For as a long as there’s been music, women have danced for the entertainment and titillation of men. Scheherazade. Minsky’s Burlesque. Cage dancing go-go girls in the psychedelic 60’s. Times Square strippers, pole dancers and lap dancers. Women dance. Men watch.
Three naked ladies talk about their view from the stages and laps in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and today.
This week Kelly Hayworth sits in with the Naked Ladies.
Jodi Sh. Doff: In the 70s & 80s I danced on stage and hustled drinks on the floor. There was a difference in the feelings of security & power. I felt safer, emotionally, on stage with that distance from the customer. Lauri, you worked laps as well as poles yes?
Lauri Shaw: I sure did. The amount of contact and privacy varied from club to club.
Some lap dances were more like table dances –both feet on the floor at all times and you faced the customer.
In others, you could straddle the customer backwards or forwards, rub your knee in his crotch, he could touch anywhere but your tits, ass or crotch. You essentially dry-humped the guy and often right out in the open. I hated that, but as with everything else, you get used to it.
Some clubs had special rooms for lap dances, wall dances…
JshD: Dry humping against a wall? Guys never get past high school do they…
LS:… or couch dances –they were only semi-private, but away from the main floor. The VIP rooms, though, were usually just you and the customer, one-on-one.
JshD: And once again I’m grateful I got out before lap dancing caught on. It’s one thing to be alone in a VIP room negotiating whatever, knowing the bouncer was just the other side of the door and I didn’t have to do anything. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn’t, but no one had the right to expect contact like they do with a lap dance…
LS: You never HAD to do anything. You set your own limits, but they had to be similar to the other girls’ limits, or you wouldn’t make money. So I guess it felt a lot like “had to.”
Kelly Hayworth: Well, I’m a career-long dive-bar dancer–my Tokyo club was the size of a living room. Many Tokyo clubs are hostess-like, there’s more emphasis on making commission on drinks than on stage shows.
JshD: Hustling drinks always made me feel like a beggar. I don’t mind taking my clothes off, or drinking with anyone who offers, but all that “Hi honey, wanna buy me a drink” shit was just depressing. I had to have some booze or dry goods first to work the floor…
LS: I don’t think that’s easy for anyone. I had to be a little tipsy myself, otherwise if someone was rude to me, I’d be rude right back. A bad exchange with a customer could mess up my whole night…you get off to a wrong start and don’t make any money.
KH: Yeah, I only drank at the clubs when I had to sell dances and/or drinks. Some of the London pubs were stage only, so no problem.
Only a couple of girls danced on “stage” — (a wobbly pole in the center of the room that collapsed with my friend upside down on it) — and only once or twice a night. You’d dance one song–half twirling around the pole, the other half going to each customer and demanding a tip. The smallest Japanese bill is worth almost $10 American, so it was worth doing the stage. We laughed if an American came in and tried to give us a dollar bill.
LS: I knew some girls who had danced in Japan, all tall with big tits. I heard the money was great but that if you were petite like me, don’t bother–you wouldn’t be exotic in Japan. So I never even thought about going.
KH: Tokyo changed massively while I worked there on and off from ’98 to ’07. In the beginning it was about being blonde for the Japanese guys, but nowadays it’s all foreign businessmen–British and American–so blonde means nothing. They’re looking for Japanese girls.
In London it was fully nude walking around the pub floor for a song, going up to each customer–giving everyone attention. You wouldn’t think so but, it’s actually where I felt safest. We never got too close–there was something like a three foot rule and absolutely no contact–and guys never pushed it. They were conditioned to just look. Also, you got the tips before the show–every customer has to put one Pound minimum in your glass.
JShD: I guess there’s some modicum of British propriety– I can’t imagine that in NYC. Visions of drunken frat boys grabbing ass and tit as you moved through the crowd. I need personal space. A lot of clubs had a raised stage behind the bar because of an ABC Buffer zone law that specified if you served booze, you needed 6 ft. between topless dancers and customers. Looking down on my customers from that distance gave me a feeling of control and power I really liked.
KH: Ha! I don’t know about British propriety! These were tiny pubs out in the country, a Friday night in Leicester Square would’ve been very different.
LS: Yeah, I live in the UK these days. Propriety my ass. They can afford to behave themselves in the strip clubs because if they want more, they can go to a legal brothel here.
KH: Tokyo and London felt more powerful onstage than the US. Maybe because it was more confrontational–like by walking up to the customers I’m demanding their attention and tips–in the States I felt like I had to hope that maybe they would tip.
LS: The girls I danced with on stage in Manhattan used to kick drinks on customers who were really offensive and / or refused to tip.
KH: Also, since there isn’t a continuous show, like the States, dancers aren’t “background”, we got direct attention. I certainly feel more powerful when I have attention, it can be crushing to have no one come up to your stage–or worse, get up and leave when you come on! I mean, we are getting naked, they shouldn’t take us for granted, right?!
JshD: Makes sense. Girls on stage are competing with the girls on the floor for the attention and dollars of the mooks at the bar. It’s set up so the bar wins, not the girls.
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