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One day, mom and I were having a conversation about growing and changing.  We were reminiscing on how I was before stripping.  We both agreed that I’ve become a better person since starting stripping.  There have been so many valuable life lessons that I’ve learned and applied to all day every day life.  One thing I learned about quickly is how people’s perceptions can be meaningless and how gaining new perspectives can be everything.

Photo by: Brenda Cantu

I remember this one time in particular, while dancing on the stage at Jumbo’s Clown Room, I was doing something pretty raunchy no doubt.  It’s surprising how much we can see and hear with our eyes and ears while simultaneously dancing.  Either they think we can’t hear, or they don’t care.  Anyway… This one guy says to his friends, “Oh, she’s a bad girl!” Lol!  That’s what I did, inside my head.  I LOL’d.  If he only knew the truth.  I hope I’m not ruining anyone’s fantasy here, but I am not a “bad girl.”  I am a good actress though.  😉

I’m sure if that guy really had time to think about it, he would realize how silly his perception of me was.  This memory has lasted with me because it gave me content to contemplate.  As a Sagittarius, I’m a philosopher, so naturally I want to break things down.  So, why did this memory stick with me?  Perhaps it’s because its a fine example of someone perceiving me to be something I’m not.  He labeled me as something I’m not based on “evidence” that he had before him.  The reason his comment was good for me to hear, is because then I was validated.  My job was being executed so well, that this man’s brain sent him the message, “I see a bad girl and it’s time to get a boner.”  His mind was locked on this one version of me.  In that moment, I was not the multi faceted, multi layered, thoughtful and complex human that I actually am.  I was just a naughty, dirty girl in his eyes…

Photo by: Brenda Cantu

There have been so many times that I’ve been on stage and I see (or hear) people talking about me directly.  As they watch, they lean into their cohort and side mouth some sort of comment.  Then they both lean back away, allowing their bodies to recenter themselves naturally, with their eyes still locked me.  Whatever was just said is now sinking into their brains as they continue to watch, before they lean into each other again to elaborate on more details.  I got used to this pretty early on.  Could you imagine, being on stage in your underwear, people watching you, talking about you, pointing out things about your body to each other, about your face, your hair.  About your skills, your talent, your choice in music.  The shoes, the outfit, how your body looks in the outfit, if your toes are hanging over the front of your stripper heel or not.  And it’s not just one person doing this, it’s the whole room!  I feel like I may be describing your worst nightmare.

How does one deal with this, you may ask.  Well, I step outside of who I am, outside of my mind, and look at just my body, face, hair, outfit.  Basically, objectifying myself.  Because here I am claiming what I’m doing is art.  Well, when people go to look at art in a museum, they do just what I’m explaining.  They lean in and give each other thought nuggets.  They lean back out and think.  So, in those moments on stage, I’m no longer AMD, I’m art creating art.  People will like me, people will not like me.  They will decide what they like and don’t like based on their own styles, ideas, and experiences.  Sometimes on stage, I sit on my knees with my thighs open, I shake two fists over my face with my tongue sticking out and pretend that I’m getting cummed on my face by two penises… for the most part, that goes over well.  Okay… but some people cringe and think it’s disgusting.  Me personally, I win either way.  I think it’s hilarious and I enjoy making people uncomfortable.  My point is, A. I do not want to get cummed on in the face by two dicks at once.  That is just the perception I’m giving B. Usually the more conservatives don’t like that move, but I don’t expect everyone to love my art.  In fact, I think it’s funny when you think I’m gross.  Kind of like the kid on the playground that digs up worms to freak all the other kids out.

Photo by: Elizabeth Waterman

Yes, we are talking about other people’s perceptions and what that experience has been like as a stripper, but I’d like to mention what their perception of me has given me.  My strip club experience has given me perspective on how others view me, other women like me and in general life situations.  In equating myself to a “piece of art”, I am able to take any personal feelings out of each scenario.  In allowing others to speak freely of me and their perceptions of me without anger or reaction, I’ve found freedom.  Perspective is very powerful and can flip a negative scenario into a positive one.  I have a story as an example to explain what I mean.

On a vacation with a bunch of friends and two of us are pro boogie boarders.  I mean, Olympics, here we come.  A younger, inexperienced pal decides she wants to try.  So we give her the low down.  Look for the water to do this before you do that, don’t go out too far as there are rip tides.  Don’t go out past where you can’t touch your feet.  Well, she didn’t listen to any of that.  She went out too far, couldn’t touch the floor with her feet, got stuck in a rip tide and never caught a wave. Lol!  Then she says, “I’m getting tired” after several minutes of struggling to fight the rip tide and come back to shore.   So… fuck!  That’s my cue to go save this girls life…. Then out of nowhere, a life guard comes swimming out and saves her, while his golden locks glistened under the sun.…  It’s one of our favorite stories.  (I’m leaving out some juicy details here, btw)

Anyway, cut to several months later and we’re sitting around, a few of us, sans our homie that didn’t listen. We’re telling the story to each other like it’s the first time.  One of my queens says, “That’s what she got for not listening, we told her.  Some people just don’t listen.”  Not exactly those words, but something to that effect.  Then I said, “I think someone like that shows promise.  What did you do when you were younger and an elder told you ‘do this, don’t do that?’  Did you listen?  No, you went and found out on your own, you took risks, you failed and you learned.”  All of a sudden, my friends looked at her choices to “not listen” differently.  Their perception of her had change based on seeing a new perspective.

At first, changing my perspective was done so as a way to protect myself.  Side note: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been negatively judged and/or perceived from my character at work, and even from my Instagram account.  I am not who you think I am based on Instagram.  But do I like to act slutty and be gross and weird?  Yasss!  I love it.  But now, the ability to have perspective on all types of situations comes naturally.  When you spend so much time spinning negatives into positives, it starts to become second nature.  I’m still learning this lesson though.  Even though it’s stronger than before, I still have to exercise that muscle.

Some of you may remember a post I made not too long ago.  I asked my audience if I should apologize to my ex of 7 years.  Those of you who know him and our situation personally were not a fan of that idea.  But those of you who didn’t know thought it might help “free” me to do so.  Well, I did, I wrote to him.  I apologized for my responsibility in our failure as a couple.  This book, “The Mastery of Love” my Don Miguel Ruiz helped me see how I failed my ex and how I failed myself.  It only took me 5 years to gain that perspective.  Someday, I’ll tell you that whole story.

The next time you are in a situation where something seems like it’s one way, take a beat, gain perspective and then respond.  Start with something easy, like make a deal with yourself that for one week, you will not get mad at, honk at or yell at other drivers.  Tell yourself that “everyone that’s being crazy on the road is just having a really tough day, week, month, year, life.”  Think about how likely that is.

Perspective is being able to see beyond your nose, beyond what society is saying collectively.  Don’t even get me started on all the millennial shit talking that happens out there.  Change your perspective on millennials, please!  That’s a whole separate blog post.  Changed perspective would solve so many damn problems.  But like they say, it starts with you.  By changing perspective, not only will you find more positivity, your energy changes.  Perspective helps us understand each other better.  Understanding can increase tolerance, awareness and therefore produce more kindness in this crazy world.  By gaining perspective, I give way less fucks.  I’m more chill and I can see all the silver linings.  Probably one of my most strongest muscles that I have.  So, do you think I would have learned this if I wasn’t a stripper?  To this depth anyway?  We’ll never know, but I’m pretty convinced that I have an edge on this “human behavior” thing from spending the last 17 years of my life in the perverbial jungle.  Watching, experimenting, logging and sharing my findings like god damn Jane Goodall with the chimpanzees.  I want to tell you everything.  I hope you’ll stick around to hear it all. ?