April 4, 1980
She said she only did it when she had no choice, if it was between starving or being fed, or being put on onto the street.
“It’s not that I see anything wrong with it,” she told me as we sat at the bar between her dance sets. She didn’t seem cold or put out by the fact that she was close to being naked.
“I’m not morally opposed to it,” she said. “I just don’t like the idea that I have to make a living at it. Dancing I don’t mind. It takes talent to get up there and do what I do. But most of the time with the other stuff, I just lay there and let it happen, and I’m worth more than that.”
She has a day time job, she says, and wants to make a career out of something, and doing something like that just doesn’t make her feel good about herself.
“I used to really get into it when I started,” she said. “I thought getting paid for doing what I liked to do was great, except that after a while I stopped liking it, and didn’t like the people I did it with either. They didn’t like me much either, and so I got to the point where I only did it when I absolutely had to and figured I could make up the difference in jobs like this or my day job, only neither one pays enough. Some months I get buy well enough, but on those rough months when the landlord comes up and says he wants his rent or else, well, what’s a girl supposed to do?”
I’d talked with other dancers, but they always danced around that side of things, always telling me they never did it, or had other jobs, or else said they were professionals and didn’t care. But this dancer was different, she didn’t mind talking straight, and didn’t even mind that I jotted stuff down in the notebook as long as I didn’t use her name.
“It’s not my real name anyway, but I’m known around in the clubs by it, and I don’t want a lot of people knowing what I have to do on the side,” she said. “I want to be something else someday, and I don’t want this to come back to haunt me.”
“Then why are you telling me?” I asked.
She smiled. “You got honest eyes,” she said. “You want to fuck me all right. But you’ve never offered to pay me to do it, and I appreciate that. Sometimes, a girl likes to be liked for being what she is, not – well – for the fact she can be hired.”
She said she didn’t like men who wanted to change her or help her get out of what she did. She’s fine with who she is. She just doesn’t want to have to depend on that and wants something better, something she can be proud of.
“I’m not ashamed,” she said. “I’m worth a lot more than that, and someday I want other people to understand that.”
I nodded. I knew she was, although I just hoped she didn’t fall behind on rent too much and wind up with the wrong man.
She must have read my mind, patting me on the hand.
“I’ll tell you what, you can buy me a drink,” she said, finishing off the one she already had. “If I get drunk enough, I won’t have to think about it.”
Then she got serious and stared straight into my eyes.
“Just don’t offer to help me, okay?” she said. “I mean that.”