Bourbon Street’s gelatinous humidity had just tipped over into rain when a 50-something white man walked in to Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. I was spread eagle on cold marble before a sparse, unappreciative crowd, so I was grateful for his $2 tip. I found him at the bar after my set and thanked him.

Jeff turned out to be the kind of customer who asks questions. How old was I? (38, but I told him 32.) How long had I been doing this? (Off and on for decades, though I said a year.) But what else did I do? (Writing.) How would I feel if someone I knew walked into the club?

I didn’t like where this conversation was headed.

“I’d be OK with that. I’m not ashamed of my job,” I said — though I hadn’t always felt that way.

“If you could do anything for work,” my ersatz life coach said, looking over his beer, “what would you do?”

Jeff must have assumed my ideal life looked nothing like the one I was living. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m still dancing, either. Sex work was meant to be a means to an end, something to do until I got my real vocation off the ground. But as I face middle age with the writing career I wanted ― and no intention to hang up my heels ― I realize “stripper” is part of my identity.

It started when I was 19. I met a man 27 years my senior among the French Market’s incense burners, Creole tomatoes and alligator heads. He bought me dinner, took me shopping and gave me a part-time job at his business.  At the time, I didn’t realize ours was a sugar daddy-baby relationship — I just knew it helped pay my tuition.

Read the full article:

Why I’m proud to be a middle-aged Stripper by Missy Wilkinson

Oct. 22nd, 2018