So its no joke that I have put off letting people in, allowing access to hidden parts of me.
We all have secrets , we all have walls. Parts of my life I have felt needed to remain calndestine in order to be “socially acceptable” There are stories, pretty sure its a whole books worth of kit cats excellent miss adventures. I have eaten an extra slice of pumpkin pie because it was a) on special b)the slices were small c) I was majorly procrastinating typing this article. I just had to turn my phones off so I am not tempted to scroll mindlessly instead of type qwertely.
If there is are a few things for sure, my mum knows & she still loves me, my family & friends know & they still love me, It was more a question of can I love me? The answer is yes but it has taken a few years, quite a few years to figure that out. I don’t wish to offend any one with my life choices… they are mine, I own them and can live happily with them. They have been good, bad occasionally a little questionable with a dash of chaos and more than usually a rebellious streak. So, sorry not sorry zero fucks are being given a story is a ‘comin
The story starts when I find myself on a hospitality career hiatus. After being burned a few (3) times by senior male executives who think that they can work younger mangers to the bone, in the name of training and underpay the female management. While our male equivalents get a posse together out the back dock, smoking during the dinner rush whilst being paid triple your salary. This last role in that over worked, underpaid period ended like this…..
I saw my job advertised in the paper, natch I orchestrated a meeting with restaurants owner (They had 12 restaurants)
Me: “I would like to apply for the job that was advertised in the paper”
Owner: (laughing)”You are already doing that job”
Me: “then I respectfully request a pay rise to match the advertised salary”
I was earning $23k/year my job in the man version was being advertised at $55K/ year.
Me: “Ok, I resign”
Owner: “I don’t accept your resignation”
Me: (laughing) “Then pay me what I am worth!!”
Owner: (with an arrogance that defied belief) “No!!!”
Silently I slid my keys across the table to him.
He slid my keys back
Owner: “You cant resign you are the best restaurant manager that we have”
Me: “Then pay me like I am!!”
Owner “No, I cant”
I slid my keys across the table & walked out.
Unemployed, I ate mexican spicy beans & potato, a far cry from my management perk of eat what every you want from the menu. Until da da da 2 weeks later when I landed a new job, which miraculously included a company car #madeit Most of the sales reps I had met were in their 40’s and always turned up to the restaurant at THE most inopportune times. So I was pretty confidant that I could better their average, that I did. I quickly became the top sales person in our branch. I am quite good at making friends and having a chat.
One day I was making a sales call to a massage parlour, they used our services. To be honest there were not many businesses that didn’t need us, I was selling sanitary bins, women are every where, periods happen all the time. Periods have long been a normalised topic of discussion with me after ballet and aerobics gym locker rooms. When attending appointments with potential new clients the man owners would eventually beg me not to say the “p word” then ask me where they should sign. One day in a factory my presence nearly caused a riot as women marched me to the office and demanded that the factory manager put sanitary bins in their toilets, to replace the built in incinerators that often set off the fire alarm and caused much embarrassment when the fire brigade turned up. Nothing like a fire engine all red lights flashing and sirens blaring arriving at work place announcing that you are menstruating to the rest of your factory worker colleagues.
Anywho back to this massage parlour… the bloke/ pimp/ guy in charge of girls, I am actually not sure what I would ever write on his job description but it had a lot of ego involved. He told me I was hot & that I would make a lot of coin doing massage that I should give it ago. I was making a fair whack of coin so my ego let out an auto laugh and said thanks for the compliment, but no thanks. A week later I was nervously knocking on the dirty back “staff only” door curious and curiouser. What the fuck was a private school girl who speaks a couple of languages, who has been to college, lived overseas and was by all accounts reasonably articulate and successful doing here??? She was single curios and loved the idea of extra cash. It would totally fit in with my cash saving travel plans.
Sexy black lace lingerie clad I find myself doing a “trial massage”, what the eff is even that???. Where is Fairwork?? A not so naive kitty would have hit him up for some cash, especially because didn’t tell me the bit about the mandatory provision of the happy ending. Which was a surprise he waited to gift me at the end of the massage, almost like a dare. Ah thats what the sanitary bins were for as well, dual purpose whoda thunked it?? Such responsible waste disposal in the sex industry.
Massage parlour pimps don’t ask for references, they defiantly pay a higher hourly rate than any Hospitality job. It certainly beats part time pulling beers for drunks who don’t tip now 3 evenings a week instead of working at the pub, I was working at the massage parlour. I was definitely pulling tips hahaha I know you thought I was gonna write cocks … but ladies and gents I remain classy.
The other girls were nice, some younger than me, another couple were older, read slightly more jaded, they had regular clients on regular days. It was their full time job. I had determined it was never gonna be my full time job. We got to wear sexy lingerie and talk a lot of girly stuff, which was quite fun after working in super male dominated hospitality industry and being out on the road by yourself in your company car. The conversation was educational and often just belly laugh roll on the floor hilarious. One girl was using the between client time for studying. We snacked a lot through the boredom of waiting for clients, drank a bit of wine. No one was ever drunk, merry maybe but not drunk, also there were no drugs present, that I witnessed. Seeing 3 clients a night was 3 hours work which gifted you $300 plus tips. I soon worked out that girls had regular clients cause they performed extras. Whats an extra you ask?? Well anything beyond a massage and a happy ending really… and it was up to the girls to make up their own prices. I am pretty certain some of the girls did full service (i.e. had sex) amongst other things, no judgement, but I did not.
Quickly this became a familiar routine work, go to the gym, go massage for a few shifts a week equals kitty had some pretty good disposable cash money. Enter pole dancing, pole was just getting a leg up at about this time and the first Bobbies pole studio had opened in Sydney city. I thought that would be fun diversion from my other fitness activities, whilst teaching me some sexy moves that might enhance my tip earring potential in the massage parlour. I would learn it was also about confidence, showmanship, self love, self empowerment, life lessons that I had learned but were compartmentalised and only available to some of the people some of the time.
Already the proud owner “hooker shoes” a mandatory masseuse wardrobe item, mine were hot pink perspex with clear straps, I secretly loved them, they made you strut…. you couldn’t help but find your inner goddess. I also had a reasonable collection of aerobics gear that I cold mix & match with my sexy lingerie, so no issues in the wardrobe department. Both these things the shoes, the outfits were a pre req for pole dancing they got you in sexy mode. Perhaps I was being universally directed to the pole?
Pole dancing is not an easy game, its freaking hard work. Being an aerobics instructor and dancer, I loved the pole, it added all these other dimensions and relearning to hang upside down was child like, like swinging on an adult monkey bar. Other lessons surfaced including; to what it meant to be feminine yet strong, it was empowering with a spirited sense of fuck you independence. I super liked the rebellious aspect, you could feel the naughtiness in the air. The super woman body strength required is phenomenal, the bruises on your hips not to mention inner thigh markings are unpleasant and akin to getting a Chinese burn on your forearm when you were a kid. Pretty sure you are not allowed to call it that any more? Anybody who knows please comment with the PC term for inflicting this pain below. Being pretty fit and flexible I took to that pole like dick to pussy, bugger I meant a duck to water.
The sexy stuff was harder for me to do, you see I am not really an exhibitionist. I know that sounds contradictory based on the facts that I bounced around in barely there skin tight lycra bopping along with my madonna headset teaching an aerobics class, and that I got naked 3 nights week giving massages for travel my travel fund. But there was something about trying to connect deeply to that inner feminine sexy power that ground me to a halt, like a deer in the headlights, a little inhibited. Mostly when I felt this way I would mask it by cracking a joke and laugh it off.
It is pretty hard to love your self when your experience of growing up includes being berated by your peers for being up your self are the faintest sign of self love or self care. Perhaps you were caught looking at your self in the mirror for a second to long… that always got a group laugh when someone would yell you are never going to be beautiful enough anyway so just give up…… Or that when you put on your favourite Faberge jeans, you were going to get raped, god how I loved those jeans, but they actually got called my rape jeans, the thought of rape terrified me as I wriggled into those suckers…… Or that for a ballet dancer your body shape was just all wrong and your hair colour was blonde (apparently there was a ‘no blonde ballerina phase’ that I was at the end of) I copped it from all directions so confidence yes, body confidence maybe, sexy look you in the eye brilliance definitely a no. I was already prepared for your harsh judgement so I retreated before anyone had a chance to come close. I don’t think that I unlocked or released that aspect of myself until much later in my adult life. I think its why self love is such a big component of my coaching today … but fear not!! I am far gentler than to force you up a pole or into a massage parlour!
Months into this routine I was asked if I had considered dancing in a club? I was like.. Is massage like a gateway drug to further explorations of questionable habit holes? I think the answer might be yes. My first reaction, aka my intuition was… I am not a stripper… I was definitely not a stripper. which seemed so at odds with the fact that I massaged naked for cash one might think. The difference was public display verses the intimacy of personal connection. There was a show on & I was invited to go and watch. It was an exhibition of pole dancing which wput on display professional dancers skills and showmanship. They were literally show girls. I was a little nervous about being seen in a gentlemans club… I checked my thoughts and laughed at my self considering my being up a pole & naked massaging accounted for 4 nights of my weekly schedule, fascinated, I went.
The club was a daunting smoky underground that looked glam at night but no doubt looked hagged in the light of day, which it never saw. You could feel the pulse of Sydney after dark, everyone in there had crossed some other line and detoured down this rabbit hole sequestered on their own clandestine adventure. The performances were exceptional, these girls were in a league of their own, they were competitive, pole dancing champions. Pole was still pretty shady and certainly did not have the mainstream sports like acceptability that it has today. You could see these girls we athletes, scantily clad, super strong, confidant, sexy athletes. They were stone cold sober competing for titles and tips in their chosen sport where the competition just happened to be held in a strip club. Of course this was not the average pole girl story, these girls were the elite, the showgirls.
Even though I am not an exhibitionist, I am a performer there is a difference to being part of a group performance. Exhibitionists want your sole attention, as part of a dance troupe you have a role to play a responsibility to the collective, you are story telling together. Maybe I could give this a go, If these showgirls could treat it like a sport then perhaps so could I. But they were different they had embraced their feminine strength and gave zero fucks, where I was still building and occasionally attempting to dismantle the great wall of kit cat. There was no way first time round that I would command the audience as they did, did they start out small in shitty clubs to hone their skills?… yes, yes they did. So I went to those shitty clubs, I went after the massage shift and I asked if there was any work.. so naive, lol….. there is all ways work for new girls, aka: fresh meat.
The first time I ever went out on the pole in public was in Kings Cross in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. The Cross was the heart of club land and late nights, it was before lock outs & curfews and it was every bit as seedy as you would imagine actually probably worse. I lived in Surry Hills the suburb right next door. This den of iniquity/work place even fitted in with my don’t live further than 5 minutes for work rule. (cause, I knew that driving in traffic caused me maximum anxiety) I parked in the car park about two minutes from the club in a multi story car park, I had my allocated shift time 11pm – 6am and was literally peeing my pants with nervous anticipation, That was until I was walking up the stair well and was bought quickly back to reality by a human shit in the corner of the stairs. OMG was this what I was about to face … the potential shit in the stairwell crowd???
Down the stairs into the den, double down den of extra iniquity, it was a house half full, I was nervous AF. During my shifts at the massage parlour, I had been playing with the art of fake eyelash application along side a glittery collection of eyeshadows that help me create a semi disguise. This disguise would require applying this evening, fingers crossed it would be an opportunity to breathe and calm my nerves, hoping I didn’t poke my eye out with the applicator. Also bless the bartender a shot of tequila was offered & I went for seconds. I should have got a wig, maybe I could have adopted an entirely different persona not just a new faux stripper name. I don’t remember the other girls I think I was just to bloody nervous.
Unfortunately, I didn’t poke my eye out, so backstage, shitting bricks I am about get half naked & swing sexy style around the pole for cash. The financial sitch is this, you don’t get an hourly rate or an appearance fee, you get stripper dollars that you have to exchange at the end of your shift for real dollars, which incidentally could actually be just dollars not $100 dollar bills as Fiddi Cent would have you believe.. If you do good on the stage and you get some soggy stripper dollars maybe you change them for some waterproof pineapples (Australian slang for our $50 note) Perhaps you catch the eye of a would be suitor & you get booked for a private dance which is where the money is. Its supposed to be no touching but who really knows whats gong on behind the shabby velvet curtains, where real pineapples might be in play?. There is a rule in NSW you cant flash your lady garden in full so thats good news right??
Its well before midnight and I am, first time in public, up that pole attempting, I think unsuccessfully to play the role of sexy stripper. I bust some moves, there is nothing comfortable about this, I am not at home in public up a pole. It feels like that scene in flash dance where Jeanie fails as an ice skater & becomes a stripper…. I am Jeanie, unfortunately not my preferred character as played by Jennifer Beals the amazing stripper/ profesh dancer Alex. I am so relieved when I am allowed off that pole. I got tipped this is good, I got booked for a lap dance so thats good, its not an entire waste of time. I go back to the girls locker room, to try and look my self in my sexy stripper eyes and check my disguise. I don’t get long to do my repaint as you are then required to work the crowd for extra Tina Turner Private Dancer moments, until its my turn to get sexy up the pole again. This cycle repeats itself 5 times into the wee hours of the morning.
Its 6am I have exchanged my stripper dollars for $500 in cash, I pay a cut to the house. The sun is rising and I am finally released from this alternate stripper universe. I am exhausted, I stink of sweat and cigarette smoke. The sweat is my own, this shift has taught me to bath with baby wipes. Not my cigarette smoke, just like in any hospitality gig smokers get those extra breaks because their nicotine addiction its some sort of license to wag and still get paid. I am reminded, as I head into the stairwell that I have to walk past human faeces. It was the moment that I realised I would be a way better working girl than stripper. My hot hot shower & squishy bed are just not close enough.
This was my first shift, there were a few more because I wanted to see if I this was first time nerves or is I would develop the skills set, I didn’t not. The feeling of being so naked and so public was so very uncomfortable. Some girls relished it and were amazing, me not so much.
Another secret is out.
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