I want to live happily ever after.
January 16, 2010 11:37 PM   Subscribe

I want to take up a questionable (but not illegal) profession to support myself through college. My boyfriend told me that if I do this, it's over. Is there a way to have my cake and eat it too?

I did poorly my first semester in college. I got accepted elsewhere, got on medication, reduced my course load, etc. However, my family cut me off financially, which includes refusing to pay bills that they said they would in the past, so now I'm suddenly in $4400 debt. ($4000 of that being college-related)

I decided to get a job, but my track record with that (I've sent out about 30 applications three separate times since I graduated in '08, with no results) makes me think that isn't going to work. I'm also terrified that if I do get a job, I won't have enough time to devote to my studies and I'll fail again.

I did a few days worth of research and decided that if I could dance at a club, I could at least make enough to cover college costs and worry about the other stuff later.

My boyfriend made it clear that it's either stripping or him. Because of the gap in my schooling, "dump your high school boyfriend" doesn't work. We've been together long enough that we would both like to make things work, but we're at a standstill.

He would prefer that I stay home until I can save up enough for college. Because of a situation at home, I feel that would be (extremely) detrimental to my mental well-being. I would sooner break up with him and audition at the club than move back.

I've used up the school's financial aid, and I've been denied for private loans because I have no credit. I have no cosigner. I plan to apply for scholarships, but that still puts us back at the "what if it doesn't work" problem. Work-study wasn't on my aid report, but I applied anyway... still waiting to hear back.

My boyfriend has a family member who works at the bank and is going to try to get me a loan there, but unless she can pull some strings I'm not confident it'll work.

The boyfriend is already compromising on two things he said he wouldn't in the beginning, so the fact that he said "this or me" lets me know that this is a serious issue to him. So I don't think I can convince him to stay and also use my last-resort job. But I also want you to know that we're brainstorming together (we'll be reading this together too), so he didn't just say, "stripping or me, tough luck." He's pretty distraught, too.

If I'm denied, is there anything else I can do? It seems to be hard to have just yourself on the FAFSA. If there's some tips/tricks/etc I'm missing, I would be incredibly grateful.
posted by biochemist to Education (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I've had friends who have danced to get through school. It's emotionally rough, so take that into account; also you'd be working late at night and not getting much sleep before school in the morning. Just... be honest with yourself - dancing can also be detrimental to your mental well-being. It's more than just the obvious exposing-yourself-to-oglers way; there's another rollercoaster where one night you're top of the club and the next no one wants you to dance for them, and when you're already putting yourself into a vulnerable position, that kind of rampant daily fluctuation in your self-esteem can really get to you.

On having your cake and eating it too... well, imo a relationship requires honesty. If you want to dance, and he can't handle you dancing, then thassit... you certainly can't dance and hide it from him. You have differing moral thresholds here, and unfortunately agreement about moral thresholds is pretty key to a good relationship.
posted by Billegible at 11:46 PM on January 16, 2010 [5 favorites]

Have you applied for federal direct loans? You don't need credit history or a cosigner.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:46 PM on January 16, 2010

Also, what about going to community college for the first year or two? You will need waaaaaay less money. And if you do really well, you will be able to transfer out to anywhere.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:49 PM on January 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

How did you decide that stripping was your only option? Have you sought advice from a career counselor about your approach to applying for the previous 30 jobs? Maybe if you refined your approach, you could find something else.

$4400 is not a lot of money. You can probably figure out a way to pay it off while also paying the rent.

You talk about your mental health. Strip clubs are dirty, scuzzy places to work. If you're going to make it, you're going to have to be focused and professional. If you're having problems with school, and problems with family, and these problems are taking a toll on your mental health, working at a strip club will be much, much worse.

That said, you have been unable to articulate why your boyfriend has made his ultimatum. Ideally, he would support your decision, provided he was not enabling self-destructive behavior.

Maybe you can move in with him. Maybe you can get a job at McDonald's. And since he cares so much about your financial situation, maybe your boyfriend will cover the rent for a while as you pay off your debts.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:51 PM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Also, regarding the problem of not having enough time to devote to your studies, there are several options.

1. There are jobs that don't require you to do much more than sit there. You can do your studying during this time. This is true of lots of low level receptionist jobs.

2. If you work for Kaplan or a similar company as an SAT tutor, you'll make a relatively high wage (in my area, $25/hr) for a low number of hours. You can parlay this into being a private tutor where you charge several times more.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:57 PM on January 16, 2010

One last thing, and then I'll stop spamming up the thread: I don't know if this is the only thing you did when you were looking for jobs, but just sending out applications is usually not the most effective thing to do. There are a lot of threads here with good advice for finding work, so I'll just say a few things off the top of my head that I found helpful in finding college-esque jobs when I was in college:

-Sometimes the easiest way to find work is through people you know. Where do your friends/boyfriend/boyfriend's friends work? Maybe those places are hiring. Have a chat with anyone you know/are acquainted with/feel comfortable enough with to talk to, and let them know you're looking for a job. If they know of something, ask them who specifically to talk to. When talking to that person, let them know who sent you.

-It helps to talk to the person who is actually doing the hiring, if you can, than some random person who is just going to take your application and stick it in a stack to be forgotten about. It helps to show up to the place where you are applying, early in the morning at a time when they are not particularly busy, and ask if the manager isn't busy so you can talk to them directly.

-Relating to that, it's muuuuch better to show up in person at all, then just send in your application by email, unless you're specifically instructed not to.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:16 AM on January 17, 2010

If your boyfriend's relative works at the bank, the strings being pulled could be for a job, and not for a loan. Lockbox work, for instance, requires that you respirate reliably and know how to sort mail; it got me through a rough patch once.

If you really, really want to become a stripper, then you shouldn't let anyone stop you, you should do your research in full, and give it a shot. But it doesn't exactly sound like you want to, or that you're in a position to do it without being coerced into it by your current financial situation.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:37 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I knew a bunch of women (girls then) who danced their way through college. The money was really good, though they were all at high end places -- the sort of places that preferred to hire clean-cut college girls, rather than erratic meth addicts. I think the downsides people have mentioned are accurate -- there are layers of mind-fucks involved; drugs tend to be overly available; and there is still a lot of stigma about it which can cause problems later. There are a ton of blogs, books, and documentary films about stripping -- you should be able to find any number of informed descriptions of the profession.

Maybe rather than focusing just on the dancing, a good test for whether your boyfriend is worth keeping is whether he is being genuinely supportive of your situation. Is he helping find solutions that help? Or just imposing his idea of how you should behave?
posted by Forktine at 12:48 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've also known some women who danced to support themselves through school or suchlike; of the ones who weren't screwed up by the experience, the common thread was always that they either had someone in their lives who was very emotionally supportive of their dancing, OR they were highly emotionally independent and self-reliant to begin with and so could go it alone. From what you've said here, it doesn't sound like you fall into either category. That's not to be unkind, but rather to suggest that under your current circumstances, the big money of dancing may very well come at a pretty high emotional cost to you.

I think going the community college route for a year or so, while taking a mundane day job (restaurant work? tutoring? housecleaning?) in order to shore up your finances, is almost certainly the healthier way to go.
posted by scody at 12:54 AM on January 17, 2010

30 applications, even times 3, is a tiny amount of jobseeking. I wouldn't really count it as not having been able to find a job. Local college, part time if needed. I have no particular qualms about stripping per se, but the escaping from a home situation to a strippclub aspect rings a warning bell for me.
posted by Iteki at 1:33 AM on January 17, 2010

If your boyfriend doesn't want you to be dancing and you want to stay with your boyfriend, then no, there really isn't an option here unless you can convince him otherwise. I don't have anything against working at a strip club, but for someone that is already on medication and in a somewhat unstable situation, it is not going to help you get any better. I would have someone else take a look at your resume and go over some job seeking and interviewing tips. Sending out 30 resumes with no positive response is unusual, even in this climate. Also, would definitely visit your school's financial aid representative and explain your financial situation to them. Have you looked into work study? Also, it isn't a solution but you should be able to defer those school loans as long as you continue to be enrolled fulltime.
posted by sophist at 2:27 AM on January 17, 2010

Perhaps it is different in your field of work or geographic area Iteki, but 30 applications is definitely not a "tiny" amount of jobseeking by any standard I have ever used. Unless you are sending out random applications to jobs you are not qualified for or have no interest in, that seems like quite a lot actually. I've always found it much more fruitful to concentrate on a very few prospects at once, and pursue those you are most interested in aggressively. Throwing out 100 applications to whoever is posting and waiting to see who calls back seems like a completely backwards and ineffectual way of finding the right job and getting hired. Sorry for derail...
posted by sophist at 2:35 AM on January 17, 2010

There are no jobs out there that pay you lots of money for easy work. Strippers get that money for a reason; if you're looking at this as a silver bullet to your financial woes, you may be very disappointed when you

a) can't handle it
b) don't get enough work
c) don't get enough money

I get the sense from the question that you're looking as stripping as a get-out-of-jail free card; one simple thing, then everything works out. Focussing on this problem with your boyfriend and your 'need' for the job lets you avoid the real issue: financial debt, and confusion about how to manage it. This issue will not go away, even with stripping.

Get a job with better hours, better emotional support, and one that lets you keep what sounds like an okay boyfriend. Talk to a financial adviser, campuses often have them free.
posted by smoke at 3:48 AM on January 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

It seems to be hard to have just yourself on the FAFSA.

Not really. Some of my friends had their income in college only through FAFSA loans. It's a minimal way to live, but it's quite possible.

Here are some other jobs with a high demand and good pay that you might not have thought of:

Nursing home work: You'd have to take a class to become a Certified Nurses' Assistant (CNA) but there are lots of other jobs in nursing homes. My sister has worked in the housekeeping department and the laundry room at a local nursing home, and she as actually able to support both herself and her boyfriend as a laundry room worker. The money isn't bad.

Personal care work: Look for a local home health agency and get a job helping people with disabilities do things around their home. That's how I put myself through college.

Bartending: Again, it requires a class, but the money is good.

Food delivery: The wage is low, but the tips are good.

Good luck.
posted by christinetheslp at 4:57 AM on January 17, 2010

christinetheslp: the asker may be saying that it's difficult to be seen by the financial aid office as an entity independent of one's parents - if she's always having to report her parents' income on all forms, that will decrease her apparent financial need and her ability to get aid.
posted by amtho at 5:14 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you talked to your school's financial aid office about all this? You may be able to be declared "independent" for financial aid purposes (your parents' income isn't taken into account when calculating aid)? I think it's a not-easy process (or else everyone would do it to be eligible for more aid) but it's worth talking to them about if you haven't already.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 5:21 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was able to easily and honestly get declared as 'independent' for financial aid.
posted by toastchee at 5:25 AM on January 17, 2010

Many schools seem to have job-finding assistance for their students. I know my college (well-known, high-ranked private university) did, I know my local state school does and I believe my local community college does. Have you investigated any of those programs for assistance finding work?

It sounds like you haven't yet auditioned for the club, and it sounds like you haven't ever danced before. Maybe you should go to the audition and just see how it goes and how you feel about it. I do not condone lying to your significant other, but I also just wonder if you are putting the cart before the horse. It seems to me that at this point, you neither know if you would be accepted nor whether you could retain emotional health while doing the job.

I hear the desperation in your voice, and I've been there. I sympathize so much. You probably have a lot of anxiety about the debt, and your future, and feel trapped. From your past questions, it sounds like you might be in an area of the country with a high unemployment rate. It also sounds like it is possible you aren't looking for the most practical of career/job options. I don't intend to say that at all critically - there's no rule that you have to want a practical career. But, it sounds like you could probably use some good guidance from someone with more experience, and I really hope maybe you can look to your school to provide that.
posted by bunnycup at 5:39 AM on January 17, 2010

Nthing the whole silver bullet idea. This isn't going to solve your problems without introducing a whole bunch of others.

While I don't advise going into debt, $4400 isn't that much.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:52 AM on January 17, 2010

Do I have this right?

1) You went to college A) and dropped out.
2) You owe $4000 to college A, plus $400 elsewhere
3) You're currently going to college B.

If that's the case, you don't really have to pay off A right away. What are they going to do? It will be bad for your credit, but perhaps better then losing your boyfriend. On the other hand if you owe the money to college B, and you won't be able to register for classes unless you pay. Then it's extreemly important that you pay.

But that said, being debt can suck. if you're not making what you expect to make on graduation, it's not good. I don't really know if $4400 is that small of a figure, it certainly would have been a lot of money to me when I was in school.


I'm not sure what the rules are in your state, but some states don't allow any contact between the strippers and the clients, while in others you're pretty much going to be grinding on them. If you can deal with that, and you need to pay this money back to continue school then you should really consider it. Also, just because your boyfriend say he'll break up with you if you become a stripper doesn't mean he will.

If you do become a stripper, then don't do any drugs or alchohol while you're doing it. You don't want to become a cliche here.
posted by delmoi at 6:24 AM on January 17, 2010

Have you told the family that "cut you off" that you're considering this option? If things aren't irreparable there, it might cause them to reconsider.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:31 AM on January 17, 2010

No opinions on the stripping vs boyfriend predicament. However, I put myself through an ivy league college and law school with no help from my parents. I am about $250K in debt, but wouldn't change it for a second. I also had no credit, no co-signer when I applied for loans, but I was approved w/out a problem (at a high interest rate, but still). Bank loans are really hard to get without credit; a place like Sallie Mae has student-specific loans, so they are more likely to approve you without a credit history. Also, if you haven't already, get a credit card and make small purchases that you pay off in full each month to start building a credit history. As for the FAFSA, unless you are 24, married, have a kid, or are in the military, saying "my parents aren't helping me" does jack sh&t. My parents had enough money to help me, they just chose not to, so I was actually worse off than if they didn't have the money (i.e. I didn't qualify for grants because my "expected family contribution" was too high).

I supported myself by having huge student loans and working 35 hours a week at a $9/hr job. It sucked, but was worth it. Believe me, I considered "dancing" more than a few times; I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Maybe look for a job that allows you to do your work: work-study at the library on campus, babysitting for someone who works a night shift (I did this for a bit too; basically just hung out in the Dad's house while he was at work and his son was alseep the whole time). Be very persistent w/ your applications; submit them and then call back every week to check the status. Look on Craigslist for babysitting, dog walking, cat sitting, or anything that is low time commitment, but relatively lucrative.

It seems odd that with $4K of debt, you've "used up" the school's financial aid -- federal loans are really easy to get without a cosigner and I have over $100K of those. Another option -- try looking for a part-time program or a community college where you can work more and take fewer classes. You can usually transfer to a 4-yr college after you get an associate's degree at the community college (for 2 more yrs). Then you can save some money, but still end up w/ a B.A. or B.S.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:46 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Several points from someone who has worked his way through college in the past (and is doing it again).

-Fill out the FAFSA. You Should be able to get some loans from the govt. Low interest and long time to pay them back.

-Talk to the financial aid office in person. I'm not sure how much help they'll be in declaring you independent, when I went to Ohio State, I tried that and they said short of a-getting married, b-entering the service or c-having a child, I would be a financial dependent as far as they were concerned until I turned 25. My parents didn't help me financially at all.

-Work at a hotel or the dorm front desk or the front desk of any university office. The pay is okay (I made $6.50 at the dorm and $7.50 at the hotel) but you get to work on homework for your entire shift. I would STRONG suggest looking for hotel front desk work. When I was in undergrad, I was able to work close to 40 hours a week (3-11PM) and actually did BETTER than I would have if I wasn't working just because I had ~6-7 hours a night to work on homework.

-Work as a server. Speaking from experience, servers are basically free help for a restaurant since they pay practically nothing. Also speaking from experience, you don't have to be a rocket surgeon to wait tables. It's not as cushy as a hotel or desk job, but it's at least fun, flexible and the money is decent.

-Some tips for getting a job (This is specific to customer service positions, ymmv):
=Apply during the day on a weekday. For hotels, the dead time is between noon and 3, restaurants I think are usually slow between 2 and 4 (or right after they open in the morning)
=DON'T ASK IF THEY'RE HIRING, just ask for an application.
=Bring your own pen, small, but helpful
=Don't attach a resume unless the position requires or requests one.
=Dress like you're going to get an interview when you fill out apps, because you just might get one
=Fill out your application when you pick it up, don't take it home and bring it back later. To help, put together a cheat sheet of the address info/mgrs of all of your previous employers.
=When you turn in your application, ask to speak to a manager. If they are unavailable, get their business card or name and direct line phone number.
=If you don't get an interview on the spot, ***FOLLOW UP IS KEY***
=Call back in 48 hours to, "Check on the status of your application, and ask WHEN you can come in for an interview." This positive outlook has always worked well for me.
=If they don't schedule an interview when you speak with them, CALL BACK IN ONE WEEK. Do this even if they say they aren't hiring. Worst case is that they're still not hiring next week, best case you could have a job or they'll at least know how interested you are in working with them.

Good luck!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 6:46 AM on January 17, 2010 [17 favorites]

There are factors you're not taking into account here, like how working this job for any length of time may change or damage you. I know someone who started doing this "just to survive through college". She graduated but she doesn't value her education because she barely remembers it -- too many late nights, too many alcohol-induced blackouts, too many crises barely averted. It brought out the worst in her, exacerbating latent issues that she hadn't really faced before, and I have to say that I still see this in her from time to time, many years later.

You may think you're the kind of person who can do this to get by for a while and be okay, but you don't really know whether that's true until you do it and find out -- and maybe you aren't. And what then? Chances are, if you were the kind of person who could really do this and make it work, you wouldn't have anything to ask us -- you'd have worked it out on your own.

I also think the fact that you're putting your bf in this position is really unfair, and regardless of whether you stay together, I think one day you'll look back on this little chapter with some embarrassment. It sounds like you are having a maturity crisis more than anything else. The title of your post creeps me out because of the attempted innocent incongruity with your actual question. You want to live happily ever after? Then grow up. Nourish the happiness you have, make responsible decisions, and don't jeopardize caring relationships or your own physical and psychological well-being to pursue a frivolous and wildly optimistic fantasy scenario in which you emerge from all this empowered, financially independent, and totally unscathed. Real life is not television.
posted by hermitosis at 6:53 AM on January 17, 2010 [7 favorites]

I wouldn't suggest telling the parents you are considering stripping-- certainly not as a way of getting them to change their minds. However, depending on why they cut you off, it might be worth going back to them to see if you can work things out. You've had legitimate problems that you're now addressing; if they are punishing you for that, it's kind of sad. (It sounds like they have also broken an explicit promise to pay previous bills, but this might not be the time to throw this shortcoming in their faces.) Maybe ask them to reconsider provided you will do certain things, like go to community college and/or get a job as soon as possible so their burden will be less.
posted by BibiRose at 7:17 AM on January 17, 2010

As of a month ago, your self-esteem was in the toilet. Stripping is not going to improve this any. Also, you said you were on meds for the ADHD - are you also seeing a therapist?
posted by desjardins at 7:39 AM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

The reason I suggest a therapist is because in my experience with ADHD (I don't have it; my husband does) it seems easy to get overwhelmed, not know where you should start, and then make an impulsive decision just to do something.
posted by desjardins at 7:41 AM on January 17, 2010

Instead of stripping, you can try working as a promotional/event/tradeshow "model". I did this a lot to earn extra money on the side of school and the pay is pretty damn good. What you basically do is show up with a bright attitude and a pretty face and sell the public your brand. It can be anything from simply handing out samples, to getting people to enter their names in drawings, etc.

The pay ranges from 15-30 an hour (the 30/hour end of the spectrum is likely going to involve a liquor company).

You can find jobs like this on craigslist easily, by looking under the "gigs" section for "events" and also by looking under the "marketing/PR/ad" section. Search terms for this are "promo model", "tradeshow", "event model", etc. I have easily made $300 or more in a weekend of not very hard work.

The main key to this is to have a really nice photo of your face, and to search the job listings every day and pounce on them as soon as they spring up - the positions fill fast.
posted by sickinthehead at 7:47 AM on January 17, 2010

1) You have to be able to get a job doing something. Hostess at a restaurant, food runner, server, mail clerk. Most of the job market problems are for people with careers who can't find work in their profession, not people who can't find a part-time job at a bar or restaurant. Even fast food places pay like $8/hr, which I managed to live off of combined with my loans.

2) Unless you go to a really expensive school, there is no way you can't live off of your federal aid if you get declared independent from your parents for the FAFSA. I know many, many people who have done so.

3) If your school is so expensive that you can't afford it with federal loans (after being declared independent), you need to apply to a cheaper school or go to community college and make good enough grades to get a scholarship at another school.

4) Stripping is never the only option to get through college. I knew girls who claimed this, despite us having near-identical financial situations. Several of them also had expensive clothes/booze/weed/coke habits, so maybe that was the difference, but you CAN live off of a meager wage+fin aid. Also, most of the girls I knew who stripped to make money for college eventually dropped out of college, and not even just the ones with substance abuse problems. They worked less hours than I did and for way more money, but even with three shitty part-time jobs, I managed to graduate because my jobs didn't cause me any emotional issues/expose me to a widespread drug use.

5) Your boyfriend is not wrong to not want you to be a stripper. It makes perfect sense. Why would he want you going to a club and dancing topless and acting sexy toward other dudes several nights a week? I would not want my boyfriend to be a male stripper (even though we all know that most women who go to male strip clubs are going as a joke). If you choose stripping over him, it's not because you have to (see 1-4)

6) If you already have mental health issues, a strip club is not the place for you to be. I promise you. I've known insecure girls (see #3) who became strippers and it totally screwed them up even worse.
posted by ishotjr at 8:26 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was able to work my way through college as a night security guard at an office building. It paid better than most part time jobs was third shift.

This has the following benefits:

1. This was basically getting paid to study, though some companies don't allow this.
2. It is a much better way to spend your evenings than with a bunch of lonely, drunk, horny, idiots gawking at you.
3. You keep your relationship
4. You don't have to move home.

The draw back here is that you will need to adjust your sleep patterns, but seems like a better option to me.

Here are a couple links to security firms.

Securitas is a large security company

The NASCO site has a search by state so you can find companies that work in your area.

Good luck, weigh the long term cost of any decision you make.
posted by empty vessel at 9:19 AM on January 17, 2010

just chiming back in to nth the suggestions to look for a hotel desk job. I worked at the front desk of a hotel for a year in grad school, and spent about 90% of the time studying.
posted by scody at 11:11 AM on January 17, 2010

It seems to me that stripping attracts broken women, and makes them more broken. Like others have said, you may have the firmest resolve, at the outset, to do it just to get through college, but I am certain that the milieu tends to seep into you in surprising ways, and that the blow to your self-esteem from having been a stripper can be crippling. Plus, your past as a stripper might limit your possibilities for future relationships --- there are decent people out there who simply would not date an ex-stripper. So you're stuck either hiding that part of your past or losing the possibility of relationships.
posted by jayder at 11:23 AM on January 17, 2010

I notice that no one suggested cleaning houses and apartments. This is a job no one wants to do except immigrants, but it pays fairly well. Depending on the city, it can range north of $15 an hour, especially if you're legal and clean-cut. And you probably already know how to clean the house.

And there's also babysitting, which generally pays you a low wage for sitting in someone's house doing your school work while the kid plays computer games.

Also, security guard. You need very little training, and you basically have to be there to call the police if someone tries to break in. Also minimum wage, but fairly safe -- you have a walkie-talkie -- and while it doesn't pay well, you barely have to do anything. Hemingway was a night guard for a while.
posted by musofire at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2010

If you're really desperate, here's a terrible idea to get you more financial aid. Get married.

The second you get married, you're independent financially. If your boyfriend is broke, you'll get the loans you need.

Keep in mind, this isn't GOOD advice. If you two are struggling with the stripping issue, I'm not saying this will work as a marriage. It's a marriage of convenience to game the (imho stupid) system of becoming financially independent from your parents.

This is just an angle you haven't mentioned pursuing.
posted by Gucky at 11:54 AM on January 17, 2010

Some strippers make a lot of money; these are the ones who have regular customers, fancy moves and costumes, and occasionally, in my experience at least, exchange sexual favors for money.

When I danced I made $100-$200 per shift. I worked day shift which is less dangerous and competitive. I did not "dirty dance." Night shift can be cutthroat.

It was difficult, athletic, exhausting work that would not have meshed well with an academic life.

I could have made the same amount waiting tables, serving cocktails, or bartending. I didn't have a relationship at the time, but it wouldn't have been worth losing a good one over, especially when there are other options.

I suggest that you rely on loans as little as possible. Do find a well-paying job like those I suggested, but don't strip if it puts your relationship in jeopardy. You'll regret it.
posted by xenophile at 3:03 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing stripping as an ultimate mindfuck - everyone I know who did it ended up with more issues than they started - hating men or becoming more promicious and then having more issues to resolve. And those people were, compared to the people they worked with at the clubs, stable and mature. Women/girls get into it for reasons you describe and end up stuck, on a cycle of drugs, prostitution, and plastic surgery. I would discourage any woman I cared about from doing. You can make more waitressing at a high end restaurant, bartending, or teaching KAPLAN, and still keep your self respect.
posted by zia at 3:15 PM on January 17, 2010

The important thing to remember about stripping is that the girls who make the real money are selling themselves to the customers. Not necessarily sex, but friendly. You have to be able to make the guys feel like they are the coolest, sexiest thing you've ever met.

The clubs I worked for usually made the dancers get the customers to buy them drinks. The girl gets a percentage (usually 50% or less) and the drinks are expensive ($10+). If you don't sell drinks you could be fined or just not make much money. I wasn't friendly and didn't drink so I rarely made $100 in a shift but I still had to put up with creeps. You may get to the point where you do things you'd rather not do at all just to earn $1. Also, you can't put it on an application.

Don't know about the boyfriend though. Mine thought it was cooler than I did.
posted by irisclara at 4:21 PM on January 17, 2010

Stripping is hard work. It's harder work than waiting tables. It's harder work than working in a store. It's tiring, physically and mentally. If you have any history of sexual trauma, you will be triggered and have to keep smiling and pretending that the "customer is always right."

If I were you, I would look harder for another job. This doesn't seem worth the risk to your relationship and your mental stability.

HOWEVER, I think your boyfriend is being a spectacular ass if he is against you being a stripper for any reason other than that he thinks it would be a terrible choice for you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:18 PM on January 17, 2010

I don't know where you are, but in Vegas the economy is so bad that there's fewer strip club customers and a lot more desperate strippers. Strippers are actually all independent contractors and have to pay the club to dance and hope they make it back, so if you have a bad night you can actually lose money. It used to be that nothing went on in the private rooms, but in this economy, rumor has it that strippers are giving in to the pressure to give cheap blowjobs to earn the tips they need. You may not be able to make a living as a stripper without being a hooker too.

Also, how much time have you spent in strip clubs? You know that you don't make your money just dancing up on a stage or pole, right? You make your money from "lap dances" -- that is, grinding on strange men's (clothed) erect cocks for money. So. Can you understand why your boyfriend would be uncomfortable with that? Are *you* comfortable with that?
posted by Jacqueline at 12:01 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Strip clubs need bartenders and cocktail waitresses who don't have to take their clothes off and yet still make decent money. Is that a viable compromise?
posted by Eumachia L F at 11:12 AM on January 18, 2010

Response by poster: Update - I didn't end up attempting the job, and I'm still jobless/in financial straits. The SO and I broke up for numerous other reasons. Ultimately I think it was a good idea not to do it because I think it would have driven away too many potential friends/SOs in the future.
posted by biochemist at 7:33 PM on September 18, 2010

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