Home Money CNN: Make $2K a Night Stripping in North Dakota!

CNN: Make $2K a Night Stripping in North Dakota!

If I’ve ever danced in a club I didn’t expect to see on CNN.com, it’s Whispers in Williston, North Dakota. But here it is, with some pretty amazing claims about the money to be made there. $1500 on a slow night? Damn!

Williston has been a solid stop for traveling strippers for years. But these claims are pretty grand! I know some good hustlers, and I think the best night any of them reported from here was $1200 (which is great, especially in a club with no champagne room and where you keep $15/dance). I don’t doubt there are dancers who have made more, but to claim that $1500 is slow rather than exceptional is like being one of those dancers who says she averages $1000 on weekend nights when really she made that much one time and the rest of the time says it’s just “never this slow.” The reality of these easy money clubs in the middle of nowhere is, sometimes, a lot closer to what one of my favorite stripper bloggers experienced in South Dakota last week.

Williston is remote, expensive to get to, and a tough place to find lodging, so you know that strippers wouldn’t go there without reason. It’s also one of the most colorful* places I’ve ever worked. At some point during each booking I would think “I’m never coming back here again and I am questioning all the life choices that brought me here” and “I am going to try to come back here every two months for the rest of the year,” sometimes simultaneously.

There’s a couple of things this story made me think about. For one, why is the money strippers make such a fascinating topic? This wasn’t the only story I saw this week about it; Susannah Breslin actually has a post up on her Forbes blog called “How Much Do Strippers Make?” The information she links to (mostly elicited by this post on our contributor Story’s blog) provides more context for the individuals if not the economy of their area, which is the single biggest predictor of average earnings. People love to talk to us at work about how much we make, which is tough for an Episcopalian-raised WASP such as myself. I’d much, much sooner talk about my sexual perversions, as Story put it. And yet “How much do you make?” is right up there with “What’s your real name?” and “Are you in school” as one of the most frequent customer questions.

Dancers also tend to exaggerate their earnings. It’s pretty common to hear inflated numbers in the dressing room. So we have two groups who both have a tendency to overestimate/overstate the actual money earned by strippers. This is partly because there’s an investment in thinking that the inherently distasteful act of removing one’s clothing for a roomful of strangers is mitigated only by ridiculous amounts of cash. The truth is not so dramatic: Many of us do the job for merely reasonable money that just happens to come in a bit faster than in other types of work and enables us to work a whole lot less.

So, is this kind of talk good for the strippers or bad for the strippers? I think the biggest danger is 1) the club gets saturated and earnings go downhill for all but this particular club has been hard to book into for years and 2) the IRS uses information like this as a jumping-off point to audit some strippers. The credulity of CNN and other news outlets willing to report totally unsubstantiated numbers is amusing until someone who can actually fuck with your money starts believing what they hear.

I do find it interesting that they didn’t mention that the second strip club (named in the story but not shown in the video) opened up literally next door to Whispers last year because the stripper demand in Williston is so high. You’d think that would be relevant information. Also, CNN is a little late to the Bakken Formation boomtown story. I ran into a photographer working on a story for GOOD at Whispers all the way back in 2008.

Sign from the Whispers dressing room

*Here’s my favorite Williston anecdote, reported by a friend who’d just been there: “I was sitting at the bar, and it was right at the beginning of the shift. These two guys are up there talking about their dogs:

‘Ya know, you just have to show your dog you’re the alpha of the pack.’ ‘You mean like that Dog Whisperer?’ ‘Yeah, but lemme tell you how I did it. I came home and that little sucker pissed all over the kitchen floor, so I showed him what was up. I pulled my dick out and I pissed all over HIM. That’s how you show them.’ 

I couldn’t even talk.” 


Susan, formerly known as Bubbles Burbujas/StripperTweets, is a career stripper who started dancing while Clinton was in office. She has a B.A. in English and enjoys playing totally inappropriate obscure music at work. twitter dot com tumblr susaneshepard at gmail dot com


  1. I have so many Williston stories, like the time a guy brought his baby goat into the club. It’s an interestingly endearing place, especially on Saturdays when the towns women all come out and gather around the stage singing loudly along with the country music and throwing dollars at us… but I never made $1500 there in a night.

  2. I feel two different ways about this…..

    I would have LOVED to have made anything close to that in one night, and I definitely think that most girls do work hard enough to make big $$$, but I feel that stories like this present an unrealistic stereotype of stripper-earnings. As if we ALL rake it in.

    How many times I’ve had this conversation with customers, they can’t fathom that some girls pay a bigger stage fee than their take-home.

    Maybe it’s the over-saturated Portland stripper scene, but I know lots of girls here who are happy if they can break a bill, in a night. Now, that’s what should be in the news.

  3. I call shenanigans. 2K a night? Consistently? No way. And what stripper goes on camera and says “all you women who need money, come here”? Every dancer I’ve ever known would not encourage other girls to come in and take club money. Just saying.

  4. San Fran is impossible for traveling girls, trust me (as someone who lives and works here). All the clubs want a 6 month contract, and you need a local address & telephone #. Deja Vu pretty much ruined it here. PLUS, there’s very very little money in the clubs, and house fees are insane. Stay away, unless you just want an awesome vacation.

  5. Hmmmm. I’ve worked a lot in WY and it’s not the same …BUT … there are plenty of lonely oil workers there too and we ( unfortunately ) can’t count on making really really really really great money all the time. It’s hit and miss.
    I have heard good things about North Dakota …. but I think this is B.S.

  6. Yeah, I work there. This is an exaggeration of epic proportions. Although it may have the news source, CNN attached to it, it is not reliable. They basically interviewed one stripper, who claimed this income. One dancer’s claim does not make it fact. Sorry. The truth is nowhere near that. I’m not quite sure what she had to prove by saying these things. Maybe to make oneself sound cooler.

  7. I’m really considering going out there. Has anyone worked out there recently that can give me some info. I live in Texas now but from Vegas. The story to me seems ridiculous. Now days when we find a gold mine we want to keep it a secret, not go on the news and tell everyone about it. Duh!!! I’ve been calling and calling BOTH clubs and they don’t answer the fucking phone. All hotels are sold out. I just don’t want to go all the way out there to suffer and not make some serious skrill. I’m looking to go in December for about 3 weeks. Should I???????????

  8. hey bubbles! thanks for the shout-out!

    p.s. when i was in south dakota, a bunch of girls were down from north dakota because they said shit was slow up there. i’m pretty certain this CNN clip is BOGUS.

  9. Wendi I wouldn’t go up there. The girl in the video sounds like so many girls I’ve heard in the dressing room lying their tails off about how much they’re making. I believe there are a lot of people hauling ass up to ND now because of all the crap CNN puts out and its not even worth it. I lived in Minot for a year, moved from there in March of this year. I can tell you that if you up there in the middle of December you will experience a REAL nuclear winter, like neg 45 degrees with wind chill. Its terrible out there. Oh and Minot also rarely has hotel rooms available, if you want to go up there look up on Craiglist people who rent out rooms from their home to travelers.

  10. […] On dancing in Williston: “A lap dance is $20; of that, you keep $15,” she says. “To make $2,000 a night, you’re going to have to do a hell of a lot of lap dances.” This is something we’ve said before. […]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.