Advice

Miss Information: I want to strip! But I don’t know where to start…

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Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I recently hooked up with a guy that I’d had casual encounters with in the past. Pretty vanilla, nothing “weird.” The last time we were together really freaked me out though. First, he was extremely aggressive during foreplay, to the point that I had to sharply tell him that he was hurting me. He was mesmerized, practiaclly mauling me; he was like a fourteen year-old who thought he was having sex with Jenna Jameson. I had been starved for sex at the time, so I blew off his aggressive behavior; I have deeply regretted that decision. Then, during sex, he wrapped his hand around my throat so hard that I couldn’t breathe and was gagging. I thought I was going to pass out and possibly die. He loosened his grip when he noticed that I was struggling to breathe and trying to wiggle out from under him. He released his grip when he came. Then he apologized. Legally, is it possible to be assaulted during consensual sex? I feel violated and am trying to forget the whole situation. I am so pissed off at him for his asshole move and at myself for not seeing the red flags. Needless to say, I will not have anything to do with him again. — Sex is Violent

Dear Sex is Violent,

It is possible to be assaulted during consensual sex. What is consensual sex? The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) says one way to define it is by asking yourself the three following questions:

1. Are the participants old enough to consent?
I’ll assume yes for this one, even though your email doesn’t list your ages.

2. Do both people have the capacity to consent?
In the beginning? Yes. Towards the end? No. How can you consent when your air supply is restricted and you’re worried about passing out or dying from asphyxiation? This is not a breath-play game gone overboard. He introduced a completely new variable, without your permission.

3. Did both participants agree to take part?
The sex? Yes. The rough stuff and choking? No way. You told him he was being too aggressive, then he went ahead and escalated. Say you’re in a taxi. You order the driver to slow down. He hits the gas and pushes it up to eighty. Who’s at fault, you or the taxi driver? A normal person would have followed your very clear instructions. You don’t give someone a free pass just because the two of you are already naked.

I would feel violated too, Sex is Violent. Reading this over, I fail to see where you ignored any red flags. You’d already had sex with him before, totally normal and non-scary sex at that. How were you supposed to anticipate this?

Cutting off all contact is smart. I would also look into counseling and an attorney. I can’t really comment on whether or not you have a case, but it’s worth looking into.

Dear Miss Information,

I’m interested in working as an exotic dancer. I have researched a few places in my area, but they’ve gotten mixed reviews on message boards. My number one concern is safety. I love my body. I have no problem with being scantily clad. I’ve never done the pole bit, but I do have some formal dance training. My biggest fear is getting on stage and making an ass of myself. Would I be able to go back out there again or would I have such a bad first experience that I’d ruin it for myself forever? How do people start in this field? Asking someone with experience seems like the obvious choice, but why would they give up their trade secrets? — Clothes On For Now

Dear Clothes On For Now,

Why wouldn’t they? You’re falling victim to the occupational stereotypes before you’ve even decided on a stage name. (FYI, mine is “Cilantro.”) Strippers are secretive. Strippers are backstabbers. Strippers are competitive and catty. That’s probably true some of the time, but I could say the same about people I’ve worked with at ad agencies.

Dancing is a business. The most successful dancers are the ones that understand this Latin principle: “Manus manum lavat.” Loosely translated, that means “One thong washes the other.” You have to offer an experienced dancer something in exchange for sharing their knowledge and experience. It could be a free lunch or dinner, a cash consulting fee, or help with babysitting, home repairs, or a resume. Put some ads in the “Gig” or “Barter” sections of Craigslist or join some relevant communities, like the sex-worker magazine $pread on Facebook. Ask friends and friends of friends if they know anyone in the business. It’s easier to approach someone if there’s a personal connection. If you want to cold-call clubs, choose a time when they’re not busy and be honest (but brief! time is money!) about your intentions.

You can also spend actual time in the clubs, and read some how-to books and memoirs. I’m sure I’ll get beat with the disaffected hipster stick for the recommendation, but Candy Girl by Diablo Cody is one of my favorites. Here are some others.

It’s natural to want to avoid public humiliation, but I don’t know if that’s really possible. It’s a job. No one’s ever really good at what they do at the outset. It might be helpful to practice your shtick in front of an audience of your coolest, non-judgmental friends. Dim the lights, put on some music, get out some folding chairs. It may help you decide if stripping is something you’re actually capable of.

Readers, do any of you dabble in the nudie-dancing arts? Any tips for this young lady?