You’re Bitching Up The Wrong Tree

Okay, visitors here know in a past not so distant life ago I was a bartender in a full nude strip bar. Many of y’all still ask me why. Why? The money was great and the scenery wasn’t that bad either. As well, many (not all) have judged my morals or judgment in career options, mostly I was told how I glorified the world of stripping when strippers are really disgusting slut whore beasts and are the lowest form of human on the planet, right after the douchebags who go to strip bars and pay to see naked women dance in their face. Yes, I simplified it for y’all, forgive me, but I never understood how or why people judge strippers. Strippers strip for whatever reason, I’m not real sure how many of them want to shake what their momma gave them in front of strangers for money. But, I know for a fact that there are reasons women strip, every single one of them has a reason. Some of those reasons have been explored here in the past, and I always get told that I’m very biased because I “lived” in their world too long while working as a bartender. How can that even be true or make sense.

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I thought that since I received this great example from an angered reader who wanted to reach out with her own information that this would be the perfect opportunity to take another moment to discuss choices of employment, perhaps motivations, and of course to glitzy lure of stacks of cash. In a moment, y’all will read the email I got yesterday explaining to me that I needed to be more clear to people so others who do strip or want a career in stripping have information so they don’t get fucked, literally. As far as my past posts, they are my own personal experiences OR experiences that were shared with me by real life strippers while I was a bartender. And, look people, again knowing from personal experience, some of the choices for employment are harder than others. So, read the email below, catch back up with me afterwords. If you ask me, the writer/sender was/is a stripper and got burnt somehow, I would assume she sued or attempt to sue her place of employment because one of her patrons tipped her with information instead of dollar bills. Just my humble opinion.

Begin email———————————–

1. Strippers, exotic dancers, showgirls, lap dancers, peep show dancers, & erotic entertainers are EMPLOYEES of the club they work for.

Stripping is a J-O-B. Strippers will never be independent contractors. It doesn’t matter if the boss calls a stripper an independent contractor or if it’s a term she applies to herself.  The reality is that the way strip clubs operate, the strippers working in can only be employees. It’s because management must exercise a certain amount of control over working conditions or else there would be chaos. Some might argue that management creates more disorder with their policies than order. Management need to figure out which dancers are going to work on any given shift; how many shifts there are in a day; how many hours each shift runs; many decide what dancers may wear at work; how many dances she perform on stage, and so on. The reason why strip clubs misclassify strippers as “independent contractors” is to dodge their employer obligations. The irony is that clubs say you’re an independent contractor but actually treat you like an employee.

2. Strip club employers must pay all their workers minimum wage, at a bare minimum.

Strip club employers must also pay into social security, worker’s compensation, employer taxes, & a slew of others good things that workers in any other industry are guaranteed as employees.  Personally, I think that strippers should get paid far more than minimum wages.  After all, not every chick is willing to take her clothes off in front of random strangers & gyrate on their laps to arouse them!  The management like the money strippers make for their business, but they don’t want to pay these women for their labor.  THIS IS ILLEGAL.

3. State labor laws state that it is illegal for an employer (here, the strip club owner) to take any portion of his/her employee’s (here, the stripper) tips.

To add insult to injury, management charge strippers for the privilege to work!You know:  those stage fees, quotas, commissions, piece rate system, locker fees, booking fees, etc, etc…. It’s also illegal for employers to require strippers to tip other employees (DJ, House Mom, Manager, Bartender, etc).  Management minimally pay non-stripper staff and expect strippers to underwrite the remainder of their wages.  Why are these fees-to-work illegal?  Because strippers earn their money through tips that customers provide for them.  Strippers use their tips to pay management these illegal mandatory fees. THIS IS ILLEGAL. Lets review by answering the following questions for yourself.

Were you misclassified as an independent contractor while being employed as a stripper?

Did management fail to pay you minimum wages while you were a stripper?

Did you have to pay management to work while you were employed as a stripper?

If you said “yes” to one or more of these questions, your labor rights were violated. Take action to assert your labor rights!

End of email——————————————-

**** On a very special note. The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog has not, will not, and cannot provide any legal advice. Visitors of this blog should consult with their own lawyer for legal advice. The information provided was for informational purposes ONLY. I claim no legal knowledge in regards to topics discussed here. Now, you’ve been warned and informed motherfuckers! ****

In reality I don’t care what people do with their lives, how they spend their money, or who they choose to see naked. I can, however, say that every single person who walks through the door of a strip club (employee or patron) has their own reason for being inside those walls. I mentioned before, my goal was to make money, as much as I could as fast as I could. Now, having a 8-5 job during the day and then working another 8+ hours afterwards as a “part time” sucked, I won’t lie, it made for long days/nights. As well, it was a 42 minute drive for me personally which racks miles up on the vehicle as well as adds just a few more hours each day. Yes, once at work the scenery, in general, was pleasant. The work environment was a bit weird because my involvement with the business of the club were pretty nil. I did, however, meet some very nice people along the way while I worked there, I’ll leave that part right there. Want to know more just read around this blog a little and you’ll see what I mean.

Getting back to how I or what I write about glorifies the occupation of stripping, because, lets face it together, I get accused of never writing about anything but strippers using their nakedness to separate men of all ages from their money in the shortest time possible. What y’all have got from me is the brutal honesty, not the fucking fairytale la la land some people seem to live in. I guess my point is simple, working as a stripper is what it is, it’s a choice someone makes, and often enough people get judged because in someone else’s opinion it was the wrong choice to make. Trust me, I’m 46 years old and still get grief from my mother because I bartended in more than one strip club over the years. “How can you do that to your wife and treat her without respect by working at a strip bar?” is my favorite question to date. My wife only had one dislike about me working there and that was the simple fact that I was getting in after 1 in the morning day after day and I was tired. I was tired and didn’t want to do anything except hang out around the house, I was a big fan of not going anywhere or not doing anything. In the end, it was my wife’s opinion that made me want to quit in the first place. She asked me to quit one time, and I made it happen that day. On the flip side, all joking aside here, she was the one that said I needed to get a part time job to fill some time, make a little money, and get out more. In fact, it was a friend of a friend of a friend of one of her co-workers that my wife gave me the number to call for the job. She was informed, the moment I went to the interview, that it was at a strip club. Her answer was it was decision either way, but told me I knew I could make some serious cash if I took it. Yes, she does not about my past life, not that it was talked about much.

Luckily, at the place I worked, everyone was an employee, we all had health coverage if we chose, we could participate in the 401k, they were workers comp compliant, the whole 9 yards. However, indeed, a portion of my paycheck was dependent on bar sales, door sales, and stripper tips. Yes, now I’m the bad guy. No, it wasn’t my rule, and nobody fought it, it was just the way it was I guess. But, they did not pay to dance, they did not have fees except for one, which was if you were scheduled to work and you were a no show/no call, you were given three days off without pay as a warning to be more courteous to your coworkers. It mentions minimum wage above, um no, how the average stripper was making from $18.00 to $23.00 an hour, plus tips, plus dances, plus whatever the hell else they were doing on the side, if anything. Again, I’m not defending the industry itself, merely where I worked.

Oddly enough, during the mere course of writing this post I have received 4 more emails “scolding” me for being a sinner, supporter of sinning, and indulging in the slavery which we collectively call the “sex trades” since stripping somehow falls into that category. Maybe I truly am blind, somewhat oblivious to the blythe which is that of the life of a stripper. But, wait….. for….. it….., I don’t care, I really don’t, I don’t care what people do which their lives. Well, that’s not altogether true, I do care that I contribute a large amount of my paycheck to pay for others to sit at home on the crack pipe, on the xBox, or on the porch, instead of them getting out and getting a fucking job. We’ll talk about that another time, I read a study recently that the average person on a combination of government service programs average about $19.20 an hour. Like I said, lets get back to that another day. My mere connection with the stripping industry is purely coincidental, meaning we would work in the same building, all of us dependent on the very steady stream of people entering the neon lit establishment we called a strip bar.

But, I understand, the easy thing to do is to judge those doing things we don’t agree with. We should just be happy people are out working instead of sucking on the welfare titty all day. Until we as human beings stop looking at the opposite sex with lust in our eyes there will always be a place where we can see the opposite sex naked. Have y’all been on the internet later, have y’all seen what y’all have been searching for, and y’all call me the pervert?  Again, another post for what people’s perversions are. Your choice, fucking hate me, if that gets you though the day, great, just fucking hate me. Meanwhile, I will give you something to think about, my final thought here today. All strippers have a story, a life, a family, and although you detest their industry or them as people, just remember it takes guts to strip in front of strangers, it takes courage to get out there to earn a living no matter what your craft may be. Before we get all biblical on me, remember, I don’t by into it, so in reality it’s a major waste of both of our times. But, as usual, I will get the emails, the comments, and so forth, and I will post here on this blog the ignorance that is spewed. There is no justice in the world, we all know it, sometimes we decide that instead of running away from life, we jump on that old hag, dig the spurs in deep, and ride her until that bitch throws us or we tame the beast. Your choice.

I’m Dreaming of a Scary Christmas

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I’m reminded by a regular reader and contributor to The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog that it seems that many Christmas stories we know today had a much different start so many years ago. Writers wrote stories differently way back in the early years. Many times stories were written down so they could be shared with many generations to come, most of which had always been word of mouth stories. This reader has taken a “look” into some of the roots for the rhyme or reason behind the scary season and why we love to see, read, and hear all of those great scary Christmas stories.

I know what you’re thinking. What possesses someone to write scary Christmas stories? What is there about Christmas that could possibly be considered scary, creepy, ghoulish, demented, or hair-raising?

Oh, where to start.

At their heart, scary Christmas stories are about subverting innocent childhood memories, adding eerie and unimagined dimensions to them. For regular people, Christmas is about celebration and wonder—or that mad dash to the mall. They aren’t like those strange, twisted individuals who imagine burning red eyes flaring alongside the other lights in a Christmas tree, or hear soot-caked claws scraping inside the brick belly of the chimney.

A Background on Scary Christmas Stories

I blame the Victorians. They loved their ghost stories, and Christmastime was when they gathered around the fire and did their best to scare each other. Charles Dickens almost single-handedly rescued Christmas—at least as a secular, feel-good holiday—through his famous ghost story, A Christmas Carol.

The practice has its roots in primitive Yuletide rituals, before the Christians came along and roped it all together into Christmas. Before anyone celebrated the birth of Christ, winter was a frightening time. The nights stretched on forever, the cold swept in, and nothing grew. Primitive people celebrated surviving to the halfway point—the winter solstice, or Yule—which represented the death and (hopeful) rebirth of the sun.

Christmas Eve back then was perhaps the darkest part of the year. With the sun gone and the light extinguished, the membrane between the worlds of the living and the dead grew thin. Ghost were allowed to escape, to wreak havoc or make amends.

So it’s plain to see that Christmas has always been scary. The light and innocence of the time was a direct response to the pervasive darkness and fear that came with winter. Like fairy tales, Christmas traditions often have grisly, Old-World origins that have been forgotten.

Even Santa had a dark side. Whatever his incarnation—Santa, Saint Nick, Father Christmas—he tended to have a shadow partner, a silent, hooded fellow named Black Pete or Knecht Ruprecht who doled out justice to those who had been naughty, usually beating them with a stick from the bundle he hauled around on his back.

And we won’t even start with Krampus (at least for now).

Suffice it to say, scary Christmas stories have very deep roots in our current culture, even though we aren’t really aware of them these days. A select few souls try to keep this tradition alive, usually by enjoying the scary Christmas tales told by others, or by penning a few ourselves.

5 Elements of Scary Christmas Stories

Scary Christmas stories come in all shapes and sizes and wrapping paper. But if you’re of a mind to scribble down a few scary holiday tales of your own, here are a few common elements to bear in mind.

1). Subversion, or do the Twist

This is the fun part. Find an aspect about the holiday and twist it around, or find a scary explanation for it. Tim Allen did this with his series The Santa Clause. Before it became a movie, it started out as a dark short story about a man who shoots Santa and then is doomed to take his place.

This is where the Doctor Who specials really shine. They take a beloved aspect of Christmas (e.g., glass globes, Christmas trees, Santas, stars, snow, snowmen, etc.) and twist it into something frightening (and fascinating).

So when you write your scary Christmas story, don’t forget to do the twist!

2). Yuletide Justice

Christmas is about justice. Children in particular understand this. Good kids get their reward, bad kids get their comeuppance, and all is well with the world. In a true Christmas story of the darker persuasion, don’t forget that in the end, Christmas Eve is one of those few times of the year when the scales of justice are in balance.

3). Reunions

Christmas is about coming together with family and friends—sometimes even from beyond the grave. The clarion call to return home for Christmas can easily be connected to the draw of nostalgia, the longing for times long past, for the innocence of childhood and the wonder of growing up.

That nostalgia draws loved ones together (even if the relationship has soured some) across miles, and sometimes worlds. Ghosts often find their way home for Christmas, but the return of a beloved family member from beyond the grave isn’t always what we imagine it will be.

And sometimes it isn’t love that draws the dearly departed back home. Sometimes, it’s revenge.

4). Powers Dark and Powers Bright

Because it’s considered a holiday for children, we usually play up the lighter, more whimsical aspects of Christmas. But a scary Christmas story should serve as a reminder that everything has its opposite. Good and evil, night and day, winter and spring, Santa and Ruprecht, Rudolph and Frosty. Just as the scales of justice must be balanced, make sure you balance the light with the dark.

5). Toys (and Other Bright Shiny Things)

Like it or not, Christmas is about toys these days. Most people love toys, especially writers. Like Anton Chekov, for instance. He reminds writers to: “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that these is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter, it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

There is also writers’ favorite Christmas gift to their readers: the MacGuffin.

The “MacGuffin” was made famous by Alfred Hitchcock. It is a plot device that can take on many shapes and forms, but primarily serves as the motivation for the characters in a story. In many cases, it doesn’t matter what the MacGuffin is; what matter is that so many people in the story want it. A MacGuffin can be an object, a person, a place—a bag of cash, a suitcase bomb, a Maltese falcon, a jewel, etc.

So be sure to break out the best, shiniest MacGuffin for your story. Fire off that Chekov’s gun! Make sure your story makes good use of its toys. As I close, I remind everyone to look at their Christmas books, Christmas movies, and the sorted Christmas tales you tell, you might be surprised at it’s origin or true meaning. Tis the season to have a very Merry Scary Christmas!

Cleaning Out The Closet, Literally

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At best, many of the younger readers here have never had the opportunity to ever own, what is now considered, a piece of iconic history, something we used to call a “boom box” or a “ghetto blaster” back in the day. And, if you are wondering, the picture above is just such a relic from my younger years, this is what our “portable music device” looked like. Many, like this one, could be plugged into a wall outlet or have the ten (10) D size battery option. But, we could take our music, carried separately, to play anywhere we pleased. But, enough about my very vague history lesson, that’s not what this post is actually about, it is partly about how we personally like to hear, listen, and feel the energy our music choices.

So, anyway, y’all may have read that I’m unemployed once again, boo hoo me, so I decided to go out to my shop and “piddle about” for a while, listen to my heavy metal music loudly through my ear buds plugged into my cell phone. Its not an uncommon site to see me, yes even at my age, having my music playing directly into my head, cooking off brain cells left and right, for the pure enjoyment of it. As a bonus, it blocks out the “noise” of the world around me. My wife calls my music my “security blanket”, I call it bliss. Let’s just say I have enough digital music on my devices (two devices) that if played straight through, 24 hours a day, I wouldn’t hear the same song twice or repeat for around 27 months (that’s just shy of 20,000 hours of music). Now, add in that I have over 100 eight-track tapes, over 300 vinyl albums, 200 plus cassette tapes, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 450 plus audio CDs. And yes, I have ” old school ” devices from back in the days to listen to it all. Anyway, I was looking for an old wood chisel set buried somewhere in the shop storage closet to clean up some detail work on a old mantel piece I rescued from this last place I worked for the two weeks. It was a beautiful piece of hand tooled wood that was replaced with a more modern piece of polished marble. Anyway, I saved this 7′ behemoth from the dumpster, knowing I could bring it back to its original 40’s glory.

As I dig, I move shit from here to there and there to someplace else when I find the antique wooden box (circa early 50’s) that had been passed down from father to son a few times over the years, sitting on a shelf under something covered in an old sheet. Lifting the sheet revealed my old boom box. I quickly became sidetracked, yanked the sheet off, and took the old friend out to the work bench. When I plugged her in all the lights came on and everything, I don’t think it has had power put to it since ’99, so I was impressed. I noticed a cassette tape in the in one of the spaces, pressed play, and out of the speakers came, very clear I might add, the voice of Ronnie James Dio, singing “Don’t talk to strangers”. I was transported back in time, to another era, to the day I bought this cassette, upgrading for mobility, to have another format besides the vinyl, that could be played on the go. Do you remember going into music stores just to browse? The musty dusty smell of a place where every generation was welcome and had a place? I sure do, very fond memories indeed. There was certain satisfaction, an anticipation if you will, of walking out of the music store, not being able to wait to get into your room, close your door, and slowly open your new music. And then, then the feeling when you pushed play for the very first time, a virgin tape no longer, hearing the pre-song static, and then, only then, would the sweet music of your choice start leaking out of the speakers, I call this moment one’s musical listening climax, because now you can lay back and just listen. Too dramatic?

Needless to say, the ear buds were out for the rest of the day, as I listened to Dio many times, front and back, never skipping a song, it was a bliss amidst the chaos for me, I was consumed with it, I even caught myself smiling a time or three remembering the past. Funny how music works that way, funny how music can change one’s mood almost instantly, and funny how when life blows or life glows, I turn to my friend, I turn to music. A few of y’all will understand me and the rest of y’all are still scratching your heads. Read the caption in the picture below, if you understand it then you know what I have always known. And, thanks to Rexi, I borrowed it from her Facebook wall, I thought it would really bring my point home.

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Wondering How To Describe The Show

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Before I begin, I would like to personally thank KISS, Def Leppard, and opening act The Dead Daisies, for coming to our fair city and putting on a spectator kick ass show. If anyone has been to one of the concerts this 2014 tour, they understand what I am talking about fully. I would just like to take a moment and mention an observation. If I had to pick which band was “best” last night it would hands down be Def Leppard. (Gasp!) Def Leppard brought the sound, the music, the vocals, and the overall show when they performed. Personally, they rocked the fucking sold out pavilion like no bands I have seen perform there in the past, and I have seen many there.

But, as any diehard KISS fan will tell you, good show, bad show, so so average show, who the fuck cares because you just saw KISS perform live. So, personal sentiment aside, I saw KISS live for the 5th damn time in my life. As a bonus, there were three (3) generations of my family there to witness musical history being made. It was an absolute blast with my granddaughter up on one of my shoulders while she tried to dance and when I would put her down the music just took over and captivated her while she twirled and danced around.

In the end it was a great night for me and my wife, who is a diehard country music fan, and everyone just had a blast. I can’t ever ask for more than family time, they made it all worth it for me, and we will always have these spectacular memories that we all made together. By the time it was over, with my granddaughter draped in my arms, we all realized we we all exhausted, and I still had a 45 minute drive back to the house. Next concert for all if us will be ZZ Top, whenever they announce the dates to resume their tour.

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