- Anti-Porn and Anti-Prostitution Writer, Speaker and Activist
- AntiPornography.org Volunteer
One of the most telling things that reveals how much female strippers really don't like their male customers, is how many strippers "turn lesbian." Most "dancers" I knew when I was stripping got so tired of dealing with men every night at the club that they eventually started dating and having sex with other women. This should tell the men that go to these clubs how much the strippers truly "like" them.
I was one of these women for a couple of years. I wasn't a lesbian, but after a few years of stripping I found the idea of going home to a man every night to be nauseating. I had always liked men, more than women even, but working in a strip club night after night for a long period of time completely changed that. It's sad now when I think back on it. I really lost respect for men and no longer trusted them. (Because the ones I met sadly gave me no reason to!)
I couldn't stand any of the men I dealt with at the club -- even the so-called "nice" ones were always trying to push my boundaries or pry into my personal life. As far as I (and just about every other stripper I met) were concerned, all of the male "customers" were constantly annoying and only good for one thing; money.
I was twenty years old and had never had a real relationship before, and I was tired of being single. (I had had plenty of casual sex in my teens, but that was different.) I couldn't imagine being in a relationship with a man because of how much they disgusted me from working at the strip club, so in my mind that left only one option: women. I had had sex with women before; on camera, in threesomes, or to "put on a show" for a man, but I had never considered being in a relationship with one. But working in the sex industry changed almost everything about me, including the gender of people I would consider being in a relationship with.
It all started in the strip club. (Of course. Where else?) The club was empty and there was a new "dancer" practicing on the stage. She was clumsy and awkward, attempting to do pole tricks and failing miserably. The second she got off the stage I told my friend, "I'm going to go upstage her." I was just a little catty back then.
I smugly went on the stage and proceeded to show off all of the acrobatic pole tricks I knew. I flipped upside down, held the pole with one leg, and then slid into the splits. The new stripper, Gina*, was watching the whole time, and after I was done she came up to me and gushed over how good of a dancer I was.
I was incredibly insecure at that time and needed any validation I could get, so I basked in her compliments. I hadn't liked Gina very much before, but the way she looked at me -- like I was important -- quickly changed my mind. But I would soon learn that under Gina's outgoing, friendly, and "life of the party" facade, she was even more insecure than I was.
Gina had grown up without much of a family. Her mother was a drug addict and her father was pretty much out of the picture. Gina told me stories about how her mom had jumped from man to man, and had even slept with some of Gina's boyfriends. Left to her own devices, Gina dropped out of high school in her junior year and never went back. By the time I met her, she had been through more in twenty years than most people had been through in their entire lives. Abusive relationships, rape, drugs and promiscuity, had marred her childhood and teen years. Because of this, Gina was obsessed with having her own family to gain some sort of love and sense of security, and she became desperate to get pregnant.
Despite wanting so urgently to have children, Gina made it clear that she was interested in having a relationship with me, and so we began dating. Soon after that we moved in together and things got interesting. By interesting, I mean that I found out how truly damaged Gina was.
Gina slept with any man that so much as looked at her, bringing home men for sex that she had just met at the gas station or the strip club. Because we were both also doing porn at the time, I didn't feel like I could say anything to her. I mean, I was having sex with other people on camera -- both men and women -- so what could I really say, and how could I really object, without feeling like a hypocrite or having a double standard?
My relationship with Gina was strange. We spent a lot of time together and were very close emotionally, but only rarely engaged in sex. In fact, I hardly even thought about having sex with Gina, yet it never occurred to me that maybe I just wasn't a lesbian. The truth was, of course, that I just didn't want to be in relationship with a man because I was afraid of intimacy, after seeing the way so many strip club "johns" behaved at the club -- cheating on their partners, etc.
So I continued my relationship with Gina. I needed her compliments, her companionship, and her admiration. Compared to her, I had my life together, I seemed "okay." Truthfully I wasn't "okay" at all, (see my other articles for details), but I certainly wasn't willing to admit that to anyone, especially myself.
Eventually things got worse and Gina's level of desperation to become a mother noticeably escalated. She slept around even more than before, and tried to get pregnant with any guy that seemed half-way decent. Gina actually got to the point of imagining pregnancy symptoms, constantly thinking that she was pregnant. Because Gina had been told by a doctor that she was infertile, I figured that it didn't really matter, since she would never get pregnant. At the time I didn't even think about the fact that all of that sleeping around was putting her at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases and infections. When you're doing porn you have to put things like STD risks out of your mind, or you won't be able to do it.
As time went on, things continued to go downhill and Gina got even crazier. She invited two meth addicts to stay with us (without asking me), thinking that she could "save" them. These addicts, a couple named Christian and Trina, made the already growing gap between Gina and me that much wider.
Christian was a loser that was too screwed up on drugs to work. He spent all of his time spending Trina's money, doing drugs, and bragging about a tattoo shop that he owned five years ago. Trina wasn't much better. She got fired from every strip club that she worked at and resorted to streetwalking in order to earn money by prostituting herself. This couple fought constantly, and I often wondered why Trina kept Christian around. What was the point of being with someone who just took from you, and never gave anything back?
Gina seemed to think that she could help these two kick using meth, but we caught them smoking it in the apartment more than once. The fact is, they just didn't want to quit. They only wanted somewhere to live rent-free for awhile. So after about two weeks of their drama, I threw them out.
Gina never got much work in porn to begin with, and she only made it worse when she gave herself some terrible homemade tattoos. You heard me right, she somehow got ahold of a tattoo gun and decided to tattoo herself. The tattoos were awful; a big black blob on her wrist and some clumsily drawn stars on her lower stomach. Obviously this did not make any director or producer want to hire her.
Gina didn't make much money from stripping either, and by this time she had quit even trying to work at strip clubs. Eventually she started having sex with an old club customer for the princely sum of forty dollars a week. Obviously she wasn't making enough to help out financially, so I got stuck with all of the bills and the rent. Gina refused to look for a regular job, and she even had the nerve to criticize me for not making enough money.
I finally woke up and saw what was going on. I was in the same kind of relationship that I had seen so many other strippers and porn performers involved in. I was that pathetic girlfriend supporting a deadbeat partner. Being with another woman didn't make it any better, because the truth was that I was just like all of the other girls I knew with loser boyfriends, only mine happened to be a girlfriend. This made me begin to consider that maybe men weren't the enemy. Maybe it was just the ones I was meeting with my current lifestyle. (Of course it took me years before I completely figured this out and accepted it.)
After a while I kicked Gina out. It would be years before I realized that I was never in love with her, and that I wasn't really a lesbian. I was just disillusioned with men and lonely. Gina and I remained friends for some years after we broke up, but eventually we fell out. The last thing I heard from her was that she was living with a man that was addicted to pornography and gambling, and that she had two kids with him. (I guess she wasn't really infertile after all!)
When I think back on this part of my life I marvel at how much the sex industry changed me; from someone who loved and valued men, to someone that hated men so much that I resorted to trying to "make myself" become a lesbian to avoid having intimate relationships with them. No matter how much I said the industry wouldn't negatively affect me, the truth is that it did. It gave me a very distorted and inaccurate view of men because my exposure to them during that time was mostly limited to "johns" -- men who pay women for sexual services. (Which includes porn users and strip club customers too, by the way, not just men who pay prostituted women for one-on-one sex.)
Spending seven years immersed in the sex industry -- surrounded by men who thought it was OK to pay women for sexual gratification, rather than develop truly respectful relationships with them as whole human beings -- cheated me of authentic interactions and connections with all of the good and caring men that I could have been spending time with. (The ones who would never dream of paying a woman for sex.)
I am only now starting to see the many ways that the sex industry turned me into someone I never wanted to be, and how much it harmed and cheated me and everyone else involved -- including the "johns" -- of so much that would have been much more meaningful and fulfilling. I hope others will learn from my mistakes and not waste years going down a dead end path like I did.
*All names in this story have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.
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