It's your birthday, hurray! You're going to a strip club with a bunch of your lesbian friends, fun! You're bringing LIKE SIXTY GODDAMN PEOPLE and you want them all to act right, so you send out a long letter filled with well-intended but frequently wrong advice and thoughts on how strip-club-going squares with your feminism! .... Oh, God.
A tipster forwarded us this message, which a woman sent out to her birthday party invite list in advance of her shindig at a Hustler Gentleman's Club. (We've removed some identifying information, including the city where the party was held.) To me, some of the advice in this email seemed... dodgy, so I shared it with my friend Emma, who requested that I describe her occupation as "professional ass-shaker," because your friends do not take you seriously when you interview them. In fact, Emma is a seasoned clothing-optional gyration specialist, and her advice is priceless for anyone wishing not to be a total pain in the ass in a strip club.
Below are bullet points from the email, with Emma's thoughts after each.
Dear Um Literally 60 of you,
Tomorrow is the day! Some IMPORTANT WORDS, SO READ ALL OF THIS:
1. The free pass can be printed from this link: [Redacted]
Print it now! Cherish it until 10pm tomorrow! Have it ready!
2. They have a great coat check at Hustler, so be flooded with relief.
Emma: "So far, so good. That's usable information."
3. In addition to being my birthday party, this is actually gonna be a revolution/unforgettable night because a legit MOB OF LESBIANS is about to take over The Unsuspecting Hustler Club
Emma: "Wait, what? 'Unsuspecting'? Mob? Did they not call ahead? That's RUDE. You wouldn't just show up at a restaurant with 60 people and expect to be seated."
4. IMPORTANT NOTE FOR THE STRAIGHT MEN WHO WILL BE JOINING US, please read this and it would actually be cool if you let me know somehow that you've seen this and understand it.
There's like actually less than 10 of you attending lol. You would not be invited to this party if you are not a chill person I'm close to, so I know you're a solid person. But still...try to remember that we (your friends, the lesbians in the strip club) are NOT PART OF THE SHOW. I know it might be a mindfuck to see girls giving other girls lap dances. But try to let us have fun without watching us. KEEP YR EYES ON THE HOT GIRLS (THE STRIPPERS IF YOU NEED IT SPELLED OUT FOR YOU) WHO ARE LITERALLY THERE TO BE HOT AND ADMIRED.
We don't want to be sexualized by you guys because A) Well tbh we never do... but B) Especially tomorrow night, we're trying to admire the hot girls TOO! Everyone's guard is gonna be down and feeling gawked at by men when it's not solicited is a horrible violating feeling and we want to feel safe!
That also means please do not bring any male friends who have not been invited to this. No one extra. Just you.
Emma, beginning to grow impatient: "THE MEN WONT BE LOOKING AT YOU, QUIT BEING SO FULL OF YOURSELF. And if you don't want someone to watch you get a dance—M/F, F/F, whatever—then spring for VIP. The clubs set it up that way for a reason. People watch others get dances. I don't mind it because if I'm giving someone a crazy hot dance, maybe they'll buy one from me next. Want privacy? Go VIP!"
Also, she adds, "We are not there to 'be literally hot and admired,' we are there TO GET PAID. I don't want to be taken advantage of or treated like dirt, but I'm there for cash. Give it to me and go away." (This will become a recurrent theme in this email, which seems to drastically underestimate the amount of money necessary to visit a strip club and not waste the time of the women who work there.)
5. On a similar note, to all you homosexual LADIES! It is so funny and crazy that we're gonna be at a strip club! WE'RE GONNA BE LIKE "LOL OMG WE'RE SO CRAYYYYY" THE WHOLE TIME! That said, strippers deserve mad respect. You'll see when you're there. Pole dancing is a crazy feat that literally none of us except for [Redacted] have the athleticism and finesse to pull off. The shitty men they have to put up with requires an incred amount of self-restraint and elegance. In general, these girls work hard and deserve respect. I'm not worried about you guys being nasty misogynists here at all like duh lol. But I just want to put out a big-up now to all the women we're going to be seeing tomorrow and remind you guys that tips will be appreciated, noise level shouldn't be tooooo high...I dunno, do you know what I mean? Let's not let the campy hilarity (fueled by every 2 Chainz video I have posted in anticipation of this event) eclipse the legitimacy of this experience - a strip club is a business and these girls are badass workin girls!
6. On very different note, I know factually, from texts and etc, that a lot of you, while excited, are also a little anxious about being women in a strip club, essentially appropriating the male gaze. I totally understand. I have my own qualms about this dynamic too (in spite of my documented and professed love of strip clubs). But let's look at it this way. I ALSO know factually (because of said vast history of hanging out in strip clubs lol) that the strippers are going to be psyched to see a bunch of SAFE PEOPLE coming in for a change. Strip clubs in [City] certainly have some issues with exploitation and a need for unionizing and stuff. Trust me, I'm at heart a no-fun second-wave Dworkin-esque feminist and in my daytime hours I am liable to obsess over the problematic nature of ANY kind of sexual objectification.
But guess what: We all like girls and think they're hot. We're all feminists here...And we've all kind of wanted to see what a strip club would be like.
Ultimately this is legitimate work that the women of Hustler genuinely enjoy and excel at. Let's let them enjoy what they do. They are going to be very happy to see us. And let's, for one night, just enjoy ourselves too, get wasted, toast to feminism and wile out in a strip club without worrying too much or feeling self-conscious. Guilt-trip your own gay ass self/politicize the experience during your hangover, and eventually one day we'll change the world, but probably not at 10pm on January 24th. And that's okay for one night!
Emma: "[Beats head on table.] Strip clubs in [City] have an issue with exploitation. That's why they're being sued over and over and over. If you really think that this is the issue, how dare you step foot into a club? Why not go to a DIFFERENT club with a better reputation and a clean/safe dancer atmosphere, i.e. Rick's?"
A little background here: many strip clubs have faced lawsuits for improperly classifying their dancers as "independent contractors" instead of employees, a move that both saves the clubs money and screws the dancers out of things like unemployment and worker's comp. Many clubs also charge incredibly high "house fees" to work, and some mess with the exchange rate dancers get for "funny money," the house Monopoly money many strip clubs insist their customers use, when the dancers try to cash it out for the real thing. Although many clubs have modified their labor practices in the past four or five years after getting sued, Emma says that Hustler and Little Darlings clubs, both owned by Larry Flynt's company Deja Vu, are widely known among strippers to continue to be not-great in the fair labor department. She refuses to work at any of them.
There is also the little matter of strippers being "psyched" to see these women, which Emma greets with a general snort. Women, she points out, have an unfortunate reputation among strippers for being very bad tippers. Many working dancers are not "psyched" to see them at all, she says: "Women are the WORST to dance for."
As for the strip club "guilt," she adds, "Okay, fine, be self serving and go to a place that you don't agree with just for fun. But giving permission to feel guilty for your actions the next day? WTF? If you're having fun and this is what you want to do to have your fun, why the guilt, or permission to be guilty later?"
7. LEGIT- TO QUELL ANY FEMINIST/GAY SELF-LOATHING CONCERNS YOU MAY HAVE- the best way to support the women in the club, show your respect, AND have a good time, is to bring some stacks. Lap dances are FUN and also the ideal way to put money directly in the pockets of the girls. Lap dances support the girls more than the bar does, honestly, bar $ mostly goes to the club. SO MAKE IT RAIN K?
7.5. The way the money works in the club: lap dances are 20 each. They last a full song. So have a 20 on hand for that. Dollar bills are good to go up and give the girl who dances in front, but it's not like required. At Hustler the premium is more on lap dances. They can open tabs for you at the bar. I've always preferred to pay with cash but that's also because I'm really really weird about tabs. I honestly don't know how much drinks are because I alternately never drink or have only been wasted. But I recommend having at LEAST one or two twenties ON your person. The ATM there charges a high fee.
Emma: "One or two twenties? LOL. Don't bring your 60 douchey friends with $40 each expecting to have the greatest night ever. After two drinks with tip, you'll have maybe $10 left."
She does strongly concur with the lap dance versus stage show approach, though: "I WIPE MY ASS WITH STAGE MONEY. BUY A DANCE." But she points out that the letter-writer has virtually no concept of everyone in a strip club whom it is customary to tip: the bathroom attendant, the people working the coat-check. It's also customary to buy your dancer a drink or two. She worries that each of these women bought one lap dance at most, "then took up space for five hours watching the 'free" stage show."
8. Still, the best way to get management to like us and treat us nice and also not pressure me to buy a 600 dollar bottle is to... buy drinks! Some people say strip clubs make weak drinks, but this is not so. Not at Hustler at least. They WANT you to get wasted so that you will drunkenly be like "yes beautiful woman I WILL accept your invitation to go to that VIP room with you that will automatically charge my card $1000000000!"). So trust that the drinks will be worth it... and just like don't accept invitations to the VIP room.
Emma: "I used to bartend at Hustler in [City] and our drinks are the same as every other bar. Also, they never 'automatically' charge your card. There is a stack of paperwork, signatures, and finger-printing that go along with using your card in a strip club, even for a tab."
9. Also bring money for gratuity. Make sure the cocktail waitress knows you are on your own separate tab. We don't wanna be charged as a group. Like, fuck, No we don't want that. God do we not want that. Thank you for this tip [Redacted name]...pun intended!
Emma: "A 60-person group all on separate tabs? Go fuck yourself right in the ass."
10. Yes, strip clubs are expensive. But this kind of is a once in a lifetime thing so it's worth it to ball hard. Also I legit do not expect any of you to buy me birthday drinks - I know this will be $$$$ enough and I'll be coming a little drunk anyway so it's really fine!
Emma: "All this harping on about spending money and you're going to pre-game? Classy."
11. No literally you'll never forget this and if you go in with a good attitude this is gonna be SO MUCH FUN
12. I'll be pissed if you don't come wearing at least a LIL gold. I will be wearing mostly black with gold accents if that helps
K BYE! SEE YOU TOMORROW NIGHT! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! LOL
Emma: "It's a strip club, not Disney World. How can she be so excited? She's going to ruin that club's night. No one will make any money because there are 60 people with 'one or two twenties' in their pockets wasting space. I really can see that she had good intentions, but she doesn't have a clue about how clubs work."
This has been Please Don't Act Like a Stingy Fool at a Strip Club. And—just a thought here—if you're politically or philosophically uncomfortable with a strip club, so much so that you need to send out 1,000 words of advice on how to inhabit one, maybe just stay home? Emma concurs: "Stay home and hire entertainment. Don't bog down an establishment with your nonsense."
Illustration by Jim Cooke.