be accountable for everything. You have to understand that dancing is similar to how you run any business. You need to keep your cliental happy to ensure you keep getting the business coming in.
I didn’t just jump into this. It took about three months of researching and planning. I made sure I spoke one on one with a lot of the girls that work here to see what they thought about it.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT STRIPPING?
I came from working 60 to 70 hours per week, so to be able to just work three nights a week and earn triple for about15 to 20 hours of work per week, I would say that’s probably the best thing.
WHAT ARE THE DOWNFALLS OF STRIPPING?
You do get a reputation. I keep it a secret because I don’t want my parents knowing, but it’s a means to an end. It’s not something you can do for a long time.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE A RELATIONSHIP AND STRIPPING?
My boyfriend is very supportive, but don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t love it either. *Laughs* It can be hard; it’s the thought of other people looking at your body, when that’s supposed to be sacred for just that person. But, he understands that there’s a goal at the end of it.
WHAT’S YOUR GOAL?
I want to own my own business in hospitality and I’d also love to travel. A lot of girls working here actually have the opportunity to take two to three holidays a year, whereas a lot of other people can’t afford to do that.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A NIGHT OF WORK?
I’ll wake up about 1pm. Do chores around my house, eat lunch (or breakfast as I like to call it) and then start getting ready about 5:30pm. I do my hair and makeup at home and then get to the club by 8:30pm. Here, I start applying my tan and put on my lingerie.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE NAKED IN FRONT OF STRANGERS?
I wanted to throw up the first time I was on stage! I was so nervous. Although I’ve done dancing in the past, like contemporary, jazz and tap, stripping is clearly very different. I know how to perform and put on a show, but to take off your clothes? It’s a different type of dance. You’ll find a lot of girls don’t do a lot of pole work; they’ll do a lot of poses and look sexy that way.
The first time I stripped, I had a few drinks. Sometimes you need a bit of liquid courage. Sometimes dancing on stage can actually feel good while you’re up there because feeling desired is a good feeling, especially when you’re getting tipped for it.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD PLASTIC SURGERY OR FEEL PRESSURE TO ‘GO UNDER THE KNIFE’?
No, I’ve never had any plastic surgery. I’ve always wanted a breast augmentation, but I’ve wanted that since I was 16 and I’m now 23. But, that’s a personal thing; I don’t feel obligated. All women are beautiful and have different shapes and sizes. I’ve got small breasts, but some guys like that. It’s all about personal preference, and, at the end of the day, this industry really isn’t just all about what you look like. It’s about holding a conversation and making people feel comfortable.
ARE YOU EVER WORRIED A RELATIVE OR FRIEND WILL SEE YOU DANCING?
Yes, and it’s happened to me already. Friends have come into the club, but if it was a relative, the club managers will make sure they get you out of the backdoor and help you if you don’t want to be seen.
HOW DO YOU KEEP SAFE?
It’s a safe environment here, so, if the customers are giving us a hard time or being mean, we just say one word to the bouncer. It’s our work environment, but there aren’t many altercations here.
DO YOU PREFER PRIVATE ROOM DANCING OR ‘SHAKING IT’ ON STAGE?
I prefer to go to the back private room because you’re guaranteed money, but girls can also get tips on the stage too.
IS THERE A ‘NO TOUCHING’ RULE?
Yes. Customers can’t touch my boobs, bum or other private parts. They can touch my arms and legs if they want, but they can’t touch those three things. It’s a policy.
HOW MUCH DO YOU EARN IN A NIGHT?
I aim for $500 per night, but I have earned more than $1,000 in a night before, which was dancing for up to four hours for one customer. He also bought us $1,500 worth of champagne.
WHAT TYPE OF MIND FRAME DO YOU NEED TO BE IN BEFORE HITTING THE STAGE?
Just to be here, you need to be in a good mood, because you need to be smiling all the time. There’s nothing more discerning than a grumpy girl.
WHAT TRAITS DO YOU NEED IN ORDER TO SURVIVE IN THIS INDUSTRY?
It’s a tough industry, but there are pros and cons in all jobs. You need to be confident and approach guys and make conversation. This is like a fantasyland; guys want to have a good time and you need to give that to them.
DO YOU ENJOY THE WORK OR PURELY DO IT FOR THE MONEY?
There are some nights where I have fun and I’ve made really amazing girlfriends here. You need to enjoy this work. You can’t come into your workplace with a bad attitude. Honestly, if you’re not in a good mindset, you won’t enjoy it here.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH YOUR ‘FAT’ OR ‘BAD HAIR’ DAYS?
It’s important to keep healthy. Some girls may drink alcohol throughout the night during their shift, so I always try to eat healthy on my days off.
DO YOU EVER FEEL DISRESPECTED FOR BEING A STRIPPER?
Yes. There have been times when guys have come into the club and are in a bad mood and feeling sh*t about themselves, and they want you to feel even more sh*t about yourself. I had a guy make me cry on my second night dancing here, but I haven’t had many guys do this to me since.
I KNOW PROSTITUTION AND STRIPPING ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, BUT WOULD YOU EVER HAVE SEX FOR MONEY?
No, but I have been offered, but there is just no way. I always tell guys, you know what, I’m a stripper and I am not a prostitute. I have a partner who trusts me deeply and I trust him – just like in any relationship.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT STRIPPERS?
That we’re sl*ts. I’m 23 and I’ve only had sex with five guys – and I’ve always been in relationships. My ‘number’ is a lot lower than some promiscuous women who work in offices.
HAVE YOU EVER QUESTIONED YOUR DECISION TO START THIS PROFESSION?
I always look for opportunities, and I’ll personally know when I’ve had enough. It has been difficult at times for my partner. He’s my ‘number one’ though, so I’ll always put him first. He always picks me up to and from work and makes sure I’m safe. When the time comes to stop doing this work, I’ll know.
STRIPPER MAKEUP MUST-HAVES
Get a golden complexion – try Bronzer Instant Tan with Shimmer. It washes off the next day and makes you look hot and lean!
A bold, red lip shade – try Tom Ford’s Cherry Lush
Big, full lashes – try M.A.C #7 falsies
Argan Oil on the hair – often dubbed ‘liquid gold’ for the hair to leave your locks looking silky soft.