When I first got there, Tyler threw me right into it. He quickly showed me how the mixer worked and how to pull up the music. “So, you wanna pick a track?” he asked with a huge smile on his face. I felt like this was the most important question anyone has ever asked me. On the drive over, I went through a mental checklist of all the songs I wanted play. But as I stood in front of a crowded room full of middle-aged boners and pasties I immediately drew a blank. I took a breath and thought to myself, “Okay, what would Too $hort do?” and so I played this bad boy…
Tyler looked over at me in shock, “Damn, you know what you’re doing!” Apparently strippers like songs that talk about money on the floor. This was all coming too easy for me.
Now, this job is more than just playing the perfect track. Essentially, the strip-club DJ acts like an air traffic controller, managing every little detail and maintaining the flow of the night. But instead of radar screens, airplanes and Fred Dalton Thompson, you have sani-wipes, DJ equipment and boobs in your face.
Whenever there’s 30 seconds left on a track, the DJ has to cue up the next dancer by hitting an intercom button in the booth. In almost a Pavlovian response, when the stripper hears the little bell she instinctively appears from a room in the back, gets onstage, takes her clothes off and looks around for money. As a customer, this is your cue to make it rain...
As repetitive as this sounds, the showmanship of the DJ really comes into play. As Tyler explains it, “You have to introduce the stripper twice. Once before she goes onstage, and then after you’re done talking.” Example: “I want to thank everybody for coming out this Wednesday evening here at Trails! Get those dollar bills ready because up next we have the always sexy and always half-naked Forbidden! You mustn’t touch! Don’t forget about our $3 hot 'n' spicy wings, $4 Jager bombs and, of course, our $10 hookahs! Once again, Forbidden!” (Yes, there really was a stripper there named Forbidden).
Having a good arsenal of adjectives is crucial. Also, commenting on the strippers and encouraging them is a plus. At first, I wasn’t sure what Tyler meant by this: “See Camy over there? he said while pointing to a girl sprawled out on the floor. “See how her ankles are around her head? You want to let people in the club know that this is going down.” He picks up the mic, “Check out Camy over here! Damn, you could fit a watermelon in that!”
Tyler is the man, and it goes without question that he's a pro. In the late ’90s, he started out as a regular club DJ, making $50 a night. Then his girlfriend spotted an ad in the paper for an opening as a strip-club DJ. “She told me to do it as a joke. Then when I did it and realized the money was good, I stayed. That relationship was pretty much over after that.”
Though he doesn’t recommend it, Tyler has dated a few strippers in his day, but is currently in a serious relationship … with a stripper. “Yeah, she’s from within the industry; it’s hard otherwise and understandably so. Some people can have a hard time understanding what goes on in here.”
Though the view is good, Tyler claims that there’s a lot of jealousy and bullshit that also comes with the job. “The money is great. I can make up to $1,300 in one night because we get 10% of the stripper’s tips. But this means you have to manage the strippers and keep 'em happy.”
“What happens if a stripper doesn’t like you?“ I asked. “A girl might stiff you on tips because she didn’t like the song you gave her or whatever. When this happens, the next night I’ll give her Macho Man to dance to. Yeah, It’s a delicate balance.’
As the night went on, I pretty much took over. I played tracks like "In Da Club," "Nothin But a G Thang," "Drop It Like It’s Hot" and "Sexy and I Know It." I started getting into my commentating, too, dropping gems like, “Yeah, this is some baby-making music right here!” and “I got some ham and eggs coming up for ya!” I was having an awesome time. But after awhile, I decided it was time to go … well, I started running out of adjectives. Come on, how many different ways can you describe this …
Here’s what I got: saucy, spicy, steamy, savory, tantalizing, titillating, meaty, zesty, sensuous, sizzling, mouth-watering and exotic. I may have just described the perfect steak.
Honestly, I felt like I had just climbed stripper mountain. I had only been there an hour but for some reason I was tired, sweaty and covered in glitter. I was packing up to leave and Tyler turned to me, “ You’re really good man. Damn! Seriously, I thought this newspaper guy was gonna suck. But you have a knack for this. You know, if the writing thing doesn’t work out ... haha!” I shook his hand, ‘Thanks, I had a great time but I don’t know if this job’s for me.”
As I headed towards the door, a stripper stopped me, “So, are you the new DJ? You’re really good!"
“Huh? No. I mean…I, uh, yes…yes, I am.”