I was a schmuck of a kid. Not even my few pimple-streaked boyfriends had ever really danced with me. My first audition was at Club Ecstasy, a juice bar. I chipped my lipstick on my teeth and wore hydrant colored heels like my skirt, whose sharp fibers were boxed in plaid. My thong was a conflicting shade of cherry, and spotted, like a ladybug clutching my crotch. I stomped, gyrating my hips like soap-soaked towels in a front loading washing machine. A performance worth seven dollars and a .99 cent bagel for two days in a row.
I don’t have them, but some of the women I work with do. To outsiders, the proof of our daddy issues waft with us down the pole like plucked mosquito-wings blown out of a penthouse window. The customers think it’s funny to have daddy issues. I don’t recall laughing when Gia crumpled on the dressing room floor like a ventriloquist dummy. She was drunk, high and screaming for her father. She found him swinging like sneakers on a power line when she was eleven years old. And what of molestation and incest? What about my friends who chase trauma down their veins in between sets? Is it funny? If we dumped molested strippers into a pit would it reek of body spray? Would it be luminous with our collective filth and cosmetic glitter? Would our mass putrefaction emit chemical-crafted scents named like us, Sensual Amber, or named like our parts, Pink? Would our disposal help? Would we have value then?
Trust Me, Bitch. My Mother Loves Me.
People think that strippers are born on dry-rotted floors with Everclear curdling the formula in our bottles. They are confident that our mothers raised us on Nesquick, and chapped kisses that scraped our temples like steel wool from their resin-stained lips before they smooshed our infant skins against sodden barley loaves and left us to marinate in the sludge-puddles of dumpster-juice until stilettos sprouted from our heels like walking sticks, and our toes curled under themselves and bricked into platforms so we could plod back to Harper Homes, and wilt into their menses-caked mattresses.
“Brandi was named after her mom’s favorite drink, doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know about that girl?”
Strippers are discussed the same way that killers are on TV. These are the names that we choose for ourselves. What kind of noun are you? Are you a person, place, or thing? And are you proper? I’m not. My top slips to my ankles like split ramen after 9 and my skin sweeps lint from the customer’s shirts, and when they don’t call me Jynx, they are calling me Jaiden.
Olivia J. Young was born and raised in Rochester, New York, where she studies psychology, sociology, and English at SUNY Brockport. She loves animals and is convinced that she has too many jobs, and not enough cats. Olivia writes short fiction and poetry in addition to painting, and whatever else she can get into, including experimenting with Bizarro fiction. She has kept her writing to herself for most of her life, but her poetry did appear in the most recent issue of Jigsaw Literary Magazine. She lives with her dog, Mittens, her cat, Pepper, and her boyfriend, Matt in Rochester.