When the Seville lawyers announced that they were bringing in three dancers to testify as witnesses, I nervously thought of people like Michelle Glisson or Kumara Becker. I was expecting dancers who I had negative interactions with, to come in and roast me. That didn't happen at all!
Roger “Hunter” Christiance has been a Seville manager for many years, though I hardly ever saw him. He was usually upstairs in the champagne lounge, if he was even at work. He and his wife own a home in Clearwater, Florida, which they frequently visit. The few times that Hunter was the person to sign my permission slip to leave, he would just say something like,
“Thank you, young lady!” and smile dorkily.
I never had a problem with him whatsoever. He came off as a polite, dumb, obedient bouncer/manager with a fake orange tan, who was a bit detached from the commotion and social dynamics around him. He was the least annoying manager. The one time that I had to ask him for help with a customer who was harassing me, he grabbed the customer and said to him in a demonic voice,
“Bother her again and I'll throw you against the WALL!"
This Seville Series post isn't about Hunter, however. It's about his wife, Melanie Christiance, otherwise known as Melanie Engquist Tanke Bakke. I never met her until arbitration. She was the first dancer to testify.
As a woman in today's job market, pleasing the right man can take a gal pretty far in life. It can get one into a Miramax film, on the front running presidential ticket of a major political party, or a member of Seville's inner-most social circle, providing total Seville job security and minimal risk of termination, regardless of the rules followed.
Melanie was fortunate when she met Roger “Hunter” Christiance over a decade ago, who was to become her husband. Hunter became a floor host at Seville, where Melanie danced. Roger and Melanie became such obedient cucks for Seville swindler-owner Dino Perlman, that they stayed even after RCI bought the business. Unlike the majority of other dancers who work at Seville, Melanie gets to have special privileges while she works.
Melanie told the arbitrator that dancers can wear whatever shoes they want, without negative reactions from staff or management. She stated that she wears cowgirl boots to the stage and that everybody loves them. Not only did I never see her working, but I never saw any dancer wearing cowgirl boots. Even if Melanie was telling the truth about that experience, her treatment at Seville as a long-time dancer who is married to a high-ranking manager is still drastically different than the other dancer's.
Melanie testified about her own treatment at Seville, but also spoke on behalf of all the other dancers, or as she called them, “girls.” Liberally using the term “girls” to refer to dozens of grown adult women, Melanie testified that all of the "girls" wear whatever shoes they want, and are told that going on stage is completely optional. Melanie testified that tipping staff is optional, and that there are no negative reactions from staff when they are not tipped, toward any "girl."
While I believe Melanie's testimony that she was never bullied for not tipping staff or following the rules, it is highly likely that she was not bullied because of her marriage to Roger Christiance. It is highly likely that the other staff members knew better than to bully Melanie, and chose to emotionally batter easier targets. I was at Seville frequently, never saw her on stage or the show floor, and was surprised during her testimony when she claimed to know so much about the lives and experiences of so many young women who have probably never met her before.
Seville's lawyer asked Melanie if she recognized me. She stared me in the eyes and stated that she had encountered me at work in the past. She stated that she saw me standing around back stage with the other dancers, complaining that there was no money to be made, and that she told me I would make more money if I wasn't standing around back stage complaining. Melanie told the arbitrator that I could have made more money if I didn't spend time behind stage talking with the other dancers. That was one of the most upsetting parts of her testimony, because what I do when hustling is to make damn sure I talk to every potential customer, with the exception of sexual predators and regulars displaying entitlement to my free time. I have a personal policy to acknowledge every new customer, regardless of what they look like, offer a dance and move on if they don't want to be bothered. I rarely spent time back stage hanging out with other dancers, and used my down time to drink coffee by myself on the show floor, to discuss stripper labor rights or to audio record instances of misclassification. There were very few exceptions to those activities in my work life at Seville. I would have remembered encountering Melanie Christiance, mostly because I never saw any older women with yellow hair, orange skin and comically large silicone breasts dancing. It would have been a notable oddity to see her there, and not something I would forget.
In a bizarre turn of events during Melanie's testimony, Seville's lawyer, Casey Wallace, asked her if she had her breasts “augmented.” While asking, he motioned to his own chest and gestured with his hands in a circular motion. Casey Wallace is from Texas, and speaks with a thick Southern accent.
Melanie acknowledged the presence of her two jumbo, rock hard, synthetic breasts that were surgically implanted in the front of her torso, underneath her skin. Casey Wallace used Melanie's unsightly synthetic implants as an example of how she has invested in her business, as an independent contractor. He then referred to me, because I do not have synthetic breast implants. Fake breasts are unattractive and gross, so it has never crossed my mind in the 11+ years of dancing that I should pay someone to cut open my body and shove some inside me. My natural appearance fits many mainstream beauty standards and I usually sell more dances than my coworkers.
I have spoken with other women who have sued strip clubs, so I knew that attacks on the physical appearances of plaintiffs is something that comes up during legal matters, regardless of reality. For example, a dancer in Oregon who sued a club during her early 30's was accused of being too old and unattractive to make money by hustling any more. A woman of color who sued some clubs in California was described as unattractive by various white people in the industry, who were against her. Both of these women fit beauty standards, but in an aesthetics-based industry that has workers suing it, plaintiffs should expect to be bullied by their opponents about their physical appearances.
Melanie spent significant chunks of her testimony discussing her positive opinion that she had of her physical appearance. She referred to her investments as “ALL THIS,” while motioning from the top of her head downward, displaying everything with her hand. Melanie's synthetic yellow hair was something that she bragged about during my arbitration. It reminded me of a chav who might be on the Maury Povich or Jerry Springer show, describing their perceived sexiness, in order to offend their opponent. Nobody in the arbitration room called out Melanie's ugliness, or notified her that all that crap she does to herself doesn't look good. Melanie bragged about how she acquired “the looks” after dancing at Seville for a while, but didn't have them in the beginning. Here is a photo I found of her from the early 2000's:
As a way to describe to the arbitrator how great the Seville staff is to her, Melanie Christiance stated that her relationship with them is “like family,” and that they go out to socialize together during their free time. She didn't mention that through marriage, she literally is family with Seville staff. She sneakily smirked when she stated that her relationship “like family.” Perhaps since she and I had never met before, she thought it would slip past me that she is the manager's wife. Most people don't know how much of an internet researcher I am. I knew all about Roger Christiance very early on at Seville. Melanie didn't mention the marriage until it was my lawyer's turn to question her and he asked her about it, at the prompting of a note I wrote. After admitting to the marriage, Melanie's pleasant mood changed, and her tone became snotty toward my lawyer for the rest of his questions. There were other inconsistencies that she was called out on.
Melanie told our arbitration audience that she only works a couple of days per month, and named a certain amount of money that she makes by working a few days. When she was describing how she invests in her business, she stated a dollar amount that she claimed to put into hair care each month. The dollar amount that she claimed to invest in her hair each month was higher than the amount of money that she claimed to make per month. If those numbers were true, it would be a net loss for Melanie. When called out on it, she made a vague suggestion that she has sugar daddies who pay for her hair, outside of the club. Here is a photo of the top of Melanie's head, which displays a very large bald spot:
During Melanie's testimony, she stated that she acquired interpersonal communication skills while on the job, which she didn't have in the beginning. By admitting to acquiring skills while on the job, Melanie was describing something that an employee would do. This is a factor in the economic realities test.
The sole trait about Melanie Christiance that I found attractive was her angelic voice, which the arbitrator, Frank Abramson, was very intensely listening to as she described how great it is to work at Seville. The arbitrator seemed to be enchanted by it, as were others in the arbitration room that day. I know from personal experience that this type of voice is very valuable to use while hustling, and hustle is what Melanie Christiance did in my arbitration. She hustled for Seville; she hustled little Frank Abramson. Who knows-- maybe Frank Abramson was aroused by the rest of her too.
Melanie Christiance is a liar, a scab and a betrayer of women. Her lies are partially to blame for all of the misclassification, bullying, battering, stealing, assaulting, terminations and abuse that dancers must endure at Seville. I have no idea how many other testimonies Melanie has taken part in or will take part in, but I have a suspicion that mine is not the only one.