The Seville Series on StripperLaborRights.com is in full swing, while the NYC stripper strike is making historical waves in mainstream media. Joyfully in solidarity with the NYC stripper strike, I chatted with MarketWatch reporter Kari Paul a couple of weeks ago about my observations in the industry regarding racial inequality and the stigma that prevents strippers from defending their title VII rights here: MarketWatch.
While the NYC stripper strike is partially about racial disparity problems within the industry, it is also about bottle staff extracting money from strippers, competing financially and stealing customers.
At Seville, as in New York City, there are women who work in strip clubs to sell expensive bottles of alcohol. While the specifics of the clubs may differ, the parallels are noteworthy.
Like strippers, the alcohol saleswomen at Seville are scantily dressed. Like strippers, they often experience sexual harassment from staff and customers. Unlike strippers, these women receive an hourly wage and recognition of title VII rights without having to sue for employee acknowledgment. At Seville, they compete with dancers in the champagne lounge, and will sometimes sell blocks of their time to a customer who a stripper has brought up there. It is financially beneficial for the club to allow this, while strippers are at a disadvantage economically, socially and legally.
I avoided going to the champagne lounge at Seville as much as possible, but sometimes customers would ask to go up there and I would agree to hang out with them for a half hour or more.
Usually once I was seated with the customer, a woman selling alcohol would approach us. She was often accompanied by a manager, and they would pressure my customer to spend hundreds of dollars on champagne. Many Seville dancers disliked this, because it makes the customer uncomfortable and takes money away from us. It is the club's way of using our hustling skills to their own advantage, by hawking booze. I would usually warn customers ahead of time that this was going to happen, so that they would be prepared to reject the staff and instead give their extra money to me.
One night close to my termination, I forgot to do that before going to the champagne lounge. An alcohol salesperson who goes by the name Zelene was assigned to interrupt my hustle by poaching my customer. I had never spoken to Zelene before, and politely introduced myself to her with my stage name, Kelly. Zelene sneered at me and replied in a shrill voice,
“OH, I've heard all about you.”
I'm not sure why she was mean to me upon our introduction, but have hypothesized that it probably had to do with her friendships with Jeremy and Megan Chase, as well as most of the Seville staff who were aware of my litigious past by the end of my employment. Zelene proceeded to converse with my customer and did not acknowledge me for the rest of my time in the champagne area, except to occasionally sneer at me.
Hopefully strikes like the one in NYC will spread to other parts of the country, so that clubs will no longer feel comfortable instructing alcohol salespersons like Zelene to behave the way that they do.
I don't have hard feelings for Zelene. She is selling bottles, as she is instructed to do by the capitalist, patriarchal establishment for which she works. She and I were both cogs in their machine. It is disappointing that Zelene was not smart enough to realize this.
Zelene has worked at Seville for a while and is socially invested in their party culture. She will probably be there for a while and not go very far in life or ever evolve her personal understanding of capitalist white male supremacy enough to ever understand her role in it or why strippers strike.
It is ironic that despite Zelene's conformity, she posted a meme on facebook with the famous Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote, "Well behaved women seldom make history."
May all litigious and striking strippers prevail through obstacles from the wrong side of history.