Strip clubs are like temples, except instead of religious iconography, they happen to be full of beautiful women and booze. And like a temple, there are certain guiding principles that one must respect, lest you’re denied the earthly pleasures therein. That’s why we tapped author and iconic Portland dancer Elle Stanger to descend the mountain — er, pole — and give us the 10 Strip Club Commandments.
Thou shall have no other distractions before me
I am the stripper, thy entertainer, who brought you out of your house of boredom, and thou shall have no other distractions before me. Texting thy booty call can probably wait another three to seven minutes, so put your damn phone away. At least do what the on-call nurses and truck drivers do when their devices start buzzing: put a couple dollars on the rack, get up, and walk away to answer. Mine is a divine performance, and thou shall pay attention.
Thou shall not record or photograph my image
Since the dawn of hip hop and butt-rock music videos, many have forgotten that this isn’t just a sin, it’s illegal by the laws of Man. In most states it’s actually a Class A Misdemeanor to record in a club. Performers want to be famous in the club — our temple — not on YouTube.
Thou shall not present thy junk
Nobody wants to see selfies of your nethers: not your girlfriend, not your Snapchat buddies, and certainly not a stripper. It is a true test of a dancer’s poker face when presented with a picture of a stranger’s Linus in the lap dance room. Every time a customer scrolls through his cellular gallery, saying, “I want to show you something,” strippers mentally prep themselves for photos of smiling children… of the instrument that fertilized the egg that made them.
Thou shall give alms
Paying a cover fee alone doesn’t make you entitled to gaze at a dancer’s divine visage. Us strippers beat up our bodies doing Olympics-level pole tricks. If you can’t afford to see Cirque du Soleil, you definitely shouldn’t be going to a club. For those on a budget, handeth over $1 per dance. Honor thy dancer.
Thou shall not covet attention
Encouraging your girlfriend to lap-hump on you at the bar or at the rack isn’t arousing to anyone, even if R. Kelly’s “Bump and Grind” is playing. Either way, folks are here for a show, not a spectacle you’ve created.
Thou shall not lick or kiss
Heathen. One sure way to guarantee yourself an air dance (Editor’s Note: that’s a lap dance, minus any contact) is to make the stripper nervous that she might suddenly be bathed in your saliva. My neck is for my lover and my forehead is for my Mom. So please keep your mouth closed and away.
Thou shall not grope
Grabbing a stripper’s body parts to see her tattoo is one of the biggest no-no’s. If you say, “I just want to see your tattoo,” you’re even worse. What was decreed in kindergarten still stands: look with your eyes, not your hands. Otherwise the bouncer’s going to look with his hands while kicking you out.
Thou shall not covet my off time
Telling a stripper you “don’t tip strippers” but that you’d rather “take her out for dinner” is the best way to ensure that she spins on her stilettos and never speaks to you again. Good luck with your speed dating; the prophets predict it shall be extra fast.
Thou shall respect thy dancers
That other stripper you just made a rude comment about? She’s my coworker. She’s my friend. Regardless, women are smart enough to know that a real compliment doesn’t rely on denigration of another woman. That’s a competition none of us agreed to.
Thou shall not steal
Nothing reeks of desperation more than attempting to steal tips from a working woman. It happens more than you’d think. I’ve given into wrath and chased men who took tips from my stage. Some of us run pretty fast in heels. Thou shall not beat the crap out of a thieving scumbag is not one of our commandments… or one of the bouncer’s.