APRIL 3, 2018
Where are you from originally?
I was actually made here during a family vacation at the Hilton on the river.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Texas.
What brought you back?
There’s a couple of reasons I came back. I am a brown woman and I love my men pale. I’m dating and a lot of the men I just so happened to be dating were from here. I’m down with the swirl. So I was like, “I’m going to that place where you all come from.” There was that and then there was this old t-shirt that my mom had that said New Orleans, Louisiana on it and it’s very old, from the 80s and had this old cartoon gator on it and I used to wear it all the time. My mom kept laughing and I asked her one day why she was laughing and she said, “Because that’s the shirt from when you were made.” After that I opened up a fortune cookie that told me to travel and go where I wanted to go. So a friend of mine and I had both just gotten out of breakups and decided to go to New Orleans for a working vacation. It was Mardi Gras and we partied and worked and went on gator tours and to museums and I just thought this place was amazing and then I was stuck. We went home and then only thing I could think about was New Orleans and going back. We were here every event and then every weekend and then every week.
How do you refer to your work?
It’s artistic. I’ve always been good at art. I guess that’s another reason I’m here. It’s a very artistic city. It’s very chill. There are lots of large, really old trees and they entice me. In Houston, you have to go to a park to see trees but here there are big old trees everywhere and they tear up the sidewalks and they give no Fs and I love that about them. There are water sources everywhere and there are artists everywhere. My job is so artistic. I like to dance because I just like to dance. That’s literally the best part of the job.
How did you get started?
I was working three jobs and was working from sun up to sun down. When I was at the gym I had to be there and be open by 4:00am and when I was waitressing, I would sleep a little later and I got to be there at 7:00am. And then I finished the day at the strip club which ended at like 2:00am or 4:00am dependent on which club I was closing out. I literally worked one job and then the next job and then the next job and I was so tired. I needed money so bad and I wanted to go back to school so bad. A stripper walked by me with all the money I had made the whole day on her butt. I had made $200 the whole day and there she was with $200 on her butt. So I was like, “Ok, I’m doing this.” But honestly I was already enamored with it because I saw this one video with Felix Cane and she is an incredible dancer and it was so beautiful and so artistic and like ballet on a pole. I always loved gymnastics and I never got to do it because my family wasn’t very rich. I always wanted to do gymnastics and I never got to so this was my chance and I have been in it ever since. I am phasing out now because the industry is different. I am tired a lot of the politics that go on. I’m tired of the racism that goes on. I’m tired of clubs calling girls fat that aren’t fat. They temporarily fired a girl and told her she couldn’t come back until she lost weight. The woman wears a size 4! No doctor would call her fat. What fat are you talking about? She looks normal. She looks like a human being. And the customers don’t care. I have had customers say all kinds of foolishness to me, racist things, degrading things and not a single one has called me fat. But strip club managers have called me fat because I am an hourglass-shaped woman.
How long have you been dancing?
Like six or seven years. Not as long as some girls. A lot of girls got into it when they were eighteen and I didn’t. I got into it a little bit later.
If the politics of it didn’t exist?
It would be a much better working environment.
Do you remember being told or taught anything regarding the societal expectations that come with being a girl?
Yes and I am so not that way. I have been a feminist since the time I could remember. My parents are partially divorced because my dad is a misogynist and my mom is a beautiful, intelligent woman. We don’t get along, I’m not going to say that we do but I can admit that my mom is an amazing, educated, beautiful woman. My dad wanted her to be a housewife and that wasn’t going to work. They were married and the deal was he would go to school first so that if she got pregnant there would be at least one person in the household with a degree and then she would go to school. And he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. He wanted her to be a housewife and a trophy wife. He wanted me to be a trophy wife eventually. My mom was like, “No, my daughter is not going to be that way and I’m not that way,” so they ended up getting divorced. My great-aunt and my grandmother were also skilled women and if they had been born in a different time and had had husbands that had been supportive, they would’ve been so successful. But they quit their jobs because their husbands wanted to take care of them, the husbands wanted to provide. And they did, they were good husbands, they did provide and my aunt was well taken care of. But I just keep thinking: what if he had changed the narrative and instead of supported her financially had supported her creativity? I think my family would be better off. A lot of families would be better off. When half the population is oppressed for frivolous reasons it’s really ridiculous.
How do you define sexism?
It’s whenever you discriminate against the sexes from doing something that they really want to do. For women, it’s this idea that we’re supposed to be property, second-class citizens, not having rights to your own body and your own identity in general. The X was the faster swimmer and you’re mad that the Y didn’t win? Sorry!
Men face it, too. There are a lot of men that like to play with dolls. You can’t play with dolls because you’re a boy. Yes, he can. What if he wants to be a good father? Maybe he wants to be nurturing. Why is that so bad? Why can’t boys cry? Boys can cry. They are human beings with emotions too. Boys can’t cry. Boys have to be rough and wild. And we wonder why they keep shooting up schools. Maybe if you stop telling them to be rough and wild all the time they would learn how to use their words and express their emotions in a constructive, creative way. People who say that men are stronger than women? Even if they’re right, we don’t live in a primitive society anymore, I don’t need you to take care of me. I can pay someone to pick that thing up for me. Or I can do it myself. I have a weight-machine, I’m not that weak.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
Feisty. Nasty. I decided to go to law school because I’m so tired of it. I like to write and I want to be a writer. Sometimes I am frisky and I write porn and fantasies but I also write a lot of social justice stuff because I get so tired of it. When I see sexism and injustices, I will write an essay about it because I am mean with a pen. I am really, really freaking tired of it.
Do you always notice when people are acting in a sexist way?
Sometimes, sometimes not. But when I do, I will write a strongly-worded essay for you! (laughing)
What’s the best part about being a dancer?
There’s good parts and bad parts. The best part about stripping is the freedom. You get to work when you want to work and have the ability to make paychecks in a day. A lot of the women that do it need money for something. You got in a car wreck or have pet bills or you have to take care of your children. You can do what you have to do to get it done. I know a woman whose has saved for her daughter to have trust fund with enough money in it to go to any school she wants to go to when she is old enough—undergrad and grad school! That’s why you become a dancer in the first place. It’s because you need money. We’re not born with silver spoons in our mouths. My family doesn’t like me that much. Probably because I am such a nasty woman. I can be hard to deal with sometimes because I am so fierce about everything. But they didn’t teach me how to drive, they didn’t help me get my first car. I slept on the floor for years as a kid. My mom did the best she could. I’m not going to dis her or knock her in any way because she tried her best but I had to figure out a way for myself. And in a way that’s a good thing because being a dancer let me figure out who I am. You come into contact with a bunch of different peoples and different energies and that helps you. Even in the situation we are in now with the raids and everything, I decided to use it as a platform. They went in there and attacked my job. I love being a dancer and they called us out. Everybody wants to speak for me. The strip clubs want to speak for you and the politicians want to speak for you. I have been down here for so long and I am eloquent and a great writer and a speaker. It’s a skill that I have. And I don’t really have a family or children and I am able to be more visible. A lot of women can’t speak up because of their children finding out so I said, “Don’t worry, I’ll fight for you.”
The bad side of being a dancer aside from the stigma is that you get complacent sometimes. I am guilty of that as well. You get good money and you get distracted by the money. I think that’s why dancers have a lot of highs and lows. Some days you’ll walk out of there with a negative and some days you’ll do extremely well. I think the goddess gives you those high and low days so you don’t get complacent and forget why you’re there. Why am I here again? Oh, because I wanted to go to school. Sometimes girls decide to drop out and work full-time. But you can only do this for as long as you look young and even then you won’t want to because you’re going to get tired and your body is going to hurt. This job is like going to the gym all the time. And managers get their heads up their asses all the time They’ll pick on you for no reason, they’ll fire you for no reason, they’ll say the meanest things for no reason and you’re going to get really fed up with it. And from the outside world, you’re a second-class citizen. Why would you consider a dancer a second-class citizen? Why would you consider me scum? A woman’s sexuality is her own business. A lot of people don’t like it because they still feel that your image and your body belongs to some man and they are always going to shut you down. They think women should be freely available to them. 95% of all women are harassed on the street and that’s legal. But when people come into my club and stare at my boobs, they’re at least making sure my rent is paid. That’s the difference.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about working in the industry?
The City Council called us drugged-out, pimped-out prostitutes in need of saving. I can save myself. I’ve got this handled, trust me. We don’t need your help for that. We can use your help for some things but not for that.
There’s this misconception that we’re all mentally damaged. Sometimes I play mentally damaged but that’s only for money. It’s a show. Guys like to be the superman. Men prefer respect over love so if they think they can save the day, they’ll pay you more. But sometimes they think you are actually that way. I’m not, trust me. I am not actually damaged.
That we’re dumb? That’s a big misconception. Most of the girls that I work with have college degrees or some college experience and we’re all entrepreneurs. They save their money and spend it on their businesses. A lot of other businesses will discriminate against you if they find out you’re a dancer so we go into business for ourselves.
I have also had a lot of problems with dating. The dating scene as a dancer is tough. Some guys are very simple-minded and so when they hear you’re a dancer, they think sad, damaged, deranged, and crazy without actually getting to know you. You’ll be fine if you find a person that actually wants to get to know you before they begin judgement. They think all you want is attention. Of course I want the attention of the customers. If they can’t see me, they can’t pay me. They don’t understand that a guy would give you a great amount of money just for your company. They think that a P and V had to have happened. It really didn’t. We just had a great conversation and he paid me well for it. They get jealous because you have all these men with money giving you attention so why would you stay with them?
There’s this stigma that we’re always super sexual all the time. I actually am a super sexual type of person but I am not that way when I’m working. It’s so weird. If you talk to me as a dancer I have more level conversations than I do dirty conversations. But if you talk to me as a lover, I am a pervert! I say the freakiest things and sometimes [men] don’t take me seriously because they think I talk that way all the time. I don’t. If I am talking to a customer, I just talk to him and throw little flirty things in there. Men will think she so sexual and liberated and I’ll get to have a threesome and you don’t because I don’t want to do that.
Can you tell me about the raids?
I’ll talk about them in a different way because everyone knows what happened: how they took pictures of us naked, how they said our real names. People don’t understand what happens in a raid. They don’t understand the law. The law is what defines what prostitution and lewd acts are, not your conception. Prostitution could be that you’re not wearing shoes. Prostitution could be that your pubic hairs weren’t covered. Another reason I don’t talk really perverted is that you can actually be cited for that. Even though I am just making stuff up and it’s a fantasy and I write porn, I actually can’t use that because there are speech laws that strippers have to abide by. You can go and touch your own tits at any time outside of a strip club and you’ll be fine. But I can’t because it’s considered prostitution and a lewd act for me to touch my own boobs while I’m dancing. And they did all this because they said they were looking for sex trafficking. How is someone touching their own boobs going to help sex trafficking? It’s not. Having a more positive legal relationship with dancers would help. What would’ve been better and actually productive is when the cops came in and pushed us all in the corner and were looking for underage girls, all they would’ve had to do is look at all our IDs and social security cards in the system. Actually, all they really had to do was turn the lights on and see that there’s a whole bunch of botox and lip injections and boobs jobs and C-section scars in here. We’re not children. But they didn’t do that. They caused a bigger problem than what they said they were trying to solve. If you really want to help dancers why didn’t they talk to us? They went and they did all these studies but they didn’t talk to us. But if you had sat down and talked to me and told me they wanted to solve the problem of sex trafficking I would’ve told them to get rid of these frivolous laws and look for pimps. Simple. Why are you going after us? Sit and talk to us about what problems we have. It’s illegal for the clubs to take our tips but they can take $10 on every dance. Why do you need to take $10 on every dance? That’s a lot of money. It used to be $5. I understand we have to rent the space but why do you need $10? That’s a lot of money to take from each girl. There’s a lot of people that are involved and we all would’ve come forward if they had really wanted to do something. If you really wanted to help there were plenty of ways to do that. Let’s take a look at all the ads for the clubs. Where are all the black women in these ads? Why are they all white? Why are they all blonde? Why is it that when you look at the population of this city, it’s very mixed and there’s a very high population of black and brown people. But where do you see that in the clubs? Where are they at? I just went to the bank and all the tellers are black. It’s very mixed here. Why isn’t the club mixed? Because they’re racist. That’s a problem. If you wanted to help you could’ve legitimately helped that. If you really wanted to help, if you really wanted to do something, you could’ve done that. But you didn’t. You have your moral high horse. They don’t like women coming into power. There are so many problems that if they really wanted to help they could’ve helped. They have everything to say and the wrong way to do it. You don’t have a responsibility to the church. You have responsibility to the law. That’s the biggest problem that dancers have, I think, that the cities and the clubs want something. You can’t just come to work and do your job. I don’t have a problem paying taxes. I don’t even have a problem with them taking fees. I have a problem with your greediness. They always have their hands out for something because there’s naked girls in there. Oh you’ve got empowered women? Cut that out. Dancers make a lot of money but we pay a lot out. Extortion left and right. There is always somebody with their hand out. That’s another reason dancers keep their work under wraps because when someone finds out you’re a dancer those greedy fingers come out. She’s got money. I’m going to do something to her to get it. That was what bothered me most about the raids. If they had legitimately wanted to help, there was all this stuff they could’ve helped with and they didn’t. It was all fabricated. They made it up.