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  • Valerie Stunning

Stripper Retirement, Probably. (Part 1)

Teetering on the kind of hysteria that only blaring trap music in an empty strip club can incite, I grabbed a blanket from VIP and huddled in a corner booth to do what I often do when it’s painfully slow. Contemplate my life. 

Sure it was a Sunday, but it was also America’s favorite drinking holiday. And we are located right outside of an army base. Why weren't there, at the very least, a line out the door of inebriated GI’s hell bent on making questionable decisions that they may or may not remember?  

Instead I had been sitting around for four hours in pricey lingerie and a well worn pair of 6 inch Pleaser stilettos. In this time I had given a single lap dance, read about the delicate science behind roasting a perfect chicken, and learned the do’s and don’ts of a resume. 

After exhausting my scroll tolerance, which is now a lot lower since I went on a complete social media hiatus back in January, I put my phone down. But because I’m still a masochist, a masochist fresh off of tax season, I began mentally sifting through my 2022 earnings (Las Vegas) in comparison to my 2023 earnings (Colorado Springs.) 

For the record I was well aware that when I decided to move the volume of patrons in the Springs couldn’t possibly touch what Vegas pulls. I was mentally prepared for a pay cut. Throughout 2023 this pay cut became more and more evident as I made my rounds working each of the three clubs in town. Apparently, here it is standard operating procedure to sit around for hours and wait for weekend warriors to trickle in. 

But god damn. 35% less! Thirty Five Percent. I worked five days more in 2023 than I had in 2022, averaged much longer shifts, and earned thirty five percent less. And don’t you dare say it’s the economy. It is not the economy when the average COS jiggle joint customer can easily afford a season pass to the Breckinridge slopes. No, lack of expendable income is not the issue here. 

I took a break from feeling sorry for myself long enough to check the floor to see if anyone had wandered in. Aside from the one customer who had been stationed in the same seat since before I arrived, and had turned every girl down because he was in search of a “deeper connection”, there were several other women in various states of undress strewn across chairs and couches. They too had kicked off their plastic stilettos, were scrolling their phones, and may have also been contemplating their lives. 

I made like that Homer Simpson gif and receded back into my corner. 

Annoyed that I had traded in a cozy night with boo and our dog to sit in an empty strip club and not get paid, I began to curse the health consciousness and outdoor fanaticism Colorado breeds. To hell with these people and their Patagucci wearing, asleep by 10pm, no cheap thrills having asses. It was obvious that the cult of fourteeners*, jeepers**, and snow sport enthusiasts were in a cabal to decimate my livelihood. 

I paused to consider the likelihood of a secret cabal of polite Type A people dripped in expensive eco friendly athleisure out to eradicate adult entertainment. But just as the image of a passive aggressive mob jousting walking sticks at the strip club began to crystalize, I stumbled upon a sneaking suspicion. 

Damn it. I really wanted to keep hating on the culture of my temporary home, but once I catch a whiff of my own bullshit it's too late. I was already on to the fact that behind my internal temper tantrum there lay a touch of hypocrisy and a greater truth that had nothing to do with me earning less, or the club being slow, or Type A people living their best lives. Well, maybe a little, but not entirely. 

The thing is, I too relish in the majesty of the Front Range and capitalize on all the outdoors-ing it offers (so long as it doesn’t require me to be cold and wet.) I too am in bed by 10pm most nights I’m not working. I too dedicate significantly more time to my mental and physical health practices than over-consuming substances and making questionable decisions that I may or may not ever remember.  

Truthfully at this point in my life, it might be fair to say that stripping is taking more than it is giving me and I no longer find this work worthwhile. 

So what next? 

*Fourteeners: People who pride themselves on hiking and sometimes running up mountains that sit at 14,000 feet altitude or higher. They can often be identified by the bumper stickers on their utility vehicles and the tee shirts they wear exclaiming as much.

**Jeepers: People who live and breathe owning and driving Jeeps. They can be identified by their mud caked Jeeps and how fast they whip out their phones to showcase the off road jeeping they've recently conquered.

Photo: Valerie Stunning (Last month in Vegas for my 39th birthday.. living my best Type A life)


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