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strip club experience

My First Experience at a Strip Club

(For a Journalism assignment to interview either someone we fear, are intimidated by, or dislike based on their opinion/opinions.)

I interviewed a 24-year-old waitress named Sarah (although this was a fake name) at the Yellow Rose Gentleman's Club. I chose her because I am against pornography and strip clubs, and while she is not a dancer, she does not feel as strongly as I do about the industry. She said she believes dancing is "a self-respect issue," and that she does not look down upon exotic dancers. I believe there are plenty of less demeaning ways to make a living, and that strip clubs encourage men to look at women as objects. Sarah and I also come from different religious backgrounds, and I have never had to live on the street.

I went to a strip club also because I have never been to one, and I was quite nervous about visiting--my legs shook when I told the bouncer what I was looking for, but fortunately I was standing in front of a tall desk, so they went unnoticed. I knew this would be a personal challenge. I took a cab, and the driver told me that though prostitution is illegal, it often occurs or is arranged at strip clubs. He said he had been to several of the clubs in Austin, and could name them accurately.

I found the club to be like any other, except for the major emphasis on women's bodies. The men sat staring at the women on stage, who danced one at a time to each song in a rotation. They would "hoot" when a new woman began to perform. Then after she finished her dance, she would approach a man talk to him, and offer him a lapdance. I was the only female patron in the room, and the other patrons looked like they were in their forties or fifties. Sarah told me the age range varies from 21 to about 80, and while the early crowd was older, the late crowd was younger.

The interview occurred in segments, because Sarah needed to check up on her tables from time to time. This also gave me a chance to think of new questions, which I thought was the most difficult part of the assignment. I had prepared some questions, but not enough, and my ability to "riff" only lasted so long. I also noticed that I said "like," "cool," and "um," much too often during the interview, which is unprofessional. I also said "understandable" twice, which I think is the worst word to say in this situation, because it gave away my view on strip clubs. I complimented her on her green hair, which was beautiful but mostly small talk, and I wonder if it was a good idea to mention something so superficial. I also asked her about her favorite movies and music just to keep her talking. I asked her about her novel, where she grew up, and her previous jobs and college experience. We discussed the TABC's monitoring of the club's alcohol, the "two foot rule," which requires that dancers leave two feet of space between themselves and a patron, moonlighting dancers, regulars, and safety in the club. This rule was clearly not enforced, at least not while I was there...

I had to repeat myself a few times, because the club was quite loud. However, I believe it is better to ask someone to repeat themselves, because not asking means risking getting a story wrong. I was also friendly and got a lot of information out of her while not preventing her from working. After the interview, I decided to order a meal and tip her well.

5:01 pm - wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008


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