Ok, so we have established that I love dancing as a stripper because it is a craft, whilst also being an empowering experience for me. However we cannot forget the primary reason I even considered this profession,
Being a soon-to-be commerce graduate, as well as someone who has always been money and savings conscious, I did a mini analysis of not only how much money I make as a dancer, but also how much the club makes off of me and the other women dancing for them.
Quick facts and reminders:
- The average South African stripper in our club can make anything between R 40 000 – R 80 000 a month.
- If you are a South African and work fulltime (5 nights a week, 9 hours a shift) you pay a weekly levy to rent the space of R2500. Foreign nationals pay R3000.
- A part time worker who is a student, has a child younger than 9 years old, or a fulltime day job like myself pays R3000 a week to work three nights. In our club, you pay more to work less.
- If you stay in ‘the stripper house’ you pay R970 a week for a room and to use all the amenities on site (lounge, equipped kitchen, rooftop pool. Wifi is always an extra. Damn it.)
So how does a dancer at my club leave with R 3000 – R 8000 in one night of a nine hour shift?
Unlike most clubs, our gentleman’s lounge does not have the culture of tipping when a dancer is strutting her stuff on the main stage, although this has happened on odd occasion. Myself and some of the girls, however, have adopted the culture of upselling our dances and charging customers for our mere company while they sit and feel important in the club.
This is how I make most of my money.
As long as she or he is equally stimulating and keeps the champagne flowing (I make 20% commission off every bottle), I don’t mind being paid to share my thoughts and opinions.
- If my customer has a whole table of friends with him, we charge R300 for a six minute table dance for a maximum of four people. It is R50 for every extra head thereafter.
- A lap dance costs R300 for six minutes in a private booth for a maximum of two people. Here the dancer pays R50 to rent out the booth each time.
- A VIP dance where customers are allowed to touch us while staying clear of our vagina and labia costs R1 000 for 15 minutes while R200 of that amount goes towards renting the private booth. The customer has to pay an additional once off fee of R200 to gain access to the VIP area.
- A Library dance for 30 minutes in our VVIP area costs R2500 with R500 going towards paying to use the exclusive space. Entrance per person alone for the customer is R1000.
If they are smart, dancers would always persuade customers to go for more than one dance at a time, and negotiate for tips that sometimes amount to the same price as the dances.
The biggest money maker in the club is confidence and a creative way to share your personality. You could easily be the highest earning dancer in the club while taking off your clothes the least.
If the dancers make so much money, one can only imagine what the club makes. Food and beverages aside, the club receives over R250 000 a week just from the levies the girls pay to work there. This excludes the expensive food and beverages (a cider is R42 for example). As well as the booth fees people also pay for private dances.
Knowing this has made me consider the idea of owning my own queer- and trans-friendly adult entertainment club that will be filled with people who have an unexplainable, mystifying love for melanin in all its varieties.
The club also makes a little extra money from the girls by charging heavy penalties for non-compliance. There are too many penalties to list for you so I’ll just mention the common ones
- *If you clock in one second late for your shift, you pay R500
- *If you are more than two hours late, you pay R1500
- *If you don’t come to work at all, you pay R2000 on weekdays, and R3000 on weekends. This is how much you pay to take a day off when it is not your allocated day.
- *If you are drunk and disorderly, you’re fined R1500
- *If you let the customer touch you below the waist, you pay R5 000. The same applies if you allow the customer to take off his pants or show any of his genitals. Blatant sexual transgressions (hand jobs, blow jobs, penetration by the fingers or tongue, sex) can be fined up to R10 000
So what do I do with an average of R50 000 a month?
Since I joined the club with a specific savings goal in mind, I have not been able to really indulge in the complete freedom and thrill of having so much money at my disposal. I have a minimum I put away every week towards my outstanding fees, and anything else, I invest towards things I need. I do enjoy spending money on lingerie and costumes, or getting my hair done every two weeks.
I like that I can go try the menu at a place that has always caught my eye, order more than one course and have the premium whiskey I actually enjoy instead of the cider I usually choose because of budget constraints. I love being able to buy my girlfriend a bouquet of flowers every time the last ones starts to show signs of withering. I enjoy road trips, having my friends over for a huge meal, some drinks and laughter.
Lately, I am able to jump in the plane whenever I feel like going to see my family and have become the go-to-guy for airtime and data for my siblings and baby cousins. I also like being able to indulge my mother’s designer handbag fetish in small enough doses for her not to wonder where the money comes from. I told myself not to change too much of my broke, student lifestyle so as not to struggle to readjust when I am no longer a dancer. Though I think I will be fine in this regard, just knowing how much money I could potentially be making will forever haunt me whilst I earn the peanuts from my hard earned degree in the first five to ten years or so of my career.
In the meantime, I sit in the smoking lounge upstairs and look down at the main floor. It’s only a few minutes since the club has opened and below, girls are sitting in groups or alone having supper or getting a massage from our masseuses. I’m about to take another drag of my cigarette and imagine all the weird and wonderful men and women who could walk into the club tonight, maybe in an hour or two.
Just as Sibusiso*, my favourite bartender passes me my usual, I get a whiff of something that smells expensive behind me, and the warm feeling of sophistication brushes up against my cheek as a man with stubble whispers,
‘What are you drinking?’
I blow out a long, straight and precise stream of smoke before tilting my face ever so slightly towards him, I reply,
I take a sip of my cheaper southern comfort and lime.
‘My kind of drink. Would you like to join me for one upstairs?’
I step forward and turn to face the owner of the charming voice. He is either Muslim or Cape Malaysian, and he is handsome and clean in his black muscle hugging top and tight fitting black jeans. He is dressed very simply, with no jewellery on except a silver chain around his neck. He doesn’t look wealthy but he smells like it, and I’ve worked here long enough to know that the flashy ones are the stingiest or not as rich as they seem.
He has a mischievous look on his face as he gathers that I am checking him out.
‘Will you make it worth my time, Mr…’
‘Call me Enzo*.’ He replies, extending a gentle hand.
‘Enzo. I am Hephzibah.’ I reply, not removing my eyes from his deliberate gaze.
‘Pleasure to meet you,’ he says, not letting go of my hand. “I have every intention of making sure you have a good night as much as I have no doubt you will do the same for me.’
A naughty smile involuntarily creeps onto my lips and I bite it away softly, masking it from the man who is strongly putting up a fight to be the ultimate seducer between us.
‘Well, if you’re as serious as you claim, it might take me all night to be able to do justice to your assumption, Enzo.’
I tell Enzo he and his brothers and friends should come with me and my friends who are ‘as gorgeous as I am’, into the Library. I tell him that there, he could book out a booth for the whole night, or most of it, depending on how long he wants to stay. I explain the rules of the club and share with him some of my personal limitations like the fact that I don’t kiss. I also let slip that though I do not do book outs with customers, I would let him spank me to get rid of some of the tension depending on how well-mannered he is in the course of the night.
He whispers back to me and tells me that if he is not well mannered, he wouldn’t mind if I dished out a few of my own hidings for him before we part ways. I feel a flush across my body and hope it doesn’t show in my face. I bring the conversation back to business, and Enzo and I negotiate on a once off fee of R8000 to keep him company with his party of friends in the Library, excluding the potential dances we could have together. To make sure he isn’t bluffing, I ask Enzo if he doesn’t mind paying me the once off upfront. He easily agrees. I call Ron* who verifies Enzo’s identity before swiping the black card. I follow Ron into the cash office just as Ruby* gets called onto the main stage to do the first dance of the night. My heels start to click at the familiar beat as I watch our accountant count the cash. Out of the corner of my eye, my handsome big spender is politely telling two of the dancers that he is ‘already waiting for Hephzibah’. My colleagues turn to face me with a wink and a set of naughty, amused smiles. Clearly they recognise the catch I landed so early in the night.
I take the stack of notes and count them myself while softly muttering the lyrics as Ruby dances beautifully on stage. I ignore the slight guilt I feel at the fact that I may have made him spend all the money needed for school fees and groceries for his family in one night. The guilt associated with the fact that if this is his life he will wake up to regret it because I can be persistent. I look at the seemingly together and responsible man, and the charming smile almost drives the guilt home further than usual, than necessary.
But then I quickly remember what our counsellor told me.
‘These are grown ass men and women who come here, just like I am a grown ass woman who works here.’
All our dealings are honest and open and no one is ever forced to do, participate in or spend more than what they are willing.
Enzo wants to have a good time with his friends and has placed a value for my company and time.
More than that, is honestly not my business.
I strut off with a bounce to my step filled with excited nerves for the night’s events. I don’t take my eyes off my anticipating prey who has stumbled voluntarily into my dungeon as I exclaim the lyrics in my head.
Bitch better have my money.