I had forgotten about this story, until recently when a funny thing happened. It was written as a POV exercise, during a creative writing certificate. Afterwards I posted it on a self-publishing website. Then, a while later, I took it down because I’d started this site and was happy to post my stories here as a hobby. However, I didn’t realise the cover had remained online on various other sites. Now the funny thing is, some people took the title as fact and I’d been oblivious to this for years.
The story is actually loosely based on the tales a young woman told me when we were working for a sports company in the 1990s. She had been a stripper and would have us all in stitches over her fabulous adventures as an exotic dancer. She was a brilliant storyteller and I’m sure my story does not do hers any justice.
So, I generally prefer not to annotate my stories but I wanted to clear this up. Although, I still wonder if it’s possible for any of us to never judge a writer by their covers…
I was an Uncoordinated Stripper
Seriously, can’t believe I was ever a stripper. I was a decent enough softball player as a kid, and could’ve played for Victoria if I’d had someone to drive me to practice. Dancing wasn’t my thing. Didn’t even score a red-nosed-reindeer role in the grade six calisthenics concert. Anyway, I left high school and got a job at Safeway, night packing. That’s where I met my boyfriend, Chuck. I was twenty and old enough to know better. But I’d never had a boyfriend before, so …
To save on rent we moved into a flat together. The money we saved on rent went on mull. We smoked bongs before going to work, and again on our midnight break. (In the car park behind the Salvo bin.) It was a sweet set up. Then the rent was behind and Chuck got an idea in his head after watching a Demi Moore midday movie. Hey, Prue, you should do stripping, he said, shake your arse and rake in the dough, easy money, babe.
Of course, I believed him. The first club I interviewed at in Melbourne took me on. The ex-footy player manger said I was the Xena type guys went for. He didn’t even ask me to dance. Which was lucky for me. He did ask what the Blood and Bone fertiliser smell was though, and I glanced around the room, pretending to wonder what it was too.
On my first night I got mad tips. The geezers must have felt sorry for me, gyrating around the stage in my bare feet. I’d had a few shots of bourbon beforehand to stop my hands shaking. The girls told me to pretend I was in a movie. It’s all about acting, love, Mimi said. Yeah, right. I went on stage, skin all blotchy from alcohol, and spent the shift jerking my hips out of time to the techno music, blasting the club.
Must have done something right, because at the end of the week I came home with roughly two grand. Chuck grabbed the cheque before I’d even taken off my sneakers. He jumped on the couch for ages, waving the cheque and shouting, whoo hoo, while I soaked my sore feet in a bucket of hot soapy water. He didn’t even pack me a pipe.
It wasn’t long before they got suss at work about the smell, and the wrinkly-nosed glares increased. I hid my sneakers under a table in the change room and danced barefoot. I had a foot odour infection that wouldn’t go away. At my last job someone had commented on it, to my face. I pushed them to the pavement and told them to mind their own bloody business.
After two weeks of dancing at the club, Mimi handed me a rolled up twenty and a mirror lined with white stuff. Charlie, she called it. Love, it’ll improve your moves, I guarantee it, she said. The mull I’d smoked before work didn’t seem to make me any more coordinated, so I said, why the fuck not.
It worked a charm. I rocked the stage all week in my bare feet and Xena arse. My hair is boring, ash blonde and stringy, but that week I spun my mane around like a model from a ’80s music video. I was Demi Moore, swivelling around the pole and arching my back. I was fire and magic.
The manger seemed pleased I was livening up. One night, before my shift, he pulled me aside and said, you need more class, put these boots on. They were lace-up suede stilettos. Covered my whole foot, right up past the ankle. I gave him one hell of a look. They must have all gotten together and made a plan to cover up my stinky feet.
The boots fitted (surprise, surprise) and even made my tree-trunk-legs appear sleeker. The Fire Starter song was on. How could I forget? I was a jellyfish in those boots, and I made sure my hand stayed on the pole, in case I fell over. Halfway through the song I wrapped my leg up the pole and flicked back my hair.
A bloke folded a note in my belly chain when it happened. My ankle gave way to gravity, and twisted. I unhooked my elbow, went to grab the pole and missed.
Holy fuck … It was the worst burning pain I’d ever known. The pole slammed smack bang into my pelvic bone. It was such a shock. I lay on the stage, stunned and writhing in agony as if someone had winded me. I kept shouting for help and an ice pack. The geezers by the stage were hooting and yelling, whoa, priceless. I was in too much pain to be mortified or angry. I’d punch in their faces if I saw them now.
Eventually, I think Mimi dragged me into the change room. Someone handed me a bag of frozen peas. (From God knows where.) Mimi couldn’t stop shaking her head and saying, I don’t know, love, maybe dancing isn’t for you. Then, while I was naked except for the shitty boots, the manager came in and sacked me. Well, he said to go home, and a day later he rang and told me not to come back. Chuck was furious, said it was all my stinky feet’s fault, and left too.
It took a few weeks to be able to sit comfortably again. A few months later, I got a job picking and packing at a shoe factory. All I have to do is push a trolley up-and-down the warehouse aisles and fill orders from stock boxes. The guys here smell worse than me, and boyfriends, well they’re definitely on the backburner. My clothes are on. I can wear sneakers and smoke bongs on my break.
Can’t get more coordinated than that.