Photo: Bruno Netto
Grace is 27. She's a stripper in a Texas club. Two years ago, she started a blog about her day-to-day life, telling tales far from the glamorous clichés of porno-chic bars. And she discovered a talent. Her writing is polished and to the point. Sometimes sad, but not always. She tells her story to the Observers.
pay for play (5 March 07)
This time in town, he is full of the details of his last day or two in Dallas, where, if I can believe him, he fucked three different prostitutes and, later that day, two strippers. (...)
Finally, though, I have to ask - is he disappointed that I've never fucked him in VIP?
No, no, he protests. He looks almost hurt. "I know you don't like to play," he says. "It doesn't matter. If you ever do, though, you should let me know."
I try to imagine fucking this man with his twitchy moustache and retired-military bearing and skin like a boiled tomato, and can't. I wonder if getting paid for it would make it better or worse."
dirty talk (12 May 08)
We are back in the Champagne Room and you have me on your lap, my head clamped into your shoulder in a manner intended to be comforting.
I am not, in point of fact, sad. I am not relaxed either, although as requested I do take a deep breath and let it out slow. Inevitably, physiologically, this does cause my heart rate to lower and my muscle tension to soften. I do not like this at all. In this close proximity to a stranger's armpit, in this near darkness, I would prefer to retain a bit of tension.
"There you go," you say. "You needed that, didn't you? Just imagine we're alone, somewhere far away from here. Imagine we're in bed together, OK? Just us, just laying together. Are you imagining that?"
It's hard not to. You are holding my head and whispering into my ear, and the music is not loud enough back here, which is something I've started to hate about the Champagne Room because you have to talk and these days I am sick of talking. (...)
"Just be yourself," you say.
I am being my self. Which is to say, I am being a stripper, which is what I am. As a stripper, I am giving you what you want, which is my body to hold and my hair to stroke, my ear to whisper into and an imaginary construct of an ego that you can comfort for its imaginary sadness. For my tragic childhood, my crushed dreams and abusive skinhead boyfriends and pill addictions and whatever else you are making up for me in there. (...)
"Look at me."
You release my head and I straighten up. My neck is getting stiff. I look at you. You are a bald, fat guy. You are somewhere in your late thirties, I'm guessing. You have glasses. And a tiny, beaky nose, like a little owl. Your eyes are pleading with me. You are sad and afraid, but I don't have any answers for you. Sorry. I only know what works for me and you and I are pretty different."
Grace, 27, is a stripper in a club in Texas. She writes the blog "Grace Undressed".
I left home at 17. I come from a family of farmers. Just a little holding, we weren't rich or poor. I finished my studies at college and even have a degree. But what I really want to do in life - I don't want to talk about it here - doesn't pay much at the start. I needed a little job on the side. I chose stripping because I thought it would be an unusual experience, and I always liked strange things. Men pay $200 (USD) for an hour with me, which isn't dear compared with rates in other states.Honestly I enjoy my job. It's not all rosy, sure. But I have good moments each night. The job allows me to see men on another day, without their masks. I get my fair share of idiots, but there are also guys who come in just for a bit of company. Yeh these guys do touch us too, but they have respect. Some of my clients even buy me books, because they know I like them. But let's make one thing clear - I go where the money is. I like to talk to some of the guys, but there's still work to be done.
I started my blog in 2006 to get out of the excessively artificial world I'd found myself in. I can express myself freely there. I haven't said anything about my family, to protect them. Texas is a very conservative state but it's also very hypocritical. People slam strip clubs, but it's the first thing you see when you come across the border.
I've never wanted to go further than just stripping. I've met porn actresses and prostitutes. It would be easy to say we don't have anything to do with each other. But I do understand them. Personally, I'd never want to go that far. Right now, i'm at a turning point. I'm tired of being a stripper, if you look at my most recent posts you'll see that. I stopped three weeks ago and I'm going to try to live my life in another way."