"Don’t worry, the ride is on me!", says the limo driver, who according to him just happened to park in front the Hotel tonight. We say “Oh” and “why not I guess…” and quicker then one can say Holly Hustles Harder he gets us off the street and into the party-vehicle, where we now sit in front of empty Jack Daniel’s Cans and wiggle our feet to trashy Housemusic.
At the stripclub’s front desk voluminously-lipped Kristen is welcoming us. Maybe already waiting. “Oh yes, it is very busy tonight. We have a lot of guests. They are all in the private rooms right now. Very busy.” Inside the club a young voluptuous girl tries to swing the Pole, fails and rubs her air-condition-cold hands over the badly done boobs instead. There are plastic plants decorating the view. Two girls come and sit and talk or try to talk but are not very good at it. Somehow I am doing all the small-talking now. Not wanting them to feel awkward about the awkwardness. The bar serves wine and beer. “No liquor, sorry. But you can invite the girls to some champagne.” Carly tells us she works here “pretty much all the time”. The tattoo below her left boob says Do what people tell you you can’t do. The tattoo on her waist says One day I’ll fly away. Carly is one of the smart ones. Carly doesn’t hustle. She doesn’t immediately offer dances or further services. She plays it cool. Or maybe she is just lazy. Carly likes to smoke. I see her in the glass box, smoking one cigarette after the other, in her bra and black string, which I’d like to reposition for better-looking fit (if such a move wasn’t incredibly rude). She looks beautiful smoking. She also looks beautiful not smoking.
Milena comes and sits down. Milena giggles a lot. She’s from Milan. She says “I’ve only been here a few weeks. I’ll see how long I’ll stay. I’ll see how it goes.” Her eyes say “This place sucks!!! Can’t you tell?” We can. As we leave we pass all the empty private rooms. In my back I know Milena, Carly and the few others are all immediately leaving stage, chair, bar to disappear into the backstage. Sitting, Smoking, Smartphone playing. Waiting for the night to pass. The only two customers of this sunday night having just left for no return. And I feel relieved and guilty that tonight I am on the other side of this stripclubthing. And that I have the privilege to chose which side to be on.
Céline was a fashion girl. Or rather a fashion-blogger kind of girl.
Some colleagues you meet the first time once they hit the floor in their work costumes. Already in stripper persona you can only guess from their style what they’d be like in real life. A tramp can often be identified for the tramp she is in real life and the stylish stripper will most likely be even more stylish in daytime attire. Other times however one gets surprised, when the blonde, silicone enhanced barbie-slut turns into a normal girl-next-door once the make up is removed and the 7-inch heels are changed for a pair of worn out sneakers.
Céline however I saw the first time as daytime-girl when she rushed past me into the dressing-room. In a very cute and unpretentious way she looked like she had just sprung out of a street style fashion blog. She ticked every box on the how-to of being a cool hipster chick: the stringy blonde dip-dye hair, the black rivet boots, leggings and the loose washed out vintage shirt expressing an affiliation with some 60s rockband she’d probably never heard a song of. The obligatory green army parka was a little oversized and completed her très très cool et très très chic outfit.
“There’s too many men, Too many people making too many problems, and not much love to go round…”
I had just finished dancing to Phil Collins on the main stage.Some days I like to leave the music choice up to the DJ and enjoy the ironic awkwardness when I have to dance to a song that reminds me of my other life and that seems completely inapt for the obscenely hot g-string I am dancing in now, the kind you can only purchase in the dressing room of a strip club. “This is the world we live in - ohhh - ohhh - and these are the hands were given - ohhh -ohh…” Céline was watching me from the back of the room and when I stood next to her, five minutes later, pulling my little dress back over my thong, she pointed to me that she wanted to tell me something. “Yes?” I smiled. “Sorry, but I have a question….” she said in the cutest french accent ever, “can I ask you something?” “Qui, bien sur!” I replied. One of the only five phrases I could say in french. “I am a bit embarrassed because you know, I have small tits but I see you have small tits too and you dance really good and sexy and so I wanted to ask you..is it a problem?” she looked at me in this friendly and open way you rarely see from other dancers. She was obviously new to the game and I liked her. “You mean for stripping, for making money?” I asked back. “Yes, for you, is it a problem? Because I am very shy to show because they are so small.” She touched her breasts that were pretty small indeed and smiled timidly while looking down on them. I melted away. That was exactly the kind of authenticity that could get her dollars and dollars of admiration. Or a dangerous load of insecurity if she wasn’t careful. “Don’t worry, it’s not a problem at all” I said. “You know, some guys like big tits and some guys like small tits. It is more important that you like yourself and express it. Men love that most of all.” She listened to me like an eager student. “And you know, it is ok being shy about it. Just tell the guys like you told me and they will loooooove it!” She laughed and gave me a hug, “Oh thank you so muuuch!”
At that day Céline was only 18 years old. Eighteen. She turned 19 two days later and wasn’t happy about it. “I want to stay young, like, forever!” She smiled excitedly as if there was actually a real chance of her wish coming true. Then she turned serious all of a sudden. “You know my mum, she starts having grey hair now…I don’t like it. It makes me….wrrrrr…..”. She hugged her little body and shivered like she was really cold or really scared or both. “Time always pass too quickly, you know. I don’t like!”
Oh Céline, you are too young to realize that. Happy Birthday, girl.