Private dancer: A stripper and an escort

“Stripping is a funny business.” said Charlie a twenty four year old blonde who we reached in Texas. “There are all sorts of rules. Every municipality can have different rules about full nudity, partial, none. Then there are lap dances, if they are allowed at all. And every club will have its own official rules and then there are the unofficial rules. It can all get pretty complicated if you’re like me and travel a bit.”

by Hannah Jay

“And then there are the patrons. When I first started stripping I was pretty intimidated by dancing in front of anywhere from a dozen to a couple of hundred men. After a while I realized that most of the guys were there for a good time and a few hours away from their jobs, wife, kids. They were pretty normal.”

“Sure, there are always assholes. But that is true in any job.” said Charlie, “if there is a problem with stripping it’s the way some clubs rip off the dancers. Every club is a bit different and you need to know what is going on before you ever swing from the pole.”

“The clubs I like to work in pay a flat rate per shift or even, for feature performers, per dance set. Usually three or four songs. And you get to keep either all your tips or your tips less a tip out to the DJ. Others don’t pay you anything for the hours you are there: you just get tips. But the clubs I try to avoid actually charge you to work. Basically they have a house fee that you pay and you keep your tips.”

“When I first started stripping I had no idea how competitive it was in the clubs where you can make really decent money. Getting up on the stage and taking your clothes off is not at all how it works. First off you need costumes. Start with the heels. No girl in any of the clubs that are worth working in strips in any less than a four or five inch heel. You can buy cheap shoes but they kill your feet and they fall apart. A good pair of stripper heels will set you back north of a hundred dollars and I have two pairs which cost me six hundred a piece.”

“A lot of the girls have custom made outfits with cute little tear away skirts and double bras so you can tease more than a little. If you are going bare you usually want a panty which has some sort of fastening at the hip.”

“After about two months in the business I had spent nearly $1000 on a couple of outfits but, I have to admit, they really were not me. I am not a rhinestone and sparkles kind of girl. And, the whole point of the outfits was to stand out and if you are surrounded by half a dozen pretty girls all wearing rhinestones and sparkles you don’t. Plus, I wanted to work myself up to being a featured girl.”

“The whole feature thing is a business in itself. Have you been in a magazine? Playboy? Big websites? Have you done porn? There are porn stars who make more stripping than they do from their movie work. They have a national audience and they will pull guys into the club. I’m not a porn star. It’s not something which appeals to me at all. But I was up for modelling.”

“And there is another hugely competitive business. Realistically, there are a lot of pretty girls out there and a lot of them are more than happy to be photographed naked. If you are just a straight nude model you don’t make much on most of the photoshoots. And you really need to be in New York or Los Angeles. But I got a few shoots. Most of it goes straight to the web. But you get the clips. Which you can put up on your own site.”

“I am lucky. I was born with naturally quite large breasts and a tiny back and waist. I work out to stay really tight and it pays off. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a natural blonde either. I am quite pretty in a fairly innocent sort of a way. And I know my way around a make-up table.”

“What I realized going on photo shoots was that I needed a “gimmick”. Something which made me stand out. That’s when I invented Charlie. All the girls have show names. And they change them up from time to time. The thing is, if you want to become a feature girl you need to build a bit of a brand. If you aren’t doing porn, that brand has to be web driven. You put your magazine shots up on the web and you start doing a bit of social media. But it needs to focus on a name and people have to remember that name. You remember the old Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue”; well I thought that a stripper with a guy’s name could work. Plus, there was a perfume back in the what, seventies, called Charlie my mum used to wear. Anyway, I decided that I’d use that name and work at branding it.”

“Once I made that decision I also decided that I would try to come up with a “look” which was pretty distinctive but which didn’t cost a fortune. I love the whole burlesque vibe and the queen of modern burlesque is, undoubtedly, Dita von Teese. Now obviously Dita is working the whole dark brunette, scarlet lip, pale white skin thing and that is not going to work for me. But what she is also rocking is a whole retro lingerie and outfit sensibility.”

“If you want to stand out in a bunch of girls wearing rhinestone encrusted, man-made fiber costumes try wearing a 1940’s secretary tailored suit or a real, white cotton, nurse’s uniform with lingerie to match. It really was fun to do all these outfits which were totally unexpected. Plus, you can get the most amazing vintage stuff online.”

“I worked the retro lingerie into my sets first, but one club manager just loved the whole idea and he encouraged me to develop Charlie as a feature act. We figured out a bunch of music which could work – everything from hot jazz to Michael Buble with plenty of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. As the manager said, I was single handedly reviving the glory days of strip tease.”

“It took a while but between my website, my twitter feed, Instagram and Facebook I was beginning to build up my brand. I always made sure the DJ mentioned my Twitter handle at the beginning and end of my set and I had business cards with my online stuff printed which I would give to guys who came to my shows.”

“I kept my shows fresh by actually having “characters” Charlie would become on stage. My nurse would take the temperature of some random guy on gynecology row – that’s the front row where the close up artists like to sit. I had a great old camera on a tripod which I used as a prop for a pretend pinup shoot. The thing was that all my costumes and my props had to fit in the trunk of my car so no “Ditaesque” champagne baths for me.”

“After a while the whole retro “Charlie” brand began to catch on and I’d get club managers booking me, through my website, in different cities and, eventually, different states. If the money was right I’d go. I mean I am not a headliner like the porn girls are, but I am a draw and that is really all the managers care about. Plus, I got a few more magazine shoots which increased my online presence a lot.”

“Adult entertainers get asked out a lot. Well, you get propositioned by guys with a few more drinks than was wise a lot, but there are a lot of high rollers who like the idea of taking a feature girl out for dinner and a good roll in the sheets. And they will pay very well for the privilege. When I started I never went out with patrons. But when I invented Charlie I decided that the money was too good to resist. One porngirl I knew was making big fees at the clubs and double that for one date a night.”

“You have to be very careful because a lot of clubs will ban a girl who is seeing gentlemen on the side. Which is why my website is so important. If a gentleman wants to see me and asks in a club I give him my business card and write a “members” code on it. I’ll say, “I never discuss dating in the club but I’ll be online tomorrow at 11 and you can use this code to get into my members area.”

Truth to tell, only about one in five make contact which is fine with me because I hate to waste my time. The guys who don’t were never going to pay my fees.”

“My members area is very discrete. It is all about private dancing with Rumbas going for one price and the all in Tango, for quite another. I have a contact form and it asks for the information I need to screen my potential client. I have a booking fee which is pre-payable by PayPal and is non-refundable. I don’t mind no shows but I make sure I am compensated for the time.”

“Because Charlie is such a retro girl on stage, I make sure she is off stage too. Which my private clients love. I always insist on dinner or a drink in what Charlie would call a “swanky establishment” before the private strip tease in a nice hotel. I have arrangements with a couple of really nice hotels in my home town and one or two on the road. A suite is so much nicer than a room and a girl with a living room can entertain gentlemen callers without any questions being asked.”

“The whole “Charlie” brand is about “every inch a lady” and I think my private clients really appreciate that. Yes, I may take my clothes off in public; but that does not change the fact I expect the very best. For a high roller the price of my time is the least of his worries. What he is looking for is something as different as I am on stage.”

“For my private dancer encounters I always make sure to keep the Charlie brand intact. No “stripper” heels, retro lingerie, stockings of course: if we are going somewhere nice for dinner I’ll wear one of my vintage evening dresses. Unless my client asks that we be discreet, then a 50’s wriggle dress and nice black heels will work. But most of the men who will take a stripper out for dinner want to be seen with a va-va-voom girl on their arm. I aim to please. I have the great dresses but also wonderful old fur pieces. There is really nothing sexier than a low cut dress with a white fur stole. And the fun part about fur is that, because it is not so terribly Green, you can get $5000 pieces for a few hundred dollars online or for $50 at estate sales.”

“When Charlie is onstage she sometimes wears a lot of glitzy but fake jewelry. The patrons are not there to see jewelry but they seem to enjoy the sparkle of the lights on the necklaces and bracelets I have been able to find in vintage stores. But on my dates I like to wear real jewels. I can’t afford diamonds – though I got a very nice diamond bracelet as a tip, but you can get nice pearls for not do very much at estate auctions. The secret with pearls is to wear a lot of them. Those nice sorority girls can keep their single string of pearls, I like half a dozen of slightly different lengths. I also have a couple of jet pieces – that is a black stone – and some nice old black glass which can work with some outfits.”

“The whole point of a date with Charlie is that you are taking a performer out for the evening. I am happy to be introduced as a dancer. It really works for certain sorts of high rollers. They like my slightly over the top outfits, the fact I have any number of clever and very low cut bras with gravity defying capacities, the make up and the false eyelashes. Dating a bombshell is not something many men do in real life. Charlie gives them the full bombshell experience straight out of the 50’s when nice girls didn’t.”

“One thing which I had not anticipated is that Charlie gets booked for things like stags and poker parties and football games. The first time I was asked was by a private client who had such a good time he wanted to share it with a few close friends. They have a friendly, but fairly high stakes poker game once a month and my client wanted to surprise his pals. I named a huge price and he gave me a cheque and an address.”

“You’ve heard of man caves? Well this house had a whole separate area which was set up like a garage but other than the three super expensive cars that glistened, it was just devoted to what this guy liked to do. Big pool table, giant wide screen TV with a couple of others around the room, a full, twenty foot long bar and what I would call a “card room”. It really did look like those places you see in some states where you can play cards any time of the day or night. Except those always look a bit seedy; this one had three tables, great lighting, a plush carpet and lot of room. Of course there was a fantastic sound system and I’d brought music on my phone. Behind the bar were two pretty topless girls who my client had mentioned were just there to serve drinks and snacks. I was the entertainer.”

“My client wanted me to do three short – he emphasized short – dance sets over the evening. That was it, He even set up a great dressing room for me with a vanity, makeup lights, a rack for my costumes, a chaise and my own little powder room with a shower. I had the feeling I was not the first stripper to work his card parties. At one end of the card room set up there was a raised platform and, yes, the ubiquitous pole. Charlie did her three sets – Nurse, old time burlesque queen and naughty librarian.”

“I was not surprised or offended by a few knocks on my dressing room door over the course of the evening. Very much expected really. However, even the big winners offering the biggest tips had to be contented with my enthusiastic oral attentions. Only the gentleman who hired me was going to be completely lucky that night. Didn’t seem to bother the card players and my version of a behind closed doors lap dance with a very happy ending suited them all just fine. I realized my rates were a little low when I saw that the ante was $500 a game at the beginning of the evening. Nothing wrong with a raise I thought to myself after my first show.”

“It turns out there are a lot of super deluxe man caves in the great state of Texas and Charlie has been invited to many of them. The big challenge was not repeating my costumes too often and getting the timing right with my stripping gigs and escorting dates. But, the money is fabulous and with a bit of organization I can usually make everything work.”

“What I have learned with Charlie is that being a little hard to get is a huge bonus at my level in the business. I try to work in the clubs a minimum of ten nights a month simply to keep Charlie’s name and brand out there. Three or four nights I will have a private dancer date. A couple of times a month I will do a private party.”

“I have had this schedule for Charlie for the last couple of years and it works really well. I am very close to my financial goals so now it’s a question of how much longer Charlie will want to be an adult entertainer. At a guess she’ll retire from the club stages first. That is very hard work for what you make compared to what you can make as a private dancer. But Charlie the bombshell date and man cave entertainer? I suspect she’ll be working for several more years. You can always have bigger financial goals.”