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How much do strippers make?

A stripper performs at the 2012 Venus Erotic Fair at Messe Berlin on October 18, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.
A stripper performs at the 2012 Venus Erotic Fair at Messe Berlin on October 18, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.
Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

The Examiner investigated how much strippers make by visiting two different Chicagoland gentleman’s clubs. The “dancers” refused to give their real names, but they did share some very important information.

“It really depends on how hard you work,” said a dancer who refers to herself as Sparkles.

The other dancers were not so forthcoming about how much money they make.

At one rural club in the Chicago suburbs named after shoes, the dancers were willing to at least discuss how much “private” dances cost and let us know about how many they do in a night to let us do the math.

“I do about three times the dances on Friday and Saturday nights that I do during the week,” said a dancer who called herself Jenna.

Private dances at the gentleman’s club where Jenna contracts are $25 total before tip. The dances last the duration of “one song”, and Jenna says she does about 10 or 12 dances on weekend nights not including Sunday.

“There are other situations that can bring in more people,” Jenna said. “Holidays like Halloween bring in more people, and then there are bachelor parties. More people means more chances for dances.”

One dancer said that she boosts her income by having a “birthday” every couple of months.

She also said that she makes extra money by entering in “amateur night” at other clubs. These “amateur” nights are commonly hosted on Wednesdays and can lead to some sort of cast prize.

When asked if it was really fair for seasoned professionals to compete at amateur nights, the dancers said that “other girls do it”.

Larger clubs offer more expensive dances such as shower dances that can run between $50 and $150.

Dancers Kitty and Jade interviewed simultaneously, as it was a “slow night”.

Kitty said that she preferred for “customers” to tip her on stage rather than “buy dances”, because the club “takes a cut” of every dance the dancers do.

The other club dancers we talked to did not echo this sentiment. They said that their club did not count their dances. They said that they did however have to pay a “stage fee”. On other words, the dancers keep all the money they make, make no hourly wage, and are considered contractors who are paying to be there.

In order for dancers to contract with the club each night they worked, they were expected to pay a “stage fee”. The fee is generally higher on Fridays and Saturdays, because the club knows the girls make more. The stage becomes prime property on those days.

So, in order to answer the question of how much strippers make one must consider the size of the club, the expertise of the stripper, the popularity of the club, how much the club takes of the strippers’ earnings, and how many nights a week the strippers work.

At one club the dancers were pretty sure that “no one works full-time”, but they said they weren’t allowed to talk to the other strippers to ask for sure.

“People don’t like to poke in other peoples’ business when everybody is working under a stage name,” said Kitty.
Since the strippers remained just as mysterious as usual, the Examiner went elsewhere looking for an answer.

A stripper who calls herself "Menagerii" posted on Reddit.com that there are other fees a stripper must pay besides the “stage fee” paid to the “house”. There is also, apparently, a DJ fee called the “DJ tip”. The amount of money depends on the club and apparently on “whether you want to DJ to play good songs for you”.

If you do the math for the small to medium size clubs in Chicago, the strippers make only $200 to $500 a night. However, "Menagerii" claims to make $500 to $1,500 a night, at her presumably larger, more popular club.

If you are interested in finding out more about the exotic dance industry subscribe to this channel. A series of articles have come out of these five interviews.