It’s my first visit to a strip club.
I’m here not as a patron, but to take lessons in exotic dancing from a former stripper-turned-tutor named Michelle. I had answered Michelle’s ad in the New Haven Advocate the week before, and met her one night in a different parking lot at a local KFC to hand over a check for $150 in exchange for five sessions.
I'm stripping so I can support myself while writing my dissertation. But the discoveries I'm about to make, and the people I'm about to know, will in a year turn me into a seasoned veteran of American strip club culture, gaining not only a better sexy dancing skill set, but also a window into how corporate influences are changing that culture.
But right now, I'm nervously sitting in my car in the parking lot of Backstage Bill's watching men file in, unsure of what exactly awaits me. Michelle arrives and we walk inside. I will end up spending a lot of time at this particular venue -- but this is the first and last time I use the front door.