Fast cash but lost respect: Stripping

Sex and Sensibility

Looking through the paper the other day I was baffled by an employment opportunity that guaranteed $1,000 to $5,000 a week. Of course, I found it in the "Adult Employment" section (we all peek sometimes) and it involved working in a massage parlor.

"You're going to be giving happy endings," my friend said upon hearing that I was considering the position. Yet, to be honest, the money was tantalizing. If I could work part-time and make around $3,000 a week I wouldn't have to worry about a thing this semester ... or would I?

The topic of selling one's body to make money has been a subject I'm sure some of you have thought about. From Demi Moore's fantastic debut in "Striptease," the thought of easy money has definately been a topic for discussion. Although never discussed formally in a classroom setting, stripping for money has been a widely speculated topic for generations in the college scene. The debate seems to be if one can make lots of loot in one night is there, and should there be, a line drawn between morals and money?

Two years ago a girlfriend of mine suffered an unexpected travesty, so I moved to Philadelphia to be a friend. I moved into an apartment with two boys, picked up two jobs, and proceeded to make my millions. Of course, living with two boys proved to be a story in itself. I witnessed my first fight, rode my first motorcycle and went to my first strip club in Philadelphia.

My girlfriend came with us, and after four drinks, she decided that she was going to become a stripper. "It's great," she said, "I can make more money than all of you in one night and I don't even have to let them touch me." A couple of days later, after her non-interview, she put on her barely-there bikini and headed off to work. Around 4 a.m. she came home, with over $500 and a big smile on her face. "It wasn't too bad," she said.

Things seemed to be going great for my friend. She was making lots of money and her self-confidence seemed to be on an upward slope. She walked with more of a kick in her step and her general demeanor exemplified someone of great stature. Things progressed as such, until one night the unthinkable happened. A man in her stall didn't follow the rules, and although her bosses were watching her through surveillance cameras, they didn't respond. My friend was lucky enough to break out of the situation and within 30 seconds quit her job.

She had made thousands of dollars in just a couple of weeks, but something had been stolen from her. She had lost her self-respect.

Within the next month I began counseling my friend in more ways than one. Something had been lost from within her. She walked more slowly, with her head down. As I came to find out, things hadn't been too happy within her workplace. She had gotten in a couple of fights with the other women and they told the "newbie" that she'd better not take their business away.

The management was all right, for the most part, but they kept more than half of her money and didn't protect her when times got rough. She would sit in her bikini for hours on end, exploiting her body, as the men strolled by and picked their favorites. It was hard to not be a favorite sometimes.

She would drone on and on about her experiences at the club. About what happened this one time, and then that time, and the other. Each experience, interestingly enough, was marked with both the negative and the positive. This guy would crawl on the ground like a dog and she would walk him to the booth and watch him jerk off. But he gave her an extra $200 if she humiliated him in front of everybody. This other guy came in, younger than she was, and paid her $100 to just listen to his problems. They had become friends.

My friend seemed to be lost within her own emotion. She hadn't decided yet what she thought about the industry. She was just as lost within the action, as she had been watching.

And so as I picked up the phone to call about the job, my thoughts themselves began squirming as I tried to decide exactly what my choice would be. The woman on the other end sounded nice, and she told me specifically there would be "no prostitution," and "no nakedness." She asked if I had any practice in massage therapy before, and if I had ever been a prostitute or a stripper. I said no.

She then told me what the job was about. It's an upscale massage therapy resort, located within a prominent part of D.C. The job was part-time, open only to blondes, and they provided paid training. It sounded too good to be true. I told the woman that I would come in the next day and check it out, but in reality, I was on my guard.

As the night progressed I began to feel rather wary about my decision. To one extent, if I went to the spa and it was legitimate, it would be a great way to make some money. I could give massages to these old hairy men and receive $3,000 or more a week for my efforts. But to the other extent, if I were to give these massages, exactly what does "no nakedness" imply, does that mean I'd have to go topless? And why did she explicitly state "no prostitution?" Was that a cover-up?

And so there I was, four hours past my interview, sitting locked within the confines of my safe apartment walls. Part of me thinks about the glorious way to make money, solve my problems and be happy; but the other part thinks only of my friend and her barely safe escape.

I know that I'm supposed to write this column and give advice, but I must admit that on this topic my advice isn't concrete. I am sitting here trying to make the decision for myself, and although I am not going to go to this particular interview, that's not to say that somewhere down the line it won't be within my morals to do so.

I guess my advice on this topic would be to trust your instincts. If you feel as though a particular job or situation is questionable, don't go. Sit back, watch television or look in the local newspaper and find another job.

The way I figure, I'd rather keep my respect and morals right now, than solve all of my problems. Wouldn't you?

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle