Thursday, June 17, 2010


Novels like Carl Hiassen’s Strip Tease (later made into a movie with Demi Moore) glorify the world of strip clubs and the life of strippers, who alternately play the role of gangster molls and informants. Indeed, when you think about it, strippers constitute one of the world’s only uncovered undercover clandestine intelligence services. In fact, many inebriated clients tell strippers more than they would ever want to know, and it’s actually surprising that the 9/11 terrorists, who reputedly attended some lap-dancing establishments in Florida while taking flying lessons, didn’t spill their beans in more ways than one. But few people realize that underneath the glamorous exterior, stripping is a job like any other—as, for that matter, is being a film star, the head of Microsoft, or President Obama. Strippers have to make sure that they stay fit through exercise and a healthy nutritional regimen. They must be well versed in the subtleties of group dynamics, in that their job is to make all their customers feel special while eschewing the kind of favoritism that might send someone away with hurt feelings. Every customer who becomes a regular and seeks out the attentions of a particular girl has to come away feeling like a legend in his own mind. The stripper confronts a problem faced by many therapists, whose patients all want to feel like they are the most interesting, special, gifted, emotionally complex and developmentally hopeful—or monumentally hopeless in the case of narcissistically grandiose depressives—client on the roster. Male strippers, who entertain at clubs like Chippendales or in gay clubs, face similar problems to those of their female counterparts, and they’re all united in the fact that they must carefully count the dollars that are stuffed into their crotches so that they can report their income to the IRS.  

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