hustle*: Hardcore Boxed-In

Being a stripper is hardcore.

It’s not about the acrobatics or the art of stripping that makes it hardcore, that stuff comes later; this is if you want those tricks of the trade to be part of your repertoire. Some settle for their own version of stage work, I being one of them. It makes no difference, anyways. Guys are in it for the t&a; ready to scheme on set of lap dances or underpay by accident. They might want company, sure, fine, whatever; but the majority blabber away with their pricks all stiff and sticky with pre-cum.

It’s not about the drugs or drinking, the binges, the tirades, the blackouts. It’s not about the underground full-penetration work that happens in the backrooms; it’s not even about the sleazy hand jobs that can’t be detected by most.

What makes stripping hardcore is that it’s a chosen life of both recklessness and control, of objectification and empowerment. I know you can understand those words and see what I’m getting at. But until you spin on a greasy pole in platform stilettos with a g-string just big enough to cover your vagina slit and get 1) just stares, no tips 2) a couple of bucks, torn or 3) rained on, you can’t know the ups and downs of the game and how they can directly and indirectly affect your self-worth. You cannot know the lengths of stripping if you don’t let it insert itself into you, that’s just how it goes. No one here is asking for your sympathy. We not even talking feelings here, that’s how hardcore we be. We don’t talk feelings, not real ones, at least.

I never thought of myself as hardcore. Sure, I might have wanted to be hardcore or even acted the part, but deep down I was sensitive, one might even say a poet by nature. I rebelled, but nothing memorable or worth mentioning in this piece. However, I did feel boxed-in. The feeling stemmed from home and trickled into any romantic relationship I would try to entertain. There was this feeling of me being a girl I couldn’t be or didn’t want to be in the first place. A me that was never pretty enough; perhaps I was worried about my feminine measure, my coolness, my feminine-coolness in the game of life and stripping.

I was the girl who put on a good show, talked the talk, but was terrified of walking the walk. No one would dare call me afraid because I had fearless written all over me– right down to my combat boots. But deep down, I shook in those boots like a baby deer taking first steps. And walking in platform heels for the first time having never even worn regular heels looks even worse than it sounds. I dreaded those wobbly first steps, yet the call of the wild, the call to be wild, was so strong in me that ignoring it would have been going against nature, against self. Even at a young age, I knew I had to stay true to some semblance of self I had been given upon birth. No, I wasn’t born to be a stripper, but I was born to be my version of hardcore. The girl was becoming a woman; and the process was one I couldn’t turn away from.

There was no stopping me. No convincing me otherwise. No telling me it couldn’t be done. I was fresh from the box, store bought and paid for; and I was debuting myself before the world –the sex worker world. It might have been easier to walk on stilts and join the circus had I not been so focused on capitalism.

So there I was, all bloody from the amniotic sac –wet, dripping, animated. I learned that tightening the ankle strap too much would prevent mobility, thus falling. It is such a sad thing to see a pretty girl stumble and crash after recently gyrating a pole or another human body. It’s that embarrassed-for-others feeling and the fact that it could, and probably would, eventually happen to you, to me.

All the non-thought and the moving, forever moving, and being semi-human is pretty hardcore; it’s like spending half the day with zombie, robot, vampires who all play the part of human and get three stars out of five. Which isn’t bad –not bad at all– not for some amateur, b-movie scene. Most of these bodies were born to be that type of hardcore anyways; the full of heart and not much brain kind –the kind of hardcore that makes us all question existence and energy and sucking the exhaust pipes with hopes of laying down forever, the deepest sleep ever.

When you have just flattened the box to which you were born and don’t realize your jumping head first into another box, life feels liberating. It almost feels like flying. I spread my arms out. I am mid-air; I recognize birds, I greet them, they greet me, then I think I see clouds. The moment is in both slow motion and sped all the way up until I feel nauseous. So I open my eyes. It’s dark, like pitch black almost. I have just enough time to grab the slippery pole before I fall. The stars are holes poked into a black sheet that line a florescent painted wall; the black light makes everything feel trippy and almost happy.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

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