Tampa, FL: My editors at NSFWCORP sent me to the Republican National convention in Tampa to seek out the nexus of politics, stripping, and conservative economics. Finally I found it. Or rather her.
Her nom-de-pole is Bridget Fritz. She is 24 years old, petite, blond, and has, in her own words, "a perfect ass." She works at what is widely considered to be the best strip club in town: Mons Venus.
I got Bridget's name and number from Tedd Webb, the coolest fuckin' guy in Tampa, Glenn Beck's former radio co-host and the photographer behind the coffee table art book Butt, Of Course: A Black & White Tribute to Woman.
Bridget and I had agreed to meet at a Starbucks 20 or 30 minutes north of the convention center, past the football stadium and the Yankee's spring training field. It's a sprawling suburban part of Tampa that looks like many other sprawling suburban parts of Tampa.
Our introduction is awkward. I had planned to buy her a drink but she's already paying when I walk up to the counter. I apologize, probably too much. I am nervous. I have never interviewed a stripper before.
The lady behind the register senses my unease. "I don't want to pry, but I want to pry," she says. I want to explain, but I don't want to explain.
We ease into our discussion with some small talk about how great Tedd is. Then Bridget begins to describe her world to me.
"You have one rule as a dancer," she says. "I mean, other than the ones that come with the club -- make money. Nothing else."
I want to steer the conversation toward the convention. "So how many nights have you worked this week?"
"I worked Monday night, and I worked all weekend before that," she says "Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, thinking it was gonna be, like, a big pre-rush," she says.
"So was all the other girls. So it was very high supply, too many girls, not enough clients. Gets very, very rat race type... it's like, 'you made money tonight? Well fuck you.'"
Capitalism at its worst. But then business was good on Monday.
"There was a girl that styled her hair, wore the glasses, and a little professional jacket to give herself that Sarah Palin look -- it was great. She did good!"
"Were people into that?"
"Yeah! Mmm hmm! She did well that night."
I ask if she herself did anything "Republican-y."
"Just red," she says. "I wore out my red. Had the red shoes, the red lingerie, and the red lipstick."
"And you did that because you thought, Republicans, red states ... "
"Yeah. Not blue. That's right, Republican red, exactly. It's like Ann Romney and her little red Republican suit she had on the other night -- I saw her on TV. If I took off my glasses and styled my hair like her, I betcha I could do it but I don't wanna look like her. I wanna be, like -- I wish I could do the Sarah Palin look because they've made so many porns about her."
"Would you consider doing that?"
"Like a 'Nailin' Paylin' thing?"
"Any kind of porn."
"Nah, I don't think so."
I ask about Monday's clientele. Did they look like Republicans?
"Um, are you Republican?" she asks. "Are you a Democrat? You could -- I don't know ... I didn't ask ... you guys have been dealing with that all fuckin' day. This is a place to escape politics. So I didn't ask about it."
"Nobody said they were a delegate," she says, "nobody said, 'I'm part of Romney's frickin' entourage,' you know. 'He's given us the night off.'"
Point taken. A strip club isn't the place for political discussions.
"Part of the hustle is, don't go to topics, to get their brain thinking," says Bridget. "You want their dick thinking," she insists, her volume going lower for emphasis.
Our conversation turns to the business of stripping.
"I'm a bad girl," she stage whispers. "I don't pay my taxes because that's just too much work. I don't think I make enough, honestly... but if the taxman found out, he'd be upset, 'cuz they are losing out ... "
If she did pay, she could write off numerous expenses. "I am a small business person, you know, I am an independent contractor. I pay the club. I could write that down every day, $42 a night, every day."
At least her hours are flexible. "You make your own schedule," she says. "You make your own hours."
"Republicans might say that's the American dream," I say. "Entrepreneurial."
"It is," she agrees. "Republicans, listen to this: I'm a dancer and I will never, ever go back to wages. Ever. I can't. The only way I'll ever make money outside of stripping is if I start a small business where I make my own hours and I sell my product at my own price at my discretion. And that's great. And it's harder, believe me, it's a lot harder. Because it's not like you can just wake up and put in your 12 hours and you'll get your money. You might not make nothing."
"But the advantage is ... "
"Sky's the limit on how much you can make. On how fast you can make it."
When it comes to making money, Bridget knows which assets to employ, especially when acting in tandem with a black coworker.
"When we find a black customer, we'll be like 'let's make an Oreo cream sandwich, I'll be in the middle.'
And they're like, 'but it's not double-stuffed.' I go 'have you seen my ass?'"
My initial nervousness is long gone: Bridget is almost as good as the weed I smoked with Tedd Webb earlier in the week. I can't help but think that Republicans would really like her if they got to know her.
"This is the Republican convention and you are a small business owner," I tell her. "You are doing what Republicans say people should do -- own your own business."
"Yeah but, if I was a daughter of any of those, they wouldn't want me to be their daughter. So there's that side, too, you know. I'm afraid that I can't put this on my resume when I want to expand my professional development. I have a degree in journalism, I want to be on TV, I wanna be a fuckin' reporter, I can't do that 'cuz what the hell have I been doing for money?"
Bridget's blog, The Stripper Diaries, is a must-read. This from her post on when 'Strippers Try To Talk Politics'...
"With the way our government is set up, forget about legal weed, cheap abortion clinics, the economy getting better, welfare and the post office and bullshit like that. People are humans and humans don't give a shit about other humans. It's never gonna change no matter how hard we try to convince people to believe our stupid "agenda." So strippers should vote Democrat if they wanna collect food stamps and fuck the rich people, which are our best clients, so that's why it might be better to vote Republican.,,,
The value of a dollar ain't shit anymore. When a guy slips a dollar in my garter, it's a good thing. But if that happened 20 years ago, I would have been able to buy a loaf of bread, a gallon of gas, and some eggs. I have to get another ten of those dollars if I want that stuff now."
"I'm trying to look for opportunities," she tells me. "Is your company hiring writers?"