In 2007, a now-infamous study was released, finding that dancers earned significantly more money when they were ovulating versus when they weren't, and that dancers who are on hormonal birth control (which suppresses ovulation) had no income peak. The point of the study was to see if whether or not estrus—the polite, human term for "in heat"—was lost during evolution, like many researchers claim. The study was one step toward proving we are pretty much like those baboons that wave around their big red butts, and that men will tip us for it, and in strippers have been hearing about it ever since.
Okay, well: Stop forwarding that study your stripper friends! Bubbles, a writer for the hilarious-but-poignant sex-worker blog, Tits and Sass read the study the first time around, like everyone else. And according to her the whole thing is pretty weak.
The first time I heard about the ‘Ovulating Strippers Make More Money!' study, I thought, "oh, that's interesting! I wonder what they learned. So many strippers must have been studied." But NO. Here's the story: Two researchers at UNM in Albuquerque studied dancers for two months. They studied 18 dancers. In one club, in one city. For two cycles.
Two!?! I thought everyone knew that three makes a trend. But she has a point; only studying two cycles allows for outside changes to affect earnings. As Bubbles puts it, "Did ovulation coincide with the Pit hosting an NCAA tournament round?"
Factors like weather and tourism do sway a dancer's income. Last year, a dancer named Story published her monthly earnings in a series of blog posts. (The project began in the name of transparency, according to Story dancers don't often share their earnings..but without talking about it how are they supposed to know what "good money" in the industry is?)
In April, Story wrote that she worked just eleven days and earned $1,540—her nightly average take home was $140. But in June she worked a similar twelve days and earned $4,868 with a nightly average take home of $405.56. Other dances who published their earnings had similar differences, which all seem to stem around seasons and the number of customers in the club. (Susannah Breslin handily collected a few of the figures in her Forbes column for a story about how much strippers actually make.)
Bubbles took on a different approach to calculating her earnings. Since she is not on hormonal birth control (Paraguard, represent!) she has been calculating how her earnings have been affected by ovulation and menstruation for the last three years. Yes, three years — that's some research. Here is what Bubbles found:
2009: Period shifts: 4% greater than average. Ovulating shifts: 20% lower than average. Definitely contrary to what the research would have predicted.
2010: Period shifts: 5% lower than average. Ovulating shifts: 21% greater than average. The big difference in ovulation's favor was its concurrence with a big sports weekend one month. Without that, my ovulating shifts would have been 6%.
2011: Period shifts: 9% lower than average. Ovulating shifts: 2% lower than average. Which must mean being horny makes my money go down, but not as much as having cramps.
I've read about dancers who swear they make more when they wear specific perfume; Paris Hilton is supposedly popular in the club. Or dancers who say the songs you choose can swing more money—Weezer apparently works like a charm. But like the blogging dancers who kept track of their income over a few months, Bubbles found that her earnings were actually impacted by seasonal swings, big events happening in the area and the consistency of customers. Not her womanly flow.
Now. Anyone want to take on any other oft-quoted evo-psych studies? Bonus points for anything that Dilbert guy mentions.