When I came across (on tumblr) this old photo of a proud stripper, showing off her turquoise fringe satin jacket and the matching chaps that bare her French-cut tan lines, I had to know where and who it came from. These days, Rhonda B-Chaparro, aka Odd Artist, works more with melting and painting found plastic objects, but she used to have a business sewing exotic dance costumes.
When it comes to perfume at the strip club, most strippers usually fall into one of two camps. There’s the Calgon body spray I’m-not-even-going-to-try types, and then there are those who swear by their Pink Sugar/Kim Kardashian/Viva La Juicy I-can’t-believe-she-stole-my-signature-scent-even-though-it’s-readily-available-at-Nordstrom variety. Really, an exotic dancer’s fragrance need only be subtle enough not to give her customers away as soon as they step through their front doors.
Or could a perfume be subtle enough to prey upon a man’s animal instincts and rake in a ton of cash as a result? Pheromone lotions, perfumes, and massage oil are readily available now; even Paris Hilton’s signature scent boasts a special secret pheromone ingredient. What if we can spend less time chatting up customers and let them follow their noses to the champagne room instead? Is this pseudoscience or a viable way to start earning more? Kat and Catherine decided to leave off the cucumber melon for a few weeks in order to test this craze out. You really couldn’t ask for a better environment to experiment on unsuspecting male subjects than the strip club.
The filing deadline for your IRS tax return is Tuesday, April 18. You can file for an automatic extension with this form.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve read sex workers on Facebook and Twitter talking about the difficulties they had in getting an apartment, qualifying for a car loan, and signing up for health care because they didn’t have any proof of income. “I don’t get paychecks,” the sex worker might say (unless she is an employee), “So how can I prove how much money I make?” I read dancers telling other dancers to get a strip club manager to write a letter estimating what she makes in a week, and while that might work to buy a car at You Work—You Ride! it won’t help with big leasing companies or the bank.
What will help is having a copy of your tax return. Even before you file it, make a copy of your completed return to have on hand for any occasion that requires proof of income. It doesn’t have to be complicated; if you take a look at the Schedule C and panic at all the deduction categories, if you don’t save receipts for anything, if you haven’t filed in years, if you’ve never filed during your sex working career, just remember this: don’t panic. You can do this. All it is is counting money and adding and subtracting it.
Well. And paying it. That part is no fun. But if you’re filing as a self-employed person, you’re supposed to pay quarterly estimated taxes, which is somewhat better than paying one chunk in April, and hey, at least you don’t have to get depressed looking at a deduction on a paycheck every couple of weeks. OK, it’s unpleasant. There’s really nothing less fun to do with your money than send it to the IRS other than using it to pay for car repairs or dental work.
We are not accounting or tax professionals here at Tits and Sass but I, for one, am a career stripper who had her own tax missteps in the past (the part where I pretty much forgot to file the entire time I was in college) (and I was in college for a long time). If I could get straightened out, so can you. Let me be clear that I’m not urging anyone to pay taxes for any other reason than to make their own life easier. I do, however, want to emphasize how it can make your life easier:
Below, four in-person sex working professionals discuss how to maintain boundaries while keeping clients happy, the most common problems that cause conflicts with customers, and what they think professionalism means in the context of a career plagued by stigma and illegality. Part two will be posted tomorrow. The women weighing in are Lori Adorable, Amanda Brooks1, Charlotte Shane, and Tizzy Wall.2
Charlotte: Sex work is very much my primary career, so I tend to think of it as I would any other personal service job, meaning I want a client to “get his money’s worth.” I want him to have the experience he wants to have. But I’ve also developed a pretty strong sense of boundaries over the years, and there are a lot of things I don’t allow and wouldn’t be willing to do no matter how much a client complains or cajoles. Do you think about your work in terms of satisfying the client? How do you negotiate that “the client is always right” mentality (yours or theirs!) with your own boundaries and preferred way of doing things?
Amanda: I’ve never felt I had to do anything the client or strip club customer wanted just because they were paying me. Quite the opposite. (I guess this means I have an “attitude”). However, I do feel they’re paying me to have a good time or have a need met. I consider it my job to give them my full attention and find a way to make them happy. I like making clients happy because it pleases me and offers personal satisfaction in my work. By “happy,” I don’t mean I do everything they’ve ever dreamed of. There’s always a middle ground.
Of course there have been times when I’ve shut off that inner voice and allowed a boundary to be pushed because of the money — but it always snaps back into place naturally, damn the consequences. I’m not someone who responds well to being told what to do or having my sense of privacy invaded. Add my stubborn refusal to fake it and it becomes a real mess, especially when I end up doing something I really don’t want (like have sex) just because I know it’s expected. Not to derail this into issues of consent; this is about personal satisfaction and playing a particular role that doesn’t fit me as well as it used to. As most service-industry workers probably feel, the less happy I am, the more I should be paid.
Even if you’re not a fan of astrology, you have to admit it’s at least an easy way to relate to your 18-year-old coworkers who just graduated high school (besides asking if they like Justin Bieber) or making small talk with an awkward customer while waiting for the next song to start. If you’re into astrology, then you’re in luck. We at Tits and Sass want you to wish you a happy and prosperous new year with some work-centric horoscopes from Miss Kenny.
Aries: In 2013, it’s your time to release yourself from the bonds of strict planning and setting rigid goals. Maybe you’ve decided that you’ll do double shifts so you can buy a house (or an alpine white Range Rover). Maybe you’ve decided this is the year your longtime boyfriend BETTER propose to you. Maybe you’ve decided to quit the industry altogether and focus on getting your real estate license so you can be as fabulous as Fredrik Eklund (LOVE HIM!). The point is, I know you’re ambitious, but this year you can ease up just a smidgen—stop to smell the flowers, so to speak. You’ll find that when you take the scenic route you discover more about yourself than you would in the fast lane.
Taurus: This year, let’s try to see the good in all things and people (i.e. douchebag customers). As the bull tends to be a bit misanthropic, I think this is a good time to not allow those guys who wear sunglasses indoors to get on your nerves so much. You lean towards glass half empty, so this year try to alter that damaging mindset. Use your wit and humor to make more money, even if you have to smile through gritted teeth every now and again. To the victor belong the spoils. So in 2013, make yourself the victor in every situation even when face-to-face with the cocky jerk drowning in Axe, bragging about his Camaro.