Like most exotic dancers, she makes a lot of money and gets to meet new people on a nightly basis, but more than anything else, the 22-yearold wife and mother sees herself as an unofficial, unlicensed sex therapist for couples young and old.
Honey requested only her stage name be used in this story to protect her identity.
But when she’s dancing and performing acrobatic routines on the golden pole at The Trophy Room in south Oklahoma City, she’s anything but private. Honey twists and turns her body in ways similar to a professional contortionist. She flashes big smiles to the crowd as her slender body complete with muscular biceps and thighs makes its way up and down the pole.
“Dancing was natural as soon as I got on stage,” she said. “I like to show off what I have for entertainment purposes. Guys love it, and couples love it. It spices up their sex life, and that’s good. I’m a big people-pleaser.”
Honey’s entry into the world of stripping took some time and practice, as well as a little prodding by her best friend.
“At one point, I thought about quitting, but he (her husband) encouraged me to stay,” she recalled. “Now, I’m here almost every night. I love it. Dancing is something I’ll always do no matter how old I get.”
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Honey is prepping for some special steamy performances sure to arouse regular customers and new ones.
“I remember last year, there were more couples than single guys,” she recalled during a recent interview at The Trophy Room. “It’s not unusual to do a table dance for a couple. The woman will tell me to dance for him, tease him and give him that fantasy experience. Then the guy will turn around and tell me to do the same for his wife or girlfriend. It can be a real sexy, intimate experience. Then, they go home and have great sex.”
One memorable experience Honey recalled from last year’s Valentine’s Day involved an older couple “in their 60s.”
said they had tried everything on Valentine’s Day except a strip club.
During the entire time I was danc- ing, they were playful and happy to
try new things,” she said with a grin. “They were all over each other.”
Lust, not love
For Jada and Dream, two dancers at Red Dog Saloon and Cafe, stripping is more about money than thing else.
But on the most romantic of all holidays, the two young women put on
special performances that leave couples “excited and ready to go home,”
Jada, who said she’s bisexual, tries to please the women as much as the men.
“For me personally, I don’t believe in love. I believe in lust,” she said and laughed. “But I would like to have someone special to spend it (Valentine’s Day) with.”
For Dream, dancing is “about the money,” attention and exercise.
“The attention we get from the guys is good, and it’s a great workout when we dance. The money is better than anywhere else we could work,” she said.
Two of Dream’s reasons for dancing — money and attention — have been the subject of numerous studies and reports, including the 2006 Motivations of Professional Strippers by Lisa Monchalin.
“Onstage the stripper becomes the center of a small galaxy, a star surrounded by gazers,” Monchalin wrote.
In 1996, author David Scott’s research showed strippers use ego gratification and power as alternate reasons for their line of work.
Gio, a dancer interviewed by Scott, said, “When I’m up onstage, it’s a power trip. It’s an ego trip and I play it for all it’s worth. I am smart enough to recognize where the power is. When I’m on the stage, I’m living the fantasy that I can control all these people in the room, that they’re paying attention to everything that I’m doing.”
But monetary incentives still rank as the primary motivation for strip- ping.
On a slow day, Jada and Dream said they will take home on average about $120; and on a good night, they might clear as much as $500.
“The only difference between us and women who don’t strip is the money. We just have more to blow. I might spend $500 in one day, but I know I’ll get that back in the next day or two,” Dream said.
“Money is not an object.”
At The Trophy Room, the financial compensation gets better with dancers averaging $300 to $400 a night during weekdays and $600 to $700 on weekends, Honey said.
National salary data from payscale.
com shows strippers earn an average of $47,536 a year with total pay ranging from $20,059 to a high end of $141,715.
Their customers, the dancers said, always are willing to pay for their dancing and time.
“A lot of them want more than to watch you dance. They want your company,” Honey said.
“But most of my regular customers know that, and they don’t ask. I can’t count how many return customers I have who come in to see me.”
Honey’s comments are in line with a 2003 report in The Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture that suggests most exotic dancers work at clubs “that cater to men and the male sexual fantasy.”
“The fantasy of casual sex with no plot lines fires the erotic imagination,” the report’s authors wrote.
For Honey, her personal love life has blossomed since she began entertaining a year ago.
“Before I started dancing, I was insecure about my body. Now, I have people telling me I’m gorgeous. At home, I dance for him (her husband). There’s more passion, romance, intimacy and we’re more patient,” she said.
Now, a candle-lit dinner at home followed by dancing isn’t out of the ordinary for Honey and her man.
“I would never have done that if I hadn’t been in this environment,” she said.
During her interview with Oklahoma Gazette, Honey showed off her bicep and thigh muscles. Prior to her new career, Honey spent time as a stay-at-home mom and later worked in restaurants and computer repair.
Nancy, now a waitress at Red Dog and a former stripper for 27 years, knows this industry can be a grind on personal love lives.
“You have to work harder at romance and intimacy because they (husbands and boyfriends) don’t trust you. They see you having to dance in front of 500 guys every night,” she said.
Nancy’s former life as a stripper was, in part, a reason for two divorces.
“I got tired of the accusations. It’s my job, and then I go home to my family. It seems the older the guy is, the more stable things will be at home.”
Although she quit dancing two months ago, Nancy, 42, has no regrets about her career choice.
“I started at 15 out in Arizona, so I’ve been doing this a long time,” she said. “It’s totally different now. The girls don’t respect the customers. The guys actually miss the entertainment. It’s not just shaking your ass and spreading your legs. Sometimes there’s not a whole lot of dancing going on.”
Ciji, a 29-year-old bartender at The Trophy Room, has been in the industry the last 11 years. Although she doesn’t strip, she readily admits she would like to. The beautiful, blonde bartender said life at a gentlemen’s club is never boring.
“What’s to get bored? There’s plenty of excitement, drinks and you get to watch naked girls all day. It’s exotic and a thrill to be on that stage. It’s so wrong but so right,” she said.
As a longtime employee at The Trophy Room, Ciji said dancers find work outside the industry and leave but usually return.
“It’s addicting,” she said. “It’s almost like a drug.”
At times, Ciji finds herself serving as counselor, friend, protector and mom to the young dancers.
“I know more about those girls than I know about myself,” she said.