To wear another stripper’s thong is asking for trouble. It’s risky and a little bit sexy. Aren’t you imagining two vaginas rubbing up on each other right now?
I discovered lost and found thongs when I realized I had started bleeding on stage. There was another girl who also bled on stage, but she used ritual knives and catching jars. She danced to Bennie and the Jets when she did her performance. Her raven hair draping over her chubby shoulders and over her tits like ink, like squid ink, like onyx, like night. She was the night and darker than all the darkness in the club. There was great comfort in the roundness of her size. If there ever was a goddess so deep with magic, she would look like this, charcoal liner and all. This was as if Lilith had hit the stage, this is what we caught her doing. And she swelled, really bulbous as her minions gathered. My blood didn’t stop the room like hers did. It didn’t create fanboys or even spawn whispers. Mine made one customer point a finger and another chuckle. My blood was the biological type, the cycle, the Moon, the maternal stuff. It wasn’t sexy. Despite my baby doll costumes that occasionally got some play, no one believed I was still a virgin. They had no clue that mere months before getting topless for strangers I had just had my cherry popped. No blood to show for it; my hymen far removed. It was as if it never happened. The sex and my virginity filaments unthreading. The undoing of something that had already been undone.
I wanted a blood like hers, I wanted my blood to hurt somebody, too.
When I started the hustle, there were no rules, no handbook. No one ever told me to carry an extra g-string. Who even knew such a rule existed? The experts, that’s who. Of one, I was not –yet.
That day, I was introduced to the lost and found box. A grey plastic bin tucked under the benches where the girls got ready. We called it the dressing room. It smelled like armpits and body spray, talcum powder and singed hair. I spent hours back there studying the girls and their make-up application, memorizing their body spray of choice, and watching them slip into the stalls together.
You can’t even imagine a box like this exists in the back of a strip club. But I can promise you, it does. Every strip joint has one. Not a single one I’ve worked in didn’t. Or maybe it was the box following me like some sort of symbol, some Jungian synchronicity that told me to beware the casket, beware the tomb, beware getting nailed in, nailed down, nailed.
Inside this grey box were treasures. Although most were stained or torn, each one was like holding onto a stripper’s heel and taking a spin with her around the pole, flying into her soul, hovering just above her nipple that strained through latex. Touching these items was like touching the body of a ghost stripper. It felt eerie, erotic, and almost cathartic. Once I learned about the lost and found box, I was hooked.
How magical to use something from a forgotten stripper, a runaway stripper, a transient one at best. One who might have been fired for giving a blowjob in the champagne room. One who might have left a shift and never come back, leaving behind a few relics in her locker that would later be ripped open with wire cutters as large as a man’s torso. One who might have quit and given zero fucks about what she tossed lazily about in the dressing room.
At first, I froze when the girls showed it to me. The box was as quiet as I was, as if we were admiring each other and our ability to live as shapes, to be molded, to hold things. I was forced to dig through the rubble; my white stained thong looking like a bloody tissue from a bar fight, a sanitary napkin that had missed the tiny bathroom trashcan, the removal of lipstick from any number of women. With the luck of diamonds and cosmic tidings, I found a g-string just my size. It was florescent pink and it would become my moneymaker. The girls told me to scrub it down like my life depended on it. With the hottest water my hands could stand and a bulk box of powdered detergent, I got to work over a grimy sink. By the time I was finished, my hands throbbed. They throbbed with the beat of the speakers and shined gristly and pinkish. Once dried, it still smelled of her body spray and cigarettes, but I wore it as though it were my own. She must have been just my size because I was hers. Beyond time and dimension, we fused. It felt warm, it felt like a cup of something warm a mother would give to her child.
By the time I made it back out on the floor, the customers who had seen me bleed had gone. There I was again, a new face, fresh meat, ready to dangle from the sky, twisting about like a circus girl with a bit in her mouth, spinning, like a horseshoe that’s been chucked at the metal stake. Only this time, I was not me. I was another me. I was a me dug from the bottom of a plastic bin, a me that I uncovered just as I covered her face, the face of the girl who had left behind a g-string. She, through existing once as a vagina on this g-string, was existing now through mine. It was almost like we were blood sisters.
WORDS BY: Jacklyn Janeksela