From Pointe to Pole, A Dancer’s Journey
Written By; Lindsey “Lin Tutu” Teall
“Give ’em what they need.”
Stripping isn’t for everyone.
I entered the world of adult entertainment, knowing what it could entail. I walked through that door with not only an open mind, but a heart that had been broken more than once. So many people believe that the industry is the root of all evil, corrupting all who step foot into its clutches. NOT TRUE. Myself, and many others (including friends), are living proof that it’s not all partying, drugs, alcohol, and physical/mental abuse. This is our job, our income, our passion. We not only enjoy what we do, but we also have many perks (pun intended). So in this entry, I’m going to give you a small taste of what I experience on a daily basis. It’s not all fun and games. It’s rewarding, and it’s also hard fucking work.
I pulled up to the parking lot, and maneuvered my little silver dodge into a random spot and shifted into “P”. My hands on the steering wheel, gradually released their iron grip and relaxing, slid to my knees. I sat and stared at the outside of this large building with almost zero windows, and only doors for outside light to peep through. A deep breath in, slow and cool, and out again. Wondering how many other girls in the past do exactly what I do before each shift. I like this, though. Leaving the outside world behind before immersing myself into the club atmosphere, it helped. Another deep breath…and…okay. That was all I needed to exit my car and grab my shit from the passenger side, close my car door and lock everything up.
“Breathe in that industrial air. Mmm, mmm, delicious.”
“No door guy today. That’s safe.”
My mood reeked of sarcasm, which wasn’t abnormal.
The lack of staff as of late was a little disconcerting. My hand reached for the faux brass handle. Before the door even cracked, a mixture of cigarettes and stale beer seeped through and entered my nose cavities. I walked through the first set of double doors, and then through the second. This was the “employee entrance”. Now the smell was even more pungent, and I imagined having a black light wand, scanning the carpet, walls, doors, etc. They were all heavily lined with the ashy-alcohol residue.
Calvin greeted me from behind the front counter. He looked unbelievably bored. It was only 3 pm in the afternoon, so I wasn’t surprised. Customers didn’t start showing up until 7. That’s when the dinner/after work crowd came in.
“What’s up, Calvin.”
I smiled, wondering if he would even see me in the dim lighting.
“You need anything today, Heidi?” Calvin asked, genuinely.
Calvin always made sure I had everything I needed. He also made sure I always had my fix. Candy fix, that is. If the vending machine was out of skittles, he made sure I had plenty for my upcoming double shift. Yeah, I’m a work-aholic. Being in the club for 14 hours isn’t my idea of a good time, especially considering I don’t do drugs or drink (not judging anyone who does).
But the facts were still this: more money was to be made if a dancer worked one and a half to two shifts. Plus more regular customers were seen, gained, etc, etc. Such a never-ending cycle of now normalcy. But still better than working 5-6 days a week, at a normal job.
“This is now my normal”, I told myself. And I was O.K. with it.
In the beginning, there had been a sense of otherworldliness. A constant thrill. Adrenaline rush. I still experienced this, but not nearly as often as before. Going from “real jobs”, to getting naked for loads of money, doing what I love most: dancing. Miss Nude Pageants, nude modeling, the world of constant photoshoots and being asked to be filmed, taken home…wanted. After feeling unloved and unsexy for SO long, it was nice. And even though I did not always take up all offers, it made me feel like I was someone. Society loves doing that…making someone feel unwanted, unloved, unneeded, useless, unforgettable. Deep down, I knew I was none of these things, but I had almost started to believe it was the truth. People need to be made to feel. To feel important, not insignificant. And I enjoy doing this.
Yes, it’s true, I enjoy making people feel loved. And they pay me for it. So sue me. It’s something that needs to be more present in our everyday lifestyle, our culture, but very few people actually come to this realization on their own. Or figure out how to break the cycle.
“Later, Calvin, I will definitely need some later on!”
“Cool, I’ll get them on my break.” Calvin replied.
(I tipped him every time he made a run for me, so in the end we both won).
That’s really what this business is about, though. Making each other happy, feel respected…not being a douche. And the dancers and employees who are assholes? I’ll just say this–they don’t last for long. They may make money initially, but as far as a long-term career? Doubtful.
I climbed the two steps that lead to the upper platform, which was the main part of the club. Waved at the bartender as I passed, nodded to the girls on the side stage, greeted the dj inside his booth. Something I also made a point to do, was weigh the crowd and scan for regular customers that may be there waiting on me to arrive. Only one potential client, and not even a for sure bet. Still, it could be advantageous to hurry and get ready.
The song I walked in on finished as I passed the Dj booth, and Spicy, put the mic to his mouth. I opened the dressing room door, Spicy’s voice echoing through the club and trailed behind me into the dressing area. Only a few dancers were actually present for their shift today. I gathered this from the lack of bags, street clothes and other belongings not strewn about. Most entertainers would store their things in their private lockers, but 90% of the time would leave behind at least one or two items. This was a pretty safe club, not much theft occurred between girls. They knew they’d get sacked. Zero tolerance for theft, open drug use and fighting. It’s one of the better clubs, and every shift I walked into, I realized how lucky I am.
“…My next entertainer on the number one stage…Kylee. Go say hello to our lovely Kylee.” Spicy’s voice over the dressing room speaker came through semi-audibly. “Bad To The Bone” was Kylee’s first song, one of my all time favorite oldies.
“Great choice, Spice”, I thought to myself as I found my spot at the one of three circular vanities, and started to unpack. I say unpack, because I take almost all of my costumes home with me at the end of each shift, just in case some dickhead decided to break into my locker. Jake also packs my meals for me so I don’t have to spend a lot on food whilst working. Such a sweet boyfriend I have. But seriously, he’s fucking amazing. Dating someone who used to be an entertainer and dj himself, who still performs, is one of the coolest, more surreal things that has ever happened to me. He understands the job because he’s been there himself.
The key for my locker was still in my clutch from the last shift, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Although my costumes return with me every night/day, my shoes are still stored in my locker. Kind of impossible to dance without them in this place. It took me a good while to learn how to dance in stilettos, but now I love stripping in heels. I opened my locker and took out the towel that’s always placed carefully (dirty side down) onto my seat. Am I OCD? Yes. Am I a clean freak? No. But this place is filthy. Seriously, all clubs are gross, no matter how gorgeous looking, how much money comes into them, or how popular they are. They are nasty.
“I love your pink hair!” someone from behind me yells.”
“Oh, hey Lacey”, I smiled at her. “I didn’t recognize your voice, how are you? And thank you for the hair compliment.”
“I’m alright. Bored. I’d love to dye my hair grey at some point.” She informs me.
“You should, that would be really pretty on you.”
Lacey removed her waitress corset and put on a hoodie, then headed to the dancer/waitress bathroom. She checked her face in the mirror and then back out to her spot at the vanity.
“How’s it been in here this week? I’ve been gone for several days.” I asked, actually curious to know.
“Oh. So terrible, girl. Fucking shitty.” She made a face of disgust.
“That bad? Fuck. That sucks.”
Lacey rolled her blonde, mid-length hair into a bun, grabbed her phone and started scrolling. I shut up.
Working in the industry wasn’t nearly as amazing as it had once been “back in the day”, but I still managed to make good money. I constantly wondered if it was my approach. And I knew that friends of mine were doing decently also. At least 1-3 grand a week was not abnormal if you worked for it. Or course girls giving extras made more, but I wouldn’t know anything about that. I don’t judge what others do for money. But that wasn’t for me. I’ve never felt comfortable giving that much of myself to a stranger, or even someone I’ve known for a while. Plus, I really like my job, and girls who get caught sucking, fucking, etc, they got fired automatically. So in my opinion, not worth it. Plus, if I decided to go that route, I’d get a bodyguard, go to a hotel, and name my price. I wouldn’t put out for $100, $200, $500, or even $1,000 dollars. I can make that money without doing any of the above. It’s all about how you present yourself, manage your time, and most importantly, how you treat your customers. When I tell other dancers this…that they don’t need to put out to make money, sometimes they act surprised. I guess it’s because I was trained and taught by “old-school” entertainers, in a small hole-in-the-wall club in Illinois.
It’s amazing how much the industry has changed.
Before the recessions, money was flowing like water in clubs across the nation. Making 3,000 dollars in a shift was not unheard of. Buying new cars, houses, property, and living like a rock star was the norm. Currently, it’s still better than your average job, but if you’re not on your game, it isn’t by much. The key for me is my character and making my customers feel appreciated. Between those two things, and managing my time during my shifts, I can walk out with several hundred to a grand, no problem.
But… IT’S HARD WORK.
Don’t be fooled. You can’t just waltz into a club and expect it to rain on your first set. But on a Friday, Saturday, even Sunday night, it’s not unlikely. As long as you play your cards right.
After I unpack and get dressed (my makeup is always done at home), I go to the DJ booth to get my name put on the board. That way my stage set is in rotation and I can start dancing. Being seen is another important factor. Not only seen on stage, but walking around the club. If no one knows you’re there, how will you start making money? So I sit at the bar or by the DJ booth, warming up, chatting, just looking like I’m having a semi-decent time. The moment I stop smiling, that’s when the cash stops flowing in. Grumpy dancers are no fun.
A guy walks up to me, middle aged, white hair, friendly. He asks me how my day is going, and I tell him my shift just started. He’s wondering when I go on stage again, and I inform him it may be about 30-40 minutes. He offers to buy me a drink and I tell him I’d like a sprite (seems lame, but nobody wants a sloppy drunk. Middle aged guys actually like the fact that I don’t get drunk.) I introduce myself and ask his name (sometimes happens later in the conversation). The bartender brings us our drinks, he pays, tips a couple of bucks, and turns to face me.
“Would you like to do a dance?”
“I’d love to have some fun with you” I reply, very coy, smiling.
I know nothing about him, other than the fact that he wants to spend more time with me. We walk to the private area, and I take his hand. I want him to know that I am an affectionate person. We arrive at the private counter, and he’s asked to produce 5 dollars for a dance wristband, which will be his “golden ticket” in and out of the dance area for the remainder of the evening. He pulls out five ones, paper wristband placed onto his person, and we enter the first booth available (I tend to go to the nicest one, not too far back because those are notorious for being filthy and unpleasant…in other words, “sticky”. Which could be anything from booze for bodily fluids).
I can tell this man has some class, because he doesn’t balk at it. He doesn’t want his dick sucked, at least not at this moment. He just wants a dance. A good, old fashioned private dance. I ask him if he’s interested in doing three songs for $100 dollars. He says he is. We do the three songs, he tells me to keep going, and we dance for three more. We’re now at $200. He’s not quite ready to stop, and asks me if three more dances is okay with me. I shake my head yes, and smile making eye contact, sitting on his lap and caressing his neck. After the third set of dances, he says he needs to go home now. I don’t ask him any questions, but thank him for the dances and for spending time with me. He looks satisfied, that makes me happy. As we walk out of the private area, he tips me another $100. This seems unrealistic, but it’s not. $400 dollars and approximately 30 minutes later, and I’m elated. Because not only have I made money, but I’ve done my job the way I wanted to do it.
The night goes on, I dance on stage several times, finding two more guys who want something similar to the first. As it gets later into the wee hours of the night, the requests become more…intense. Sometimes I turn down men (and women) who ask me for more than what I want to do. Sometimes I’ll play along and get as many songs out of them until they realize I’m not putting out (depending on how rude they are to me).
It’s all up to the dancer. So you probably see where I’m going with this. The stigma is not 100% accurate. Have I been in uncomfortable positions that I didn’t necessarily want to find myself in? Yes. Have I ever been forced to put out for a customer? No.
I greatly enjoy my job, and I’ll never apologize for getting paid to make people happy and feel loved. They need it. We all need it.
Lindsey, also known as ”Lin Tutu”, resides in St. Louis with her three children and fiancé. A former professional Ballet and Contemporary dancer, she transitioned to Pole in 2009, and is currently a dance instructor, performer, competitive and exotic dancer. She is also the creator of ”Ballet Sensual”, a sexy Ballet class, which uses the technique and fundamentals of Ballet, while inspiring students to find their inner sensuality