Thursday, January 12, 2006

Weird sex work jobs I have known: I once worked for a stripper telegram service. You know, the more-or-less legit ones, where you show up at someone’s office and pretend to be a delivery person or a job applicant or something, and then you surprise the person by taking your clothes off.

I wasn’t crazy about it. I didn’t mind if someone knew it was coming, but the sneak-attack ones didn’t sit well with me. It’s that consent thing. Often the surprised recipient – or should I say victim? - seemed uncomfortable with the whole thing. I’m fine with doing some sexy entertainment for someone, but I didn’t like feeling like a tool for his friends to embarrass him with, for their entertainment.

I refused to do the ones in restaurants and bars and such. No way. Even if it was only a down-to-my-lingerie gig, I wasn’t up for that. Offices were about as public as I’d get, and even that was iffy.

The bachelor parties presented a different set of challenges. The service I worked for was one of the mainstream, franchised outfits, that also had clowns and magicians and other non-sexy performers featured prominently in the Yellow Pages ad, and they did make the point to the customers that nothing illegal was allowed to happen at these shindigs. But still, anytime you’ve got a bunch of guys, drinking, and two or maybe three girls, you need to manage the situation carefully.

Balanced against that was one’s willingness to perhaps let a guy’s hands wander a bit, if the right financial incentive were offered. But you also had to weigh the possibility that if you did that, one of the other girls might rat you out to management and get you into trouble. Unless, of course, she did it too. (Although I have known of instances where both girls broke the rules and then one tattled on the other anyway. So much for honor among thieves.)

I wasn’t making a big living off it, but it was some extra cash. (I honestly cannot recall what my main income stream was at the time.) But the job took a strange turn one night when I was told I'd been booked for a boy’s high school graduation party. By his mother.

O-kay, I thought. She’s the cool-mom type, very relaxed about her son’s sexuality. Or, she’s got no personal boundaries whatsoever.

And when I got there, it wasn’t the boy and a bunch of his adolescent friends, as I’d thought. No, it was a family party. So there’s his parents, and his aunts and uncles, and his four-year-old little sister, and his grandmother. Yeah, I said his grandma. I’m supposed to do a striptease for this kid in front of his whole damn family. Jesus Christ.

His mom took me aside to pay me and I said, “Are you sure you want me to do this? In front of everyone?”

She kinda looked at me like she couldn’t understand why I’d ask. “Yes, I’ve been telling everyone you were coming.” And then she starts introducing me to everyone, like I’m some long-lost cousin or something. “This is Marcella, she’s going to do a little show for us.” Now I know: this woman has no personal boundaries.

Then I met the graduate. It was immediately clear to me that he didn’t have a sex life for his mom to be relaxed about. There was no girlfriend present at the party, and he was not – to be blunt – terribly attractive. I imagined he would be nice-looking when he grew up a bit, but I pegged him as still a virgin.

Now imagine this nervous, obviously uncomfortable teenage boy sitting on a chair in his living room, with all his relatives ranged in a semi-circle around him, waiting to watch him try not to pop a woody when some sexy girl puts her cleavage in his face. The poor kid. I felt so sorry for him.

I was pretty uncomfortable with it myself. But dedicated professional that I was, I put my music on and took a position in front of him. Under the cover of the Prince tune, I leaned forward and whispered to him, “Kinda bizarre doing this with all these people here, huh?”

He rolled his eyes slightly. “Yeah - way.”

“Yeah, I feel a little strange too. But don’t worry, we’ll be cool.”

It was one of the longer five minutes of my life, and I’m guessing he felt the same way. I was definitely doing the PG version of my show, but even without putting my ass right in his lap, I could see that he wasn’t completely in control his teenage-boy hormones. The look on his face, however, would have been more appropriate to someone suffering from a deep gastro-intestinal disorder.

I did try to minimize the erotic effect by not making much eye contact with him, which was tricky, because I was also trying to not look at anyone else in the room. Not everyone was so inhibited. In my peripheral vision, I could see Uncle Al, over to my left, turning pink and sweating slightly as he bobbed his head to the music, an odd little smile on his lips. The kid’s father was also watching me very closely, apparently unaware that his wife was watching him watch me and looking none too pleased about it. (Hello, lady, did you not think of that when you booked me?)

Grandma was saying in a quavering voice, “Goodness, I think the ladies should have left the room for this. This is for gentlemen only.”

And the four-year-old girl had to be restrained from coming right up to me to dance along with me. I’m sure that would caused her brother’s head to implode.

So we got through it. When the song ended, I scooped up my clothes and retreated into the bathroom to get dressed and try to compose myself. When I came out, the boy had vanished into his room, for which I did not blame him one bit. The mother suddenly seemed quite ready for me to leave, but as I walked towards the door, the little girl attached herself to my leg and announced that she wanted to dance just like me when she grew up.

Boom, that’s it, my weirdness meter just went into the red. I am so quitting this job.

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