I Was a Bartender at a Strip Club. Here’s What I Learned about the Men Who Went There
In 2002, I was 26, living in a new city, and losing my mind trying to find a job. It was a very quick trip down the ego Slip n’ Slide from looking for teaching jobs one day, down to hoping to fold t-shirts for a few hours a week at the Gap. It didn’t matter what I did, I couldn’t get hired anywhere.
Until I found Déssee.
Déssee (No, not the real name. Are you serious?) was the premier gentleman’s club in the city and based on the number of dancers that lined up to get on the roster, was an international fountain of cash. It was dark, expensive, and had lots of rules like not allowing lap dances and having only one girl on stage at a time. They were looking for a bartender and since I had plenty of experience, I applied.
To my delight, part of the Déssee manifesto was to always keep all eyes on the stage. That meant the rest of the staff wore the same uniform of black pants, black shoes, and a black short-sleeved blouse with a white collar. Basically, Nun Chic. No one was going to hit on Sister Bloody Mary when there was a goddess in a silver micro thong scissoring the stage lighting ten feet away. Even if someone did try to slide into my speed rack, all I had to do was glance over at one of the bank-vault-sized bouncers and the situation was handled.
It was the ideal working environment. I did my job without distraction, facilitated the success of my colleagues, and had the support of management.
This meant that I got to observe human behavior in a relatively controlled environment. All of those rules about who could sit where and for how long kept everything working smoothly and predictably. All the power dynamics were set in stone, locked there by stacks of dollar bills and tear-away couture. It was one of the most exciting places I’d ever been, yet it was exactly the same, night after night.
I can’t tell you how many men came in and out of Déssee during my tour of duty, but I can tell you that after a while, it didn’t matter anymore. Their behaviors were so similar that patterns started to emerge. After a while, I could almost predict what the guys would say and do, not…