I’ve been steeping in the space of trusting and knowing that energy is infinite and renewable, it’s truly the basis of my spirituality. But there are those times, so often in life when we feel drained, when we know we are depleted and when we struggle to dig to the deepest of depths to fill our cups back up to the brim.
My last year had me doing this, constantly sipping from my soul chalice, hoping and praying there was still some nectar to be had to allow me to forage on. To allow me to not only honour and embody my fullest self, but to give, authentically and graciously to others.
The last 3 years I’ve been on tour for 90% of my time, primarily in Strip Clubs, but also doing burlesque and teaching workshops. My primary focus was Strip Clubs, for financial reasons and knowing it was the one time in my life I would be able to truly give myself fully to that industry before leaving it.
The last year was, as I mentioned, incredibly challenging and that’s putting it lightly. It was heavy; full of pain and grief, it was lonely and isolating, it was frustrating and forlorn. I lost my Father and we had a complicated relationship at best, my Sister and I were in a roll over car accident (that we luckily walked away from), and I was in a terrible relationship with a partner that tore me apart emotionally and spiritually. I was trying to process all of this while doing a job, alone, on the road where nightly people wanted everything from me – and they wanted it with a perfect sexy smile served with docile compliance.
I felt like I had no resting points…
The only thing that saved me was my unfaltering belief in my connections and my intense gratitude for what I have and where I came from. For my Family and Friends, and for the inner work I’ve been doing for years to keep me slightly grounded, tethered if you will, to some remote sense of normalcy when I felt upside down daily.
I know as I say this you understand and relate, we as humans have this in common, the deep link of trauma and the uniting force of pain. We all have experienced it in some form or another again and again through our lives, which is why, when we listen to someone share it we can empathize heavily. We can dip into our own well of experience and share that space with them, we can see each other.
The Sex Work industry is built on this energy, this Emotional Labour, this deeply draining but oh so important practice. It’s draining and taxing because it is so often unacknowledged and overlooked, it’s almost an invisible labour. A lot of industries have it and expect it, a strip club is no different, but because of the strip clubs nature – to be alluring, connective and seductive but also swaying, beguiling and transactional all simultaneously – the challenges on the self can be exhausting.
In contrast to environments were folks show up to for a united reason; for the purposes of connection and celebration, for genuine community, and for the growth of each other – the Strip Club industry is a nightly guessing game. Our job is to uncovering and divulge the needs of a multitude of people on a deeply personal and often exposed level, all the while sorting through eons of stereotypes, micro aggressions and prejudices.
How do we as humans still be giving, connected and providing when we ourselves are struggling? How do we use our shared experience to understand each other, to tap into the intelligence that we are united by trauma and pain, while also elevating ourselves and each other from the confines of it?
When I first started this work, I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of expectation that strangers put on me. Customers that thought I was only there for them, and that I was supposed to be willing to transform into what they wanted, as opposed to give and share what I am. Sifting through people in search of connection was almost as much work as dealing with someone trying to change you into what they wanted you to be.
I have come from well over a decade in my career of burlesque and teaching where those spaces build empowerment, honour personal power, cultivate support and propagate perseverance. These spaces value authenticity, vulnerability and creativity – these foundations are paramount and celebrated. To then work in an industry where people show up, in what should be a much more sacred space than it is, and try to take advantage of your power and generosity can be extremely overwhelming and fatiguing.
As a self proclaimed Sex Witch, a true prevailer -like so many of my kin – of Goddess energy and pussy magic, I long to satisfy needs in people that they are seeking. It brings me great joy to know that in such an ambiguous environment like a strip club, there can be connection and fulfillment through physical and energetic exchange. There a be healing. There can be such a battle in the self for customers as they can distrust the transaction having any sort of authenticity because of the stigma they “shouldn’t have to pay for it” they can then fall into the stereotype that dancers “only want their money”.
Like any valuable service by a professional, there is always a transactional exchange. The most magical of interactions I’ve had through my club experiences have been when both parties find a union of understanding and connection, we are then able to supply our part of the transaction generously. When you are being honoured for your skills, energy and labour there is a harmony of authenticity and healing. No matter how short the exchange is, there is power and truth to that connection. Never underestimate your contribution of kindness or understanding for another, it can pull someone out of the depths in a instant.
That power that can be found in all our relationships, and in our interactions with each other on the daily. It’s up to us to trust that connection and cultivate it for our own preservation, stability and growth. Connection is what fills our cups; t’s the sweet nectar that fuels our spirit, it’s the base in which we grow and blossom, it’s the very nature of how we expand through our vulnerability and beyond our confines.
This blog was created for an amazing Salon produced in the COVID-19 climate by Portia Favro.
– Watch the whole Salon with all the speakers ~ Les Grandes Dames Salon on May 17, 2020
– For the event we were collecting donations for the PACE Society, this link is live until May.31st, but PACE accepts donations all year! ~ PACE
Photos used are by Tom Gould when we shot for the VIBFA.