Home Strippers An Open Letter From A Detroit Extras Girl

An Open Letter From A Detroit Extras Girl

by user wootam! on Flickr
by user wootam! on Flickr

This is one of three responses to Josephine’s “An Open Letter to the Extras Girl” that we’ll be running this week. First up is M, a dancer who, like Josephine, works in Detroit.

On a sweltering August afternoon in 2012, I walked through the impossibly heavy glass doors of the glitziest strip club in Detroit. I had done copious amounts of research on the strip clubs in the area, spending nearly a month scouring reviews online and taking trips to clubs in the area. This particular club was the shiniest and it was filled with executives, physicians and lawyers. Promises of riches sparkled like the strobe lights overhead. Even though I had never stripped before, I forged ahead, fearless. Go big or go home, that was my motto.

Looking back, I was somewhat naïve. I had no particular urgency to my sales pitch. I was simultaneously working my “normal” job and stripping. It wasn’t as though I couldn’t pay my bills. So I started with the thought that I would only dance, no extras whatsoever. Perhaps I was conceited enough to think that my pretty face, tight body, and educated mind would be enough to make me money. Unfortunately that notion was completely false.

That day, I shed my clothes in favor of a sparkling bikini and knee length skirt. I painted my lips crimson and set out with false courage. I’ll never forget the words of the man who was to become my first regular. “You’re a goldfish in a sea of barracudas, aren’t you?” Initially I thought he was trying to tell me I was too kind. However, over the next few weeks, I came to know he meant something entirely different.

I was discouraged and not making much money. I had men left and right asking me for things that I told myself I’d never do. I don’t think I was morally against doing extras, I just felt that I didn’t want to expose myself to the risk. Beaten down and frustrated, I started to contemplate dabbling in extras. First, it started with blowjobs. Our dances start at $25 per song. A customer offered me $200 for a blowjob. There is no question as to the economic efficiency of this. I would have to dance for half an hour to make the same amount. Of course, once you have a foot in the water, it’s hard to resist jumping in. Sex came soon after.

It was understood that almost every dancer did some form of extra and what we did wasn’t particularly discussed amongst one another. However, when in the VIP, we’d take our stilettos off and place them outside the curtain to signal the bouncer to stay clear. You could clearly see the VIP section when walking toward the dressing room, so one could infer what services a dancer offered based on how often her shoes were sitting outside that curtain.

Prices varied and each stripper kept her prices secret. Some girls could get away with charging $400 for sex but others could only get $200 or so. The closer toward tip-out time, the lower some women’s prices would get. Our tip-out is $125 per shift and sometimes dancers would be scrambling to pay the fees. Those of us who make top tier prices would get pissed if we found out another dancer was charging much less. This had the possibility of deflating our wages. Men would say “well, Dancer X will give me the same thing for a hundred dollars less” and instead of a smooth business transaction it became a heated bidding war.

There was a certain hierarchy. I make no judgments as to the beauty of an individual but the male patrons are paying for their ideal, their fantasy. This ideal would generally take the form of a young, Caucasian, blonde, curvaceous woman. So those of my ilk would command top dollar. But the end of the day, for some men, pussy is pussy. It doesn’t matter how beautiful, smart or fit you are. I don’t get angry about other women charging less; I understand some have bills to pay and children to feed. The recession has definitely changed the game and I wouldn’t fault anyone for trying to make a living.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think critically about giving everything away for nothing and the type of customer base that you might be attracting. In my experience, if a dancer cannot garner a solid base of regulars, she might as well throw in the towel. If a dancer is flitting from one customer to the next and not making conversation, only asking for a private dance, she is sending a subliminal message to the other customers. Without a single word, she is shattering the fantasy, she is exposing the gritty truth that we are only there to make money. If a customer can feel that he is special, that you hold some concern for the minutiae of his life, he will keeping coming back to spend money.

I never feel ashamed of offering extras because it doesn’t define me; it’s just one of my charms. Most of the dancers were supportive and we’d make sure everyone had condoms. Initially, I thought I’d be angry at myself for compromising my position. Soon, I felt empowered. I could just walk up to a man, chit chat with him, have a drink and make him drop hundreds of dollars for my attention in the private rooms. I found a certain type of freedom in unleashing my sexuality for financial gain. However, I have danced occasionally at other clubs in the Midwest and I do abide by their rules and abstain from extras. I personally don’t find it to be fair play to offer extras in that environment.

Now, one could say offering extras in a club that forbids such activity is just part and parcel of being a shrewd businesswoman. I, in fact, would be offering a service that others don’t which could be more profitable for me. However, rules are rules. I tend to relate it to my day job. We get thirty minutes for a lunch break. I would be extremely irritated if a co-worker decided that she was going to take an hour for lunch. She effectively robbed me of my lunch because of her selfishness. I am quite certain there are plenty of clubs across the country that are brothels masquerading as strip clubs. If a woman wants to offer extras, I think seeking out one of these clubs is the only decent thing to do.

M is a healthcare professional who started her journey into sex work in her mid-twenties by stripping in Detroit. She is now an escort and a freelance stripper.

M is a healthcare professional who started her journey into sex work in her mid-twenties by stripping in Detroit. She is now an escort and a freelance stripper.


  1. “A customer offered me $200 for a blowjob… Sex came soon after.”

    I understand what she’s saying, but the idea that blowjobs aren’t sex seems to me to be very odd.

    If she can warn off the bouncers by leaving her shoes outside the door, the the club described by M has a policy of encouraging extras. It’s not quite as clear in Josephine’s description what her clubs’ policies are, but it does sound as if they also encourage, or at least tolerate, extras. It also sounds as if this is the norm in Detroit. Where policies are clear and regularly enforced, whether in support of extras or banning them, a stripper’s choices are clear cut. It would be interesting to hear from people who work in clubs where the situation is more ambiguous: Either an area where some clubs do and some clubs don’t enforce rules against extras, or a club where the managers are inconsistent about dealing with extras. As an example, managers who are uncomfortable about dealing with extras might go through periods where fear of the police cause them to enforce anti-extra rules stringently, followed by periods where their discomfort causes them to pretend extras aren’t happening. If you know what the odds are of being caught and fired are, you can make rough estimates about whether it’s worth it to provide extras. But it the odds of getting caught and fired change unpredictably, the decision is more difficult.

  2. I’m seeing, here and in the comments on the original extras piece, a lot of misconceptions regarding law enforcement and strip clubs. Laws vary from state to state, but for the most part a sexual act does not need to be performed by a dancer to meet the threshold for arrest. In Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New York to name a few, you can be arrested for aggressively grinding, aka a lap dance, or solicitation which is defined as “offering or implying,” aka flirting without committing so as to get them in the damn VIP room. The undercover decides who to approach, based on whatever criteria he has: woman of color, acting intoxicated, thinks she’s hot, etc. They have citations written out ahead of time, they call the local news to give them the heads up a stripper perp walk is about to take place. Maybe they know for sure the woman they choose offers extras, but it could easily be someone who doesn’t because their tactics are straight up entrapment. Their goal is to make arrests, not search out who is actually giving extras. Anecdotal evidence: a friend, non-extras girl, who worked in Vegas was giving a lap dance, customer was aggressively making her grind harder, came in his pants and turned out to be… you guessed it, an undercover cop.

    Clubs don’t ge raided because of blowjobs, clubs get raided because law enforcement wants to punish people in the sex industry – especially lower-income workers. They look like they’re “cleaning up the community” and the county gets to fine the club, the amount of which is probably water off a ducks back for ownership anyway. The women charged with prostitution? Once they have a record, their options for earning an income are severely constrained – possibly pushing them deeper into sex work.

    Police are the problem. Criminalization is the problem. NOT fellow working women.

  3. MC, I’d be happy to answer your question. In Detroit, extras are very much the norm. As I described, rich and influential men frequent my home club. Also, I’m quite sure the owner has paid off the police. As far as I know, vice has never raided the club. I never made any conscious decision as to who to solicit for extras. I never worry about it. Perhaps that’s foolish but experience tells me otherwise.

    As far as escorting, I took most of my customers from the club with me. They recommend friends and colleagues so I don’t do much in terms of screening because they are handed to me on a silver platter, so to speak.

  4. I feel like this letter really reinforces my original thoughts about the letter to the extras girl, that the worst problem is undercutting rates. It seems your club had a good system set up to keep you safe, to help you charge the rates you deserved, and be supported by staff and other dancers. I am also happy to hear that when you worked in other states where extras were not the norm, you abided by their rules. Really your experience seems positive to me, and while I don’t want anyone offering extras in my club, I wouldn’t work at your club in Detroit if I didn’t want to offer extras. I also think that your club and experience are not the national norm, and that extras are often under-charged and done in risky circumstances

  5. “I never feel ashamed of offering extras because it doesn’t define me; it’s just one of my charms.”

    Article’s link was posted on TUSCL and the above sentence is a rare quality that “M” has.

    Many women in the sex industry – strip clubs to call girls – carry an enormous guilt burden. And do stupid stuff to justify their job. Including ill-treating customers – their source of income.

    Off course the taboos around sex have been passed down for hundreds of years – and guys are to be blamed just as much.

    There needs to be a way for sex lovers to have free access to abundant sex (for a price of course), just like food lovers, just like wine connoisseurs, just like golf nuts – and thousands of other recreational activities.

    It will start with us changing our mind-sets and people like “M” are leading this change.


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