• Mon, Dec 17 2012

Harlotry: On Giving My First Lapdance & The Absurdity Of Them In General

I encountered more submissive customers as a stripper than in any other line of sex work (excepting my brief stint as a dominatrix). There were guys who just wanted a lapdance while I told them how unworthy they were, there were guys who wanted to suck my sweaty toes (stripper feet get really, really gross), and then there were guys who wanted to literally be walked on.

The sensuality-slathered, but ultimately sexless nature of a strip club invites this; strip clubs are not palaces of female degradation and male perversion, they are places where women take on the traditionally male roles of pursuer and seducer, while simultaneously presenting themselves in a manner so traditionally feminine that it borders on drag.

As a sex worker, I talk about my real life versus my work life. This is partly a joke, it isn’t as if my work is somehow not real of course, but it’s also entirely serious. Strip clubs are not ‘real life’ as we understand it. They have their own bizarre rules and idiosyncrasies, and their power structure is nothing like most of the rest of the world. At Paradox I found that the world inside the club was different, at Heavenly Creatures I had only just begun to realize how different strip clubs could be.

Cathryn Berarovich is something of a renaissance sex worker; she’s currently employed as a stripper (and writer) but has held numerous interesting jobs in the industry. Each week, she shares her stories in Harlotry.

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  • Leona

    ohhhh no you did NOT say that Nine Inch Nails is terrible music!

    • Cate

      I feel as if I should perhaps clarify. Nine Inch Nails is not the worst music. However, as someone who spent most of my late teens listening to Neu and KMFDM and Thrill Kill Kult, NIN is basically the bubblegum pop of industrial music. Unfortunately it is also what strip club DJs play for you when you say you generally dance to industrial. Because of this, NIN in general and especially Closer, annoy the hell out of me.

    • Sean

      Oooo! Stripping to Wild Fire by KMFDM!

  • Sean

    I can see Closer making a good stripping song. I’ve always felt Criminal by Fiona Apple would be perfect.

    I think I’m the only straight guy I know that doesn’t think lap dances are great. I’ve had one in my life, and I had more fun talking with the dancer before and after than actually receiving the dance. It wasn’t erotic, it was just claustrophobic. I understand the eroticism is in the potential for contact (and the thrill of unexpected contact) but how much fun could you have comparatively, if for five minutes you were face-to-face with someone who might kiss you, but never does?

    • Cate

      You’re amazing for suggesting someone strip to Fiona Apple, simply because she’s so often considered angry little girl music (I think the people who say this are wrong) and I love nothing more than dancing to incongruous music.

  • Meggie

    I literally went ‘awww’ on page four, can’t wait for another story!

  • Alan

    You are exactly spot on with this article! I’m the same Alan who wrote on the foot post fyi. Now when I’ve gone to strip clubs lately it has been mostly to explore my fetish side so I have turned down many lapdances. Some from girls who I could tell just wanted a few bucks and some who after spending a few minutes asking about my life asked me in such a sweet yet alluring tone if I would care for a lap dance. There have been plenty of times and many times i have left the club I go to because of this. Looking around at all of the guys some young some creepily really old reaching into their pockets for money and going off for that all elusive oh so close to humping with clothes on but it’ll end in most cases with really bad blue balls and wondering why? Why can’t you or I or any guy in there persue the real deal elsewhere? It’s an interesting expierence in people watching and as much as even a patron who can look at everything that goes on at a strip club and wonder why even I am there I can fully understand the other aspect of it. As fleeting as it maybe the entire act hits home on a personal level. A beautiful woman approaching me talking to me like she really cares and thinks I’m entertaining (maybe I am on some level) listening to me and creating that connection. It’s something that can be very hard for those us who aren’t as confident and lack self esteem and have anxities and insecurties have. The lap dance as much as the foot massage or anything other action that takes place in the club is with me the culmination of making a connection with someone and feeling appreciated and loved on some level. We do get wrapped up into it and whether any of it was genuine on some level it’s what we are craving ultimately. Everything else is the cherry on top (no pun intended) and again everything you’ve said in this article rings so true to me. Really love your writing alot!