I work for Santa Fe; 24a Taranaki St (above the Green Parrot). It’s a strip club. For further clarification Santa Fe is the one that isn’t also a brothel; we’re the chaps with the Jelly Wrestling on Thursdays.
It’s doubtful that many of you have ever been to a strip club. This is mainly as a fairly high percentage of Victoria University Students are poor, have been poor in the past and will always be poor, and these clubs can ask for around $20-30 dollars cover charge for a punter to get in on a week night. That being said, we all know people who have spent their course related costs on a night or two of striptastic revelry. Sure it means that they have to hold up student notes at knife point, but damn, they’d probably have only minor regrets about the night that they spent getting lap dance after lap dance after lap dance. There is something to be said about having a sweaty woman roll on top of you. I’m not entirely sure what it is but many people seem to enjoy it.
For those few people who for some bizarre reason have never heard of a strip-club or the adult industry (perhaps they have only escaped from the Closed Brethren in the last couple of days, or maybe they are an anthropomorphic talking goat named Mr Grumbles), strip-clubs run on the premise that people will pay for the opportunity to drink and carouse alongside relatively unthreatening and sexually appealing members of the respective gender that they are attracted to. The strip clubs in Wellington are primarily aimed at heterosexual men, mainly because these heterosexual men live in a world where their sexual desire outmatches their sexual fulfilment. Strip clubs offer a place where independent operators offer their titillation and exotic dancing services in exchange for amounts of legal tender so as to alter the ratio of desire to fulfilment (the Hugh Grant Equation). Horny men pay money to strippers to get a lap dance. Things happen, it’s a fact.
I work as the house stand up/MC, and really, when you get down to it I’m quite happy with the job, especially considering that I get paid to spend each night making up crap and having a funkadelic time in a bar filled with people who really are into the party mode. It’s especially cool when C-Grade celebrities like Strassman, various rugby players, Wyclef Jean, or Sean Astin turn up. People really seem to respond to watching naked girls with hobbits. By people I really mean the punters, and by punters, I mean you, the consumer. Don’t get me wrong it’s not just me plus some sweaty salivating guys staring at the boobies. There are of course the obligatory bouncers and bar girls, and also the promo girls, who don’t have to strip. These girls are the ones who walk around the streets trying to give people free drink vouchers. The strippers are just like you or me, except they are attractive and have bodies honed by intensive pole spinning workouts. Imagine those girls at primary school who controlled the monkey bars, now make them attractive… and, err, age them into their 20s. You disgust me, pervert.
The way stripping works, at Santa Fe at the least, is that the girls give over a proportion of their earnings (from tips and private dances) to the club, kind of like real estate agents, but instead of desks being rented they get a shiny chrome pole and a spot on stage. This means that it’s not unheard of for a stripper to walk out of the club after earning literally multiple thousands of dollars in one night of butt shaking, but at the same time she could leave the week having made nothing.
Ultimately, stripping can be a hard game in this mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, and it’s not just the unsteady cash flow that can cause problems: a dancer has to be in pretty top condition. On average a full time girl will pull around eight hours of aerobic exercise on stage a week (this figure is a bare minimum) excluding the extra time she spends doing private lap dances, extra stage spots and rehearsing. Compare this to the guesstimate that the average amount of time spent exercising by VUW students is around 2.5 hours a week (it would be lower, but we’ve all seen those dumpy computer science students with their 2.25 bottles of coke and their delicious Ilott café wedges, thinking they’re so big…) and you realise that when you look at a stripper, what you’re looking at is something more kin to a professional athlete than your mother when she’s trying to impress the man who could potentially be your new daddy. It’s easy to see why one of the dancers said “stripping isn’t a long term gig. If you’re especially fit you can keep it going until your late 30s, but most of us take off before we’re 26.” It’s also easy to see why another stripper then leant over to me and said: “get me three fingers of tequila or I’ll break your jaw.” You’d better believe I got her tequila and a slice of lemon. I like my jaw, it’s statuesque.