Meet Scarlet, as she gives an inside look into the world of stripping.
E+E: Describe the clubs you have worked in. How are they different as a performer versus a customer? Do you have a personal favorite?
Scarlet: I actually have only been to two strip clubs ever. They are both the ones that I worked for, too. I worked at Sassy’s for a bit and have worked at Mary’s Club for over a year now. I went to Sassy’s before I started stripping and was like, “Shit, this would be way better than working in retail.” I have a “try anything once” mentality so I just went for it.
Sassy’s was definitely a blast during the late shift. Lots of talented hotties. The spinning pole is way fun and I got really good at pole dancing when I was there. On slow mornings I could teach myself tricks with the help of whoever was dancing with me. The mornings were slow and the people who did come in usually just sat there and watched sports on the TVs above the bar, not tipping. Lame. I never understood that. Why would you go to a strip club to watch football?! I had a hard time getting good shifts there because there is a serious ladder you have to climb to get a Saturday night.
After Sassy’s I spoke to my next-door neighbor who worked at Mary’s and ended up getting a job. Mary’s often gets a bad rep. When I moved up here, some friends were giving me a tour of downtown and they told me that Mary’s was a “sad, sad, dark and depressed place.” In my experience, it is quite the opposite. It’s totally awesome and quirky and it gets packed and crazy on the weekends. It’s a little bit divey, yes, but I love the vibe in there.
The owner and the bartenders are almost all related and everyone is super nice. I get along really well with most of the girls that work there. Were kind of like a family… Christmas parties, BBQ’s and all. I go there when I am not working too. I guess I also don’t frequent them often because strip clubs are fucking expensive. As a stripper I absolutely can’t just sit there and not tip or tip the minimum and I don’t really want to just turn around and spend all my hard earned dollars. It’s definitely a once-every-blue-moon adventure for me.
E+E: What is the culture like backstage? Are the other performers friendly? Do you get along?
S: I imagine that every club is different. I haven’t really been too much of a club hopper but the two I worked at were very, very different.
At Mary’s we only have two or three girls working at a time, so there isn’t really a need to be super competitive. That leaves room for us to just shoot the shit and be friendly with each other. Sure, there a couple girls that rub me the wrong way here or there, but in my year working there I have had zero drama in the dressing room. I have personally never witnessed a fight, theft, or cattiness. Shit talking is relatively minimal… and I mean minimal compared to how much gossip happens when you normally put a bunch of girls together. I never dread going to work and I never dread working with anyone in specific.
Sassy’s, on the other hand, felt like a time machine back to the 7th grade. Wasn’t my scene so I just felt, “If you can’t handle the heat, get outta the kitchen” type of deal. I did, gladly.
E+E: What are some of the crazier things you have seen while working?
S: Sometimes I wish that I had a little hidden camera in my bra so I could capture all of the crazy, funny things that happen. I meet some interesting people. Mary’s brings in all type of people: we get tourists, famous people, businessmen, crack heads, homeless crazies, “whoo!” girls, couples, and of course your typical night-o- the-town Portland crowd.
I deal with nonsense every shift. I have been offered a job by a pimp from Oakland who wanted me to be one of his hos, crazy rich men (or so they say) offering to be my sugar daddy and give me all of my heart’s desires, and there is also a guy with schizophrenia that comes in occasionally, sits in the back and pretends to shoot me with a machine gun and tells me he knows Satan and can play exactly one million chords on the guitar. The list goes on. When my fiancé picks me up from work, the conversation usually starts with “Oh my God, you will not believe what happened to me today!”
E+E: What’s the best part of your job?
S: Everything. To be specific, I work two or three days a weeks and make enough money to live very comfortably. I have time to go to school and do the things I love like art and music. I get to dance and drink for a living! I get to eat what I want and stay in super good shape at the same time. Dancing is a lot of exercise and pole dancing is a serious workout. There’s no bullshit. Stripping is the most honest job I have ever had. I worked as a retail manager for a long time and that is the worst. If someone is being a douche, you sit there and take it and act like you care that the shoe they bought had a scuff on it. The customer is not always right in the strip club world, and if someone is being a dick, I get to (politely) tell them to Fuck Off.
E+E: Finally, what’s your favorite part about Portland?
S: I love the art and there’s so much culture. Everyone is accepted for who they are.