Kayla’s Story

Kayla was the first pole dancer I met when I moved to Rhode Island. I went to her Pole Dance Studio to train for an upcoming competition; that was in November 2018. A few times a week I would go to open practice and train and she let me in with open arms. After the competition I was hired as an independant contractor to teach a few classes in her studio every week. Kayla is such a large part and well known throught the community and it is truly a pleasure to be able to work for her. I support her in any way needed and would be ready to help in a heartbeat if she needed it. 

When I asked Kayla if I could interview her for my thesis she said yes immediatly. As a thankyou I offered to teach one of her classes without pay. Initially she felt uncomfortable with me exchanging my time for hers, but after realising that a little break would be nice she graciously accepted my offer. Kayla truly is one of the sweetest people I know. (Kayla if you’re reading this, I mean it!) 


CB: What is your Dancer name?

K: Usually Kayla.

CB: Okay, and, if you want to answer because you can choose to skip a question, no worries at all... What clubs have you worked at?

K:  I’ve worked at like all of them! *laughs* The main one in Rhode Island was Foxy (The Foxy Lady), I worked at Desires for a little, I worked at Wonderland for a little. The main one in Mass (Massachusetts) was Golden Banana and The Squire, I worked at the other Foxy in Brockton for a little bit. The main one in Connecticut was Mynx, I worked at two others in Connecticut I think. In Vegas I worked at Hustler, I was there the longest, and then Cheetah’s. The last one I think was Penthouse, in Philly.

CB: How long have you been dancing for, and also how long do you normally stay per club?

K: I’ve been dancing off and on for about ten years. Usually, I’d stay a short time, like a few months, or I’d stay for about a few years.

CB: So, First question. How do you mentally and physically prepare to get ready to go to the club?

K: I do yoga, I always have to do yoga, or I try to at least do yoga that day so I can move freely and, yeh, it takes a while. Mostly just makeup I guess. Oh and put fake tan on!

CB: Where do you prepare?

K: A lot of times I would... So, Like, Peabody (where the Golden Banana is) I would stay in a hotel so most of the time I would just get ready at the hotel. Uhm, rather than get ready there. A lot of times, yeh the hotel, or sometimes there.

CB: How does your mental preparation change depending on where you get ready?

K: I think I do better, well I’m mostly thinking about my time at the Golden Banana right now but, mostly it was better if I got ready on my own there. Just because their dressing room is really small and it’s easier to focus. 

CB: Do you have any rituals before you go on the floor?

K: Hmmm, rituals. So I used to have a routine. Go up to *Karl* (name has been changed) or *Mark*, whatever his name was. Sit with him, say hi to him so it looks like I have friends. I would always look at my makeup a million times and add more eyeliner, and add more eyeliner, and add more eyeliner. Oh, that doesn’t look like enough eyeshadow. Okay so actually this is my ritual. I’ll get ready at home or at a hotel and I’ll get there and I’ll be like, I’ll add more eyeshadow.

CB: That’s so funny. When you go on the floor you said you go and sit at a table so it looks like you’ve got friends, is there anything else that you do that has to happen.

K: Yeh, the other thing I was going to say, yup, I like the “sit in the corner” strategy, it works pretty well.

CB: And that strategy is when you go out and just hang back in a booth by yourself for a little to watch what is going on and make your game plans for the night, right?

K: Yes, exactly! That’s my main go to if there wasn’t people already there that I knew.

CB: Yeh

K: Just go sit there and look like, “Oh I’m so mysterious”, or “I’m too cool, but you’ll see me on stage”.

CB: So where is the place that you feel that you get the most money, for you of course.

K: like what part of the club?

CB: Yeh, so like on the stage or when you take 30 mins to sit down with a sad-looking old guy on the floor, or when you’re sitting at the bar or watching the door. That kinda thing.

K: Yeh, getting someone to do multiple rooms at once definitely unless it’s a really good stage set at certain clubs. Then you really feel like, yeh, sometimes lap dances you just go in and out, and you’re just like, “wow this is really...” I honestly don’t know.

CB: Okay, so this next one is a multi-question. So I’ll ask about a few different spaces, but the overarching big questions are how do you feel? Try to use some of the words we were defining earlier on like control, desire, commodity if you can.

K: Okay, I can do that!

CB: Great, so, how do you feel when you’re on stage?

K: Control, definitely, but also sometimes trapped.

CB: Trapped?

K: Yeah, but not always, I guess trapped is more of a lapdance. I don’t know *laughs* maybe the Champagne room is also trapped *laughs*. Oh! Sexualisation!

CB: Do you feel like you’re being sexualised using your power?

K: Yes, definitely in my power. I am powerful.

CB: And you said the word trapped, how would you describe trapped?

K: Trapped, sometimes people you avoid will come to you on stage and that’s when they trap you.

CB: So it’s almost as much as you think that you are in control, but only to a certain extent?

K: Yeh, yeh.

CB: Is there anything else you feel on stage, or any other word you want to use?

K: Well, my favourite stage was at the Golden Banana because the pole is in the middle and you can be away from people. There were so many different ways you can go, so there’s more money everywhere and you can have more space to go away from people. The stage makes you feel cool as well because you’re the centre of attention. Depends on the day obviously.

CB: Definitely, okay, so how do you feel when you’re sitting at the bar, or I guess with a customer at the bar?

K: Again it’s always different, but, usually... comfortable, familiar with the bar people... doing shots *laughs*. That’s oh, what is the word. Manipulation!

CB: Manipulation, yeh. This is a generalisation, but, do you think manipulation is a good thing, or a bad thing, something in between...

K: It’s almost like I pride myself in the ability to do it, so I see it as good.

CB: And at what point does it become... bad?

K: It would become bad if you use it to really, like, hurt an innocent guy, and really lie to him. Or if there is a manipulative customer doing that to a new girl or any girl.

CB: Yeh, like where there is malicious intent.

K: Yeh. Like, you manipulate their mood, and you manipulate them, you know the “ooohhh a shiny object, glitter” attraction. Yo know?

CB: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. So how do you feel when you’re in private rooms? This could also count as semi-private too I guess since there isn’t as much of a difference.

K: Sometimes I’m relaxed and I’m like okay, I just want to get back there and just like, do my thing. It can be easy,  but then there’s horrible times too so.... for the most part, I feel decent because I know I’m making money.

CB: Like an “even if it’s bad at least it’s not all bad”.

K: Exactly, and I feel like I’m working so hard.

CB: So how do you feel when you’re either by or watching the entrance?

K: I honestly don’t stay by the entrance too much. I prefer for people to settle in first and then I approach them.

CB: So the entrance for you doesn’t really exist?

K: It’s that little point where they aren’t comfortable. I watch it and then I give it time before I approach people. I’m always keeping track a little bit.

CB: The last space is the dressing room.

K: The dressing room... I feel good about it. That feels like a home, a safe space.

CB: And then, thinking about the words, since the dressing room is such an interesting place in the club and it’s so easy to relate it to any part of the domestic. You know, at the end of the night everyone comes in and is hyped up, at the beginning of the day people come in exhausted and not ready to talk, at dinner time it is a different dynamic.

K: Yeah I’d say it’s like a locker room for sportspeople... a lot of them are in basements.

CB: In basements?!

K: Yeh, a lot of them are in basements.

CB: Wow, weird, yeh I didn’t know that. I’ve never been/seen/heard of dressing rooms in basements. How is it different going up the stairs from the basement?

K: It feels like a basement...

CB: Okay, does it change how you interact, because you need to navigate the stairs do you go to the dressing room less and see people less for example?

K: Not really...

CB: Okay, so this next question, again how do you feel question. What are the different attitudes you have to secluded areas vs open areas? again think about control, intimacy, desire etc...

K: I think clients like to be more secluded better, a lot of them at least. I don’t like it as much, there’s a lot of lower energy and you’re alone with them, so I prefer a lap dance area than in a champagne room. In a champagne room I#im more likely to feel anxious and trapped. So in secluded, trapped, and dirty.

CB: Only three questions left, the next question is... If you travelled to a club, longer than 30 minutes, why did you do it? And if you’re staying the night in a hotel how does the travel to not travel affect you.

K: I like it. You do have to compartmentalise. Travelling, and why I travelled, I feel a little less comfortable people knowing, especially with the studio too, that’s why I started travelling again.

CB: This leads really well to my next question, the double persona. How much do you keep both halves of yourself connected?

K: Yeh, mine used to be a little more separate, and now it’s less separate.

CB: Yeh, now it’s more integrated?

K: Yeh.

CB: Do you think that’s helpful when you’re actually at work thinking about how you can deal with every situation or is it a lot trickier.

K: Trickier when it’s less separate?

CB: Yeh

K: Honestly, not really. I feel like there’s been a few times... Honestly, I don’t feel like it’s trickier. I definitely used to act way different. I still would lie about certain things but in general, still, act like myself. Yeh, Honestly I don’t even know, it been so long like, was that all even an act or was that real? I think my personality developed so much with so many hours being that personality that I’m like, it’s just normal now.

CB: And the last question I have, again thinking about you and the space of the club, and how you’re using the club for your gain, How important are the relationships with the bouncer? And I’ll name off all the people in the club.

K: The bouncer, the bouncer can be comforting, they can be distracting, they can honestly.... money... no. Distracting, but sometimes you want to be distracted, so...

CB: Do you find that if you have a deeper personal connection it makes your job easier, or is it just whatever?

K: It doesn’t make it that much easier.

CB: The next person is the DJ.

K: The DJ, a good relationship with them does usually help. Control the music, they can try and mess up your night, “ I like this song so jokes on you!” I’ve danced to cotton eyed joe because I was late to work. Performance, Dj, Performance. Permanence, they’re there forever, they’re always there.

CB: The next person is the manager.

K: The manager... oh those could be.... those could be control, they see you as a commodity, money sometimes. They really think that “oh we need to because these girls are broken and we need to be strict and help them grow.” Like no, you’re literally being an asshole to them.

CB: And normally, and of course not always, but normally the only men in power are the managers and bouncers, and DJ.

K: I’ve had bouncers really try and act like the manager to me, and give me talking to, try to steal my money, sometimes they try to pimp you out... I didn’t bring that up for bouncer because that isn’t the normal for me but there’s a lot of places. I’ve quit because the bouncers are the worst. I complained about them to the management.

CB: Bartender?

K: Bartender, Money you can work together with them, desire, they’re the unattainable and some guys just love that. Consuming, alcohol, decoration, their corsets and stuff.

CB: And the last person is the house mom. Obviously not every club has one so you can talk about having one vs not having one if you’d like.

K: I’ve had some good ones that are like your mom. I’ve had some house dads. Intimacy, yeh you can just talk to them about your problems, they make you food. Money, I give them money a lot. I tip them a lot every day. Yeh, I guess that’s it, normal...Some I don’t care about like I don’t even know they’re there

CB: so final overarching question. Thinking about everything we’ve talked about, in the space when you are working. What do you feel most out of control, intimacy, or desire?

K: Control. I feel at that place you get control. People can dance to get control and get out of situations. Performance, control, and sexualisation.