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 Stripper Lois O'Conner tells SIR KNIGHT the most intimate secrets of her profession

"The Gee Whiz String"

 by Lois O'Conner


Sir Knight

Vol. 2, No. 11, January, 1961

    WHEN YOU REMOVE your clothing as part of the means of earning your living a lot of things can happen that you have no way of anticipating. My clothing, let me hasten to add, comes off to the accompaniment of music and falls into the vocational area known as stripteasing.
    Most people who attend nightclubs with any frequency have some grounds for believing they know something about the life of a stripteaser. After all, they see her on stage and between shows they see her circulating around the club. Most men look her over and figure, given the proper set of circumstances, they could make out. Most women look her over and figure that, if they really wanted to, they could do a routine every bit as good and probably a lot better.
    My career as a stripper has taken me from Miami to Los Angeles from Minneapolis to Juarez. It is true that some men in a given audience could make out with some strippers. It is also true that some women in a given audience could get up on the stage and perform a better routine than a particular pro. I've seen it happen. It is equally true that by watching a stripper work, and by observing her conduct around a club, you can make a fair appraisal of her life and her personality. But I'll also bet that a few things have happened to the average stripper which you couldn't even guess in your wild imagination.
    Certainly I could provide factual names and places. However, I'll confine myself to actual general areas. That way, I'll stick to the absolute truth, yet avoid a barrage of lawsuits. I have no desire to spend the next five years in courtrooms. Nor do I have any desire to blow the whistle on anyone. In my business, insofar as possible, we live and let live. Not a bad philosophy for any business.
    One experience that I now look back on with some amusement occurred in Juarez, Mexico. I was booked in by an American agent for two weeks. It was my first trip below the border. The club was one of the larger strip joints, just across the bridge. It was typical--run down and dirty.
    I got to work a little early that first night so I could clarify just what was expected of me. The manager was a short, slender, soft-spoken man in his late forties. He spent most of his time perched on a stool behind the main cash register.
    He considered my question a moment, his eyes shifting everywhere but to my face; then he said haltingly, "You just streep to thees G-strang and the pasties."
    I made him repeat it once more so we would have a clear agreement. I had found long ago that the only course in any new engagement is to get the manager to commit himself as to just what is expected in the way of stripping. That way he can't blame me if the law descends on the place, or if the customers set up a cry because too little is taken off. Of course, even this doesn't mean that I'm protected if the law comes calling, but at least I've created a situation where I can pass the blame without any mistake.
    My first dance that night--a torrid native routine--went off about as well as could be expected for an opening night, especially when you consider that the Mexican musicians had listened politely to my requests for certain numbers and then played exactly what they wanted to. The manager watched me with what seemed to be approval and the house gave me a good hand, In the dressing room, a few moments later, I toweled off some of the perspiration and put on a terry cloth robe. Seconds later, the door of the big dressing room burst open and in strode one of the two Mexican emcee and what obviously was a Mexican flatfoot.
    The emcee, gesticulating wildly, said in bad English "He say you take off too much clothes."
    The policeman nodded his head vigorously. "Yes. Must see what you take off."
    For an instant, I didn't know what to say, but when I began to recover I felt an edge of anger and I decided that they both looked like refugees from a cesspool.
    I stared back at the emcee and said, "You mean, he wants me to show him what I had on when I left the stage?"
    "Si, si." The emcee smiled and nodded. "You take off and show heem."
    They were poised about six inches away, eagerly waiting for me to disrobe. I backed up and said angrily, if nervously, "You go to hell! I did just what the manager said I should do. If you want to see anything, go take a long look at him."
    I stood there, holding my breath. I had learned long before that when you're in a spot like that the only thing to do is try to shout your way out of it. It doesn't matter how scared you are--it's the front you put on that counts.
    They stood looking at me in uncertainty. What might have happened could have made this an entirely different story. What happened was, the door popped open and in stepped a Mexican husband and wife dance team. They looked silently at the emcee and the police man and then went into the corner of the dressing room. The emcee and the policeman lingered a further moment and then turned around and left. I breathed a shuddering sigh of relief.
    I told my story to the manager a few minutes later and while he said nothing one way or the other, I was not bothered again during the remainder of my two weeks. I soon learned that the invasion I had experienced was one that happened often--particularly to American dancers who were booking below the border for the first time. The emcee and the policeman, working their little ruse, got more than one free eyeful, not to mention a few caresses. Some of the dancers were just too frightened to know what to do; as a result, the emcee and the policeman just about had their own way. However, let it be said that back on the other side of the border the morals squad let loose backstage can and often does behave with equally dependable initiative.

    ONE OF THE sorriest places I ever booked into was in Colorado. My agent had just contracted the place and so knew next to nothing about it. I got into town on a Sunday night and located in a motel about a block up the street from the club where I was to open the next night. I had dinner in a nice little restaurant in the immediate neighborhood.
    While enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail at the bar, I had occasion to ask the bartender what he thought about the club up the street. When a club is new I always try to dig up as much information as I can in the immediate neighborhood. Sometimes I've saved myself a lot of grief that way.
    The bartender gave me an earful. He put his foot up solidly on the back counter and said, "That joint's a trap--you name it and they got it. If you're looking for entertainment, don't go there. I'll give you a half dozen places to go but don't go there."
    "What's the matter?" I asked. The news disappointed me more than it surprised me. I had come a long way to take the booking. It would mean lost time and money if I had to back out. The same thing had happened more than once in the past and it had always cost at least a week's pay and sometimes two to three weeks.
    The bartender shook his head in disbelief. "Like I say, you name it. Some times they lock the doors and put on private shows. You ain't heard of nothing like it. They also got a house down the street. Half the dancers got to hustle on the side--it ain't no place for no lady."
    Instead of getting to the club about an hour before showtime the next day, I got there in the middle of the afternoon. My first impulse had been to wire my agent and duck the engagement. But you need more than hearsay in such a situation or you can run into a lot of union contract problems. I had to find out for myself.
    Some luck was with me. The manager was in. The bartender pointed him out to me. He was sitting in a booth, hand wrapped around a glass. I introduced my self and sat down. He barely acknowledged my presence. He was a brute of a man, in appearance, in action, in speech. I found out later that he represented Chicago mob money.
    He gave me neither his eye nor his attention, so I said as bluntly as I could, "I came in to clear up just what I'll have to do here as a dancer."
    The brute coiled and uncoiled his hand around the glass. He never looked up from the table as he spoke. His voice was a guttural growl. "Do your dance, that's what."
    "How about after hours and private parties?"
    He shrugged. "Yeah, we book some."
    I felt like a gnat buzzing around a gorilla, a gorilla who was on the verge of getting irritated. I gulped and asked, "What would be expected of me?"
    "What the hell do you think?" A sneer crossed his face. "You take your clothes off and get friendly. You think you're here to pour tea?"
    I stood up. Trying to control my indignation, I just barely was able to says, "I don't think I'll work here. I'll wire my agent."
    He motioned a massive arm toward the doorway. "You think I give a good God damn what you do? Go on--get the hell outta here."
    I walked toward the door, feeling every step of the way that I might be hit over the head. I was shaking from fright by the time I got out side. He was that kind. You know the instant you look at them.
    When I got over the shakes, I wired my agent. He was able to set me up with another booking the following Monday further North in the same state. In the following two months that I booked in various places in that state, I discovered a good deal about that particular club. From other dancers, from agents, from one-time patrons, I learned that they did lock the doors and throw orgies wherein complete nudity was only the beginning. They also operated a whorehouse down the street and they demanded that every dancer work there after hours. Some were actually terrorized into it. At the time I had been booked in, they had been forced to go as far away as 1500 miles to find an unwitting agent who would send them girls.
    Don't ask me how they could operate within the law. Somebody must have got to somebody with something because operate they did--and so far as I ever heard, with out any trouble at all from the law.

    A MORE commonplace thing, a thing that a stripper encounters in almost any club, is for the manager to beckon her over to a table and introduce her to a special somebody. That somebody can be anybody--the governor's special assistant, a mortgage holder or even the chief of the local vice squad. It behooves the girl to at least sit down and make the best of it. It is generally up to her how far she cares to let it go. As for myself, I react as any woman would in similar circumstances--what happens depends upon the particular man.
    I've drawn some weird ones! I was working a fairly nice club in Minneapolis. The manager introduced me to a big wheel in advertising circles, a polite, quiet, obviously intelligent man in his middle forties. He was quite good looking, in a pinkish way. We found a lot to talk about throughout the rest of the evening and before my last routine I had agreed we might go out together for a bite to eat after the club closed.
    We had our bite to eat and things were so pleasant that I agreed to go to his apartment for a nightcap. It wasn't only that he was so nice to talk to, it was that he seemed so harmless I couldn't conceive of any possible serious trouble that might develop. I felt that if he did make some proposal that didn't appeal to me, I would be able to politely decline and that would be the end of it.
    His apartment was sumptuous enough to make it plain he had plenty of money. He had his own little bar, just off the living room, and after he had poured drinks, he showed me around. If I had been making three times as much money as I was I might have afforded one room. He not only had money, he had good taste and discrimination.
    We paused before some book cases in the living room. He set his drink down and slipped a small, green-covered book out of the case. It had no title of any kind on the cover.
    "Ever see this?" He handed the book to me.
    I put my glass down and took the book. It was a slender volume of pictures, with appropriate little captions under each picture. Some of the captions were extremely clever, but each picture was a different live presentation of from one to six nude female and male models in the act of using one or more of an astonishing variety of whips.
    The pictures didn't disturb me. I had seen a good many that were quite a bit wilder. What I did speculate about was what was coming next. That particular book hadn't been drawn out of the bookcase by accident.
    He took the book and put it back in the bookcase. We then took seats in the living room. I sat on the sofa and he faced me kittycorner from an overstuffed chair. He took a sip of his drink and then said blandly. "I suppose you've seen a good bit of life?"
    I shrugged. I had, I suppose, but that didn't mean I approved of everything I had seen.
    He said quietly, "I showed you that book for a special reason."
    There was no point in being naive. I said, "I supposed as much."
    He rested his hands lightly on either arm of the chair, looking directly but gently at me. "I have my own particular needs. I am ready to pay handsomely to have them satisfied." He paused a moment to see if I understood him. Deciding that I did, he continued, "It is my need to stand nude and be tantalized and be tormented by a lovely woman."
    He paused and waited for me to answer. I said what honestly came to me. "I think I understand. You mean you like to be whipped." I had previously read, and heard about both sadism and masochism, so I had nothing to be surprised about. And his manner was so calm and gentle that I certainly had nothing to fear.
    He nodded his head. I could only shake my head in equally silent reply. Knowing about a sex anomaly is one thing, even as accepting it calmly, but participation is quite another thing. My sex desires run along well established lines.
    "You mean," he asked, "that you couldn't do it?"
    "No," I said shortly. I didn't hold it against him. It didn't revolt me, it didn't shock me, but it did leave me coldly indifferent.
    "I pay very well..."
    I shook my head. No amount of money meant that much to me. I give my love when it's the thing to do, but I could never sell any part of me at any time. I don't have any complaints against those who do--it just isn't for me.
    We finished our drink in quiet thought and then he suggested that I might be ready to go home. He drove me back to my hotel, chatting easily along the way and when he let me out he thanked me for a wonderful time. I went up to my room feeling half ashamed that I hadn't been able to make his evening a more agreeable one.

    OCCASIONALLY I book a casual or a stag. These are held anywhere from a downtown hotel, to a private club, or a private residence, not to mention out on a yacht. The demands are many and varied. Generally I try to thresh out all of the details before hand so I'll know with some exactness just what I'm getting into, or, indeed, if I want to get into it at all. There are quite a few of those.
    My agent asked me if I wanted to book a birthday celebration at a fraternal order. "What do I do?" I asked.
    "This will be the easiest $150.00 you ever pulled," he said. "They're pulling a surprise birthday party for one of the bigwigs. They got a big cardboard cake which will be carried in and set up. At a signal, you push up the top of the cake and pop out from inside."
    "Dressed in a great big smile?"
    "Yeah. You go over and give the boy a big kiss and wish him a happy birthday and that's all there is to it."
    "That's all?"
    "That's all."
    You either trust your agent or you don't. I did trust that particular agent so I went and made like happy birthday for the man in question.
    And it came off just as planned, except maybe the birthday gent got a little carried away and added a couple of extra caresses that weren't in the original script. Also, I nearly froze to death in that cake waiting for the signal to pop out.

    THERE ARE certain other commercial proposals that come the way of the stripper. Each time I have worked Los Angeles, Chicago, or New Orleans, I've had offers to put in some spare time posing as a nude model. Now and then every stripper gets proposals to star in a sex film. I have always refused both. I do know one of the top strippers in the country who went for the latter. I have seen the film she participated in, and I'm inclined to think she did it much more for some personal thrill she got out of it than for the thousand dollar fee. So far as the modeling goes, I have nothing against it, having done it upon occasion. The type of offers I always refuse are the ones where I would be posing nude in private homes, before five, six, or a dozen men and often there won't be a camera within a mile. A girl can earn extra money at these posing sessions without any trouble at all.
    There are many, many other experiences I could tell you about, a few that would curl the pages of any magazine--but I'll conclude by mentioning two of lighter nature.
    One time I was working a place in Northern Wisconsin, the law there was that a girl could work down to G-string and pasties but no further.
    The crowd was large and appreciative that night. I was moving wildly to the frantic beat of the drum and trying to work loose the snap on my strip panties. When I worked those off I would be clad in G-string and pasties and would be just a couple of minutes from the conclusion of my dance. The snap came loose between my fingers and in time to the music I started working my panties down. The cries became louder and the applause abruptly reached a frenzy. For an instant, I was exuberant that my dance was going so well--then some feeling some sixth sense, impelled me to look down at what I was doing.
    There was good reason for the increased tempo of the response. I had my strip panties half way off but I didn't have any G-string on underneath. That's something that has happened to any dancer at leas once in her career. I tugged those panties back up much faster than they had gone down and I finished the dance in a riot of noise and confusion that I never hope to experience again. Fortunately, the manager, who could have fired me laughed so hard he was still snickering when I completed my engagement.
    The final incident I can mention in print happened in Florida. I have this one glorious feeling--it didn't happen to me. There were six dancers on the bill, one of whom was built along the lines of a wrestler. She had a reasonably good figure, but just a little bit too much of it. She also tended to have the lightness of foot and grace of s small elephant.
    One night, a little bit the worse for alcohol, she went into her act with customary hefty abandon. She got her dress off with a robust tug and then tripped over the mike cord. She toppled to the stage with a ponderous thud and then bounced or skidded her head and shoulders resoundingly into the bass drum. The drummer sat, drumsticks frozen in motion, and stared down with transfixed eyes upon the destruction which had been wrought unto his drum. The other three instruments in the band fell silent for several moments and then resumed in some what ragged tempo.
    The laughter and shrieking exploded in the club. The fallen dancer wriggled back out of the drum and sat up on the center of the stage, swearing out at the audience in oaths that would have paralyzed a hearing group of people. She finally clambered to her feet and, shaking her fist at the audience, stormed down off the stage and out into the dressing room. The band went completely to pieces then and for a good ten minutes the club was in an uproar. That was one experience I never envied and it taught me full respect for mike cords and other treacherous odds and ends that might turn up on a stage.
    As I said in the beginning, there is much more to the life of a stripper than meets the eye--sometimes there is quite a bit of Gee Whiz to the G-string.

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