Taking it off

?Briana? is a slender, graceful woman who boasts auburn, shoulder-length tresses augmented with highlights; matching, deep, dark eyes; natural perky breasts and a naughty, school-girl smile. Briana is in her early 20s and a junior majoring in psychology.

?Scarlett? is a voluptuous blonde ? her body fit from athletic endeavors ? who commands attention with a broad flash of uniform pearly whites and a stare that is accentuated each time she bats her long, eye-lashes. Scarlett is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism.

These women offer their inside perspective on one of Tampa?s most lucrative and controversial industries. They each recognize the issues raised by engaging in a career deemed morally unacceptable by millions of American citizens but feel the economic rewards outweigh the stigma their work carries.

Scarlett and Briana use dancing to finance their way through college. After graduating, they want to hang up their stiletto heels and rhinestone thongs for good.

Both young women attend USF and are exotic dancers at local gentlemen?s clubs. And Scarlett said that dancing has not changed her view of men. But Briana?s tone smacked of despondency.

?Definitely, I go through hard times every once and awhile, and I start hating men and resenting them and thinking all they want me for is sex,? Briana said. ?And I have to remember that there are men out there who really care about me, beyond the sex thing.?

Neither of the women said they felt guilty about stripping for money.

?I think it?s intelligent to use your assets to pay for school,? said Scarlett.

Scarlett said she earns about $100 to $200 a night.

Briana said she makes around $100,000 a year, averaging about $600 a night. One night she said she made $1,680.

Briana?s career in the world of adult entertainment has included dancing topless as well as performing completely nude. Scarlett?s workplace only permits the women to strip down to a thong and bikini top.

?You?ll see more at a wet T-shirt contest, and those girls aren?t getting paid,? said Scarlett.

Scarlett is a bit of a novice ? she?s only been getting paid to disrobe for a couple of months. Briana is a three-year cabaret veteran.

?I tell (my boyfriend) and all my friends I work at a dance club in Ybor,? said Scarlett.

Briana stopped trying to conceal her source of income years ago and now must face the repercussions ? such as the strain it puts on romantic relationships.

?There?s always trust issues,? said Briana.

?Joe,? a bouncer at a local strip club, said he has dealt with confrontations.

?I?ve had to ask jealous boyfriends to leave before because they were starting s?t with one of the customers.?

Scarlett and Briana both said they frown on dating customers.

?When I look at a customer, I see nothing but dollar signs,? Briana said.

But working as an exotic dancer hasn?t diminished their sexual interests.

?Sometimes, with certain girls, when we?re performing double dances I get turned on,? Scarlett said.

Briana agreed.

?I?m not turned on by customers, but by performing, arousing yourself by getting so ? into character,? she said. ?You see so many beautiful women around you, so naturally you lust after them at times.?

Scarlett said being a dancer has made her more confident, but stripping hasn?t decreased her sexual inhibitions.

?I?m old fashioned in that way,? she said.

Being on stage is only an act, she said. But in reality, ?I?m not like that.?

For the women, what they do is a performance. It doesn?t reflect their attitudes. But some of their customers don?t see it that way.

?I?ve had a lot of requests for the toe-sucking thing,? Briana said. ?I had one customer buy my knee-high (stockings) for $50. He also had me rub my feet in his face for three songs and gave me $100. I thought that was pretty weird.?

Scarlett said she?s had similar propositions.

Scarlett and Briana have also had problems with unruly patrons.

?Any verbal abuse, I don?t go for that,? Briana said. ?Those are the times I?ve slapped people.?

Although hesitant about the subject, Briana said she had her own policy on customers touching her.

?Certain areas that girls wouldn?t want to be touched by just anybody I don?t let customers touch there either, and I let them know,? she said.

But the bouncers at the clubs attempt to control such situations.

?If a girl has a problem with a dude, we take care of it,? Joe said.

Scarlett said she has had patrons attempt to rub their erections on her, but said she shys away to avoid the situation.

?One night this guy was talking dirty to me while I was giving him a dance, saying he wanted to (perform anal sex) on me,? Scarlett said. ?I turned around and told him I wanted to shove a dildo up his a?. That shut him up.?

Joe said most of the girls have a level head on their shoulders.

?We have many girls working here that are going to school, most these girls got their heads on straight,? Joe said.

Both women said some clubs deserve the negative reputation the business has acquired.

?Not (where I work), but a lot of the girls that work at clubs on (South) Dale Mabry (Highway) ? the VIP rooms ? I know what goes on there,? Scarlett said.

Briana has worked at most of the clubs on along that strip.

?A lot of girls take it overboard,? she said.

?A lot of things you hear about exotic dancers are true, and that?s sad. But there are some girls who can make something out of it.?

Contact Wade Tatangeloat oracleofflimits@yahoo.com