Body Economy by Audrey Granger Perry

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The dressing room is full of smoke, half-naked girls, and overly sweet smells of cotton-candy confections and temptation. Girls lounge in panties in poorly upholstered U-shaped lounge chairs, waiting on their latex-covered nipples to dry before they apply bronzers and powder to their areolas. Latex is mandatory for the girls. If they’re caught walking the floor or getting on stage without a layer covering their nipples, vice detectives will cite them for prostitution.

It’s a fine line between stripping and prostitution, and latex provides all the coverage these girls need.

“I can’t stand the girls that don’t put something on their latex. It makes their tits look shiny and half-melted on stage,” a senior dancers says. “The only reason your nips should be shining is if you’re wearing glitter or you’ve put bars through them, and the girls who’ve been here a while know better than to wear glitter.”

A man who goes home wearing glitter is a man who stops paying your rent.

Girls alternate between clipping in hair extensions and applying coats of mascara to false eyelashes. Sucked in cheeks are hollowed out with bronzer and shaped with blush. Puckered lips are lacquered with clear, plumping gloss, and an extra splash of body spray is spritzed between the double layer of G-strings.

Clear gloss doesn’t leave a calling card on a collared shirt. A shirt without a stain means the car note gets paid.

Preparation is time-consuming. Each girl has developed her own routine to ensure everything is dry and ready by the time she clocks in for the night. Veterans have their routines down to three hours­–not including time spent time plucking, shaving, and waxing every hair follicle beneath their nostrils before they arrive for their shifts.

Each girl spends six minutes on stage per round, cat-crawling their way towards the tallest stack of cash, giving that person special attention until they’ve given up most of the stack. Before the stack is gone the girls on stage move on, creating desire for return and an economy with each person she visits at the tip bar. G-strings are snapped against bare hips in invitation to the patrons who have lost themselves in the show.

The first three minutes on stage are floor work. Ignoring the poles mounted center stage, they slither across the floor on hands and knees wearing standard, eight-inch stilettos, double G-strings, and a top of their choosing.

Depending on her looks, though, those first three minutes are not where she will find her grocery budget for the month.

The final three minutes on stage begin with a song change; within five seconds, the girls must remove their tops. Any longer than that and they’d receive a $50 house fine due before they can work another shift. It’s easy to spot the veterans and rookies during the song change. Veterans have taken their tops off halfway into the first song, capitalizing on every minute they have on stage, while rookies fumble nervously with snaps and ties behind their backs, trying to expose latex-covered nipples while performing a sultry routine.

They spend six minutes on stage before sneaking off to smoke pot in the dressing room. This makes it easier to sell time in the back room.

The girls tell themselves it’s worth it. The $18 they receive for three minutes spent in the lap of stranger is worth more than the $7 they’d receive working 60 minutes in retail.

Time is money.

Time in the back room is not a guaranteed sell. Successful girls learn to scope out who has money to sit at the tip bar throwing ones and who has the money to secure private time with them. Each is given attention accordingly to maximize profits.

Depending on their contracts, most girls are required to work four hours, but many put in eight or more. Whatever it takes to pay their $100 house fee and walk away with their nightly cash goal.

The bar closes, and the house lights come on. Escorted by a member of security, girls stumble to their cars in cheer shorts and flip-flops, favoring one foot because it the other has a blister. The bouncer watches to make sure each girl makes it out of the parking lot before returning inside to find the next girl who is changed­ and ready to go home.

Half of next month’s bills are paid.


audrey-perryAudrey is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and she is currently a graduate candidate. Her work has most recently appeared in Gravel, RE:AL, and with Kendall Hunt Publishing.





STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/Alli

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