Black dancers don’t make any money?

Perhaps this isn’t the case where you live? But I’m working throughout Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. I can speak only from my own experience…

I know several gorgeous dancers of color. Some are Latino, one is Asian, and the remaining are African American. Most of the Latinos do very well, and so does the Asian. I frequently hear complaints from those who are Black, or some mix thereof. I cannot speak for them or from their perspective, but what I can do is voice frustration for them. (If you are a Black dancer, or if you know one, please consider writing a blog entry for the site on this subject.)

Before I continue, let me say this: If you are one of my beautiful Black brothers in the art, you should consider very carefully the venues you choose. I know career dancers who are Black, and who do very well; however, until we as a culture mature enough to see beauty as it is, you are likely to run into a passive form of racism at predominantly White clubs (“I’m not racist. I’m just not attracted to Black guys.” Ergo, I won’t tip them.). It’s impossible to force people to budge on preference, so you’ll need a strategy in mind for placing yourself amongst people who will appreciate you. As a person of color I’m sure it is frustrating to be fetishized, but as a dancer/business man you have to perform where you can make the most money.

I’m trying to make an ugly truth known to a wider base of patrons. I go into this entry knowing that it is a minefield, especially since I’m from the South. But I am not trying to discourage anyone, and I am not trying to offend anyone (likely, that will happen whether I try or not). What I do want to do is bring attention to the fact that most Black dancers work hard. The sad truth is that it’s because they have to. I’ve seen it first hand far too much – the White dancers who just stand there like (poorly rendered and often arrogant) sculptures and get money literally thrown at them, while the Black dancers putting on a fucking show come off with a tiny fraction of the same… It’s not right.

I am not going to tell people whom they should fantasize about, nor am I going to lecture people about racism. Both tirades would be ridiculous at best. What I can do is remind patrons that everyone has bills to pay, and that everyone is hurt by rejection/invisibility/marginalization. Yes, you as a patron are there to exercise your right to dawdle over the dancers you like. But please consider the entertainment value of what you are seeing. Regardless of which dancers make you hot, are there any that simply command respect just because their skills are amazing? Would it kill you to tip a brotha for being off the chain?

One of the frustrations in this career is that what you make isn’t necessarily connected to how much you work out, whether or not you’re nice, and being a good performer. You are at the mercy of Whim. Whim is the god of moodswings. We aren’t rewarded or compensated on a regular, consistent basis for anything other than the benefiscence of Whim. Speaking as someone who has had bad nights and knows how frustrating they can be, please consider interacting not just with the dancers who make you think “Mmmm!,” but also with those who make you think “Ahhh!”

Author: Devon Hunter

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  1. You are right you are taking on a controversial subject! Sadly I am not surprised by your observations. As an a la carte queen I enjoy men of all sorts. As a gay man who has a partner of Filipino heritage I know that other gay men stereotype me as a “rice” queen, as if I am somehow peculiar for dating a non-white person. It is their loss, if they are too stupid or ignorant for realizing that it is the guy’s personality that keeps you with him through thick and thin.

    Are there clubs that cater predominantly to black patrons? Although a less than perfect solution I would think that would be better than eking out a living in a club where most of the people do not appreciate you.

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  2. i’ve contacted a website for black male dancers. i am hoping they will respond back or write a blog for me, and then maybe that question will be addressed.

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  3. by this time, everyone here knows i am a patron of the arts…..ok a patron of exotic male dancing. i can only speak from my observations and experiences over the years. i have noticed the same thing that you have as it relates to tipping of african-american male dancers. first of all, most of the clubs i went to were predominantly white. the ethnic background of the dancers were varied i.e. white, latino, african-american, asian. the white dancers seemed to be the best tipped, then the latinos, then the african-americans, and finally the asians. not being a social statistician, but an observer of life, i think the reasoning behind the differences in tipping can be directly related to the patrons preferences. i will admit that my preference is for whites and latinos. my ex, an exotic dancer, was latino and he got most of my tip money. however, i made a conscious decision to, at a minimum tip, all the dancers on their very first set. then i will admit, i tipped my favorites throughout throughout the night. there was one africian-american dancer in particular, boris at secrets in dc, that put on an amazing performance every time he was on stage. he was such a nice guy and ok, i will admit, he was extremely hung. he worked very hard and did not have that many guys who would tip him. of course, i would always go over to him and tip him. when he would leave the stage, he would always come over to me and kiss me on the cheek and thank me. i told him that i thought he was an amazing performer and that he really deserved much better than he was making in tips.

    ok, i am putting a challenge out there to all the patrons. when you visit the clubs, put yourself in the place of the dancers. realize that these guys are working and providing a service. whether you watch or not…..and i know you are watching all of them, stop stealing and pay the dancers for their services. not tipping them all at least once is like stealing cable television. if you can’t afford to tip, then think about why you are out their wasting the money that you apparently need. you paid the cover charge and bought the overpriced drinks; thereby lining the pockets of the owners, then basically stiffed the entertainers. think about why you are there. it is not to make a donation at the door or to over pay for cheap alcohol, but it is to watch these handsome hunks in all their glory……now pry open your wallets and pay for the privilege of being able to see them.

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  4. My mind is reaching for a connection between the (in general) strong homophobia in the black community and what you describe, but I can’t figure out how to voice it. Hmmm. I hope some of the black dancers you’ve reached out to will respond.

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  5. I do too… As I said, it’s a minefield, and I am utterly incapable of doing much except to provide a place for discussion.

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  6. Jennifer, someone today is asking me about this… have you given this any more thought?

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  7. Interesting. I think your post summed it up perfectly. I used to dance at a club in Dallas, and it wasn’t the right venue for me. Like you said, I literally had to work my ass off both at the club and at the gym, to make a fraction of what white and latino dancers made, especially when they would either take deals on the side, or would just stand there. Some people tried to chalk it up to me not having the best body or me not having the right type of personality, but I know it was mostly because of my skin color.

    I know if I ever get back into it, I’ll pick a venue more suited to Black or Latino men, but you hit the nail on the head with this post. And usually it’s harder for people not in the shoes to see. But it is nice to know someone actually saw what I saw.

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