Shedding the Light on Stripperella

A person working at the local servo for the Wednesday midnight shift could be a PhD candidate. The cleaner of a building may actually be from a well-to-do family. Why is it that arbitrary lines are manufactured between a person’s professional portfolio and their character as a human being?

Money is said to make the world go around – arguable, but somewhat true. As much as I agree that working is sometimes the most dull and boring necessity of life (unless you work as a diving instructor on a paradisiacal island in Asia), we all need to work to get money. I believe I speak for many people in saying that, too often, the only motivation for getting up at nine o’clock after a big night on the town to go to work is the Sunday award wages. However, the entire concept of working for your living is so much more than merely earning money.

Some argue that work is a sociological construct and others theorise that it is the vehicle of the human condition. Every opinion on the necessity and worth of work has its strengths and flaws, however, we’re still a society where the type of work you do seems to reflect on your person to a great extent.

A strong example of such social misconception is the case of a worker in the sex industry. Woroni was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to one such professional and ask her about her story and how she finds herself in the position of an exotic dancer.

Stripperella (her suggested pseudonym, Ella for short) is a current student at the ANU who previously worked at strip clubs, and who now works for herself as an individual dancer. Starting from a troublesome family background, Ella has a job that has given her a new view of the world, giving her access to luxury beyond her peers, but also subjecting her to difficulties. The more I found out about her job, , it became apparent that working as an erotic dancer is rewarding when you have a positive attitude and an open mind.

Ella performs exotic and sensual dances for clients at private functions such as Bucks Nights. This is different to her past work at clubs where dancers were required to pay registration and bill clients based on the length and intimacy of dances. When asked about her motivation to work in the sex industry and whether the thought of using her body and corporeal skills as a means of earning was confronting, Ella maintained that the money keeps her going. As far as job satisfaction goes, Ella says that for those to whom the job is a numbers game, it is extremely rewarding, but for those who question its moral standing, it can be more difficult. For Ella, although the job has had its ups and downs, her occupation is a part-time job, not any different to the tutors and waiters out there.

At first instance, you might have a preconceived idea that working as a dancer does not come with the best conditions, however this might not be the case. Without mentioning the wage it draws, Ella says that she’s made some strong friends along her way, especially during her employment in the clubs, where strong relationships formed in the powder rooms between the girls; a mechanism aiding in dealing with the rollercoaster that is the adult industry.

The sex industry being a female dominated workforce it can be quite cutthroat at times, but Ella stress that “it’s just business”. As a dancer, the boundaries between person and profession must be guarded because girls vie against one another for clients and wage and therefore group dynamics are often underpinned with competition. With relation to security, Ella says that she has rarely felt threatened during her time as a dancer and that there is always ample security on hand should a situation arise.

 

Ella recalls many occasions of nights where she’s performed at functions and been in bed by 10pm, having earned a sizeable wage for the night. The financial security Ella derives from her job is such that she doesn’t see herself stopping exotic dancing any time soon. Her perspective is that the decent hours plus the fitness of pole dancing and the opportunity for her work uniform to be 7-inch glitter heels is a chance for work to not only be unique and interesting, but also fun.

The downsides in Ella’s mind are that during her nights in the club, constant exposure to the culture was distressing. Constant worry about competition in addition to abnormal working hours added up to both physical and psychological exhaustion. Ella recounts having to perform for clients who were under the influence of various substances from time-to-time, which has left her with unpleasant memories.

However, Ella seems to see most aspects of her job as positives – most significantly the capacity to earn high above her peers casual jobs. Regarding how much she earns, Ella responds, “Enough to never have to worry about parking inspectors at the ANU”, which for many probably speaks louder than a lump sum.