An ex-exotic dancer reports on her brief experience in the industry.
I started at the club as a shot girl.
During an interview for a job, I learned I would be working at a gentlemen’s club. I was a bit shocked—as that wasn’t stated in the job listing—but it didn’t deter me. I’m someone who will try anything once, plus the job seemed pretty simple: Sell your shots and give dances for extra cash.
I arrived at the agency for my first day of work and met some of the girls.
“Hi, I’m Sadie!” I said. The girls looked at each other. “Oh, is that your stage name?” one girl asked.
I was confused. “No, that’s my real name. Do I need a stage name?”
She explained that every girl gets a stage name for safety reasons, and told me her name was Lizzie. I always liked the name Audrey, and it hadn’t been taken yet. So, Audrey I was.
Suddenly, a well-dressed man appeared in front of me. He told me his name was Cory, and he was my boss. Since I didn’t have a car, I rode with the girls in the shuttle the club provided. When I finally got to the club, I filled out paperwork and was shuffled into a room for training with Cory.
Once training was finished, I changed into my uniform—a bright pink bra and matching thong, covered by a skin-tight, white, mesh dress with a pink garter—and made my way downstairs where I received my tray of shots.
“Well, off you go,” Cory said.
When I got on the floor, I went to the first table of men I saw. I was given a script to use when approaching customers, with room to improvise. So I put on my best smile and walked over. I put the shot between my breasts and looked at my first potential customer. “Can I interest you in a $5 boobie shot?” I asked.
“No thanks, I’m having a beer right now,” he said. I frowned and asked if he’d like a $2 regular shot instead. Again, he turned me down. I tried one more time. “Do you want to buy me a shot and give it to me before I go?” He looked at me, clearly annoyed. “No, really, I’m good.” I sighed but kept a smile on my face. “Okay, doll, but if you change your mind, I’ll be around.”
The night was not off to a good start.
As I scanned the crowd, I saw Lizzie, the girl I met at the agency. She was already down to her last two shots. I ran up to her, desperate for some help. “How did you sell all of those shots already?” I asked. “You just gotta look like you’re having the best time,” she replied. “Guys love girls who are having fun. Here, come with me.”
She danced me over to another table of four guys. “Hey boys, this is my friend Audrey. Buy her a shot!” The boys looked at me, doubtfully. “Hi!” I said with as much enthusiasm as I could gather. “Um, okay,” one guy said.
“Great!” Lizzie exclaimed. “Bye!” And with a twirl, she was gone. After a long moment of silence, one of the men spoke up. “Do you do dances?” he asked.
Finally, something I knew I was good at: “I do!” I said eagerly. I ditched my tray on a nearby shelf and led my first customer upstairs.
He was a small man, and very shy. I could tell he was uneasy. He asked if I could talk to him during the dance to make him more comfortable. “Sure! What did you do today?” I said, hoping to make conversation. He shrugged.
After my first dance, the rest of the night flew by. I gave six more dances and sold all of my shots. At that moment, I understood why women danced. I felt sexy and powerful, like I could get men to do whatever I wanted.
Before I knew it, it was 3:30 a.m. Cory came around to all of the new girls to pull us off of the floor so he could show us how to check out.
The other rookies looked defeated. I had seen them throughout the night: Most of their shot trays were 80 percent full. They looked at mine, which was completely empty.
“How did you sell your whole tray?!” one girl asked. “I don’t know,” I laughed, “I guess they just felt bad for me.”
Cory counted our money, and he informed me that I had made the most out of all of the new girls. “That’s how you do it,” he said with a wink.
I couldn’t wait until my second shift. I got to the club, changed into my uniform, rang in my shots and got to work. Toward the end of the night, an older man approached me and asked if I did double dances (a lap dance with two girls). I told him I hadn’t yet, but I would be willing to give it a try. He turned around and called to another dancer across the room.
I turned around to see this gorgeous, tall blonde walking toward me. She had shoulder-length blonde hair, brown eyes and amazing abs. She wore a metallic-silver bikini and a choker. She introduced herself as Whitney. “Audrey is going to do a double dance with you,” the man explained. “Great!” Whitney said. She grabbed my hand and led us upstairs.
As we made our way to our room, Whitney told me that the man’s name was Arthur, a regular at the club. “He’s really sweet and extremely wealthy,” she said. Arthur gave us each $100. We both grabbed a drink at the bar and headed into our room. Whitney turned on some music, then she and I stripped down and started dancing on Arthur. After about 30 seconds, he stopped us. “Okay, let’s change it up,” he demanded. “Audrey, you sit down on the couch, and Whitney, you climb on top of her. I’ll watch.” We did as he said.
The dance ended and we got dressed. “This is actually a lot of fun! I think I want to be a dancer,” I whispered to Whitney. “Sometimes it gets kind of weird, which is why I drink to get through it, but Arthur is awesome and always takes care of the girls,” she replied. “You should ask Anne if you can be a dancer instead of a shot girl,” she continued. “The club is always looking for more dancers.”
That night, I made $250. I thought about how much more I could make if I didn’t spend time selling shots, so I found Anne, the general manager, to ask if I could make the switch to a dancer instead. “Sure,” she said flatly. “Be here tomorrow at eight for training.”
I found Whitney and told her what Anne said, and we squealed with excitement together. I was so eager to come back.
The next day, I made $30.
It was a Friday night, and I was put onto the floor at 11:00 p.m. I felt a bit naked without my tray of shots, but I was confident. I approached a man and we started talking. After a few minutes, I asked if he wanted a dance. “No, thanks,” he said. “I just got here, so maybe later.”
“Maybe later” is code for “never gonna happen.”
I approached nine more customers, with no success. I tried to keep my head high, but the rejection started to get to me.
I heard the DJ call my name, so I climbed the stairs to the main stage. I was never a dancer and I’m not flexible, so the most I could do was hold on to the pole and spin around. The guys watching at the foot of the stage looked less than impressed, and I wasn’t thrown a single dollar. When I was finished, I ran to the DJ booth. “Please don’t put me on the main stage anymore,” I begged. The DJ looked at me with pity. “You got it, sweetie.”
I found Cory in the office, and he could tell I was upset. “What’s wrong?” he asked. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. They fell from my eyes as soon as I opened my mouth. “No one wants a dance from me,” I cried. “And I was so embarrassed on stage. I’m not good and the guys can tell.”
“Okay, first of all, it’s only 11:30. People don’t usually buy dances until later in the night. You’re fine, I promise,” he said with a smile. “Secondly, you look amazing. Just act like you’re the shit and you’ll be great.”
I wiped my eyes and walked back onto the floor. Again, I approached a table. This time, it was three guys in their early 30s. One of them asked if I gave dances. I nodded. “Good, cause Josh here wants a dance,” he said through slurred words. I turned at Josh, who looked like a dance was the last thing he wanted. “Why don’t you get one, dude?” Josh asked his friend.
“Be confident,” I reminded myself. “I’m really good at them,” I told the man. “And you’re in luck because I have amazing tits.” He paused, looked me up and down, then said, “Why don’t you go get some other girls and I’ll line them up and pick which one I want?”
And then it hit me: I wasn’t a person to this guy. I was an object. I was like a clearance item on a rack of designer goods that he was holding on to until he found something better.
“Why don’t you go fuck yourself?” I said and stormed off.
I ran back to the office, having a full-blown panic attack. I wanted to leave, but the only way home was an expensive Uber ride, and so far, my night wasn’t going to allow me to pay for one. Cory looked at me and gave me a hug. He looked at Alicia, another manager at the club. “Could you give her some advice?” he asked. “Tell her she’s amazing and that she can do it.”
She led me over to the mirror. “Do you see how great you look?” she asked me. I stared at myself, thinking if I looked like the other girls, I would be having a better night. “I thought I was hot until every man I’ve talked to said ‘no.' I saw guys who said they were leaving going upstairs with another girl.” “Just try one more time,” she pleaded. “You can make up your mind at the end of the night.”
By 2:00 a.m., I had stopped approaching guys. I couldn’t stand another rejection. I had moved on to watching the other dancers and crying in the dressing room.
An hour later, it was time to go on stage again, but this time, the DJ put me on a smaller stage. I did my usual routine, and to my surprise, a man approached the stage and threw money at me. I instantly felt better, but I got cocky. I tried a move I saw other girls doing that night, where they put their legs over the guy’s shoulders so that his head is in their crotch. I got one leg up, but I knocked his beer over in the process.
I finally got some money, and it was covered in beer.
I gathered my cash and headed to the dressing room. I counted it and saw I made $75. Pathetic.
The club has a $40 house fee for dancers, so by the time I paid it and tipped out the DJ, I walked away with $30 and no self-esteem. I found Anne and told her that I quit.
I felt like such a failure. As I walked through the club, I heard other dancers cheering about how much money they made. I made a dash for the dressing room and changed as quickly as I could, and got a ride home from one of the bouncers. The thought of having to ride back with the other girls was too embarrassing. I wasn’t one of them. I was a joke.
At 5:00 a.m., after nine long hours, I finally walked into the safety of my own home, where I wasn’t charged any fees.