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Where do strippers come from? I don’t mean biologically. I’m fairly certain that I haven’t met a stripper who wasn’t human. Well, at least mostly. And I don’t mean where they are born. From what I can tell, strippers seem to be a fairly universal phenomenon. If you find yourself in a town of fairly decent size, and you’re not in the Bible Belt, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a club if you look hard enough.

No, the question I find myself asking today is this -– how do strip clubs and strippers generally find each other? More specifically, how do new strippers find their way into the system?

It’s a marketing question, really.

Once a woman has started working as a stripper or an escort, moving in between jobs is relatively easy. But it’s that first step –- the one where an ordinary woman who has never taken her clothes off in public suddenly finds herself disrobing in a mid-day audition in front of total strangers –- that seems to me to be the most difficult.

Having known several dancers personally in the past -- two of whom were my little sisters -- I thought I knew the answer to this question. Take a look in your local paper. If your city has a free weekly -– here, it’s the Washington City Paper -– you can look there, as well. If your paper has a separate personal ad category for “Adult Employment,” you need go no further. If not, take a look at personals looking for “models,” “entertainers,” or “dancers.” If the ad is looking specifically for females between the ages of 18 and 30, there’s a good chance that it’s an ad for a strip club.

Most strippers I know got their start by answering an ad like this. Some may not have known it was for stripping in the first place. But finding themselves confronted with an audition, they just shrugged their shoulders and went ahead with it anyway.

The point is, there was always a general feeling that the ads were trying to be discreet. I’ve never seen a personal ad in a newspaper that came straight out and asked for strippers. Of course, I can’t say I’ve checked out every single ad for adult services that’s ever been printed. It’s just a theory of mine.

That quaint theory was blown out of the water today when I saw a “Help Wanted” commercial for strippers on TV. That’s right, television. There was something odd about it; the whole thing seemed surreal. It went something like this.

Set is poorly-lit, looking like a low-budget commercial produced locally. Open with a blonde woman, approximately 25, working in a restaurant kitchen. She’s wearing a chef’s smock and a very frustrated look as she throws down her tools and looks at the screen.

“I worked a dead-end job. I couldn’t pay rent, and debt collectors were calling me.”

NEED A CHANGE?

Cut to a dance platform in what appears to be a strip club. There are mirrors on the walls, and a series of poles on the platform.

“Now I have a new job, my bills are paid, I have a lot of fun, and I meet new and exciting people every day.”

Shot of bald, heavy-set man in T-shirt (obviously a bouncer) surrounded by strippers and dollar bills.

Cut to young woman tearing off her chef’s smock and throwing it at another heavy-set gentleman (another bouncer) as she leaves the kitchen.

“I danced my way to financial freedom, and I didn’t even have to marry any of those guys!”

MAKE UP TO $1,000 A DAY, PART-TIME

Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club

“I didn’t even have to marry any of those guys?” It’s hard to imagine an ad getting much more blatant than that. And to make it even more extreme, the commercial ran in the middle of the day on a Saturday afternoon. On VH1. You know, the kind of station a teenage girl -- oh, like say, my little sisters used to be -- might be watching.

I’m not sure what to make of all this. On the one hand, I generally favor freedom of expression, and I have nothing against legitimate establishments advertising for women to provide a perfectly legal –- if imperfectly moral –- service. On the other hand, I’ve seen first-hand how moving into a business like that can have a very serious negative impact on a young woman's life. And a TV ad –- no matter how unprofessional in its appearance –- will be more likely to attract young women who may not have thought through the whole process.

The one thing I do know is that my first thought on seeing the ad was “We’re now one step closer to the decline and fall of Western civilization as we know it.”

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