Photo by Cyle Suesz
I wonder: Does any New Yorker really lead a "normal" life? Everyone I meet, whether they're a registered nurse or a Rent Boy, seems to be working several jobs, a "side gig," and steadfastly selfie-ing on at least one social media platform. Chance encounters with acquaintances while rushing through the streets most always revolve around being #crazybusy, and the rare coffee date with a friend necessitates scheduling at least two weeks in advance -- though it will likely be re-scheduled and more than likely, ultimately cancelled.
It's funny to me, because I actually think I lead a pretty normal life, at least for a go-go dancing, porn-modeling, strip show-producing young adult living in a major metropolitan city. However, it occurred to me the other day, between overhead squats with my trainer -- after I had shopped the garment district for jock strap fabric and before I went grocery shopping for the ten pounds of chicken I'd be eating throughout the week -- that perhaps my barometer for "normalcy" or "average" has been a little skewed over the last several years as a naked freelancer.
"I'm always curious," my trainer confided, "as to what porn 'stars' actually do during the day when they're not --"
"Shooting porn," I finished his sentence, push pressing the loaded barbell over my head and getting ready to squat down and further decimate my quads and ass.
"Yeah, I mean, where do they go, what do they do -- I mean are you worried about being recognized for doing porn?" he continued, pushing me forward as my form started to slip. I've already mentioned this several times in interviews and my own writings, but let me re-emphasize again, I don't consider myself to be a porn "star." If I had the notoriety of Jenna Jameson or Francois Saggat, maybe then would I be more conscious of when I went to the Duane Reade for a Fleet Enema. And in my (not so) humble opinion, if you're a porn performer who gets embarrassed when recognized for doing porn, take that as a sign to reconsider your career goals.
Until the day, however, that I have to send out for my groceries or put on a stocking cap and Ray Ban's to buy baby wipes (a "stripper's must have"), I spend the greater part of my day running around on my feet, especially when I'm not being filmed on my back. Like so many other New Yorkers, I too make stops at the bank and the butcher. However, I also spend large quantities of my time doing not-so-typical tasks, like running down go-go dancers, making break-away underwear, and hand washing the beer out of my stripper costumes, because spandex is a fussy, delicate fabric. With that all in mind, here's a (not so) average day in the life of this particular, #crazybusy, porn "professional."
7:30 a.m. :
I'm up. That's right, I'm not going to bed, I'm up and staggering into the kitchen, starting my morning ritual which almost always begins with a cup of coffee. If I'm lucky, I'll beat my roommate into the bathroom (he works a 9-5 for a publicity agency) and if not, I'll hop around in my Mr. Peanut's pyjama pants trying not to focus on the dribbling sound of the percolator in the background. Today is a busy day. I have "city errands" and a training session plus a double booking in the evening. I'm also trying to wrap up a party I'm throwing next week and finalize my own bookings for the following month.
While I'm waiting for the bathroom though, I'll start cooking breakfast and pack my lunch for the day. I'm a big lunch packer. The two things you'll always find in my back pack: A lunch box and at least one pair of break-away underwear. I quickly take a recycled pint sized yogurt container and load it with heaping portions of chicken, rice, a little avocado and some salsa. Three dietary staples in my life: coffee, rice cakes and salsa. Normally I have an actual lunch box, but last week I completely blanked and left two thousand calories worth of protein and carbohydrates under my subway seat rushing off the train. I imagine some ambitious rookie cop eagerly unzipping my lunch box with one hand while steadying a gun at it with the other, hoping to discover a homemade bomb, but being greeted by some grilled chicken and half a package of Quaker Rice Cakes. Caramel flavor.
I also load my protein shaker and its built-in compartments with the powders and pre-workout supplements along with a second shaker that I fill with my pre-workout drink. I do a lot of "pre-ing" before my workout, especially when it's with my trainer. We're doing legs today, and even though I love working out with this guy, it's one of those "hurts-so-good" pains that usually leaves me feeling like I want to pass out or vomit or cry by the time the last squat has been executed.
I'm out the door and on the subway. On the train, I might try and draft a blog post, but today I need to focus on sending emails and texts to dancers for an upcoming party. A go-go boy just cancelled his booking with me so I comb through my contacts looking for a substitute. Performers have so many names now that I've just taken to entering them as "So-n-so Dancer" in my phone. There's "Blaze Dancer, Calvin Dancer, Rocky Dancer, Tiger Dancer, Xcelsior Dancer..." The list goes on. I try to make as much use of these train commutes as possible, although sometimes I just need to chill out and listen to my music. And sometimes I try to write a porn-related blog post or jot down notes for a longer erotica piece, and then a ten-year-old and his mom on their way to school sit down next to me, and I just feel awkward and give up.
I'm at the gym and in the middle of a gruelling workout. I love this hour because technically I don't have to think about anything except the weights. However, when that weight involves twelve, 45 pound plates, plus my 220 pound trainer riding the leg press machine, I sometimes wish I had a whole bunch of really important, terrible things to concentrate on. All that steel and one very large man coming at your face in an incline position tends to rattle the nerves slightly. But I get through it. And I didn't vomit, or pass out, or cry. So yay for me.
I'm shopping the garment district while eating a banana and sucking down the first of several protein shakes for the day. I need spandex, trim and rhinestones for a new break away jock strap. I need pizza boxes and hot glue gun sticks to assemble my prop. I need a Starbucks with an actual working bathroom and a spare outlet because I, all at once, really, really need to drink a cup of coffee, take a piss, eat the contents of my protein-yogurt container and charge my phone so I can tweet about tonight's gig, find that go-go replacement, and track down a bar manager for an extra go-go gig for myself this weekend. First world problems. While in line for the bathroom, I also receive an email that reads something like this: "Hi, we're huge fans of your work and want you to be apart of this new party __________. Maybe you could do a sex show? We don't have much of a budget --" and I stop reading. While peeing I type back my response, laced with regret, that I "already have a booking that night."
I'm back home, supplies purchased, bladder emptied, phone with a half battery. I put a pot of coffee on and set up my sewing machine. I actually purchased it form a divorcee in a Starbuck's when I first moved to the city. Her ex-mother-in-law had hoped she'd use it to make her now ex-husband "little projects" like shaving bags or pencil holders. Now I use it to make little g-strings and little jock straps that spend little amounts of time on my body. I pour the coffee and begin cutting the spandex for what will be anything but a shaving bag.
I take a break from sewing and drink the last of my coffee -- I think that's four cups now, but who's counting? The jockstrap is in "rehearsal" condition now. It covers what it's supposed to and breaks off my body where I want it to, but it still needs those trademark rhinestones and embellishments to distinguish it from your average pair of Calvin's.
For now, though, it's time to rehearse my new number which will ideally be ready for next week's booking. It's my burlesque of the everyman of gay porn, "the pizza delivery boy." I was inspired to make the number after an especially nasty phone conversation with a relative who incredulously asked me, "What's so special about porn? You open a door and say, 'Did you order a pizza,' and then start fucking?" I wasn't sure how to respond, so I just hung up the phone and then got the idea for the striptease.
Eventually my pizza box will break-away for a neo-inspired fan dance with a spandex, plush pizza and a removable slice that I can then stick the junk of my soon-to-be embellished jockstrap through. For right now, though, I just dance around my living room in said jockstrap, miming the stripping of the clothing and trying to lock down some actual choreography. I love having a roommate with a day job.
Time to eat again. More chicken. More rice. Spoonfuls of salsa. In between bites I go back to my Iphone which informs me the Facebook police are concerned about a few of my recent posts, as are apparently the Instagram officials in the next social media county over. I've tried to "clean" up my posts -- really, I have! -- so now I wonder if a rival dancer or promoter (or relative) is just purposely flagging me. After all, my last photo that got removed was a flier featuring me shirtless, wearing jeans. Jeans! Admittedly, there was the hint of a very well manicured bush of pubic hair. I'm not shaving off my pubes, though, not even for Facebook.
But that said, it is time to manscape and start getting ready for the night, so I do the dishes, clean out the coffee pot, and grab one of my most prized possessions: My Gillette Men's Body Groomer. I let it buzz and vibrate away over my selected body parts and then jump into the shower.
I have a burlesque show tonight, but I also have a late night go-go dancing gig afterwards. In terms of packing, that means tonight is a "suitcase night," which really means it's a giant, fucking roller carry-on and backpack night. I start preparing for the burlesque show: two sets of costumes, several props including a rhinestoned bucket and a stuffed pony which masks a twenty ounce can of Budweiser I spray over myself, two pairs of boots, a shaving bag -- purchased, not handmade -- filled with body make-up, moisturizer and baby wipes. Like I mentioned earlier, a well-swiped baby wipe right before going onstage is a stripper's best friend. Or at least it should be.
Then I pack for the go-go gig: a jockstrap and... well that's it. Gee, that was quick! Safe to say, I love all my gigs, but the nights that I just have a go-go booking are pure, luggage-free bliss, especially since I can easily accommodate an extra pair of underwear and a travel size container of baby oil into my leather motorcycle jacket. Babywipes too. I also shove more protein powder, some rice cakes, four ounces of chicken in another yogurt container, and a sugar free Redbull into my backpack.
I'm at my first gig, snapping myself into my costume, tweeting about snapping myself into my costume, and then taking a #NSFW selfie that I can then repost as a #SFW selfie on Instagram and Facebook with links back to the unedited version on my website and twitter page. Take that Facebook. I also eat a rice cake. Mmm, caramel.
(Never underestimate the audience-pleasing power of a beer spray.)
My first gig ran over so now I'm running around backstage amidst a slew of other performers running around backstage (also running late, also running to other gigs), trying to track down last bits of costume pieces while avoiding the giant mess of glitter someone has just sprinkled over the stage floor. The gay boys at my next gig tend to tip less if I show up looking like a Tom of Finland show girl. I cram my beer soaked costumes, rice cakes, and even my real underwear into my suitcase and quickly slip into my jockstrap so I can literally just catapult myself onto the go-go box the second I get to the next bar. I'd really love a coffee right now.
I'm up and dancing, freshly baby-wiped and baby-oiled. I just have to keep my energy up for the next several hours and then I'm home free. The bar is packed and I also decide I'll write a blog post about this particular night centered around "the art of tipping," since I've already had to ask a security guard to kick out an extra drunk patron that kept slapping my ass -- but more importantly, not tipping -- as well as been propositioned by a crack head who assured me that "money is no object baby" as he slipped a Susan B. Anthony coin into my tube sock. I wonder if he's a part of the producing team that emailed me earlier today. At least I have change for coffee in the morning.
During my breaks I take Vine's of the bar scene and photos of myself with patrons. I also finally find a dancer replacement for the party I'm throwing which means I can finish my listings and send out promo photos while I hide out in the DJ booth. I finish my last set by doing a headstand on the go-go box, which usually brings in a few extra fistfuls of dollars, and also gives me time to think about what I want to pick up to eat on the way back to the train.
I'm payed out by the bar, dressed in "real people" clothes that neither break away nor are composed strictly of spandex, and wheeling my suitcase through the lower East Side. My phone is now dead, which is actually comforting in this instance, since I now am forced not to check my email or twitter feed. I stop at a deli and order egg whites and turkey and assure the prep cook that I really don't need toast. And I get a coffee. At this point, the caffeine doesn't over stimulate me so much as simply power my exhausted legs and glutes through the final paces of my journey back to Brooklyn. As an added bonus, I spy an exotic new "Habanero Lime Salsa" at the checkout. Tomorrow shall be spicy!
I'm showered and in bed, once again wearing my Mr. Peanut's pj's. Sometimes I sleep naked, but tonight I like the feel of well worn, non-stripper clothing on my body. I won't be getting up at 7:30 a.m., but I won't be sleeping that late either. I have another double booking for the night, plus I'll need to fit in a workout, unpack and wash my costumes from the previous show, and upload my blog post. I'm tired, but I feel fine. My coffee pot is already loaded and ready to go and I can't wait to try that new salsa on some chicken.
Follow Chris 'Go-Go' Harder on Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrisharderxxx