(No, not this rock, the one with the raised eyebrow. But sadly, I couldn’t find a free image of that rock that I liked.)
It’s embarrassing to admit. I’m honestly not at all sure when or how the switch flipped. For years I’ve watched jaded strippers slog through their shifts, completely unable to comprehend how they could be so down, so uninterested in working the room, so unwilling to hustle all but the most safe & promising looking customers, mostly only dealing with the ones who would come to them, so unhappy about making “only $xxx.xx”. Then, all of a sudden, I realized I became one of them somewhere along the way.
It hit me hard after a really bad Monday night. Half the times I went on stage I came down none the richer. Not a single dollar. When 2am arrived I only counted $22 in my purse, not a single dance sold, and I cried. Yes, it was a slow night, which I cannot control. Yes, I don’t believe a single dancer there went home happy about their take that night. But I came into that shift *already* acting like I’d only made $22 that night. Then all shift long all I did was wallow in my bad attitude, write off customers before even bothering to say a single word to them (many of whom did buy at least one dance from somebody), barely bothering to flirt with the customers I did talk too, complaining to just about anyone who would listen how little money I was making, how shitty the customers were, how I’m used to making better money… Then I thought about how I’ve had this attitude almost consistently for a couple months… Thought about how much time I’ve spent just sitting there watching other dancers smile, spend the time with customers, flirt like mad, and get sales… Ugh.
When did I, the exotic dancer so happy-go-lucky & passionate about my job, become so firmly jaded? How did that happen, to me? I used to rack up 40 dances on a really busy night… Maybe I just finally worked this job long enough. And it is true that I’ve been working far more hours a week now than I normally would (wedding budget, hello) and the club is slowing down in the winter. But I get it now. It seems almost impossible now not to get jaded. I still love my job, but the hustle… The rejection… I’m exhausted. I occasionally think of retirement & a steady job where I’m not constantly selling or sinking, wistfully. It’s as if once you dance through enough bad nights, enough bad customers, enough free stage shows where no one throws a single dollar, you fall off the edge into the dark side. I don’t think I could ever get through a shift again without nicotine to take the edge off. I can still exercise a great gift for working without drinking but it’s definitely gotten harder & harder not to rely on that crutch. I watch baby strippers, new to the job, with their enthusiasm, their pleasure at dollar amounts that no longer thrill me, their ability to smile & laugh with a customer while sitting though song after song without selling a dance. I watch as they giggle & drape themselves on the customers with a coy look, and meanwhile my ego & bad attitude demands that I show zero affection or interest until I’m getting paid for it. I used to be the girl flirting, working the room mercilessly no matter how many times I got shot down, thinking the jaded dancer just sitting in the dressing room on her phone, not talking to a soul, must’ve been absolutely nuts.
Safely home after that nightmare shift, ego firmly bruised & seriously checking my attitude, what did I happen to scroll past on the interwebs but a badass picture of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with this quote of his printed across it:
“Be humble. Be hungry. Always be the hardest worker in the room.”
Supposedly, this is The Rock’s answer when asked what the key to success is, whether that’s in Hollywood, the ring, or in the gym. It just so happens that what I do at work is equal parts Hollywood, ring, & gym, all at once, really. It stuck in my brain, and it clicked with me, and I was determined to take it to heart, and take it with me to work. I would be jaded & ego bound on my own time, sure, but at work I needed that attitude adjustment. Get my ass out of that chair. Work the room. Don’t miss opportunities, suck up the discomfort of flirting & fussing over worthless customers, be the hardest working person in the room at all times. Back at the strip club I kept rolling it over in my brain whenever I wanted to just sit, and be lazy, and brood. Be humble. Be hungry. Always be the hardest working person in the room.
And you know what? It worked.
The next shift at work wasn’t any busier. It wasn’t any more pleasant. Except, that I got my ass up out of the chair every time there was someone, anyone, available to hustle. I didn’t go home a millionaire, or with weekend kind of money, on that Tuesday & Wednesday. But I did make a hell of a lot more than $22. And I could tell by watching & listening that I was making more than the girls who’d beat me out for what little there was to go around on that awful Monday. The whole week was rough, bad customers, slow nights, not nearly as much money to go around as we would expect or like. Winters are often like this. But I worked hard. I got what I could out of the nights. And I didn’t miss out on money that could have been mine just because of a jaded outlook, attitude.
Be humble. Be hungry. Always be the hardest working person in the room.
Words for any stripper to live by, especially in the lean times.
Get up. Get smiling. Get to work. Every body coming in that door is an opportunity. And every night in the club is another day not spent chained to a desk, a register, a wage.