Written by Clare Belle.
Art by Park Avenue Puta.
“Oh wow! I’ve never been to a strip club! I wanna go, what nights do you work?!”
I’ve heard variations of this exclamation throughout the years. Most of the time, it’s so. damn. awkward. If it’s a close friend, or someone I’ve been dating for months, fine, they can come. As long as they’re cool and bring hundreds of dollars, come on over and watch me dazzle the crowd. But a friend of a friend? An old office coworker? My neighbor? I just don’t know.
So far, in all my years, I’ve managed to avoid concretely inviting these eager beavers to my job. But I’m finally getting painted into a corner. And it’s by my yoga teacher, Nicole! I can’t mess this up. Honestly, I lie less to Nicole than I do my therapist. I mean, lying would completely defeat the purpose of yoga, right? She helped me through a gruesome, 18-month-long break up, when I went to yoga 14 times a week. She was there when my friend was being a judgmental ass about my family situation. She let me drop in at a student rate when I was at my most broke. The studio is anti-colonial, too! And there’s so many cool people who go there and practice mindfully. She’s guided my conflicted Catholic self into the practice with an authentic spirituality without conversion. I mean, she’s a really great instructor and a total peach. I can’t live without her.
But it’s been two years of her asking to visit! It’s been so long, she’s gathered four other yoga regulars that want to come along with her, and one of them is moving to Seattle in a month.
The clock is ticking…
So what’s the worst that can happen? This group of naive folks who I met through a sacred mental health space that I absolutely cannot lose access to will come see me strip, I will wag my pussy in front of them and dozens of other people, and they will be so horrified that they’ll run to the sanctity of the nearest jazz bar to one-up each other on judging me? What can go wrong?!
The truth is, I don’t want these people to visit me at work. For this group in particular, I don’t even want to go to the club with them. They’re so fun and give such great life advice, but that doesn’t mean I can trust them to enter a strip club that looks nothing like they do in the movies, see me or women that look like me giggle and smile at men that maybe see me as an object and maybe see me as their mother and maybe see me as their ex-wife.
But the best case scenario is that they come to my club, have a great time, learn a newfound respect for sex workers, and I have five new friends. That sounds so great! But is it worth the risk?
The funny thing is, I actually have a very clear policy for people coming to yoga with me. I beg friends to come with me and ban anyone I’m dating. I also don’t check out anyone at yoga, in case I get a crush on them. That studio is a space where I go to heal pain, and let’s be honest, dating can cause a lot of pain. I don’t play around with that space, and keep it drama free. So Nicole’s yoga studio is harder for people I date to get into than my actual strip club.
So does all of this mean I shouldn’t mix yoga and stripping? Or is that a sign that it’s fine? And what if I decide they can’t come, and they get their feelings hurt? Will that mess with my yoga space vibe? The truth is, I don’t have an answer yet. All I know is that not underestimating people people is important, but so are boundaries.
Have any of youse ever had a bad experience letting someone come to visit? Great experience? Any words of wisdom about why you have the visitation policy you have? Tweet me @itsclarebell!
Clare Belle is a queer poly sex worker. when she’s not parenting, community organizing, writing, or rewatching buffy, she’s working to her goal of cooking every recipe isa chandra moskowitz has ever made.