Harlotry: On Quitting Stripping

Quitting Stripping

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.

My bio says that I’m currently employed as a stripper, but this is not entirely true: I’ve been on vacation from work for several months now and we strippers, like all independent contractors, can’t be considered employed unless we’re actually retained by a club.

There are two reasons for the length of my vacation from work.

The first is the most straightforward. I live in Chicago, a city known for its incredibly restrictive adult business laws, and I don’t know how to drive. While this city was once full of strip clubs, titty bars, and peep shows, those days are now nothing but a distant memory. Corrupt as local politics can be, we try to present a squeaky-clean front to the rest of the world and that means no naked ladies. Because of this, most of the local strip clubs are in the suburbs and therefore out of my travel range and the three clubs in the city are overcrowded and therefore very, very picky.

The second reason for my protracted vacation is much less straightforward. The choice to quit for a while mostly had to do with the fact that I was miserable at my club, a place where the floor was deliberately kept cold according to the owner’s belief that low temperatures would encourage us to be pushier about selling dances. Actual cash with which to buy things and maintain a standard of living was not, apparently, a sufficient incentive. After I was briefly suspended for making jokes about murder that were deemed too dark for the smoking area, I decided enough was enough and I probably didn’t need to go back. I had no need of a workplace that called me an independent contractor but wouldn’t let me make mildly twisted jokes.

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    • Jon

      Gah! I hope this isn’t the last article in the series!! :’(

      • Cate

        No no! In fact I’ll be sending a new installment to Ashley tonight!
        Fear not, the end of Harlotry is not, so far as I know, even in sight.

      • Cate

        Yikes, that rhymed. Oops.

      • Jon

        Thanks for the good news and the the sick rhymes;) Such a great series. I look forward to it every week! It is is the highlight of an otherwise very dull, soul crushing day working an office job with computers;)

      • Cate

        Maybe I will pursue a career as a rapper if the whole writing thing doesn’t pan out!
        One of the things I like most about writing this column is that it seems to make people so happy! In that sense, it’s just like a continuation of sex work, only it’s more fun and doesn’t really pay as well.

      • Emily

        Yay, I was worried it was ending too! I find your articles so interesting and enlightening :)

      • Cate

        Nooooo! I hope to be writing this for good long time. If it does end, I hope I will be writing other stuff, both on here and elsewhere. I would be sad if I were just a one-hit wonder with this thing.

      • Jon

        You’re a great story teller. I look forward to reading more of your work! If you get articles published else where on the internets make sure to let us know:)

      • Noelle

        Oh good- I was worried this was the last one too. I have been looking forward to reading your articles every week:)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cherylanne-Farley/1256883485 Cherylanne Farley

      You write in an insightful fashion and can use the ‘Net. Force yourself–just the way when you first started sexwork–into learning more useful activities. There are a zillion online classes from many top universities that will get you started. For free. GO to the public library and see how many intro classes in sellable computer skills they offer and then continue to teach yourself improved skill levels on computers. You–at this point–are simply too evolved to continue in sex work w/o numbing yourself w/ serious drugs. Get out. Stay out. xxoocf

      • Cate

        I don’t see it that way at all. Honestly my personal ‘evolution’ over the years has not only made me better at my various jobs, it’s also helped me to enjoy sex work in general a lot more than I did when I started out.
        I fully intend to return to sex work, probably within the next year, and I really can’t wait.
        No, I’m not going to be a career sex worker (I am far more interested in pursuing a writing career) but I do not want to get out forever, at least not until I have children. This industry has taught me so much about myself, the world, and the people who fill the world and besides that has given me a standard of living that is pretty much unheard of for a woman of my age and economic background (middle class, but certainly nowhere near rich).
        I don’t know if you’ve been following this series, but if you have, you’ll know that I am by no means some kind of uneducated victim: I became a sex worker because I wanted to and remained one because I wanted to. The time I’ve been most trapped was when I briefly quit sex work to pursue a ‘normal’ relationship.
        I’m not the only woman who has found sex work to be an incredible and incredibly wonderful career choice either, we’re all over the world, and therefore the internet. Melissa Farley and Tina Fey can talk all the shit they want, but at least when it comes to sex workers in America and other developed countries (not to be confused with trafficked sex slaves, sex workers and victims of trafficking are TOTALLY DIFFERENT), most of us aren’t tragic, drug-addled, daddy-issue-ridden human wrecks who hate ourselves and our jobs. For many people, myself included, sex work isn’t something I need to escape from, nor is it something that makes me want to ‘numb’ myself in any way, shape or form; rather it’s an incredibly freeing career that has offered me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

      • anna

        how do you know what someone should feel when they’re ‘evolved’..?

    • http://twitter.com/WorldOfRandi randinewton

      Gorgeous. Wonderfully written.

      • Cate

        Thank you!

    • EKS

      Time for a book.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewMcVeagh Matthew McVeagh

      Cate I wonder if there is some form of sex work you could move into that doesn’t have the pitfalls of having to work for one of these establishments that turn out to have odd rules, too many competing girls etc. Something where you’re calling the shots basically.