When your life has always been chaos, you tend to attract the same kind of energies, circumstances and people into your life.
It was the summer of 2005 that I entered into a world that some find fascinating and exhilarating – strip clubs. I started working as a house-mom at a popular club in Downtown Cleveland, and was soon drawn in fully to the drama and chaos they hosted.
I fell right into the allure of the club and quickly fell in love with the large amounts of money that constantly rolled in.
After a year of working downtown, I transferred to another club near the Cleveland airport. Before too long, I made my way up the ranks to management. Although I wasn’t greedy or flashy with the money I made, I allowed it to paralyze me. I stayed in that world of depravity for over seven years total.
There is a saying about the women that work at a strip club: “you are damaged before you even hit the door.” It takes a special type of person to work in that atmosphere; your moral compass is a bit skewed.That not only applies to the women that sell the fantasy on the poles and in laps night after night, but to all employees, and I was no exception. It took me a long time to come to terms with that fact.
For a small building, this club held an immense amount of drama, egos and for lack of a better word, bullshit – I’m surprised there was enough room for customers to occupy the place. Once you stepped into that club, it sucked you in and next thing you knew, your life revolved around the goings on in the club.
There was no life outside of the club and just like high school, the club had its cliques. If you were one of the special ones and allowed inside the inner circle, as I was for most of the time I worked there, you had certain privileges.
The Queen Bee of the club had her own special handpicked court and I experienced a lot of perks for being in her court: sporting event tickets, concerts, gifts, trips and even cash. God be shamed if you stepped out of line or did not agree with her.
The Queen Bee and those in charge were your god and you obeyed at any cost; sometimes at the cost of your own morals and conscience.
I cannot tell you how many times I turned a blind eye to all the depravity that took place, and not all of it revolved around sex. My moral compass made a fast and furious downward spiral working there. I will not go into specifics now; those tales are for another time.
About nine months before my actual departure from that den of iniquities, I felt unrest in my soul; I knew my time to leave was imminent. I started dreaming of a life away from the club. My entire being craved a soul fulfilling career that I could be proud to tell people about. I told my boyfriend at the time that I would be away from the club by the end of the year.
When I turned 40 just a few short months later, I decided that I would be away from that atmosphere before the holidays.
Up until this point, I had performed essentially every job in the club. I had gone from my beginnings as just a house-mom, into management, marketing and promotions, party and event planner, disc jockey, bartender, cook, janitor and I’m not very proud of the fact that I even entertained a few customers; The Almighty Dollar is a cruel master.
I started to notice that the club was in serious need of reform; the proverbial lunatics were running the asylum. The girls walked around almost naked, barely covering the essentials.
I’ve always said desire starts in the mind and once you have that, then the physical follows. Girls would walk on the stage and immediately strip down to their thongs (it was a topless club), get down on all fours and act like wild cats in heat shaking their asses – there was nothing sexy about it.
The entire concept of “strip tease” was a joke; they had nothing to tease with because they showed it all up front, literally letting it all hang out. I’ll gladly take a beautiful burlesque performance over a strip club anytime.
With most of the girls that worked there, there was no sensual dancing or even eye contact with the customers; these girls almost always focused on themselves in the mirror and how they looked. It was a breeding ground for narcissistic behavior.
A lot of the girls didn’t know how to extend the fantasy to include talking to the customers – instead they would bombard guys with how they need to pay their light bill and rent, their baby daddy didn’t come home last night, or a myriad of other complaints about their lives. I tried to tell the girls that the guys are coming to see them because they want an escape from reality and their problems; they aren’t coming to listen to yours.
As I tried to advocate for change and a shred of decency in the club, a true oxymoron, I met head on with a lot of opposition and resistance. Little by little my credibility was slowly stripped from me, as were my privileges with the Queen Bee and her court.
The rose-colored glasses I wore for so many years began to rub clean and clear.
I started to feel the knives being positioned for plunging into my back by those inside the club that swore they were my friends and would love me forever – an all too familiar feeling in my life. This time, however, I didn’t let a false sense of security distract me; I paid attention to the signs and knew my time was quickly coming to the end.
My last week at the club was one of the best I ever had there. I was truly seeing the club for what it was, along with a lot of the people inside of it, including customers. I saw the immorality inside with such stunning clarity as never before. I felt no remorse for wanting to leave. I wanted so desperately to take that leap of faith and start a new life. I honestly don’t know why I waited so long – oh wait, yes I do – the false idol, the perpetrator of greed, The Almighty Dollar.
Oh what a wondrous feeling it was to send in my resignation; like a great weight lifted from my shoulders and my soul released from the chains I allowed to hold me there for so many years.
It was also a very delightful feeling that Queen Bee didn’t get her perfect ending of making a big dramatic scene and firing me. She did however spew forth a torrent of lies about me; but those who listened do not matter to me and I couldn’t care less what lies she has perpetuated.
I do hope and pray that some of those I left have a similar experience to mine and get out before it’s too late; there are some good-hearted people still trapped inside.
It has been a year since I left that world of easy money, fantasy and corruption. As I look back today, I feel how the Israelites must have felt when they came out of Egypt into the Promised Land. I took my leap of faith and I really did form my wings on the way down, albeit they became wounded and bruised for a good part of my journey.It’s been a long and hard year of many lessons learned, faith being tested and more than my fair share of losses.
Through the entire experience, I’ve gained so much more than I originally (thought I had) lost. I am very thankful for that chapter of my life and the characters I met, as it has given me precious and valuable life experience – and I’ll admit it, a lot of writing material!