Remember my Does Normal Exist? series? Well, this is the latest installment, almost a year after the last one. This time I am interviewing Laura Collins, an office worker by day and a rock ‘n’ roll lap-dancer by night. This is obviously NSFW.
Why did you start lap dancing?
I started pole dancing lessons with a girl who worked at the club in town. I’d never thought of stripping before. Well I had, but never seriously. I’ve always been really self conscious of my body and looks, I didn’t think I’d be any good for it. But she kept asking if I would ever try it, and part of me was curious and really wanted to. And like most girls, I’d heard of the fabulous money you could potentially earn, and at the time I was in a very low paying part time job and was about to come out of university with no potential job prospects. So the motivation to give it a go was mainly money, so I could afford the rent on my new place and feed myself, but also a little bit of curiousity for the stripper fantasy. So eventually curiousity won out and I went for my first night at work. I never looked back.
What are three things you would tell an aspiring lap dancer?
Firstly if you’re having doubts, don’t let them hinder you – if you go for your first night at work and really don’t like it you never have to go back. You’re not on a contract! Secondly, don’t be intimidated by the more experienced girls – it takes a while to find the things that work for you in getting customers. Eventually you’ll find your perfect hustle and it’ll come a lot more naturally. Thirdly, be confident – it’s sexy, and what you don’t know you can just wing it until you become a little more experienced. You’ll pick up everything you need to know from doing the job itself.
From the outside, it seems like such a glamorous job with amazing pay. Is it all it seems? What are some common misconceptions?
That’s one of the biggest misconceptions about lap dancing. It definitely has it perks, but like with any job there’s also the negatives. Compared to so many other dancers I’ve not been doing it for long at all, but one thing I have learned is that it’s a job that comes with swings and roundabouts. Some nights I’ve walked off with hundreds of pounds, had good fun with the girls and the customers, and really enjoyed myself. But there have also been the nights where I’ve walked away with as little as twenty or thirty quid because the business hasn’t been there. You need to be able to handle and accept the bad nights as well as the good. Money aside, there’s also the customers. You can meet some really interesting and wonderful people, but you do also get the complete dickheads. I’ve worked in places where the security has been exceptionally good and I’ve always felt safe, but there are always people who will try to push boundaries and you have to be firm. Again, swings and roundabouts. If the bad nights effect you too much then it may be a sign to look at doing something else.
What happens with normal bodily functions? Is it strange working when you’re on your period?
Not going to lie, it can be a little awkward! Some girls prefer not to dance while they’re on their period and take a few days off. But there are always little tricks to disguise things like that if you are working during your period. In topless only clubs where you have to keep at least a G-string on at all times, it’s fairly easy to cut the string and hid it. But I’ve also worked in fully nude clubs, so if I was on my period I would just cut my string really short and not open my legs too wide when dancing so as to conceal it. And I always carry scented wipes to stay fresh. Sorry if that’s too much information, I don’t know if you want to actually publish that, hahaha!
What have your friends and family said about it?
My friends are great about it. Sometimes I’m the butt of stripper jokes or get a nudge if there’s a strip club scene in a movie and a “is it really like that?!” or “You taking working notes?” But I know they’re messing around and I don’t mind at all, I usually play up to it, haha. My family on the other hand have no idea, mainly because I know it would upset them. When I started dancing I told my parents I worked in a strip club but as a hostess, and served drinks in the VIP room and worked behind the bar, and sometimes did dances on the pole. My mum was fine after a lot of umm-ing and err-ing, but my dad didn’t even like that. In a stern voice he told me that if I was to “ever take it further”, and he knew I would know he meant lap dancing/stripping, then he never ever wanted to find out because it would upset him greatly. I’m not a parent myself so I can’t relate, but I guess no mother or father wants their baby girl to grow up and be taking their clothes off for other’s entertainment. Besides my parents, none of my other family members know either just in case it does get back to them. I guess it’s kind of like protecting them in a way. I’m not ashamed of what I do, but I guess parents don’t see it that way. And knowing my parents, they would ask me to stop and I wouldn’t. Funnily enough though, my stepmum once told me she could see me being a lap dancer and thought it’d be something that would suit me, haha! So I think if I told her about it she wouldn’t mind so much. Even though she’s been in my life since I was a little girl, she’s a lot more accepting of things than my dad or my mum, and a lot more open minded.
How would you say your life and perspectives have changed since you started?
I don’t think much has changed, or at least I don’t feel like it has. I know that if I need to save for something, or I want a little bit extra pocket money to go out somewhere, I can go to work and earn it quite easily. I now have a day job during the week, Monday to Friday, so I can’t do it as much as I used to. It has, though, made me feel a little better about the way I look. I’m still quite self conscious a lot of the time, I think all girls can be like that. But there’s been times I’ve been at work and people have commented on how much they love my body, and sometimes men have – literally – got a boner over watching me do a striptease or giving them a lap dance. And a lot more than I ever thought would. And different men like different parts of me. And girls too – straight girls, bi curious girls, lesbians – to know that people genuinely find me attractive is a huge compliment and really makes me feel good about myself. And if they enjoy my entertainment that’s even better!
Do you find it empowering?
I find it incredibly empowering. The fact that people are willing to pay a lot of money for your time is a huge compliment. To know that someone thinks you are worth that and enjoys your entertainment. Often as well, the trick is to make the customer think they are in control, but really it’s you as the dancer that has the control. You determine how your dance goes. If a customer steps out of line there are rules in line to protect you, and I’ve always felt safe at work. Sometimes it’s not even about the dancing. I’ve spent time with customers just having a drink and chat because they’ve liked me as a person. And when you’re onstage performing it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world, especially when you’re dancing to your favourite song.
Do you understand women that say it’s demeaning?
do. I think it depends on the perspective of the individual more than anything. I’m a lap dancer because I enjoy it, I can earn some extra money, and it makes me feel great about myself as well as being fun. It’s a form of entertainment, although it may not be everybody’s idea of good entertainment. I guess to find it demeaning you’d have to look at it from the angle of a woman going to work to take her clothes off and be perved on by a bunch of men for their pleasure. Which I guess in some respects is true. You do get perverts that come in and try to touch or grab or ask for “extras” if they pay you a little more or take you home for sex, who yes, do look at you like a whore. But we’re not there for that. We’re there to give people safe, pleasurable, erotic entertainment. And there a far more nice guys than sleazeballs, there really is. And I’ve danced for lots of straight women before, too. So yes, I can understand why some women think it’s demeaning, but I guess it depends on how you look at it and your own personal opinion.
What’s your favourite music to dance to?
I’m a massive rock and metal fan, so of course that’s my favourite music to dance to. I like to mix it up as well. Sometimes I’ll dance slow and sexy to something like She Rides by Danzig or Since I Don’t Have You by Guns N’ Roses, and sometimes I’ll dance fast and slutty to something like Native Nature by Crashdiet or Hot Cherie by Hardline. Also, you gotta dance to the stereotypes haven’t you? Haha! So sometimes I’ll throw the odd Girls, Girls, Girls or Pour Some Sugar On Me in there. In the clubs I’ve worked in I’m usually one of the very rare few that does dance to that type of music as well, which is quite helpful because when there’s suddenly a dramatic change in music people tend to look over to see what’s happening. I like all sorts of music though, so I do dance to the odd song from other genres. I love dancing to E.T by Katy Perry, and also Rack City by Tyga. If I love a song, I can dance to it, and it’ll make a good performance, it’s probably already on my list!
Do you have favourite clients?
I have done, yes. There was this young guy who used to go out a lot on Saturdays, and the club I worked in regularly was always the last place to shut in town, so he’d always come in with his mates at about 3am. We’d always have a chat at the bar with a drink or two and then I’d take him upstairs for a lap dance. We’ve danced to some ridiculous songs just for a laugh, and I also did the Macarena and Beyonce booty dance naked for him, which we ended up in fits of giggles about. He was always good fun. An older guy used to visit me on occasion, and we’d spent a lot of time talking about travelling and history and all the sorts of things I love that I had in common with him. He was obsessed with my Tomb Raider tattoo, and I used to tell him I could be Lara Croft and he could be my Indiana Jones, and he loved that. He really enjoyed it when I danced for him too. He was good to dance for because he would tell me what he loved me doing, or parts of me he liked best, so I could cater the dance to suit him and his turn ons. He was a great to spend time with, talking and dancing, and was a lovely guy. There was also this girl, who wasn’t so much a regular, but she came in with some friends and asked me to dance for her. She loved it so much she kept throwing money at me every time I told her we were finished until she ran out, and then ran downstairs to beg her friend if he could lend her more money, haha! She was fun too. While regular clients are nice, and you know you can earn some good money from them, it’s sometimes the one off customers that are the most memorable. I’ve met some amazing people doing this job, people I probably never would have met otherwise. And spending time with people from all walks of life is a great eye opener and really interesting. I love it.