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Stripper Anthropology: A Rough Guide to the Women You’ll Meet at the Club

Stripper Anthropology: A Rough Guide to the Women You’ll Meet at the Club: Hair and Makeup by Emma Parkes

Hair and Makeup by Emma Parkes

Welcome to The Tasteful Nude, in which stripper, comedian and writer Kasey Koop gives us a point-blank look at life onstage and backstage in L.A.’s strip club scene. Check back every Thursday afternoon for more.

In the clubs of exotic dance exist all varieties of bad bitch, each with her own endgame. People think of strippers as cheap archetypes: the whore-with-a-heart-of-gold, the college-kid-twerking-her-way-through-school, the strung-out-sad-girl. Not that these women don’t exist or there’s anything wrong with them (hell, I’ve been one or two of them at times), but there are many other flavors. Mainsteam media doesn’t depict the happy sluts, the college-graduates-struggling-in-this-economy, the entrepreneurial-ass-hoes. And despite how badly movies want to convince you that strippers are a monolithic bunch of sad sacks, picking up the pieces of our lives, we aren’t; we’re mostly picking up singles. Every dancer is in the industry for myriad reasons, and none of us is confined to a single category.

That said, here are four of the main stripper stages and classifications that some or all of us pass through at one time or another.


BABY STRIPPERS
Every stripper starts as a baby stripper. Birthed into the underworld excited and confused, the novice stripper puffs out her chest to hide her nervously racing heart. Not every newbie is young, but a good portion start fresh off the party bus. “She barely looks legal,” drooled one guy over a 21-year-old who ran around the club in HUF socks—the dark mark of 90’s babies. “To be young again,” I sighed, in my 27-year-old body with graying pubes and laugh lines forged over decades of fake-laughing at dudes’ jokes. (OK, 27 isn’t old, but it’s a rough transition from mosh pits to preventative Botox.) Baby strippers are magnets for gross men since they haven’t yet learned how to establish boundaries and will put up with being talked at for much longer than more-experienced girls. Not to mention how infectious their excitable naivety is to customers, like a disease.

HUSTLERS
I personally fall into this category. Primarily money-driven, hustlers invest as little capital and effort into their appearance as possible. Our locker room visits are hasty cosmetic touch-ups, and we station ourselves out on the sales floor for maximum visibility. We hustlers—I call us “The Hussies"—entertain healthy competition over who is selling the most lap dances throughout the night. Just as men see us as boobs and butts, we view them as minutes and dollars. When a man enters the club, we confer about his history: Does he buy dances? Drinks for the girls? Is he creepy or handsy? Chances are one of us knows his story and can save the other Hussies wasted time. Conversely, if he is a big spender, we take turns running a train on him.

SOCIAL STRIPPERS
On the opposite end of the spectrum are social strippers. Using work as an excuse to turn up with friends, these ladies embody the party. In my club, they are key in creating a fun and welcoming environment where dudes want to throw cash. Social strippers spend an ample amount of time getting pretty in the locker room, where they sip and smoke to rev up for the night. These women are the after-partiers, forming outside-work bonds with each other that translate to closeness in the club. They aren’t as concerned with hustling dudes out of their every dollar, so they spend more time drinking and forming connections with their regulars, which pays off in other ways. One of my co-workers was recently gifted $7,000 for new tits from a regular client. I like to picture her making it rain on the surgeon.

LIFERS
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked how long I plan on stripping, with the ripe overtone of: You can’t do this forever! Let alone how often I have been told that my body and face have a shelf life. Lifers, or strippers who are DFL (Down For Life), disprove this idea entirely. Dancers in their 30s and 40s have fans and regulars who appreciate their kind of experienced sexuality that no baby stripper, performing the jerky pole dance routine she learned in class, could emit onstage. Not to mention the fact that there are plenty of fellas who fetishize grown women.

I didn’t go into dancing to be a career stripper, but I wouldn’t mind it. In college, every weekend was an excuse for me to dress up and go dancing, and now I get to do that for a living. People tend to assume stripping is a means to an end, but what if the goal is just being happy and deriving pleasure the way we can? For some of us, an office job is akin to prison. My greatest fear is that, instead of fire and brimstone, hell will be fluorescently lit and beige-cubicled. Lifers exemplify the fearless living everyone should aspire to—and there’s no shame in that.


Find more installments of the Tasteful Nude here.

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