No one goes to school to learn how to be an ecdysiast after graduation. Not to put down anyone in this unique line of work, but for most of them it was not a job they expected to be doing when they were still young. With that aside, is stripping a good business? Just how lucrative is being a stripper? How much money comes pouring in after the clothes go flying off and how much can a stripper earn in a year?
Let’s a take a look at statements from three dancers who answered such questions posted on the Internet.
One of these is a dancer who uses the pseudonym “Story”. Part of her story appeared on the Forbes website and she talked about how much she makes and what she usually has to spend it on. Another is a dancer who uses the name Menagerii and went on Reddit to answer queries. Finally there is an unnamed stripper who volunteered information on her earnings over www.verifiyhim.com.
First things first
Here are some things you might not know about the strip club industry
1. Most strip clubs do not pay strippers to dance: It’s the other way around, strippers pay to dance at strip clubs. This is confirmed by Menagerii who said it’s a myth that the dancers are paid by the hour. Strippers pay the club a flat fee per shift to dance. The strippers earn money through tips. Aside from the flat fee they also have to give the club 10 percent of their tips.
How long is a shift? She says usually six hours where she works. Her flat fee or stage fee is $35 to $50. If a girl wants to work double shift she has to pay double the stage fee.
2. Tips to strippers vary depending on the customer.
3. Most strip clubs do not consider dancers as regular workers. Many strip clubs consider them more like independent contractors who are not entitled to benefits.
4. Like other workers strippers have a union: The Exotic Dancers Union represents the rights of strippers across the country. Aside from this group there are also other dancer support groups like the We are Dancers.
So how much do strippers get paid?
The stripper named Story tells up front that strippers do not openly talk salary.
“When it comes to talking income there’s a general tendency amongst strippers to stay vague,” she said. In her story posted online she tells about how much she made, actually posting a journal of her earnings.
As of January 2011 she worked a total of 96 hours and took home $2,237. The following month she worked a total of 75 hours and took home $2,398. For March she worked 94 hours and took home $2,959.
Her April figures are incomplete, but if we were to base on her lowest provided figures alone she can earn at least $26,844 from stripping in a year if she did not miss any shift. At most she can make up to $35,164 if she gets her March earnings every month, but then again, that is if she does not miss a single shift or go on vacation either.
Menagerii, on an average night, says she can take home between $500 to $1,500. On a great night? She said $3,345, but this was after a double shift.
A monthly estimate of her salary could not be ascertained as she said she works on an extremely flexible schedule which included university studies and months spent travelling. However, she did say she can bring home as much as $120,000 per year, that is before taxes. Yes, she said she pays taxes.
Menagerii has become quite the celebrity on the Internet, even posting a night’s earnings for women and men to drool over.
“From now on when people ask me why I’m a stripper, I’m just going to show them this picture. One day of work,” she says.
The unnamed stripper; she agrees with Menagerii about another common stripper myth: that many strippers dance because for them it’s fun.
“Everyone always wants to know why we dance? Well I’d say it’s for the fun of it, but that would be a lie. Dancing for disgusting, old men that are often fat and sometimes smelly is not my idea of fun. On an occasion you get the chance to dance for a hot, young guy but they generally are a**holes and don’t have the cash we are really looking for so for the most part I’d say it’s the first scenario. The old, fat guy who’s eyeing you like a piece of meat, he’s got the cash you want,” she said.
So there it is. They dance for the money.
“I get asked all the time, ‘How much money do strippers make?’ Well, it varies from a good night to a bad night, but suppose a stripper only averages $200 per shift and she works four times a week. That is $800 per week or $40,000 per year. If she works five times a week that is $1,000 per week or $50,000 per year. When I first posted this article in the fall of 2007, most of the strippers I knew were averaging $500 per shift, working four shifts a week, which translated to a six figure business,” she says.
So if unnamed stripper is to be believed, a stripper can make at least $40,000 on a good year and even up to $130,000 a year if she earns $500 per shift and never takes a week, let alone a workday off.
Landmark win for strippers
Strippers might soon have the chance to take home more money. Just last November a group of strippers working for Spearmint Rhino won a lawsuit against the huge strip club chain.
Judge Virginia Phillips ruled to end within 30 days of promulgation the practice of charging flat fee or stage fee that clubs charge dancers per shift to perform. Phillips also ordered the strip club chain to grant all dancers employee status within six months. This could very well open the dancers up for benefits like health insurance, paid leaves and unemployment benefits if they qualify.
“This is a great result. It will put a lot of money in the pockets of women in this industry, but it will also send a clear message to clubs across this country that they should not mis-classify dancers as independent contractors. When they look at these numbers in these lawsuits, they realize it’s not worth it,” says lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan, a specialist in tipped employees and independent contractor mis-classification cases. She has represented dancers in class action law suits in several states, but apparently none as successful as this group.
“Spearmint Rhino is a big brand,” says stripper “Bubbles” Burbujas, a stripper and a co-founders of a popular sex work blog, “there’s no way this won’t have an effect.”