A Bad Girl’s Guide To Revolution: Professional


Original artwork by Lemon Squashua for Imogen Kelly's online book, A Bad Girl's Guide To Revolution, chapter 5.

Chapter 5.     Professional

It was 7.30pm, the sun had gone down over the walls of the prison and all was dark and still. As I stood on the other side of those immense walls, it was hard to imagine that some of Australia’s most notorious criminals were just a few meters away from me, separated by brick and mortar. But I had work to do, and many other shows to do that night, so had no time to ponder. In turning my back to the prison I was greeted by a normal night, on a normal suburban street. In this quiet, little suburb, in quiet little red brick houses, perhaps quiet little families were sitting at happy quiet dinner tables talking about their quiet little lives.

Shortly thereafter I was in one of those houses causing a gigantic roar. I’d just finished my show and was still sweating from my exertions to Prince’s Erotic city before a room full of middle aged men in uniform.

This wasn’t what I had pictured for myself when I said I wanted to work as a stripper. I had imagined stage shows in glittering costumes and a dressing room full of roses. I’d imagined velvet boxes with diamond necklaces bought by hopeful suitors. But it seemed that before I could have my imagined life of limousines and champagne I had to earn my stripes as a stripper. Then, when I was ‘professional’ enough I could be put on the stages in the clubs— or that’s what Jason said anyway. So here I was, learning the trade at a base level.

I was just collecting up my abandoned spangles and half way out the door when I heard the sirens go off. The first peeled out over the walls of Long Bay Jail and were shortly followed by the wail of police cars. I tried to hurry without looking like I was hurrying— a brush with the law is not what any stripper needs. Such entanglements always found the stripper on the wrong side of the law no matter what you were doing. That much I had already experienced.

I hastily pressed rewind on my cassette, picked up my heavy, battery-filled ghetto blaster, and the small case containing my costume in the other hand, and casually walked out the door. It was then I was nearly knocked over by a desperate man dashing past me in the dark.

“How rude!” I thought to myself as our shoulders brushed— not actually taking in that it is possibly also rude to walk down a suburban street with absolutely no clothes on, which I was doing at the time. I was heading to the ‘strip mobile,’ a 6-seater van parked down the road which was packed with other strippers also in a state of undress. As was his habit, Jason had been standing against the van counting a huge roll of money— but he was now looking worriedly toward the prison. He put his wad away and opened the passenger door, gesturing for me to hurry as he rushed to the driver’s side of the vehicle.

I picked up speed knowing that if there was trouble he’d either leave me behind or I’d get shouted at.

Jason loved shouting at young strippers. Jason being angry with you was like having a snarling pit bull barking inches away from your nose— ready to tear off your face.  I got shouted at a lot— he said I was unprofessional. In retrospect, I was just a scared teenager and a very soft target, but at that point in life I always assumed I was the one in the wrong. He seemed to find any mistake a reason to threaten me with all kinds of things. Bashing my face in was his favorite threat— and he had the reputation of following through. In fact, I was so scared of him that it was the fear of Jason’s abuse and threats that got me through my first shows more than anything else… like that buck’s party in Mt. Druitt.

 

Burlesque performer and stripper Imogen Kelly holding a "Warning: Contains Nudity" sign

 

Ah… Mount Druitt— the home of gang rape and bucket bongs. It was a routine buck’s night in some guy’s lounge room. Nothing too unusual— drunken men on couches and me trying to strip on two meters squared of dirty, shitty carpet. Their dog had already tried to hump my leg twice, and so was howling, banished to the laundry whilst the buck sat like an inebriated fool in torn negligee… as I said, it was all pretty routine. I had my tits out and the music was about to hit the scream in “Get Off” —signaling that it was vagina o’clock, when suddenly my music stopped.

I turned to see a very tall, drunk woman, with a Pauline Hanson hair-do and an ill-fitting Fosseys dress swaying in the doorway.

She staggered across the room towards me screaming.

“I’m gunna fucking kill you, you fucking dumb slut!”

Not knowing how to respond I just simply stood there glaring at the husband-to-be, suggesting he should step in. Like a true gentleman, he did.

“Aw, fuck off Tracey, ya dumb fucking mole. There’s no need to be jealous. It’s just a stripper. I haven’t even seen her cunt yet.”

“Get rooted Dwayne! You promised you wouldn’t get a stripper, ya fucking arsehole. The wedding’s off!!!”

Turning to me, she continued,

“And you!!! I’m gunna fucking gut you like a fucking pig.”

Tracey lurched in my bemused direction. I wondered if I should be scared yet, as I was finding this all rather educational. But I wasn’t afraid— Tracey was so drunk I doubt she could tear the skin off a rice pudding. However, she was beyond reasoning with, and the blokes, being gentlemen, had all stepped back with glee hoping to see the bride and stripper claw it out. Realizing I was on my own, and cornered in their shithole of a house, I got ready to punch Tracey’s munted face. At times like this, I thanked the violent moments in my childhood. I knew how to fight and I was never afraid to.

Then suddenly god stepped in, as god has stepped in many times on my behalf. Dear sweet Tracey’s eyes rolled back in her cabbaged head, and for a moment she swayed, as if lost listening to a dance hall orchestra, before she crashed onto the floor. She made impact with all of the grace of a tree falling in the woods, her face thudding onto the shag pile carpet.
Then all went still as we stood around starring at Tracey. Tracey did not get up. Tracey did not even move. It was all very Zen.

The silence continued. I nudged her a bit with my cheap stilettos. Nope. Tracey was gawwwn mayyyte. I hoped the wedding was not tomorrow as I imagine she had sustained some damage from the precision face plant she had just performed, but I certainly was not in a position to move her large body out of the way.

I nudged her again and she mumbled the words ‘fuck you, cunt.’ We breathed a sigh of relief. She wasn’t dead.

The awkward silence that followed was pierced by my music suddenly coming back on. I looked up to see the berry-nosed best man, merrily standing by the boom box with his thumbs up in a ‘all good to go, mate” fashion. I then looked back at Dwayne who was smiling away with a beer bottle making its way to his near toothless mouth. I imagined the shouting at I was going to get from Jason if I was ‘unprofessional’ to this client. They’d booked three girls and I was first on— because I was the novice, therefore the most shit. I’d have to say it was true. I imagined the night could only improve from here.

I wanted so badly to be ‘professional’ that I thought it best to finish the act— the show must go on, after all. So I continued to strip… taking great pains not to step on Tracey as I navigated my way around her motionless body. She took up most of the ‘stage’ so I had to do some of my floor-work on her back. In moments like these, it’s quite hard to be sexy. But Dwayne cracked a sad little boner in his shorts so I’ll assume I did my job. It’s also moments like these that I was reminded just how ridiculous my new job really was.

And it was no less ridiculous that night outside the prison. I was now six months into my training.

There I was, tottering down the driveway toward the impatient Jason with his bus full of big-haired peelers when suddenly three police cars came screaming around the corner and pulled into the drive blocking my access to the strip mobile. I was trapped. They flicked on their high beams, burning my retinas as I stood like a daft bunny literally stunned in their headlights. I could just make out the shapes of police officers with guns drawn as they swung vigorously out of the doors of their pursuit vehicles shouting, “DON’T MOVE!” aggressively at me. They aimed their weapons at my head… then everything just froze. I waited and peered through my dazzled eyes. They were all just standing with their mouths open.

Their high-speed chase had come to an abrupt impasse. A naked woman was obviously not what they were expecting to find in that moment. They stood… they gaped… I waited for some sort of instruction… but no… they really just stood there.

I froze. They froze. And for a whole three seconds we stood in suspended animation as if we were engaged in an awkwardly slow-moving David Lynch scene. Even though I knew what I was doing was a little left of the law, I thought three police vehicles and drawn weapons was a bit of a strong response to having a stripper so close to the jail. I guess in turn they were wondering whether to arrest the nude Brigitte Bardot look-alike in thigh high bondage boots with a ghetto blaster on her shoulder – or whether they were going to remember what the fuck really lead them to this moment. But that process seemed to be a rather slow turning cog.

In my peripheral vision I noticed Jason had quietly slunk into the van and turned the key in the ignition— headlights off, the strippers all busy drawing the pink curtains on the windows, the passenger door left open as he started slowly trawling away down the street. I knew I had only seconds to get into the van before I would be left on my own. I wondered if I was to be arrested.

The tension finally broke as the officers made a joint decision that I really was just too much information. They rushed passed me in pursuit of their original quarry— the convict who had, just this moment, escaped Australia’s most notorious prison and had run to hide in one of the nearby houses.

Sadly for the escaped convict he had run straight from the prison and into the one house on the street that belonged to the prison itself. The house that was, that very night, having a retirement party for one of the wardens— as thrown by the other wardens (who probably should have been at work)— and I was their dirty little present.

I often wonder how that moment unfurled from there; the stunned look on the convict’s face when he burst into a room full of wardens, the look on their faces when one of the convicts they should have been guarding had not only used their absence to escape, but then actually ran into that room— of all rooms— to hide, and finally the look on the pursuing officers’ faces when they entered the room full of prison wardens who should have been at work but were busy looking at sweet teen pussy. I thought in particular of the head warden himself sitting tied to a chair, with his belly spilling over his large white, lipstick smeared y-fronts, his knee high socks drizzled with baby oil, bound with his own handcuffs, gagged with his own tie and covered in cream with a glazed cherry on his head— a man-sundae so to speak.

In the yelling and confusion that followed I tumbled into the van and Jason drove away laughing. As an ex-jailbird himself he found it all highly entertaining.

And so I had started my new life. I was no longer Imogen Kelly. I wanted to be anyone other than Imogen Kelly. My name was Lushus D’lux, which, in amongst all the Sams, Tammys and Jessicas, was a suitably stupid name.

I started my career as a party stripper— 21sts, buck’s nights, office parties, shows for the disabled, jokes played on men at their 50th birthdays… you name it. We got booked for everything. Jason ran one of the biggest strip agencies in Sydney— and also one of the dirtiest. But it was everything he promised. I was earning bucket-loads. Within no time I could afford the costs of my photography classes, pay for film development and co-fund an artist’s warehouse in Chippendale that was to become the famed Chocolate Factory. Life with money was good.

Prior to the Chocolate Factory, I had been living in a punk ghetto in Glebe, where we had torn down the fence between our house and the terrace next door and used it to build bridges across into each other’s lounge rooms. The house was full of stray cats and artists, the walls covered in band posters and murals. It was the sort of share house that was emulated in “Dogs In Space.” The punks next door were kind and would occasionally feed us starving students, but my new status as stripper changed things entirely. My first real performance job came through when my neighbour Dead Meat employed me to be his stunt mistress for his work as a Rock and Roll Wrestler. His name suited him perfectly. He was just this tall, skinny punk who got mashed up by the steroid-fueled animals on the mat. I dragged his sorry arse into the ring on a chain, and off the ring afterwards on a hospital gurney. So opportunities were opening up!

Talullah invited me to do more shows as a back up dancer with her at Mardi Gras and dyke nights, and slowly people were getting to know me on the queer scene. But I still had a long way to go. So I pursued more party shows through Jason’s agency hoping I would one day be ‘professional’ enough for the clubs.

My first shows were disastrous and Jason did a lot of shouting at me— especially the night I nearly got raped at a shitty B-grade biker club. It was, without a doubt, one of the hardest moments in my career, but moments like this can either break you or distill you. I guess I’m the distilling type.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always found most real bikers have a respect for strippers. It’s part of their code. In fact at the first biker club I performed in, I became a semi rock star and was asked back many times. It’s a strange outcome considering that it was after I did the worst show in history— and that I pissed on their flowers. In fact, we nearly didn’t get out of there intact.

On arrival, we were escorted to a comfortable room full of cushions and offered refreshments. I said, “Thanks— perhaps a Coke.”

“Sure, we’ve got coke, speed, hash, smack, mull— just name it!”

So I named a few more things that I would find refreshing.

Fuck knows what sort of show I did… I had been booked to do a ‘lesbian BDSM double’ with Ellie— who was straight. I liked girls; Ellie liked money— so the combo worked. Neither of us had a clue what a lesbian BDSM show should contain, so I asked Tallulah what to do. She said to get a strap on. I think one of the problems with having a convent education is that you come out with no real idea of what is normal… so I went out, completely clueless, and bought a strap-on in a plastic box.

Ellie thought it was a great idea as she didn’t want to go down on me, which was fine. She consulted a few legends in the clubs and came back to me saying it was normal to fake it by putting her hand over my bits and licking the back of her hand, but that she would just rather I do her with a strap on to save all the trouble.

I pretended this all made perfect sense.  Clueless.

Ellie thought that if we did a good job we would get heaps of bookings and heaps of money so she was pretty excited about the whole thing. We didn’t have time to rehearse. Besides, no one rehearsed their shows in those days… you just flew by the seat of your snap release crotch.

Note to self: Always try out a stunt strap-on before using it onstage.

We, well-refreshed, stripped for two songs before “Bad To The Bone” came on and I unleashed the rubber beast. The audience roared with excitement as they clunked their beers together. Ellie got into doggy position bouncing her butt around whilst I strapped “Geoffrey” on.

“They are all looking really serious.” I whispered nervously at her. Indeed they were. Men get this weird look on their faces when they see pussy. I’m not quite sure how to describe it but it’s like children in the fifties looking at a picture of an artist’s rendition of a space alien— kind of studious and bewildered all at the same time. Their faces were full of slack-jawed wonder.

My rubber cock slid in easily enough. Great. First bit done. They cheered and shook their beers on us, joyously ejaculating beer froth on us. I flicked Ellie reminding her to groan. “Oh yes!” cried Ellie.

So convincing. More beer froth.

I went to pull back for a bit of thrust action, thinking, Jason is going to be really pleased with my professionalism this time… but nothing happened.

Ellie started to visibly shake with laughter. “It’s stuck,” she whispered. “Pull back harder.”

So I pulled back further. The problem was that the elasticated harness stretched and with every pull back, it just kept stretching… and stretching… and stretching, until there was her on all fours on one side of the stage with a dildo stuck inside her, and me on the other side inching backwards on my knees, surrounded by confused bikers on the other. When I think about it, not many of my earlier shows went to plan and this was turning out to be no exception. I really was quite shit at everything.

Ellie started to giggle. I was trying to hide my face in my wig as I visibly shook with laughter. Perhaps it was the giggling that freed things up because suddenly the thing came flying out of her vagina at top speed and flew straight into my groin with a huge THWACK!!! I crumpled over into a heap… and then the two of us spent the rest of the act crawling around onstage laughing. It was then that Ellie pissed herself— and a little tinkle of wee went onto the stage…

Suddenly the music stopped. We looked up.

The bikers were not amused. In fact they looked pretty fucking pissed off. I’ll admit that everything we’d done thus far had been pretty unsexy. But their faces said it all— It wasn’t BDSM enough. It wasn’t lezzy enough. It was not hot.

So I started trying to dance again, throwing a retarded high kick in the air— my one good move. Firstly, my second heel got stuck in a hole on the stage, which caused the secondary reaction of my wig flying off. Thirdly it landed in some mean looking guy’s lap, fourthly revealing that I wasn’t the Bridgette Bardot look-alike they had booked— but a bald punk chick with a squashed Mohawk. Bikers did not like punks. This was pretty much the last straw.

“Fucking Dyke!!!” One of the bikers took a swing at me as I grabbed Ellie and yelled, Run! We made it to the van in one piece. We jumped in the door and slammed it shut. The bikers surrounded the van. We locked the doors.

To my surprise Jason had been watching and had tears rolling down his cheeks in laughter. In fact, the show had gone so heinously wrong, he had pre-empted a fast exit might be needed and had already turned the van around to face to the front gate. He turned the key in the ignition and honked the horn. He didn’t like bikers much. But the bikers did not move.

Suddenly a wall of man-beef dressed in leather maneuvered himself in front of the van- glaring through the windshield. His mates were fast to join him. There were five strippers in the van that night who all screamed-as-one when Beef Man and his friends picked up the front of the van— tilting the whole vehicle up. In one of my most vivid memories, I can still see the David Lachapelle photographic moment where bronzed strippers, glitter, wigs, makeup, dildos and boas went flying in slow motion through the pink interior of the van, all landing on top of each other against the back window. Being a front wheel drive we were unable to drive anywhere.

“We’re fucked,” I thought.

Jason stopped laughing. He had that pit-bull look on his face. He jumped out of the van with a homemade knuckle duster he kept under the front seat and smashed one fucker in the jaw before grabbing the giant by the head and cracking his skull against the giant’s nose. Blood went everywhere as the big fella fell back on his arse. They let go of the bus and it slammed onto the ground. Jason got back in, cool, calm and collected. He started to drive.

They blocked our exit again.

Finally the quiet woman in the back of the van stood up like a five-foot-three ball of feminine fury. She was wearing thigh high black patent boots, black PVC corset and g-string, and her waist-length black hair just touching her perfect lily-white arse. She grabbed her cat o’nine tails whip and tore open the side door.

She whipped at the men and started yelling, demanding they bring her the boss man.

Meet Chastity White— our third legend— a notorious stripper, sex worker’s rights activist, biker pin-up girl, and the only woman to open her own strip club on the Golden Mile. I pretty much figured that if she could hold her own against the Kings Cross mafia, she could hold her own against this lot. I watched attentively.

The bikers all stepped back like a bunch of ashamed school boys. They knew who she was and they knew not to fuck with her.

The boss man arrived and at the sight of her was reduced to a mass of apologies and hand kissing. Chastity was a biker with one of the major clubs. She rode her own Harley, which meant she was on equal status with the men. She was quick to pull that whole club into order. In these circles Chastity White was a goddess, a cult figure.

Instead of them crushing in on the van they all dissipated as the boss man told them all off for harassing the strippers. He apologized to Jason and offered us all another round of refreshments, cigars for myself and Jason, and then booked Chastity for another act.

Whilst she was inside I decided to take a leak. There weren’t any toilets near the bus and I was not going to go inside. So I stepped out, my Mohawk restored to its former glory, cigar in my mouth and, whilst standing up, I pissed on their flowerbed.

“My geraniums!” cried out one of the bikers, in a wounded tone.

The others thought differently. More cheers. More beer froth. More refreshments. What sort of biker grows geraniums anyway?

I climbed back into the car to see Jason’s jaw on the floor. He’d never seen a woman pee standing up and was suddenly full of respect. Weirder still, this, of all moments, was one of our bonding moments. On the drive back, he offered me work in the club. I’d made it— I was suddenly ‘professional’.

The lezzo act was retired due to technical failure and never saw the light of day again, however, the biker club requested me often.

But not all biker clubs had respect for strippers. The night my heart went hard I was at a biker club— but just a wannabe biker club. It was at some fibro house full of losers who might have had bikes, but lacked the code of bikers. It was without a doubt the most awful show ever, but in many ways it was the night that made me.

It was a mixed audience, which every stripper dreads. A mixed audience is an audience of women and men. These audiences are always the hardest because the women get jealous, then the men turn on you to impress the women and then later in the night, the more drunk they are, the harder they are to deal with. It’s a pretty humiliating circumstance to find yourself in.  You have no friends in a mixed audience. The women just simply hate you. It’s all happening on their turf and on their terms.

It was a buck’s party in a bleak street, full of houses with boarded up windows and torn fly screens. The buck was already crunkered, and was a limp, semi-conscious body, smeared in paint and eggs, wearing torn fishnets. There were about fifteen men and ten women all sprawled on milk crate furniture and on the floor. I had a bad feeling in my gut. I should have left there and then, but it was before I learned to listen to my instincts. It’s strange, but you can always feel when a show is going to turn bad— there’s something in the air.

I was only about four minutes into the show when the energy just turned rotten. First, they started throwing food at me and laughing. Ideally, one would leave at this point, but the trick is to not leave too quickly in these situations or people have the potential to turn violent. After all, there is one of you against a room full of them. The trick is to act like nothing is wrong, as if the humiliation is all part of the fun, and cut your act at about ten minutes short. In other words, get your kit off fast and then leave, smiling, NO MATTER WHAT.

So as I smiled like a fool, I started forming my escape plan. I bent over to show my arse and checked the door. It was already blocked by three men. So I looked for windows. There are bars and fly screens on all of them. There are no other exits. I’m wondering, if I scream will the neighbours hear me or does this gang occupy every house in the street? Is there anyone even living next door? How long will it take until Jason knows I’m in trouble and calls the cops… will he call the cops? Will the cops come? A stripper in trouble in a biker den… ? Police avoid clashes with bikers and couldn’t give a fuck about strippers. I am on my own in this situation, but this is not a situation I know how to handle— and unlike Tracey and Dwayne this situation is not funny.

So I figure it’s best to try to be charming and finish the show— if I panic, they might get more excited and the real trouble will start. Like a dog pack when they smell you are afraid. Don’t show fear— fear will excite them.

I stop my music and ask everyone to stop throwing food so I can do a good show— the show they’ve paid for, after all. They settle down and I start the music again.

Then some fucker throws a bottle at me. It hits me in the head. The women all piss themselves laughing. They all start throwing bottles at me like it’s some carnival game to win a stuffed pink elephant. I turn to grab the ghetto blaster to turn it off, but they block me. Suddenly they are hands all over me and women screaming the words “whore” and “slut.” I get clawed from behind as a big hand grabs my wrist. One of the blokes lurches for me and grabs my throat and I kick the fucker in the nuts. I kick and I kick and I kick until my limbs are free. I feel a hand tear at my costume and see handfuls of sequins and beads fall to the floor. They grab my wig; it thankfully comes off in their fist. I am surrounded by a mass of male bodies closing in on me as I punch and elbow my way to the door.

I guess I’m lucky they were all so drunk— and for all those fights I got in as a kid. I kick and fight and claw and bite until I get through that door. I run to the van trembling, crying, hoping for back-up, but all I get is Jason shouting at me what a stupid fucking bitch I am for leaving the ghetto blaster inside. He tells me to go back in and get it. I scream back at him to go fuck himself. “Alright” he says. He gets in the van, locks the doors, and turns over the motor and switches on the headlights. The fucking bastard starts to drive off.

The bikers come out of their house and start to stand silently in their yard, arms crossed, glaring from me to the van to see if Jason is actually going to do anything. He doesn’t.

He starts steering away from the curb. He knows there is only so much time that his presence will be considered a threat before the bikers attack the whole van. Besides, Jason would never let a stripper talk down to him; it would ruin his reputation as an asshole— and he can’t have that.

Knowing dark minds well, I gather the bikers want me to provide some more sport and run. My mind ticks over a hundred miles a second. I could run— but I’m half naked in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere… and wherever I go… they will follow me… and then what?  I have no money on me to get home or even make a phone call. Not that there are any pay phones here— nor do I have a map. Who would I call anyway?  I can’t call the cops. They won’t come near a biker den. I can’t press charges— I am just a stripper. I had it coming, right? I’m caught between a bunch of dead-shit wannabe biker rapists and a control freak psycho boss threatening to bash me. The truth of my situation was that I needed him. What choice did I have?

I swallow my pride; I chase the van begging Jason to stop. I beg him to open the door. He doesn’t open the door. It’s locked. The bikers laugh and start moving towards me. Finally, Ellie opens a window and grabs my arm. She helps me climb in through the window of the van as Jason accelerates. I haul myself in as bottles come flying at the side of the van.

I am cut and bruised and bleeding and scared. No one comforts me. Everyone is too scared of Jason to do that. No one looks at me. I silently cry on the back seat as Jason pulls up the car down the street, gets out a baseball bat and sends another girl in to retrieve the ghetto blaster and what is left of my costume.

She comes out visibly shaking, covered in beer and food, but is in one piece. There is no way any of this would have happened if Chastity was with us that night. But even Chastity was scared of Jason when he was on one.

We drive off. No one talks whilst Jason shouts at me about all of the terrible things he’s going to do when we get back to the club. I go numb. He really is the biggest cunt I ever met. He admits it openly— almost proudly. He’s a cunt.

But this is just show number two on my roster; I have three more shows to do that night. I quietly fix my makeup in the back of the van and cover the scratches. Within half an hour I’m in another stranger’s house, dancing naked in front of more strange men. Their leering eyes steal my soul from me and as it leaches out I make a promise to myself. I will get out of there, and things will be better than this one day. Most of all, I tell myself I will never cry in front of Jason again— or anyone. Some people like making girls cry. Men like Jason feed on other people’s fear and misery. I know that much too. I grew up with fear, and as bad as this job is— I have already survived worse.

So as I sit fuming on the back seat, I made myself a fiery promise— one day I will be so far beyond this shitty job and shitty circumstance that I will be an untouchable and people like Jason won’t be able to come anywhere near me. One day I will be able to call the shots. Someday I will crush men like him like the insects they are, not by fighting fire with fire— I will just simply make them obsolete. One day I will be the one in power. I will eradicate these assholes one by one simply by doing their job better.

In burlesque, in this time now, we live in a sanctified world. Outside of that world and outside of our time, it’s hard to be a stripper. Your rights only exist on paper. I’ve never understood why that is. Stripping is a harmless enough job.

Surely laws exist to protect the most vulnerable… and I certainly was vulnerable, but we all know that’s not the case. Laws seem to exist to fill up dusty law books that fill up libraries accessible only to the educated and the elite. To use laws, you have to know what they are, and at that point in my life I didn’t.

That night I took home a thousand dollars’ pay, stashed it in a shoebox, and labeled it “Japan.” I had heard about Japan, the big shows, the big pay. I heard showgirls made a fortune and the clubs were amazing. My good Uni friend Anna, a valkerie blonde, was killing it as a swimwear model. My other artist friends, William and Trevor, had gone over with her to seek their fortunes too.

So I had somewhere to stay and friends to play with, but I didn’t have an agent— which you needed back then so you could get a visa. I decided to fuck it all, I would find work once I got there and work illegally— which I can do…because I am stripper, and if the law isn’t going to serve me, I will serve myself. All that stood between me and escape was money— and provided I bit my tongue and swallowed my pride, money I could make by the bucket load. I put a deposit on my plane ticket the very next day.

Talullah had told me she was also going to Japan. She had scored a contract with a notorious performance stripper named Pussy Galore— affectionately known in the dressing room as Puss Puss. Perhaps Talullah and I could be together there. I would go first and she would follow shortly afterwards. Once in Japan I would make myself into a superstar and Jason could shove his ‘professionalism’ up his fucking arse. I’ve always felt the best revenge is success, so I set my heart on doing just that. Avenging that awful night— my self-esteem demanded it. By the time I’d finished, I’d be so dazzling, that this little fuck in his starchy trousers would be kissing my feet and begging me to work for him. And it’s going to feel so good to just simply say the word “No.”

 

Check out all chapters published to date of A Bad Girl’s Guide To Revolution, by Imogen Kelly.

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Original artwork ©Lemon Squashua, and photograph courtesy of the author, all used here with express permission for Burlesque Beat. This piece may not be republished in part or in whole without obtaining explicit permission from both the author and Burlesque Beat. To acquire permission please contact us. If quoting this piece, please include author and publication credit and a link to this original piece.

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