Orchid’s Story

I have known of Orchid for several years now. I had met them a handful of times at various pole competitions, performances, and shows since 2018, but it wasn’t until the end of feburary this year (2021) that I had gotten to know them more personally. Orchid is a student outside of work and really uses their analytical skills to help them have an upper hand at the club.

When I asked Orchid if they would help me with my thesis work they were really hesitant. They don’t plan to be working much longer and wants to make sure that their decision to be a stripper doesn’t come back and haunt them. They don’t want anything in return for helping with my thesis, as long as they stayed annonomous and it helped to bring a deeper discussion to and acceptance of sex work.

Scroll for her Bag and her interview.


CB: What is your dancer name?

O: Orchid.

CB: What clubs have you worked at?

T: I’ve worked in Connecticut, at Mynx, Groton.

CB: How long have you been dancing?

T: Just under a year.

CB:   How do you prepare to get ready when you go to the club? Do you prepare at home? Do you wait until you’re in the dressing room and come in looking regular. Do you mentally prepare yourself or is it just a physical transformation?

O: I turn my music on in the car on the drive to the club, I always listen to the type of music that the DJ plays for me. We have similar music taste which is great. But that gets me in the mood to go into work, before I walk in the front door I always say Orchid a few times just to make sure that me outside of the club doesn’t walk in on accident. Most of it is mental prep, physically I just put on a cute bikini and some eye makeup. I don’t normally wear makeup so that helps. I think though that the second I put my lashes on I fully become Orchid.

CB: When you are putting on your makeup where do you do it? You said that Orchid only exists in the club so does that mean you get ready at home?

O: I actually do get ready in the club, so I guess mentally I’m Orchid when I walk in but physically I am not. I never walk by customers when I get in though, I come in through the back door, so even though I don’t fully look like Orchid yet mentally I am.

CB: Interesting, I think it’s cool that you have such a deep divide between your two identities. Within the club setting, when you’re talking to a customer or whatever, what space do you find you can get a customer and make the most money from that customer. Is it going up to the bar, is it like right after you get off your stage set and you go to someone sitting by, is it someone that sitting alone, making no eye contact in the middle of the floor and you just pull up a chair?

O: Oh interesting. It depends what time it is really. Sometimes when it’s not busy everyone sits at the tables by the bar and so that my only option. I don’t drink though and people at the bar aren’t as receptive. They’re the kinda people that come to a strip club to eat awful food, have a beer, and watch TV. I don’t get it.

CB: lol that’s funny.

O: Yeh it’s dumb. For me, because I am a competitive pole dancer, my job is easiest from the second I get called onto the stage and about 15 minutes after. Sometimes I manage to make half of my money on the stage, which is crazy considering how much you can make by selling a dance. Once I get off stage normally people will come up to me and ask for a dance. That’s the best because on my walk back to the dressing room I get stopped so many times and I start to make a list. It means I don’t need to work out who wants a dance, and I don’t have to waste time talking to people. When that doesn’t happen though I normally go to the people that were sitting by the stage and tipping me, as long as they aren’t still by the stage or with another girl.

CB: Obviously I know the etiquette, but for someone listening/reading, can you explain what you mean by that?

O: Like people still at the stage or with another girl?

CB: Both?

O: Yeh, so basically. If someone is sitting by the stage they’re paying attention to the person up there, by sitting with them or taking them away from the stage you’re essentially stealing that dancers money. It’s the same thing if they’re already sitting with another girl. My club is super nice and I’m friends with most of the dancers, but fucking with someone else’s money will get you in trouble fast.

CB: Okay so, this is going to be more of a compare and contrasting question. Take a second to think about when you’re on the stage vs when you off and sitting at the bar vs when you’re off in a VIP or Champagne room, or on the side giving a lap dance, vs the entrance or dressing room. You know, the main areas of the club. And think about the words that we have been talking about, control, desire, dirty, intimacy, labour, manipulation, permanence, performance etc. How is each space different? When you’re on the stage do you feel more control, and control in the fact that it’s like you are controlling them vs when you’re on the floor where you might feel more intimacy because you can get a bit closer etc. I’ll ask you areas of the club one by one and prompt when you’re ready, sound good?

O: Sounds good.

CB: How do you feel when you’re on stage? And what power dynamics do you notice?

O: I feel powerful. I can make any person come over to me and give me what I want, money. Uhhh using your words, I definitely feel control, and that I am creating a desire for me. I don’t know if I feel like I’m performing though.

CB: When you’re on stage you don’t feel like you’re performing?

O: No. Some customers call my stage set a show which I think is funny. I’m not performing though, I’m having fun freestyling in my own element. They just have the privilege of watching me have fun.

CB: And then so, when you’re at the bar, if you’re sitting with someone, or just talking to the bartender or waiting for people to come in.

O: At the bar, wait, can I see the list of words again?

CB: Yeh, of course! Here.

O: Okay, at the bar. Distracting, definitely. I’m competing for attention between the bartenders, the alcohol, the TV, the food. I’m also distracted by people constantly walking by and walking in the club. Window is another good word too, I’m always thinking about my time when I’m sitting at the bar and the instant I can find a window in our conversation, like a break, I’ll try my sell. Normally I need to wait for a little though so I can get the customer comfortable with me and actually wanting to spend more time on me and more money.

CB:  What about when you’re in the VIP or Champagne room, where it is a bit more private.

O: Hmm, definitely intimacy. That applies to both, but, I always become more intimate the more money they’re willing to spend. I say we can only be fully intimate when we have our own entire private space. I guess that’s also manipulation to an extent. It’s so easy to manipulate the more intimate you get. Labour is another word, I don’t know if I feel that because of the kind of space though, more of a customers want of value. Some people really want you to work hard so they get gratification, others get that gratification just for sitting down with them and talking or even just holding them. Letting them know that they’re almost “saving you”. I hate that’s the way that those customers think about it, but, they kinda are saving me. I’m so fucking tired by 10 pm honestly, and if I can get paid and rest. That’s the fucking dream, even better that they think it’s worth it for them too. Performance is another word that I agree with too. I need to really perform my character in the rooms because there’s nothing else distracting them. My only hope to perform less is to distract them with my ass, and that’s fucking labour. I mean both are labour, and sometimes I’d rather do physical labour than mental, but fuck, if I’m tired, I don’t want any to do any labour.

CB: Honestly that sounds like a great way of making money and chilling out. Do you ever get the opportunity to just mentally check out and let them take the wheel in the rooms?

O: That’s what I’m saying, Some guys do that, I don’t have to think at all so I either just sway my hips for 30 minutes or I embrace them, or I just listen to their dumb problems and look cute and nod. Obviously with the occasional affirmation.

CB: Were going back to the entrance, more so scoping out the entrance. Like sitting in a different area of the club but watching the entrance, what is the dynamic there, how do you feel there?

O: I watch the entrance when I’m sitting with someone. Seeing people come in the door isn’t too helpful to me so maybe the word would be normal? It’s more the action of where they sit, how they walk through the open floor, and how long it takes them to order their drinks. Right now they have to serve food so I’ll watch right as they order the food, go up and introduce myself, once the food comes out I leave. Then I don’t have to waste time sitting with them but I’ve left enough of an impression that once they’re finished eating they want a dance.

CB: and the last room is the dressing room

O: That’s my favourite place.

CB: Yeah?

O: Yeh! The best part of the night is at the end when all the dancers come into the room to change and we get to debrief each other about our nights. Consume is a great word. We consume everyone’s stories, we eat our food, we vibe off of everyone’s energy. And it’s a good consume, it’s so gratifying. Maybe labour too *laughs* we get to put regular clothes on again and it’s a lot to think about. You know the struggle of putting leggings on over a sweaty ass.

CB: Haha, yeh, the bain of my existence! What is the appeal of travelling?

O: Don’t shit where you eat basically, and, how do I say this politely... I don’t want to do any... extras?... like they do in Providence. I’d rather drive an hour than deal with those conversations, even if I can make more money. Also, Mynx is great, everyone is so nice there, and it’s super clean.

CB: That’s totally fair. It’d be awful if one of your professors walked in on you. They’re coming into you’re job and I wish that something like that didn’t matter, but unfortunately, it does.

O: Exactly. I just wish that it wasn’t so difficult to pay for school and to survive while trying to do school. Without the risk that I could be ending a career that might not even start because if this. Thankfully, I think that it’s starting to become destigmatized but, as you know, I’m going into a very professional career, and I would hate for a person that I serve to see me and think differently, or my higher-ups..... sorry, it’s stressful, I don’t mean to get upset. The amount of panic attacks I have because of this is horrible.

CB: Dude, it’s okay. If you want we can take a break, we can totally call it too, no worries at all! You’ve honestly already helped me so much, and you know I’m always here for you. We’re sisters.

O: No it’s fine, give me a sec.

CB: You sure?

O: Yeh, let’s go!

CB: Alright, we’re almost done anyway, but if you want to stop we can whenever okay?

O: *nods*

CB: Alright, so, the next question is about the double persona. When you are Orchid is that a whole different person, does she only exist when you’re in that space, or does she also exist when you’re in the dressing room, or when you’re travelling to the club? How do you and Orchid interact? Are there ever times in the club when it’s XXXXXXX and not Orchid?

O: She exists the second I walk through the doors onto the club floor. In the dressing room, it’s my transformation space, like I said earlier, physical transformation space into Orchid. In the dressing room I’d say it’s mostly Orchid, but still a little me. I keep a hard line though. Outside the club doors, Orchid is dead. She doesn’t matter, and I don’t want her to matter. Inside the club doors, XXXXX is at home sleeping.

CB: So this next question is about the relationships you have with the bouncer, the doorman, DJ (but we talked about that person earlier so maybe not them), manager and bartenders. So when you are working how does the bouncer affect you in space and your game?

O: He makes me feel safe, so I can do my job uninhibited.

CB: and then the manager?

O: They’re both fine, they stay out of my way pretty much, so when I’m actually on the floor, they don’t exist to me.

CB: What about the bartenders? Do you feel like there is any kind of dynamic between the bartender and your relationship with them?

O: I like ~most of~ them, I have to like them. Sometimes a customer will ask for me and they’ll help. The main thing is at night when we’re busy. One bartender doesn’t like me so she’ll interfere with my game. I have to talk to the bartenders to get a room and she’ll ignore me for as long as she can. Straight up just wasting my time and messing with my money...

CB: Very very last question, When you’re working what word from our beginning list do you feel the most, regardless of the space you’re in. Do you feel control, intimacy, or desire? How do you think about that as you do your work?

O:  Control