Where is the love?

I’ve not talked too much about the competitive nature of what I do. I’ve mentioned office drama vaguely. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned it directly at all. Perhaps a few instances here and there of “if you see others doing well, and you’re not, don’t take it personally…” But I don’t recall ever mentioning what the dressing room is like…

It’s definitely dependent on the club and the environment it creates for itself, its patrons, and its staff. PT1109 in Columbia, SC is very friendly, in my opinion. For the most part the patrons are very good natured, the bartenders are supportive of the dancers, the owner is a no-nonsense type of dude, and 90% of the dancers are laid back. Every now and then we get an asshole in there, but they don’t last long at PT1109. That bar is definitely the kind of place where attitude isn’t rewarded much, no matter how big your muscles are.

Conversely, Swinging Richards can sometimes feel like a fucking beauty pageant backstage. What a bunch of stupid drama!! And men have the audacity to call women gossipy?? These straight guys cease being sexy the moment they walk back stage and start talking… ugh! For the most part we all get along very well in Atlanta, or live and let live; however, there are a few guys who should be glad they’re so much bigger than me. There are a few who really need a good, swift kick in the butt. They tend to be the same ones who sabatoge the dancers they don’t like. Gotta watch ’em…  I’ve also experienced some haters at The Castle in Greenville – former dancers… go figure.

It can be discouraging when you aren’t comfortable with your coworkers. It can get downright ugly when you have good reason to believe someone is actually undermining you on purpose. I know I’ve painted a portrait of myself as someone who is very nice (because I am), but I do not tolerate people being destructive to me in this particular manner. I’ve tolerated other forms of abuse, but I have zero patience for other dancers (or former dancers) doing or saying anything to make me look bad to patrons. Devon to Diva in about 2.3 seconds flat. Miss Thang does know how to raise an eyebrow at a bitchy strippa.

What then do you do? It’s best to first try to talk to the person/people in question, to make certain that there’s not a misunderstanding that can’t be fixed among peers. Most of the time instigators will back off really fast – people know when they’re in the wrong. If polite inquiry doesn’t help, then I start channeling Miss Jackson. I do this so rarely that it tends to accomplish what Southern Charm doesn’t. In only a few instances have I had to speak to a Booking Manager or some other figure of authority.

If you are going to dance at a club or event where there are other dancers, you simply have to accept that there will be competition. Scotty and I have a friendly competition – we stay in shape, we check in with each other, we encourage each other, I tell Scotty if a patron tells me Scotty is hot (and vice versa), and we are happy for each other when either or both do well.

Sadly, competition isn’t always friendly. Some people do not appreciate the value of collaboration. They are too selfish to see that they will do better if everyone on the team looks good. Would you go buy a car at a lot with one nice vehicle and 30 jallopies? Or would you be more likely to go shop at a place where the lot can offer you your choice of sports cars? I guess some strippers are just ignorant. Whatever.

If you find yourself confronted by a destructive dancer, former dancer, patron, staff member… It’s often best to behave better, so that their criticisms look empty. How can anyone believe an ugly-acting person when you yourself are so charming, polite, beguiling, sexy, and friendly to the people who are slandering you. In almost every case I have found that the person hating on you makes himself look way worse than anything he could do to you. In fact, I have had friends of haters come up and tip or compliment me, specifically so that I and others wouldn’t lump them in with the person causing the problem.

Where is the love? It’s in you. It’s also in the people who end up being sympathetic/empathetic to you for being the “victim” of malice. People tend to side with the person targeted, not the person who is being aggressive. You will probably not win people’s minds over by being confrontational. If someone says you’re gross, unattractive, dirty, stupid, whorish, etc., and you get mean… it will, on some level, confirm in the minds of others that you must, after all, be the brutish piece of trash they thought you were. Reasonable people generally can’t help but respond constructively to maturity and positivity.

You know who you are. Forget the haters. The ones you should be most dismissive of (in the kindest manner possible), are the former dancers who wish they were still the center of attention, but are not. These people are acting out because of jealousy. Whatever they are saying about you probably has no basis in reality. Let it go, and keep connecting with the people who do like you (see the flip-side to all this: “Here is the love!”).

Author: Devon Hunter

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13 Comments

  1. Just supports my theory that there is office politics everywhere. I am not sure what the point of the back-stabbing is. Is it their personalities or is it due to the bar having not enough patrons to keep the dancers making money or maybe both?

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  2. Both… at Swinging Richards the problem is that there is no incentive to keep the number of dancers low. We have to pay to work there, so there is not a reason for the bar to keep the dancers around 20, rather than 40. They get two benefits: lots of hot dancers for the patrons, plus the tip out from lots of hot dancers. We suffer, however. Other than at Richards, I think I ran into hate in Greenville, because the people perpetrating it were simply hateful in general. Mean, small people with nothing to do but vent on someone they didn’t know, and therefore didn’t have to care about. Well, they picked the wrong flower – I let them know who I am, and now they know what color the sky is in my world.

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  3. The workers have to pay to work. Shudder. That must be a really popular bar if the dancers are willing to pony up to work there.

    And I never thought that Miss Jackson was one that could give attitude. Now Pink is a different story.

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  4. *fumbles in surprise and outrage… Miss Jackson! not! give! attitude! bwashas;ldkaesuraosijnz… baby!!! you’re killing me! “what have you done for me lately” was her FIRST single… if that jam ain’t sassy, neither is my momma when she wants her kitchen cleaned! LOL

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  5. Devon you seem to young to remember that song. Hehe, that is her singing persona, in real life she seems like a nice person, as opposed to her father who was a tyrant and her brother Michael who is well “original”. Another singer who seems to have attitude galore is The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Then there is the bane of every airport security person, Diana Ross!

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  6. It’s so useful to me to read about the kind of life I don’t think I’d have the courage to live, so I can see how one walks it. Makes me think of freaking “Showgirls”!

    And yeah, the fact that you have to pay to dance at Richard’s . . . it brings out the old Anarchist in me. You should start an erotic dance collective! Owned and run by the dancers with the drink-pouring, security, and numbers maybe done by consultancy, and y’all splitting all the profits.

    And the paragraph above the video says it all. Good wisdom there.

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  7. Oh, and when YouTube finally allows you to post videos that you can link here, please include one of Ms. Jackson coming out. Pleeeease? Pretty please? Just say, “Miss JACKSON if ya nasty” or something.

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  8. i will say that it is downright extortion to have to pay a fee to dance at a club. that is probably the lowest form of employer slithering amongst the compost pile. my ex worked at a place where the management paid some dancers a stipend ($40) per night and then they worked for tips. others would have to dance for tips if they wanted to work. i think i have stated this in the past, these clubs should be a symbiotic relationship between all parties involved. the owners charge a cover fee and sells the drinks, the bartenders pour and serve the drinks making tips, and the dancers provide the entertainment making tips. what i see is the owner, who has invested his capital to open the establishment, so he/she/they should make a decent return on their investment. however, without the bartenders pouring and serving the drinks, there is no bar. without the dancers providing the entertainment, there is no way to justify charging a cover fee to enter the bar. therefore, the business model should be one of coexistence. the ownership should provide a decent environment to attract business, the bartenders should be friendly and competent, and the dancers should dance their fannies off to ensure the patrons feel their cover fee is justified. to that end, the owner should pay a salary/fee to the bartenders and the dancers which can be enhanced by tipping. also, to make it worth the while of the dancers, the numbers should be limited so not to water down the tipping opportunities. keeping this in mind, the dancers have an obligation to keep in shape and perform at an exceptional level. in the end, all will make money. you are right when you say that the bar does not have a reason to keep the number of dancers to a reasonable level, because he/she/they make(s) the cover fee, the bar proceeds and extorts money from the dancers….the more dancers, the more he/she/they make(s). maybe this is too obvious for people who have no problems sleeping after they have stolen money from their workers.

    devon, makes me want to retire sooner and start that business venture we discussed…..lol. however, remember, i get to check for stuck tips….roflmfao!!!!

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  9. oh, y’all, it gets way better: at richard, the manager has to pay $500 a week to work there. and the bartenders have to give a percentage of their tips to the house too, i think… so, let me see if i understand this correctly: if i make $100, i have to give $25-35 to the house (goes directly to the house), $5 to the door (goes to the doorman, but he may also have to give something back to the bar, i don’t know), and 10% to the dj/manager (who then has to pay $500 to the house each week to work there).

    it hasn’t happened to me yet (the worst night i’ve had was when i made enough to tip out and left with $0), but dancers who don’t generate enough to tip out have to go the atm ($8 fee), get money out of their accounts, and still have to tip out. if someone gets a vip and they pay for it with a credit card there are additional fees beyond those that are incurred by cash. (example: 15 minute vip = $10 for the wristband for unlimited in-and-out access to the lounge, $40 for the room for 15 minutes, and $100 to the dancer for $15 minutes. with cash, that’s $150. the bar gets $10 + $40. the dancer gets $100 – 10% for the dj. if the patron puts it on a credit card, however, all the fees apply +10% for the transaction fee. the dancer does not get $100 in a check the following week, but $100 – 10% for the dj – a fee for the credit card… the bar gets compensated TWICE for the credit card fee).

    we’re getting fucked. but you can make enough despite all that for it to be worth it. however, when there are so many dancers the HEAT IS ON. hence the drama back stage. for those dancers who don’t live in atlanta (eg, me and scotty et al), we have the burden not only of all the tipping out, but also hotel/gas/food. by the time i’m done in atlanta, i may or may not have netted what i would have in columbia (which is 1/3 the distance and close enough to family for me to avoid the hotel/food, but not the gas costs). i go to atlanta for the variety, not b/c it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to my life.

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  10. I don’t suppose it would be prudent to be specific about the ways dancers will try to sabotage each other?

    Is it just talking shit about you to patrons?

    I bet they’re really pouring it on now that you’re going to be in the advertising, too.

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  11. the sabotage can take different forms: the easiest, but sometimes most difficult, is gossip. or worse, truth. swinging richards patrons are infatuated with the straight boy fantasy. all the the dancers have to do is tell people who don’t already know that i’m gay. that cuts my money down right there.

    at one point, when i thought matt didn’t like me, he would play really annoyingly “gay” music only when i got on stage (how many times can he make me dance to “hit me baby one more time” when i’m PAYING him 10% of what i make?).

    former dancers will say, “i used to be a richards dancers, so i know what i’m talking about – he’s not really very good.” this despite the fact that they were never richards dancers in the first place.

    others will encourage you to drink until you start making bad decisions, and then turn you in for acting out. there was one dancer who got fired for selling viagra. the guy who turned him in was sporting a nice semi-erection that night, i might point out.

    i’ve known of several instances where a group of dancers will pick a guy they no longer like competing with, will watch over the walls of v.i.p., and then run and tell management the moment anything even slightly questionable happens (even though they themselves aren’t in a position to throw stones).

    theft and vandalism don’t help. if someone takes or ruins your clothing, you can’t perform AND you’re out the money replacing the stuff.

    and then there’s just outright manipulation – the people who will pretend to be your friend, but who are pumping you full of poison. they take advantage of a bad night and tell you there’s nothing wrong with you, but maybe you’re just not in the right field. or the ones who are less skillful who simply ridicule you for whatever reason (height, age, endowment, musculature or lack thereof, etc).

    you have to pay attention.

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  12. And can I say I think it’s fucked up that guys would rather have someone on their lap that they KNOW is pretending, rather than someone who at least likes men?

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