At the end of every difficult shift, most strippers understand it’s all about one thing: that CREAM life — Cash Rules Everything Around Me.

Twerking for tips, it’s what strippers do, but just how far they will go in order to make a quick buck depends on the lady and her openness to breaking the rules. On a recent weekend night, I spent some time on the receiving end of a typical shift with two seasoned dancers of a Denver strip club. And what I learned while sitting in the client’s chair is what drives them to do what most others wouldn’t.

Cold hard cash. The common phrase elicits power as the end all, be all. When faced with her loyalty to stackin’ it, Jolie (her stage name), a Houston-based stripper temporarily working in a Denver strip club, explains the ruling power of money over her career.

“When you walk in this club, you walk into my house,” she says, justifying her nightly grind mindset. “The anxiety always sets in but, this is my territory and you came to see me. If you want to order off the secret menu, you better pay up.”

Strip clubs like the one I'm spending time in have served up racy entertainment and devilish desires since the dawn of the ages. Toying the line between decent and legal. Though while some clients and exotic dancers prefer the "classic" club experience — tossing dollar bills on stage, taking shots with the bachelor, and snagging some sexy-dance time in a private room — there is also a large assembly of entertainment seekers who pay top-dollar for experiences of the unspoken.

“When I first started dancing, I was very prude,” says another dancer I'm shadowing for the night. Her name is Mary Jane. “I knew the girls who gave ‘extras’ and how much money they would pull in. My first time, I gave a guy a hand job during a lap dance. I didn’t tell him how much to pay me but afterwards, he handed me a $100 and walked out. Easy. After that, every client who wanted extras, I would go a little bit further, little bit further, until I was making rent in one day just by spending 10 minutes getting fucked in a back room.”

Many argue strippers giving extras is essentially prostitution, and state lawmakers have been cracking down on the surge of sexually oriented business in the adult entertainment industry. Jolie recalls one place she's familiar with from back home. It was a club called Fantasy Plaza, and after more than 30 arrests were made for crimes including prostitution, sexually oriented business and employment of minors, it was ordered to be shut down (though still fighting the order in court).

“It’s like everyone knows, but no one talks about it,” says Davey (alias used for anonymity), a 35-year-old former manager at St. James Cabaret in Houston. “When money is on the line, people will pay. It’s almost like an ass-backwards investment.”

The flipped investment Davey is referring to is the practice of customers and strippers paying strip club superiors, managers and owners to look other way when it comes to regulating the practice of giving sexual favors for extra cash.

“If one of my ‘regulars’ comes in, either a waitress or a manager will let me know so I can go hang out with my client,” says Jolie.

From that point forward, the CREAM motto shines and every person is in on the game. The waitress’ job is to keep the drinks flowing. The manager’s job is to keep the stripper off the radar and under the client’s thumb. As for the stripper, her job is to capitalize on her client’s wishes.

“Based on what my guy wants that day I can either hang out with him and have drinks at his table and he will pay me $100 an hour,” adds Jolie. “If he wants oral sex it’s $150 and if he wants to have sex with me it can go from $200 all the way up to $1000.”

Having sex with a strip club client seems to be invasive and risky, but many strippers argue having sex is the easiest way to get paid and go home.

“Sometimes you would rather have sex because you’ll end up making more money than you would if you had to follow all the rules and just stick to spending time at the client’s table and doing lap dances in the private room,” says Mary Jane. “That could take all day. At least when you have sex you can just get it in and go. You’re home within two hours and a big stack of cash.”

When all of this happens, everyone collaborates to ensure a smooth delivery without getting caught, the dancers say. Managers will purposely avoid checking the specific private dance room where the client and the stripper are located, waitresses will keep other company at the tables stocked with drinks, the DJ will be advised to keep the stripper off the stage for a specified amount of time; and of course, the client is responsible for generously tipping all of the associates for their diligent work.

“Everyone benefits when extras go down,” says Mary Jane. “Everyone gets paid. What’s not to like? Rule number one: Get that cash.”

[cover photo by Greyerbaby via Pixabay // originally published February 21, 2018]