As the conversations around sex and sex work still remain taboo in India, an Indian stripper in America recently did a Reddit AMA on the renowned r/ABCDesis community for the South Asian Diasporas. She talked about her journey, her experiences, and how the profession works in the US while acknowledging the existence of racism and discrimination and simultaneously sharing her opinions.
“Ask an older Indian stripper in America (almost) anything”, she posted on the community (via her handle u/Glittering-Fan-6642) and got candid about various aspects of her life. In the post, she revealed she’s a 40-year-old Massachusettes-based recently-divorced Indian stripper. She’s also a single mother with a daytime job in engineering. Nobody, apart from her siblings, knows about it. She also had a boyfriend.
Here’s what people asked her:
1. Have you come across any/many other desis in the same line of work?
“No. I had both customers and other strippers say they have never seen Indian dancers. Asian, middle eastern, and Indians are rare. A Canadian customer told me he’s only seen Indian strippers in Toronto but no where else.”
2. How much was the most and least you made in a day?
“Not mine but generally speaking for strippers in my area anywhere between -$40 to $1,500 per day. I’ve never had a negative pay”
3. Do you think that there is an increasing number of desi women feeling comfortable enough to enter sex work these days?
“The stigma about sex work is still there. It isn’t just about looking hot but understanding people from all backgrounds including working class coworkers and customers. Also some types of sex work can be scary and dangerous. It’s about personal safety and women wouldn’t want to risk unless they’re desperate. Some strip clubs can just be scary. I stay away cuz it’s not worth the risk.“
“Also most desi immigrants come from conservative backgrounds and middle class backgrounds. Strippers with college education and middle class background is a minority. Most strippers come from working class backgrounds and not educated. Some are new immigrants who are not fully fluent in English. That doesn’t make anyone any less of a person or less intelligent. But the cultural differences in social class is there, such as speech patterns, language and life experience.”
4. So how do you balance a day job with an additional side hustle? Is your day job WFH? Do your siblings or family help? (even if they don’t know)
“My day job is wfm, flexible hours. Yes my mother and one sibling watches when I work weekend nights. I also have a sitter who I occasionally use.”
5. That day job must pay nothing?
“It pays ok, but my ex stole a lot from me and got away. Trying to make extra dollars to catch up and rebuild. Plus lawyers put me in debt. Getting away from an abuser takes a lot out of you, including draining your savings and investments. It’s frustrating trying to come back to work after years of being at sahm with a non-technical degree.”
“Discrimination towards unmarried women with children is still there whether widowed or divorced. Even if the day job paid well, I may still strip on the side. I actually enjoy pole dancing and I get paid for it. I love socializing and if it pays, why the hell not.”
6. Also, how did you start in terms of learning your skills? Do you ever do pole dancing classes or something else?
“Pole dance classes. I bought a pole that I set up in my room and practice from following videos. But you don’t need a lot of pole skills as a new stripper..most newcomers learn basics and you do a lot of good moves with beginner moves. There’s also floor dancing. And lap dancing.”
7. What is your religious and ethnic background? Like Hindu/Muslim/Sikh and Punjabi/Gujarati etc.?
“Malayalee/Goan. My dad’s a Hindu, and mom, a Christian.“
8. Do your kids know about your work?
“No why should they? Not their business.”
9. Have you experienced racism? Especially from people who are watching you?
“No but I’m sure it’s there. Hard to tell because it’s not in your face like the south.“
10. I’m curious as to how this opportunity presented itself? One day you’re a SAHM, next step lawyers who put you in debt, next you get a job that barely covers all your needs. Did a friend introduce you to this as a possible side hustle when you were stressed out?
“Visited a strip club with friends, mixed gender cuz why not. The bartender told me that a few guys were asking if i work there and wanted lap dances. I first laughed. Who’d want to see an older lady with a belly pooch after childbirth? If I got on the pole, I’d get laughed off stage. Another customer who heard it told me, “why would anyone laugh? They’d love to see you.” Bartender, me and the other guy chatted about what guys actually find hot. I also learned that there are older strippers and girls bigger than me. I thought maybe I could…”
“Came again with another guy friend. I found a dancer and paid her $200. I told her she doesn’t need to dance but just chat with me about stripping because I’m curious and want to know what it’s like. Mentioned the idea to friends and decided to try amateur night. It was a lot of fun.”
11. “How has the judgement from people been? Specifically from the Desi community? Thanks and be safe.”
“The desi customers are surprised to see an Indian and think it’s cool. Even the old uncles. They can’t out me because I could too. If an uncle customer judges me, I could tell his wife. So it goes either way. They have no choice but be nice to me.”
“Hahaha…desis are known for judgment. It really comes from being very sheltered, lacking common sense, and poor social skills. I’m fed up and embarrassed. Example: at 21 I worked 2 jobs while PT college and desis couldn’t get it. They don’t understand why I can’t party or drink too much the previous night. And then same old stupid questions and very intrusive that it makes me uncomfortable. Ex. Is your dad not paying? He’s in IT no? But you got a scholarship, so why work…“
...I try my best to find good individuals and not an entire crowd. So I avoid desi groups or if I go, I stick to my clique. I friend the ones who aren’t the stereotypes.”
You can read the complete response here.
12 “I have to ask – you ever caught feelings for one of your customers?”
“Yes, some attraction but then it wears off and becomes strictly business. One of my regulars is a good looking man with great personality..makes the job pleasant.”
Some of the answers have been reduced for the article. You can read the complete AMA here.