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  • Valerie Stunning

The 4 Types of People Who Run Strip Clubs

I sat in silence at the kitchen table in awe of my purple and blue legs as the night’s tequila shots slowly wore off. My knees and shins were bruised in ways that two weeks earlier I hadn’t known were possible. It was nearly five am and although my mind was wired, my physical will to do anything besides sit and ache was non existent. So I counted my stack of waxy Australian dollars for the fourth time, quietly reveling in my success.

It was the first time I had held that amount of cash from a single night’s work. Seriously. It was more than my week’s pay for the restaurant management job on Wall Street (yes, that Wall Street) that I had slogged 60+ hour weeks at for nearly four and half years. My brain launched in to the adrenaline fueled gymnastics that only comes from earning your first fat bag at the club. I felt euphoric, invincible even. I had finally arrived. I told myself I could definitely do this work until I turned 30. And as I began climbing the mountain of imaginary stacks I’d have after stripping for 4 more years a massive cockroach soared through the second story window of my shared Bondi apartment, jolting me back to reality. I didn’t even know roaches could fly.

This February will mark thirteen years since that night in Sydney, Australia. Thirteen years of not only navigating a stigmatized job that society tells you isn’t real, but approaching it like a career in an industry that seems hellbent on chewing us up and spitting us out. If you’ve been here with me for a while, you’ve likely gleaned that doing this work has never been easy and is often paradoxical. Within this neon microcosm I have fostered some of my most wholehearted, healing, and inspiring connections to other Strippers/SWers. I have also suffered and eventually learned a lot of tough lessons. Many of which have been a direct result of how strip clubs are run and by whom.

Recently, as part of an outlining exercise for my book, I tallied the cities, states, countries, continents, and number of clubs I’ve worked since publicly donning my first lycra g-string. As I recalled each of the 37 tittie bars, Gentleman's Clubs, and everything in between, memories of how those establishments were run and by whom came flooding in. Low and behold what I realized is a majority of strip clubs are owned and/or managed by the same 4 personalities. Science!

The following is a breakdown of each of these personalities, in no particular order. Think of it like a personality test. But saltier. The data I’ve used to compile these archetypes stems from a single source. Me. And while my experience is vast* it does not account for every single club in existence and therefore every strip club owner/manager. I am positive there are at least 5 kinds of personalities who run these places. It is my hope that fellow Strippers will feel called to contribute to this study.

*Cities: 17, States: 10, Countries: 4, Continents: 3, Clubs: 37



“Been in the nightclub and/or strip club industry forever”

All. The. Hubris.

Knows everyone

Knows everything

Formulaic in mgmt style

Cliche in values


Uses vocabulary incorrectly

Micro Manages

Money Talks


Type of Club: Corporate



“We’re all family here”

Emotionally manipulative

Quick to cut you off if you don’t stroke their ego

More concerned with being liked than making sure the club is ran well



Not so secretly hoping to date you

Mansplains regularly how to do your job

Micro Manages

Money Talks


Type of Club: Mom & Pop

MIDWEST CHILL (not necessarily from the Midwest but reps that legendary chill)



Rarely engages with Strippers

Slow movers

Not particularly vigilant

A lot of try in particular ways



Exhibits ownership in attitude but is hands off in day to day

Money Talks

Too chill to be a predator

Type of Club: Corporate or Mom & Pop

ORGANIZED CRIME (i.e. Bikers, Politicians, Mafia, Drug Dealers)


“Don’t see nothin, won’t be nothin”

Zero small talk

No frills


Entitled, cheap “friends” that seem to live at the club

Eager to beat ass



Hands off mgmt style until something goes very wrong

Money Talks

Not predatory but their “friends” sure as shit are

Type of Club: Corporate or Mom & Pop

Noticeably absent from this pie chart is former Strippers. And while I’ve heard of the occasional former Stripper turned manager, or even rarer club owner, from other workers- I've yet to work with her. Sadly the tales I have heard from fellow Strippers who have worked with her are often accounts of how terrible the experience was. What is it about crossing over in to upper management that causes former Strippers to one up their male counterparts in harsh and/or exploitative work practices? I don’t know. But I cling to a dream that this is the exception and not the rule. That the more Strippers turn management and club owners, the better clubs will eventually be ran, and our work environments will continue to improve. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll find myself being among them ;)

Next Post: I am taking the month of November off to be with family, and will

be back December 6. In the mean time, if you enjoy these posts,

Please share with someone you think will value them.

Xxo, Val

Photo taken by: Bettina May, Valerie Stunning


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