Rodeo is a Portland stripsation who moved to New York last year ago to cut her teeth in the photo biz. Off Duty one whole year, we sat over litres of frozen margaritas to talk about her hiatus from the most empowering job experience she’s ever had.
What was the last day that you stripped?
It was a little over a year ago, back in Portland. They put my name up on the marquee, all of my fans came to see me... Every time I left the stage it was covered in money. There wasn't a single free seat at the rack. It was so tight.
How did you feel?
I remember looking at the stage at the end of the night, and seeing all the ones on it… I literally shed a tear. I was like, “this might be the end. “ I was really sad.
What got you into stripping?
When I was 21, we went to someone's birthday party, and it was at Sassy’s, which is an iconic Portland strip club. All of the girls were so confident. They were really owning themselves and their bodies. Growing up, I was always really self-conscious about the way I looked. I was like, “man, all of these girls are naked on stage, and they're fine with it... everyone else is fine with it. I wanna feel good about myself like that.” So I did it.
What do you miss most?
Honestly? Almost everything. It's funny because so many people are like, "dancing is so demeaning…" which is weird, because dancing has been the least demeaning job experience I've ever had. I got to make my own schedule, I made more than enough money to do whatever the fuck I wanted, and I could be generous to all of my friends. I was able to save up for a car, pay for college, move to New York… and if anyone bothered me, I could speak up.
Plus I had a lot of time on my hands, so I was good to myself. I worked out, I ate right. I was very physically active… it was fucking awesome. I'd never felt better about myself. Out here, working 14 hours a day, eating like shit, and feeling like nobody cares… I feel like a monster.
And I never really considered myself to be the most feminine girl... I used to ride horses, shovel shit and wear mens pants! But at night, I would put on my sparkly bikini, do my hair, put on eyeliner and heels... dancing was a time for me to embody my idea of femininity. And plus it's fucking FUN. It's a fun physical activity. I would always tell new girls, “if you're not sweaty by the time you get off stage, you're not doing it right.”
I dream about dancing all the time. I have dreams about doing pole tricks, heel clicks… leg shakes.
The leg shake! I love what that’s done for my own body image. Because I grew up with a serious case of white girl syndrome… I was always trying to be so skinny. As skinny (read: sickly) as fucking possible. But stripping and twerking and ass-clapping is all about women shaking what they have because they're proud of it.
I danced for five years, and for the first two years, having an ass wasn't popular. But then the whole Kim Kardashian thing happened, from which I directly and drastically profited. When she became a sex symbol, all of a sudden the way I looked was the way to look. A lot of the girls in Portland are the really thin sort of beautiful, so it was hard for me to get on the night shift. And when I did, I was the only one who looked like me. God bless Kim Kardashian, because all of a sudden I started making a shit ton of money. Guys were like, “Oh, girls with big butts are cool.” I was like “YES, FINALLY.”
What was the hardest part about the adjustment from begin a goddess in Portland to lugging around photography equipment in New York?
The hardest part was not feeling appreciated by anybody. At clubs, even though sometimes a guy will say or do something shitty, for every one guy like that, there's ten more dudes who are like, obsessed with you. It's not like I need that validation to get me through the day, but it was nice to know that I had a purpose. I know it sounds weird, but when I was dancing I felt like I had a fucking purpose.
What was your purpose?
To have real interactions with people that made them feel... better. I met some amazing people, and forged some really genuine friendhsips with some of my clients. There's a whole rainbow of weirdos out there who are actually quite endearing. We can help each other, and we can be nice to each other. Being nice is totally different from being professional. I feel like people appreciated the work I did. But out here in New York, if you don't show up to work one day, they'll fire you, and no one will care.
What are you doing now?
I'm freelancing as a photo assistant.
Do you love it?
I do love it. It's a lot better than having to wake up really early to go to a normal job every day. I did that for a little over a year, working in an equipment room at a photo studio. It's really nice to be able to make my own schedule again.
Are you going to go back to stripping?
I'm thinking about it. I have my heels stashed in my closet... But I feel like I got so spoiled in Portland. I’m covered in tattoos… there's more 'my kind ' of client there. New York is fucking tough. I don't know if i'm ready to start back at the bottom again.
But you'd got back to Portland for a stripcation?
Oh fuck yeah.