If hollywood movies are anything to go by then strippers lead a life of luxury, indulging in the finer things and being invited to all the best parties. In reality, whilst there is an element of truth in these stereotypes, there is a lot to be desired when working as a stripper. It’s not all glitz and glamour and the stripper life comes with a variety of problems only strippers will understand.
Before we get stuck in, let’s make it clear that strippers by large lead very financially rewarding careers and the majority face no more discrimination or abuse than most civilian women in the workplace face. Unfortunately however, for the few that do suffer from abuse and assault within the adult entertainment industry it is likely that they to a higher degree and frequency than those outside of it. We want to highlight this so an adult industry opposed group like Collective Shout or the like doesn’t grab hold of this article or the examples of oppression and abuse within and then use it and twist it for their own agenda like one apologetic group did.
This article contains actual experiences of those within the industry not imaged scenarios or rumours formulated from industry outsiders.
What are some of the types of problems strippers face?
Quite a few actually. From public perception through to attire and everything in between. If you were thinking this would be a light hearted article, apologies, it is about legitimate problems strippers face. If you’re interested and are after a light hearted article about some of the more humorous problems strippers face, you should enjoy Problems Only Strippers Will Understand. Below you will find the types of problems strippers face divided into groups below. Let’s begin with…………
- Corporate slut shaming by banks. Adult entertainment is a legal industry, but yet some major financial institutions (we are looking at you NAB and Paypal) prefer to shut users accounts if they work within the stripping or sex industry.
- Despite earning oodles of money (in comparison to other jobs), strippers face discrimination by default from lenders when applying for loans. Even though strippers are technically employees in a lot of circumstances, lack of enforcement of this classification from governing bodies (though funnily enough the ATO now has ‘adult entertainment worker’ listed as a profession for tax purposes) and virtually nil union representation leaves adult entertainment workers with little recourse in being able to supply financial institutions with the required paperwork to have loans granted under an employment classification and instead force these vulnerable workers to apply for loans as contractors which have stricter loan provisions.
- Merchant facilities. Many mobile strippers find that they require merchant facilities to maximise their earning potential. Even club based strippers can find the need for merchant facilities. However, many merchant providers refuse to accommodate those working within the adult entertainment industry. Some merchant facilities will even go as far as telling applicants that their application was declined due to outstanding debts when upon further investigation (and usually at a financial cost), there are no outstanding debts, it’s just that the merchant lacks balls in being honest in telling them the truth. In a lot of cases (not all), merchants who are willing to provide services to adult entertainment contractors do so at extremely high interest rates under the assumption that these workers can’t be trusted and they will either rip off client’s or fail to pay their bills. Why aren’t these contractors given the same treatment as contractors in other industries? The construction industry has the highest percentage of receivership and liquidation. Is that industry being subjected to 20% interest rates? No, they aren’t.
- Lack of award wages or industry rates. Adult entertainment workers who should be classified as employees are often lied to and told that they are contractors and therefore minimum wages or award wages don’t apply and they must rely on tips or commission only sales from bookings with clients. To add insult to injury, these same workers are not able to negotiate the terms or remuneration of the sale nor the percentage they must hand over to the overarching business.
- Some clubs not only take a percentage of earnings (up to 50%) but also may the girls pay to work via door fees which must be paid regardless of earnings each night (up to $150). On any given night, a girl can earn $1000 but can be required to hand over up to $650 of it to retain her position.
- Another barbaric financial imposition placed upon strippers is fines. Yes, fines. And big fines in some cases such as their entire nights earnings. Fines can be for being late, failing to wear a watch, not making enough money throughout the shift, calling in sick, failing to provide a doctors certificate (but they are supposedly contractors remember), seeking leave for busy periods, working less than four nights a week, going home early, failing to take their clothes off fast enough on stage, leaving stage early, missing stage, not having customers buy them enough alcoholic drinks, not having a drink in their hand, refusing a dance with a customer or for sitting down. One stripper from Brunswick Street in Fortitude Valley recalled witnessing a manager of a strip club fining a girl because she had not made enough money (even though she paid a fee to work the shift) for the evening (despite it was low season and the club had been virtually empty the entire shift and with 30+ girls rostered on) and walked her to the ATM and made her withdraw $150 and give it to him. Umm, wtf. Can you imagine the uproar if Supre started docking their workers pay because not enough customers walked through the door?! Yes, you read all of those things correctly, yet in spite of all of this, many girls still manage to carve out a financially lucrative career.
- Spend enough time talking to strippers and you will be horrified to hear the overwhelming amount of stories about being ripped off from agencies and venues. Stories range from unpaid invoices for substantial hours working topless in pubs to threats of non payment if staff don’t agree to break the law or submit to sexual assault.
Management of Premier Girls started their agency after becoming fed up with how girls in the industry were being treated.
If you think that the girls problems pretty much end there then you would be sadly mistaken. Tied closely to the exploitative and slave like financial conditions these girls find themselves in, is the work environment and conditions that they find themselves working in. Let’s explore some of those now.
8) It’s generally expected that if you work a six to nine hour shift you can expect to have as a minimum a 30 to 60 minute meal break. Not strip club dancers. Most clubs only give their girls 10 to 15 mins.
9) Many strip clubs require their girls to work 10 to 12 hour shifts.
10) Even though strippers are told they are “independent contractors” they can’t freely pick their own holiday or work in multiple clubs throughout the week, otherwise they risk having their contract terminated
11) Ever heard the story about the stripper who was forced to stock the cool room whilst wearing nothing but a g-string and heels? Yep. True story. Or the strippers who show up to bookings in the middle of winter with sub zero temperatures to only discover that the booking is outside and are then told if they don’t complete it by their agent they won’t be paid? Unfortunately it happens quite a bit.
12) Weigh ins and diet restrictions. Yes it’s expected that strippers should look their best and that they should watch their waistlines and eat a healthy diet, but clubs have been known to weigh dancers once upon starting each shift and if a dancer has put on more than a couple of kilos since they were hired they are then suspended until they lose it. Other clubs have forbidden girls from bringing food with them to work whilst they work an 8 to 10 hour shift.
Lack Of Representation
13) Do strippers or topless waitresses have a union? No one seems to be sure. Strippers throughout the years have reached out to various unions (particularly those unions that represent hospitality workers and therefore topless waitresses should fall under their care) and have been told that they would have to join the union before any indication would be given as to whether or not the union will be able to help them. Given the exploitation and robbery girls in this industry have experienced far and wide, this seems like a money grad and a lot of girls are wary of joining.
14) No award classification or wage. Time and time again, strippers and topless waitresses are told by business owners that they are “independent contractors” so therefore no award applies. Yet, they are paid for their time, not a skill, are largely unable to negotiate their remuneration or roster, must provide doctors certificates when sick, cannot subcontract the job to someone else, are directed in how to perform their job, cannot decline work during a shift and are told what they can or cannot wear. Hmm. Doesn’t really sound like an independent contractor.
15) We have all heard the stories about how difficult it is to get a rental property. The dozens upon dozens that show up to the open houses and the offers from applicants to pay above the asking price which then pushes most applicants out of competition. And that generally applies to applicants who are employed. Self employed people have it even harder. Throw in that the property manager knows you are a stripper and you can pretty much assure you will not be approved. This blatant discrimination forces a lot of adult entertainment workers to LIE. Yes, LIE on their applications. They convince friends who own businesses to say they are employed by them. Why the fuck should they? That’s right, because adult entertainment workers are one of the few very marginalised communities to still not be supported regarding basic rights.
16) Home ownership. Tying into the above, strippers are usually needed to provide 20% deposit plus legals or 2 years of tax returns. Even if they do provide 20% deposit they are usually required to also pay mortgage insurance. Generally, if you are self employed and you provide a 20% deposit with all the required paperwork then the banks waive the mortgage insurance.
Discrimination And Public Perception
17) Strippers have shared numerous stories about being evicted from a private residence (usually an apartment in a resort) by security or management without notice or under accusation of being a full service sex worker. Contrary to popular opinion, strippers just show up and strip and then promptly leave, they don’t show up to a booking and proceed to have sex, throw a wild party and trash apartments.
18) Strippers have reported verbal and physical abuse from strangers and loved ones. The author of this article has personally witnessed strippers being physically assaulted by wives or girlfriends when they discovered their partner had gotten a lapdance. If you have a problem with your other half getting a lapdance then take it up with them not out on the stripper. Others have reported being spat on after walking out of a stripclub by passersbys. How is either of those things acceptable in today’s world. Sadly, these sorts of stories are common.
19) Assumptions. Nearly every stripper can tell you they have had their fair share of “so how much for extras?” from fucknuckles who assume that because they dance naked for money they clearly must available and willing to provide full service. Nope. Just nope. Other equally offensive beauties are “weren’t you smart enough to get a real job?” and “you’d have to be a junkie to be doing this!”. Most strippers just smile, turn on the charm, and proceed to take as much money from those morons as possible knowing that it will be contributing to their university fees or helping to pay off their mortgage in record time.
20) Judgement. Tied closely to assumptions, strippers find themselves judged frequently. They are told they lack a moral compass, are accused of being homewreckers and many would not trust them alone near valuables or to provide care to children. Strippers have even reported that in child custody battles that judges deemed their career was undesirable and have instructed them to give up their profession or their children would be taken away. Luckily, ill informed judges who make decisions seemingly based on assumptions or personal viewpoints are being publicly called out for their behaviour. Let’s hope this new wave of advocacy extends to the adult entertainment industry.
21) Abandonment. Sadly, some strippers have reported being cut off from their families or loved ones after it was revealed they were an adult entertainment worker.
22) Lack of advocacy. Compared to other groups (single mums, homosexuals, etc) strippers have no real advocates.
23) Job applications. At some stage, strippers are ready to hang up their heels and begin a new career path. This transition is usually to do with having completed their goals (financial or educational) and sadly on occasion from no longer being able to cope with the mental, financial or physical and sexual abuse that occurs. When strippers are ready to make the transition they have already been forewarned by others who have trod the same path NOT to reveal their stripping career on their resume or to any work colleagues once they secure a position. One story that comes to mind is of a former stripper who confided in a work colleague that she had previously worked in a stripclub as a bar tender and less than an hour later she was fired by the owner as he didn’t want “her kind” working for him. Strippers are told to get real jobs but when they do they can be punished for it. This history of judgement and assumptions force strippers to once again lie and have to create fake jobs on their resumes until some years and roles have passed.
24) Lack of security. This particularly applies to mobile strippers. Namely for one of two reasons; a lack of security staff or security staff exploiting them. One stripper revealed that after working a regional shift for a few hours where she had consumed some alcoholic beverages, her security/driver demanded that she give him half of her earnings on top of the fee she had already paid him to drive her home otherwise he would leave her with the clients and she would have to find another way to travel the three hours home. Another revealed how she discovered her security was stealing from her. Sadly, again, these types of stories are common.
25) Assault. Being grabbed on the pussy (and no, Mr Trump, they didn’t like it). Have had guys lick them. One stripper even recalled a bucks soon to be father in law pulling her towards himself whilst she was butt naked and him then grabbing her arse and sticking his finger in her arsehole. A waitress told this author about a client who was in his 60’s that when he went to tip her, he stuck his hand down her pants and grabbed her private parts. Others have been slapped so hard on the arse that it left a welt. Others have been punched. These types of assault usually come from clients but they have also come from business owners, security staff and other strippers. How many other industries can you recall that have such high levels of assault? And before you say “well don’t do the job then as that’s what will happen”, know that these sort of sentiments can be likened to blaming rape victims because their dress was too short or because they went out at night. Bad behaviour is bad behaviour and should never be excused because of someone’s attire, occupation, sexual orientation or belief just to name a few.
26) Rape. It does happen, but it’s not as prevalent as some feminist extremists will lead you to believe. What is disappointing when a stripper wishes to pursue criminal charges is the lack of support and action by the police and the public at large. Respect QLD has been vocal on this topic and other similar bodies have conducted research among the members of the adult entertainment industry. A recent case of rape has once again highlighted that a significant portion of the public still do not care and are quick to blame the performer. This victim had to endure two trials as the first was a hung jury. The second trial found the accused guilty.
27) Death. The case of Stacey Tierney made headline news when her body was discovered in a Melbourne strip club.
28) Shift and long term night workers are stated as having shorter life expectancy than those that work dayshift hours.
Despite all of the above many girls are able to carve out a lucrative career with minimal adverse effects on their mental and physical health. Many of these girls enter the industry to assist in reaching their goals, whether it be supporting themselves whilst completing their studies or saving for a financially secure future. Many however find that due to the unreasonable financial constraints placed upon them from unscrupulous business owners that it takes them longer than originally planned to reach their goals and once they are ready to transition out they can be faced with a new set of challenges. If the girls who enter (and then exit) this largely rewarding and fun industry are to be treated like workers in other industries then the larger public need to be made aware of the abuse that largely goes unchecked before change can be made. To those that abuse and exploit adult entertainment workers, we see you. We are calling you out. Given the support that other marginalised groups have garnered over the years from the recognition of a right to be treated with respect, it is only a matter of time before we receive the same. You can’t accuse us of not playing within the rules (cash only businesses) if you deny us the ability to be able to conduct standard business operations and procedures.
If you have a story of being treated badly then share it. If you support the workers in the adult entertainment industry then share this article and help create awareness.