Robert & Mihaela Vicol

Five Things Being a Stripper Taught Me About Life

How my 15 year old self used the strip club as a classroom

I was a stripper from age 15-18. I used to feel shame that I didn’t finish high school or go to college — but the truth is, my real education began on the pole.

I won’t get into how I connived my way into a club so young — how I got away with it for so long — or what my parents thought I was doing when I got home at 4am on school nights.

Beyond the smoke filled club, the neon lights, and the peering eyes, I learned a lot about being human.

  1. We are animals.

Would you pay someone hundreds of dollars to study the inside of their vagina with a flashlight? Or wear pantyhose and ask the girl to wear a pair, too, as you spend your week’s pay getting your rocks off to nylon material? This isn’t unusual or uncommon.

So, instead of learning Macbeth or trigonometry, I was experiencing humans at their most raw and vulnerable. Humans so desperate to share the inner recesses of their darkest desires that they were willing to expose themselves to a total stranger. And pay loads of cash to explore these pervasive feelings.

I saw such a vast array of men from so many walks of life. Despite often being disgusted, I learned that underneath it all — we are all fucking animals. That under the mask, the suits, the fancy cars, our sexuality is the one thing that makes us all the same. Admittedly, some are weirder than others, but deep down we are all born naked, we all have penises and vaginas, and we are all going to die.

2. Money: easy come, easy go.

Where else can you go without any skills, knowledge, and earn hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars a week?

The problem with this concept is that it’s SO easy to make money — all you need to do is get a skimpy outfit, drink some shots, get your butt on stage, and do lap dances. While this isn’t emotionally or physically easy and does require courage, you don’t need a resume, an interview, or even a high school degree to make money. Since you can work as little or as much as you want, and earn from $0 to $2000 a night, money comes easily. Everything is cash. When you run out of money, all you have to do is go back to the club. Because you probably don’t value yourself, or the work you do, you don’t value your money. So life becomes a chase of fast earning and faster spending. There are some smart strippers who use the job strategically to save money, but that is not the norm.

Being a stripper taught me to earn as much money in as little time possible. I still work that way. Because I learned to earn large amounts of money in small amounts of time, I created a business that reflected this. My time is valuable, and being a stripper taught me to use it wisely.

3. You are what you think you are

I never identified as a stripper. I went through a phase where I bleached my hair blond, wanted a boob job, wore blue contacts and dressed like a slut. While at the time I believed my self-worth was equal to how beautiful I looked, I eventually realized I wasn’t that pretty, so I’d better start finding other, more meaningful ways to value myself.

However, it’s common for strippers to begin to believe their beauty IS their worth. Since many women are driven to the sex industry because of daddy issues and their lack of self worth, equating one’s beauty to one’s worth becomes a dangerous roller coaster. I saw women come out at two ends of this: the haggard, old, sad 45 year old stripper who’d never done anything else, had nothing left to offer but no way out of the industry. Or the insanely gorgeous girl who leaves the industry but identifies with her beauty and sexuality so intently that you can pin her a stripper from a mile away.

Neither are desirable places to be. I saw so many women in the clubs that I didn’t want to be so I never, ever identified as a stripper. I so badly did not want to become like those women, and I never became one.

4. There are lots of lonely people

Man comes to club, has girl dance and runs a $400 tab. Man comes to club the next day, has same girl dance and runs another $400 tab. Man repeats this 200 days a year.

Sure, this borders on obsession, but it happens all the time.

It’s also common to see the same guys come to the club by themselves 2-3 times a week. The strip club becomes the place where they exchange money for companionship.

Being lonely sucks. I felt bad for those men. But I learned about the importance of strong relationships. I learned to stay in contact with reality because there were so many people who were deeply out of touch.

5. Repressing your sexuality is a dangerous thing

I can’t tell you how many married men come to strip clubs because they are unfulfilled at home. While I find this repulsive, it taught me a lot about sexuality. First, it’s important to create an environment of non judgment around sex. People have all sorts of strange, crazy fantasies, and it doesn’t make you weird, it makes you human. If your husband has things he’s into or wants to try, it’s not helpful to judge, shame, or humiliate him with your disdain. People will find ways to get their needs met whether you like or not. Sex is one of those things that is often more powerful than logic, will, or the rational mind. It’s a deep, primal need that becomes a dragon when repressed.

I went the other route — I became too open, too experimental, and didn’t value myself enough. I did shit because I thought that’s what I had to be cool, because I didn’t want to be like those boring wives, or have a husband who cheated on me.

Turns out I still married someone who liked strippers(and prostitutes) and I was so disgusted I could barely forgive myself for re-creating this.

However, today, I’ve learned to sniff repressed sexualities from a mile away. A repressed sexuality is terrifying because someone is lying to themselves and will eventually be driven to act on these impulses, and this never comes out well. I’ve personally found a balance between openness and boundaries. I learned that true intimacy is a skill. Once you find it, you don’t need to get your rocks off on strippers or porn because you realize sex is a deeply intimate and beautiful thing.

If you’re still anchoring for some excitement, then at least you’re mature and developed enough to go explore with your wife.

I spent years hiding in shame because my first job(aside from baby-sitting) was on the fringe of society. I spent years in therapy trying to cope with the effects of tainting my teenage years with dirty old men and other questionable characters.

However, in retrospect, the strip club was a classroom of life. It taught me about what I didn’t want to become so that I could go for what I truly wanted.

I’m lucky I escaped — relatively unfeathered. But today I know what it’s like to overcome obstacles and come out on the other side, raw, naked, vulnerable and all.

Brigitte Theriault is a transformational coach. She works with people who’ve tried everything from fad diets to sex to escape and helps them jumpstart their lives by situating what’s holding them back from being free, happy, and healthy. Connect with her through her website or facebook page if you’ve been feeling stuck and are fired up to start making some real changes in your life.”