martes, 28 de septiembre de 2010
Strippers en el Mono Rosa
Últimamente no me molesta mucho mi trabajo. Mientras algunos esclavos asalariados se sientan durante ocho horas detrás de un escritorio y/o frente a una computadora, mi guiso me permite hacer cosas como esta: visitar un strip club para hablar con las bailarinas estudiantes. La nota que aquí les dejo me entretuvo bastante. Además, nunca había sacado fotos dentro de un antro como el Pink Monkey…
Paying the Way: the not-so-mythological student stripper
By Gabino Iglesias
Unicorns, dragons, gnomes, and gargoyles? Graduate students who also happen to be strippers? Some would argue that the preceding are all mythological creatures. Want to guess which one isn't? While the statuses of the other three are still pending, the reality of stiletto-wearing pole acrobats on their way to professional degrees is an empirical fact.
In a city as rife with students as Austin, it is inevitable that the stripper population would have be an incredibly diverse constituency. Furthermore, the current cost of tuition, textbooks, car insurance and other economics of student life make Austin the perfect place to find financially challenged gals willing to entertain visitors at the bevy of gentlemen clubs all over the city.
Okay, so there is a graduate student stripper population, but is it easy to locate? Sure. Finding them was easy. Getting them to talk on the record was another story. Nevertheless, my conversations with graduate dancers were rich enough to give me an idea of what drives them to climb onto that poll, putting their reputations and bodies on the line.
Joy (last name withheld) was brave enough to talk on the record, simply because she stopped dancing a while ago. Currently on her way to becoming a lawyer, Joy was originally pushed to the stage by the usual sum of circumstances. "I had a car accident, I had to pay for my classes and the bills were piling up." She actually started as a waitress, but quickly understood that the real money was to be made with her top off. After a quick switch of positions, Joy immediately reaped the benefits of being a dancer: a daily income of around $300 and the freedom to schedule her hours as she pleased. She quickly realized the gig was what we all imagine - fast, easy money.
So why did she quit? "I stopped because I was used to being an A student and, when I was dancing, I started getting my first Cs," she explained. "You do have the freedom to set your hours but you still have to be there and it takes time to get your hair and makeup done." But concentrating on schoolwork was not the only reason she stopped: "I just don't want to be a lawyer, hand someone my card and have them go 'Hey, weren't you a stripper?'" Fair enough.
Picture a student with books to be read, classes to attend and papers to write trying to balance the tightrope of it all along with a gig that requires endless preparation - a gig that takes place mostly at night, demanding involvement with the seediest characters Austin has to offer. According to Joy, it wasn't that hard, assuming one can keep it all under control, learn to spot/avoid the perverts, and make sure your hours are enough to make it all worthwhile. "It was fun, it was great," said Joy seeming nonplussed at her time spent straddling strangers. "It has its pros and cons."
Joshua Hawk, Manager at the Pink Monkey Cabaret, knows all about the reasons that drive graduate students to tease their hair and spin around an unsanitary pole. He thinks, like most probably do, the primary reason to become a dancer is the obvious one: "Fast cash."
According to Hawk, girls can "come in, work a few hours a couple of days a week and make more than they would make working for eight hours a day for a whole week at McDonald's." Hawk has worked in the industry for over a decade and says that, during that time, he has worked with "hundreds of students, some undergraduate and some graduate." So would a graduate student do it? "They do what they have to do to get that diploma." And what about the stigma that forces them to keep in hush? "You know, students judge, but they're also in here all the time. In fact, on Tuesdays we have College Nights," said Hawk. "People talk shit before they get in the door and, once they're in here, they open their wallets," the manager frankly concluded.
Nevertheless, as times change so do social norms. It seems that in our post-modern culture opposites can be embraced. Intellectual (and drug-free) strippers might now be the norm. They also might be you child's future teacher. Consequently, next time you pay a visit to a "gentlemen's club," don't hesitate to deposit a few bills on the stage or in a thong, as your dollars could be the tangible stimulus that this country needs-helping a future engineer, lawyer, or doctor achieve her dream.