A couple of months ago, I met a young woman at my strip club, who told me she was conducting interviews with dancers about their relationships with regular customers (called “regulars”) for her senior college thesis. She is a sociology student at a nearby university. I agreed to help her out, and I finally had my interview with her.
It was a really fascinating experience for me to talk with her for an hour, and be given the chance to verbally process and reflect on my relationships with the few regulars I have.
For instance, one man that comes to see me has opened up to me about his very early childhood sexual abuse and how he has a pretty severe dissociative disorder. Seeing me, in a sexually intimate space, has been pretty healing for him. Which I think is pretty cool.
Another man is a photographer that has offered to photograph me. Because of a slightly odd vibe, this is not a proposition that I would ever consider. But he is a gentle spirit, and I appreciate his thoughtfulness when he comes in.
Another is a much older man who was taken with my online profile and my level of education. He wanted to come in and support me because of it. Surprisingly (to me) his tone struck me as a little paternalistic. But he is nice enough, and he also brings me chocolates which I in turn share with the other dancers 🙂
I know that regular relationships can turn into much more. Dancers have reported sharing phone numbers, intimate details about their lives, and outside social time with regular customers. A regular may give the dancer inordinate amounts of money every time he comes in, or may give expensive gifts. This turns a very transactional relationship into something much murkier. This also reminds me of the deeper relationships prostitutes may develop with customers over time. Money is still involved in the transaction for sexual energy, but there can be much more to the relationship.
The socializing and emotional engagement with customers is a bit exhausting, and talking to this student made me realize (even more than I already knew) that stage dancing is where I experience my flow. It is not in talking, engaging with, and being “friends” with customers, who buy my time with private dances and drinks and compliments. I am excited to read this student’s thesis at the end of the spring to see what other seasoned dancers had to say about this interesting relationship! 🙂