1. "I stripped for about three years when I was in my twenties to pay off student debt. Toward the end, I became pregnant with my daughter. During that time, I made about double the money I normally earned. You would NOT believe how many men were more into me because I was visibly pregnant."
2. "I worked as a stripper for 2.5 years. We had this one man who would come in and buy a few hours in our private VIP room. He would pay hundreds of extra dollars in tips for me to step on his balls in my heels and hit him with a riding crop. As bad as I felt about hurting him, he loved it."
3. "Straight women at bachelorette parties or on a girls night out were the WORST customers, and we all dreaded them. They always thought they were entitled to get in for free because they were women and we were female dancers (which doesn’t make sense, since they're not the main attraction here; nor will the club make money off of them)."
4. "I was fresh out of high school and working as a stripper so I could afford to feed my two kids (a 3-month-old and a 15-month-old). I was onstage and looked out and saw my dad's best friend. He took me home, we slept together, and I left with $20,000. No regrets."
5. "Most people outside of the industry don’t realize that there are a lot of folks whose intimacy needs aren’t entirely sexual, and if it weren’t for strip clubs, some of these people might never be hugged, hold hands, or have a chance to flirt and hold the attention of another person in the way that they desire."
6. "I danced for 12 years. We often took water shots while supplying the customers with actual vodka shots. I've also dumped so many glasses of champagne into the champagne bucket when the customer wasn’t looking to make them think I drank it all myself. Some customers didn’t like dancers who wouldn’t get drunk with them (we weren’t as easy to take advantage of, in their eyes). Many of my champagne rooms included men who just wanted someone to talk to or to hold them while they cried. The job was sad at times."
7. "Some clubs make customers buy 'funny money' to tip everyone with. It's basically just fake money that's exchanged for real money — this way the club makes whatever percentage they charge the customer who buys it, and they also make a percentage off the dancer who later exchanges it. It's an interesting racket."
8. "If you can, only work in places where they have decent food and where drinks aren’t watered down. If the customers have a quality experience, you’ll get a better-quality clientele, meaning your tips will be better and the people will return more often."
9. "Occasionally we get random gift bags at the club from nice Christians who are 'praying for [our] souls.'"
10. "In my experience, the older dancers always make the most money at the club. It drives younger dancers absolutely wild."
11. "I’ve been a stripper for over a decade. In my experience, I’ve found that customers are way more likely to lie to us than we are to them. I have no reason to lie, and I often tell customers my real name after I’ve known them for a while and can trust that they aren’t predatory. Us giving a fake name is for our own safety."
12. "I danced for years and years. So many people think strippers are broken, damaged, or drug addicts, but I didn't see any of that. I loved dancing and loved the money — it literally paid for my first house. I was the only one in my friend group who actually owned my own home by the time we were 21."
13. "My sister's friend was a stripper in college. She told me that the money isn’t as great as people always think it is. Sometimes there are definitely phenomenal nights, but the money just isn't consistent, which can be an issue."
14. "My club had a kitchen in it, and a few customers would buy me dinner and eat with me because most of them just wanted someone to talk to. Some even said they were practicing to be on 'actual' dates."
15. "I stripped until I was 22 as a way to keep myself off the streets. I worked for a company that sent dancers out to bachelor parties and frat parties, and we always had a security guard with us, but we'd be responsible for paying them (I was happy to — they kept me safe). The frat parties tended to be more respectful. They'd offer me bottled water (we never accepted them, for safety reasons) and tipped me very well."
16. "I was a top earner at the club I worked at. I never wore makeup or got a breast augmentation, but a lot of people outside of the business think those are the only ways to be successful. It's really just all about your hustle."
17. "I was a dancer for a bit in Washington, DC, when I was in my early twenties. I don’t want to talk shit, 'cause there are definitely good people in the industry, but there was this one incident that I’ll never forget about a man who came into the club during the day."
18. And finally, this incredible story: "I was a dancer in a gay male strip club that had amateur nights (dancing really did put me through college). Usually the guys who try the pole for the first time on amateur night fail miserably. Our job was not only to make the club money but also to find cute guys who would get up and dance. One night this BEAUTIFUL muscle guy was sitting off to the side, and the bar manager tasked me with getting him to get up on the pole."
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.