Well yes, sir, but
The article is called Ten Rules for Street Musicians, but it could just as easily be 10 Rules for Strippers, or 10 rules for anybody with any type of hustle, anybody who uses what they have to get what they need. 10 Rules for the Cardboard Sign Wearer on the Corner. 10 Rules for Those of Us who Expect Payment for Services Rendered. 10 Rules for People who Need to Eat. 10 Rules for Humans.
The street musician’s list of rules came about after he “explored the ideal circumstances for generating the funds to feed (his) food habit.” That’s a universal exploration, though. My food habit is a beast, as is my rent habit and my Amoeba habit. And goddammit if I’m about to let something prevent me from generating funds to satisfy all my habits even if it means I need to take it to the Magic City stage. The street musician’s primary means of securing ends to feed himself has been playing the cello on the streets, but for the girls in the club, just as it is for any professional, the advice on how to succeed is no different.
1. (Take Into Account) Day of Week / Time of Day.
“I make two or three times more money on Friday mornings than Monday mornings,” the street musician says. “Friday afternoons are second best. Tuesday morning is better than Wednesday morning although Wednesday afternoon is better than Tuesday afternoon. Thursday mornings aren’t so good but Thursday afternoons are.”
In a free market economy, people can choose the things on which they spend their disposable income and you better adjust accordingly, mama. The tightness and rightness of your game should be a given, but there are variables you need to consider. Stock market crashes, the latest with the Libya situation, a major sporting event on TV–try to predict the factors that will decrease or distract your audience so you don’t waste your time putting time and effort into something that won’t reach your best-paying customers. But then come extra hard when your audience returns so you can recoup your losses. They’ll return, luckily. “It’s like dope,” Frank Lucas said about money but it applies to anything pleasurable, “they always want more.”
I could never get hired as a stripper due to my innocent face and sassy mouth but I think Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the club would be deadsville. Thursday nights would be pretty lucrative, though–everybody psyched because the week’s practically over. Fridays and Saturdays would be good too, but it seems like the club might be full of too many dudes being rowdy for the sake of rowdy (i.e., weekend warrior types coming to gawk with their crew rather that to tip the performers). No day shift, ever. The day shift is for the ugly girls, we know this.
2. How to Prepare for the Job.
“I get up about 6:00 a.m., eat a solid breakfast and listen to the Market Place Morning Report on National Public Radio while I drink a cup of coffee,” says the street musician.
Other than a Teflon psychological shield and vanilla cherry perfume oil, it’s autopilot time for me at the club. There’s nothing to prepare for or think about. The shield one is exhausting, though. And dude we all listen to NPR, so stop.
3. What to Wear.
“I dress respectably but not too nice – somewhere between grungy and preppy. I wear brown leather suede shoes and dark pants. If it’s cold, I wear a sweater but t-shirts are fine. People don’t need to see a collar.”
I could never be a stripper because I am terribly shy; however, I’m not an idiot so I know that if I were a fantasy fulfillment professional I would dress accordingly. I’d dress respectably but not too nice – somewhere between librarian and hooker. And no, people really don’t need to see a collar.
4. Eye Contact.
“Eye contact is essential. I don’t wear sunglasses or a large brimmed hat.”
YEP. This one definitely applies to the seduction-arts specialist. People never talk about the importance of eye contact (music and outfits get more discussion time) but it’s of the utmost. I could never be a stripper because I’d get tired of people asking me Ha, yeah, so what’s your real name? when I tell them my name’s Logan, but if I were, I would master the “I enjoy pleasing you” direct gaze. At first I thought it would feel gross to fake such a thing–the “I’m thrilled to be here” thing that a girl at the club has to put on, like a jacket or a hat, except worse even than a heavy, hot and itchy jacket or a hat because it fucks with you psychologically. Then I remembered everybody at work is doing this constantly no matter what the job is, including me at my government job, except at my job I don’t get to hear any new Brick Squad or Grand Hustle stuff. Really, I’m thrilled to be here. Honest.
“The Charles/MGH Station is best for me as a solo cellist. It’s big, open and glassy, kind of like a greenhouse. I feel happy there so my music is probably better.”
Other than east of the LA River, south of the 10, or anywhere in the valley, I think I’d be fine with any club location. Obviously the ideal place would be next to the Starbucks at 2nd and Central downtown, so all my LAPD admirers could finally have their dreams come true. GROSS. Now I’m thinking about them! Moving on –
“Once I showed up at the Harvard Square stop before 7:00 a.m. and wasn’t able to get a spot because other musicians were already set up. I came back another day and found an empty spot. I start to play and another street musician with a guitar comes up and said, ‘Did you guys do the lottery this morning?” I said, “There was space. I started playing.’ He said, ‘Usually we show up before 7 and flip a coin to see who goes first.’ I don’t know what’s true. Street musicians talk a lot of shit. I don’t go Harvard Square anymore because people who play there are so territorial. And the money isn’t as good for me.”
The original meaning of hustle was “to shake, to toss.” And if it’s stripping we’re referring to here as the hustle of note, there is no competition for me if I do say so. Have we just met? Shaking it and nerding it up are the 2 things at which I am most skilled. I get my fondness for logic from Dad; hips from Mom. I have excellent balance and I did ballet for 8 years. Combine these qualities and you get pure practicality – I heard that people will pay me if I do this thing and that thing with my body, so I’ll go get a job at a place that will hire me to do this thing/that thing. Makes sense. I’d probably hold back a tiny bit on stage, though, so that my coworker with the young child would still be able to make a decent amount. We all need to get ours and the nature of the free market means that the girl with the most hips will get the most cash, but that doesn’t make it right. Women get stereotyped as being competitive and catty, the whole crabs-in-a-bucket thing, but that’s just a by-product of our culture’s fear of female sexuality. What can you do.
7. Selection of music / Weather.
N/A regarding that second thing, but oh yes, the first one is definitely important – Toomp, Nitti, Mannie, Lex, Collipark, Shawty Redd, Neptunes ’98-02, Rick Rock, DJ Paul who never gets any accolades but whose compositions are just amazing, 80% of David Banner’s catalog, 100% of Nickatina’s, that Minaj instro, the “Ha” instro, oh fuck it, really any rap instro from the states of Georgia, Florida, or Louisiana between ’96 and ’03, and in a surprising twist, some Jake One instros. The DJ might try to drive the particularly nerdy musicdork bassline-loving ladies who were raised on the Stax catalog out of their minds by playing something from Black Caesar or maybe some Cymande or something. Please, no. It reminds such ladies of their parents’ record collection, and therefore it reminds them of being a kid. Kid stuff doesn’t belong in the club.
Mr. DJ might also try to play “The Next Episode,” since it’s burned into our collective psyche as that song with that stripper video and it’s the perfect BPM, plus it has provided the image to open this post. That one blonde girl at the club with the hips who you came specifically to see and who you’re pretty sure would go on a date with you would not enjoy this coming out of the speakers, however. She would be thinking about David McCallum and it would distract her too much. She’s also thinking about the unadulterated epicness of the name “Kurt Vile” for a musical human, the catchy/sad accuracy of the words You only want me when I’m gone/You only want me when I’m fever dreaming, and how she just figured out that the “All of the Lights” drums sound like Hanna Barbera characters when they’re running in place. “Xxplosive” is perfect, though, a slow swangin one to balance out all the frenetic Waka stuff. Anything by him or Weezy I would refuse to dance to, just based on the triteness of such a scene; girls getting money to the sweet sounds of “Bingo,” ooh. Groundbreaking. I refuse to take part. (If “No Hands” is played, though, all bets are off.)
8. Bad situations.
“One day, two guys come up,” the street musician says. “They keep giving me a hard time. I say to them, ‘Can you please just leave me alone? This is my workplace. Don’t bother me. I’m just trying to do my job.’”
I wouldn’t get hired as a stripper unless I gained 7-10 lbs, but if I ever did, I bet I’d think about the possibility of bad situations pretty frequently. Getting followed after my shift is the scariest thing that could happen, I suppose. Bad tippers, although not scary, are a bad situation too. Dudes being visibly uncomfortable, resulting in me feeling sorry for them. Dudes bringing their girlfriends in to get cool points. (No cool points awarded, dumb dumb; you’re a cliche). I could never be a stripper and sometimes I feel inadequate because of that, but then I remind myself about the pitfalls of such a job and I’m fine.
9. Customer / audience demographics.
“Race and gender make no difference if someone is going to stop, listen and/or give me money,” the street musician says.
WORDEMUP, buddy. We speak the same language. Stripper Logan fully concurs with street musician’s assessment, as does Nerd Logan, Lazy Saturday Afternoon Logan, Bookstore Logan, Bikini Logan, Record Hoarder Logan and Grocery Shopping Logan.
10. How to measure success.
“One day was a bad day,” says the street musician. “Everybody was unhappy. I didn’t get much money. But when I got home, there was an email from a woman. She wrote, ‘Every time I see you, it brightens my day.’”
Is this one a trick? The answer to this is “REVENUE RETRIEVIN–money, in rolls or stacks, even though that’s impractical and we only store it that way because that’s how Gs and Henry Hill do it and it looks dope.”
There’s a reason an E-40 synonym for “hustling” is “grittin & grindin.” If I’m a stripper, I don’t make an hourly wage. I don’t get medical or dental. I have to pay the house at the end of every shift. My legs hurt. I felt on your private parts with my soft ladyparts but neither of us got any intimacy or connection to each other as humans. And nobody ever emails me afterward to tell me I brightened his day : (