When did you start stripping and how long did you do it for?

I started in 2011 and stopped in 2017 when I was 30, so I did it for about 6 years.

 

Why did you initially start and why did you eventually stop?

Usually girls go into dancing and then into movies but I went into movies and then into dancing. I always liked performing, but I can’t remember exactly why I went into it. My first memory is turning up to the club for an audition. 

I stopped because the money wasn’t there. It wasn’t like it used to be. I put on a bit of weight, the customers changed, they expected more. They would treat the club like a brothel- and you’d get customers saying ‘When I went to this club, she let me touch her there’ etc. Trying to guilt trip you into letting them touch you. So I sort of lost the mojo and I was having the drink a lot to get me through the night. And money-wise it wasn’t worth it. 

 

Talk me through a typical night for you at the club from start to finish.

Usually we’d get there for about 9pm. I’d start getting ready at 7pm at home doing my hair and makeup and pack my bag. Then the girls start coming in from 8 till around 9:30. The earlier you arrive the less the house fee is, because you’re on the floor and ready to go. At other clubs sometimes you don’t need to turn up until midnight. Then with the girls we’d have a little chat, a little drink. Get changed, and if it’s quiet we’d teach each other moves on the pole. If it’s a busy night it’s more non-stop. So it works in rotation on the night, each girl goes on stage and does one song, and then onto the next girl, and round and round. When you’re not on stage you’re just going round to the customers, chatting, asking if they want a dance, pretending to be nice basically…You’re a performer, you’re putting on a show. Then you’ll have a few private dances in the mix of that night when someone wants one. Then at the end of the night, everyone comes out in their Whores R Us makeup and hair and then our pyjamas and slippers to cash your money out. You’re done with being sexy at that point. Then we’d count our money up together and get given it cash in hand. Then the bouncers would walk us to our cars. And that’s it! 

 

It’s addictive because of the unpredictability of the night’s outcome. Some nights you’d go home with £2k, and other nights you’d go home minus £50. It’s almost like gambling.

 

How did the small clubs compare to the big clubs?

In the big club, there were 50 girls working, and so if you imagine that and you each only get a couple of customers… it’s like animals. If you even look at another girl’s customer- I mean it’s almost ganglike. If you’re the new girl, you’re immediate competition and if you get in the way of their money, they will destroy you. 

And the management doesn’t care either in a big club. They’re earning their money already because the girls are paying to work there. You have 50 girls each paying a £50 (minimum) house fee, so they barely need to open their doors to customers. I once remember a girl crying at the end of the night at the club because she didn’t make enough money to get a taxi home, and the club just didn’t care. They just wanted her to get out so they could close. And that’s heartbreaking. At a big club, it’s as if the dancers are an inconvenience to them. The customers in big club are different too. People are trying to flex. They want to tag their location on Facebook or something. They have paid so much for the entry and for the drinks, that they are less likely to actually get a dance. They’re there for the show and not necessarily because they actually want a dance. 

When I managed to find a little club, near where I lived, I didn’t have to travel much, it was so much better; the girls were lovely and so were the management and you didn’t have to literally beg for a dance just so you can get some petrol to get home. The  most you would have in a small club is 10 girls. So you know the girls much more than in a big club. The girls aren’t against each other, we would help each other out- if a girl wasn’t getting much custom, we’d do a double dance for example. In the small clubs, you all kind of look kind of different- there’s like the pornstar girl, the dominatrix girl, the tattooed girl. In the big clubs, you’re bound to have girls who fit into the same ‘type’- and then it becomes competitive. In the small clubs, the customers are people you know, they’re usually local, they’re nice people and they’re there for no other reason than because they want to be there and to interact with the dancers. And it’s easier to talk to the regulars because you actually know them, so the talk is more natural. 

 

In general, the pros of my time as a stripper outweigh the cons- for me personally, I’m not speaking for every girl. It made me better as a person, it made me grow a set of balls.

 

Would you say that the stripper lifestyle is addictive?

Definitely. It’s addictive because of the unpredictability of the night’s outcome. Some nights you’d go home with £2k, and other nights you’d go home minus £50. It’s almost like gambling. That’s very different to working in porn, where you know when you’re going to go home, you know what you have to do and how much you’re going to get paid. 

With stripping the moment you have a good night, you’re desperate to keep earning that same amount every night. You’ll gear yourself up, you’ll get a new outfit, you’ll get new shoes, you’ll go in and work so so hard, and you’ll just get nothing. It can be down to circumstance that you can’t control, like the customers just won’t come in. So then you think, okay, so maybe tomorrow night. You’re scared to have a night off in case that’s the night that a millionaire comes in. And that’s the addiction.

And then you count on the next time you’re working to earn money. So you have some girls that will say to themselves ‘Well I can spend all of this money I have now because I’ll earn some on Thursday’ and then that Thursday they won’t earn anything and they’ll be penniless. It can be glamorous, but it can be soul destroying. So that’s why it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. 

However, speaking personally, I never relied on stripping for money, I did webcam and other stuff, so for me, stripping was a more casual night out where I could earn money on the side. I wasn’t addicted, but I saw other people who were. You would have girls begging for your shift because they needed the money. 

 

The social performance is a lot more laborious than the physical performance!

 

How do you think that stripper life affects people’s mental health and body image?

People say sex workers, especially pornstars are damaged, that they have daddy issues or a reason as to why they went into sex work. I find that actually it’s usually dancers that I have found to be most mentally unstable on the whole, and it’s not usually because they started off damaged, but because the industry of stripping has made them damaged. Fridays and Saturdays are probably the normal nights that people have fun, but that’s the nights dancers have to work the most. And you’re not finishing at 1am, you’re finishing at 6am, so then you sleep in the day. So it’s not only the unpredictability of the job that makes it destructive, but it’s the lifestyle in general. Sometimes you’ll see girls in their late 40s still stripping because they are so addicted to the lifestyle, the instant money- they don’t put the money into anything else and use it as a means to an end. 

For me, stripping improved my mental health, for very simple reasons. I was dancing so I was exercising a lot. I was very social, I had my group of friends at the club. And my body was banging because of all of the exercise! And I’d always be having to buy nice underwear and stuff, so I’d see myself in the mirror and feel great. I would say after I stopped dancing, I would say my mental health went more downhill because I did less exercise, less dopamine etc. 

What were the best and worst parts of the job for you?

The best part was the stage shows. I absolutely loved the performing part. People put money in a pot for you for the show, and when people know you, they put more in. I would end up getting a lot of money from it. And it would also be nice when someone paid for a private after seeing you dance- so you knew it was because of your skill- your performance, rather than simply the way you look. Once you come off stage, the adrenaline is amazing and you can hear people talk about how good you are or how good you look, so it makes you feel so confident. I would get to choose my own songs and sort of just freestyle. And your body gets stronger and stronger as you go on. So you can start doing new things, which is really fun and feels constructive. So after stripping, I started teaching pole, because I realised I was pretty good at it. I wouldn’t have known anything about it if it weren’t for dancing, so God knows where I’d be now. 

The worst part was the talking. That’s the reason why I would sometimes drink to get through the night. I have ADHD, so having a conversation with someone can be quite difficult. You don’t know what they’re going to say to you, and not knowing the outcome of an interaction but having to keep ploughing on can be very draining. You sort of have to constantly be thinking of engaging conversation and putting on a show. The social performance is a lot more laborious than the physical performance! You get in the car after a shift and you just need silence. 

 

Did you feel empowered as a stripper?

Yes. I never felt that the customers were in control, despite us being the ones approaching them. I was never desperate, for me I had other things going on for money, so stripping was like a nice night out and that showed in my attitude- if they would try and get me to just sit and chat, I’d be like ‘hmmm no.’ And as the dancers, the vibe definitely was that we owned that club, not the customers. 

 

Was it a very drug-induced environment?

It was very half and half, both ends of the spectrum. Some girls were very, very anti-drugs, and other girls were snorting lines whilst doing a private dance..But most of the really druggy girls would get found out and made to leave, so most of the girls that stayed didn’t do drugs. 

 

Don’t rely on stripping alone to make money- that’s where it can get addictive and destructive.

 

How did dancing compare to doing porn?

Porn is more professional, and safer. In porn, on a shoot, everyone is there to be paid and to work. So it’s very professional. I worked for big porn companies, so there was an element of responsibility on them. If something bad happens to you,  that company knows they would get in trouble. So they take a lot of care. In stripping, you can have customers waiting for you to come out afterwards, and not every club takes care of you- it’s not always that bouncers will walk you to your car because some clubs don’t have car parks so you have to walk halfway across the city alone in the early hours of the morning.

 

Do you have any fond memories of your stripper days?

Whenever there was a really really drunk guy in the club, basically passed out, all of the girls would stand around him and one of his friends would take a photo of us with him, simply so that in the morning his friends could say ‘Mate did you realise you had about 20 strippers round you last night?’ Those memories, for me, are brilliant. All the girls together having fun- those moments were the highlights. 

 

For you was it overall a positive or negative experience?

In general, the pros of my time as a stripper outweigh the cons- for me personally, I’m not speaking for every girl. It made me better as a person, it made me grow a set of balls. It makes me smile when I remember it. And I was awesome at it, so I enjoyed it! 

 

Would you give any advice to people starting out stripping?

Start with a little club first. Even if you have to do every single night at the little club rather than one night at the big club. Because the little clubs will set a standard for yourself. Then you can go to a big club after that if you want, and decide whether it meets your standard. In my opinion, do anything except go to a big club though! Do OnlyFans, whatever, unless you have massive balls.. Because those clubs are just so every-man-for-himself, and are incredibly intimidating. 

Another thing- don’t rely on stripping alone to make money- that’s where it can get addictive and destructive. I did a bit of camming in the daytime, and it doesn’t have to be anything hardcore, just even dancing in front of the camera. And then you might get those customers come specifically to your club to see you. In my opinion if you’re going to do stripping, really do it. Be constructive.  Learn the pole moves, work out, get the nice outfits, watch as many videos as you can. You can even do camming whilst practising routines for your shows. You don’t need to do anything seedy. Big clubs doesn’t equal success. 

 

Interview
Sex Work
stripper
Iso

Iso

Author

Iso is a writer and filmmaker based in East London. She is passionate about all things erotic and leads a sexy, shame-free life in hope that she can inspire others to do the same. Originally from a Northern seaside town, she is naturally drawn to the best things in life: candyfloss, trashy karaoke bars and heart-shaped sunglasses.


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