When Stripping Fades into the 3-Minute Cock Grind

Diana Morrison

 GUEST BLOGGER: Diana Morrison bases her post on her observations, 
 reflections, & thoughts formed from over 10 years of dancing
 in a long list of strip clubs in Houston, California, Reno and 
 Paris to name a few, being a foot model, & a bondage model. 
 Diana also worked in the “real world” in veterinary hospitals, 
 waitressing and the tech industry. She is not a professional 
 blogger but remains quite passionate about adult entertainment 
 even though she’s now outta the game.


Although my personal experience is adult entertainment “light,” I don’t judge people who work in porn, as escorts, & fetish, etc. I have the utmost respect for sex workers and do have a problem when they aren’t respected, taken advantage of, & where their consent isn’t secured.

We Strippers Have Rights! And we win all the time! Ask the strippers who got their settlements from Déjà Vus & other strip clubs across America. Look up Lusty Lady in San Francisco!  I was lucky enough to be working in San Francisco in 1997 when the Lusty Lady went on strike and unionized. But at that time, I was a newby to the business and wasn’t able to really appreciate their cause. I started dancing in Sacramento in about 1996 and when the club I worked in went under, I decided to make an adventure of it and go to San Francisco. Sometimes, I was paying the strip club $200 a shift to work there. Because I was making more money than I ever had, I had no complaints. I had never heard of Independent Contractor vs Employee. I just accepted that we were independent contractors because that was what the clubs wanted us to believe. I started noticing and caring about this more when I started making less money and clubs were finding more ways of taking my money.

2004 receipt of dance commissions from Deja Vu/Stockton

The standard shake down goes something like this:

  •  $40 (on average)=daily Stage Fee (aka Day Rent; Walk-In Fee; Shift Fee, etc).
  • 10-20% of what you made that day=tip outs to the bouncer, door guy, bartender, waitresses, floor walkers, etc
  • ½ per dance=the Club’s cut (based on floor walker’s accounting of your dances which often tends to reflect far more than your own)
  • additional Fines (penalties for chewing gum; not having specific shoes; going on stage late, etc)

Of the advertised $20 lap dance, only $10 actually makes it into a stripper’s pocket. This just isn’t worth it. Strippers have no choice but to charge customers more than the club’s public price. I told my regular customers about how the Vu shook everyone down so they’d just pay me to sit with them & bypass the club’s cut. A couple of my regular customers where pretty cool like that. Why are the clubs taking home more than half of OUR money when it is US entertaining naked?

This is where the stage fees create the more serious problem: girls promise customers to do more by touching them or giving them “extra mileage” by prostituting. This is one of the major reasons I gave up stripping. When I first started stripping, management set pretty strict rules. We did table dances 12” away from the customer at all times, one foot on the floor and just danced. Customers were not allowed to touch us at all. Then table dances moved into lap dances. We had a 3 second grind rule where you could make contact for 3 seconds at a time. This meant we still mostly danced but customers could now touch our hands and legs as long as it wasn’t our crotch or breasts. Things kept “progressing.” Now you spent the entire time grinding a customer’s lap while he also groped you. I went along with the grinding, but being touched bothered me. My job was to sell fantasy and companionship to men. Fantasy–no sex. That in my opinion is another facet of adult entertainment and didn’t belong in strip clubs.  There was a certain respect the men had for us that we lost when our jobs required us to give more.  I was mesmerized by the art of the dance, the way the lines of the female body flow, not to mention the incredible athletics we created on the pole. But I had to give this up when the art started fading into the 3-minute cock grind. I had a passion for connecting with someone—for making that guy whose wife hasn’t acknowledged his presence in years feel like a rock star. My “specialty” seemed to be men who were lonely, in seemingly loveless marriages, &/or were starving for attention. In my experience, most men just wanted to connect with someone. They may have been married or single but their loneliness permeated the room.

I don’t blame the women for going the extra mile. I blame the club owners, the managers, & their greed. At the time, I was a single mother and solely supported my son. I noticed that a large percent of the strippers were also raising their children alone. I get that. The women just don’t realize that it is US that hold the cards. Clubs would not exist without us. When our stage fees were raised again in the last club I worked in, I researched strip clubs.  I learned that most of the information the owners and managers were feeding us were lies to intimidate us, to keep us in our place, and to keep our mouths shut.

I’ve always been that girl who shamelessly stands up and tells it the way it is. That’s what I did. I started looking around the internet and found the Lusty Lady website. I was intrigued and started looking for any information I could. I visited the IRS website for their exact definitions of “independent contractor” and “employee.” I scoured the California Labor Codes for what “tip pooling” allowed. What I discovered shocked me. I was so naive that I told the managers about the information I uncovered and they told me they were outdated & didn’t apply to us. I couldn’t believe the strip clubs would purposefully lie and be so deceitful considering that their business depended on us. That’s when I realized management knew the truth and were not only hiding it, but were also preventing strippers from talking to one another about it. I copied off a bunch of copies of “Laws to Know” and started leaving them in the dressing room. I got fired. Fired for opening my mind and mouth and not my legs.  The manager bargained with me to re-hire me, “I’ll let you stay if you fuck me,” he offered. Being fiercely independent and having a strong sense of pride, I refused. I went on welfare for a short period of time. I admit I asked myself, “What if I only had…” But every day I wake up, I can look at myself in the mirror and know I did the right thing for myself. It makes me wonder how many women are too scared or don’t have the balls to say screw off and walk out. Welfare was a bitch, but my pride is something I still have.

I have no shame about dancing. Stripping gave me confidence. It’s where I learned to groom and do my make up and take pride in other “girly” things. It also gave me something unexpected—to be comfortable in my skin. I’ve always been small breasted and my family teased me for it my whole life. I thought I’d be laughed off stage when I took my top off but instead, I was complimented often and told I was the perfect size. I also learned a side of men people rarely get to see–how much they need the power of touch and how the lack of attention can turn a marriage to dust. As strong as men want to appear in public, they can and need to feel vulnerable as well. This, of course didn’t apply to all the men I danced for but it resonated mostly for the ones who were in long-term marriages. I’ve taken those lessons and applied them to my own marriage and ours is the most solid relationship I’ve seen!

Ten's Work Manual for Strippers

My only regret is that strip clubs kept getting greedier and greedier, which in turn changed the landscape of the whole industry. Clubs are flooded with as many dancers as it can hold who compete with each other to do more, and who often prostitute just to make a living. The beauty has all but disappeared in most of the strip clubs I’ve gone to recently.  After reading this, you might get the impression that stripping was a negative experience for me. This is only one facet of a crazy, fantastic, good/bad world. Now long out of the industry, I have yet to find another type of work that I enjoy as much and feel absolute passion for like I did stripping. The years that I danced were the best of my life.

3 Responses to “When Stripping Fades into the 3-Minute Cock Grind”
  1. Sierra/Teena says:

    This site looks legit, awesome if it is! It’d sure make things easier! http://www.exoticdancerrights.com/illegal-club-behavoir.html

    • I’m weary of many of these private attorneys representing dancers. Mostly from what I’ve seen, they just want to cash out and often take 30% of dancers’ awards. I suggest going to a non-profit that deals with employee labor issues–they tend to me more honest & really are interested in using the labor laws to bring justice to workers in the sex industry.

      If you’re dealing with discrimination & sexual harassment issues, consider filing a complaint with The Department of Fair Employment & Housing (http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (http://www.eeoc.gov/).

      If you’re dealing with labor issues (non-payment of minimum wages; not being recognized as an employee; paying illegal stage fees), file a complaint with your local state Labor Commission or Department of Labor. Some cities (like San Francisco) even have their own city Dept. of Labor.

  2. Rosie says:

    Who cares? A whore is a whore. Why promote this filth?

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