Stripping through college

A George Brown College student is dancing her way to a debt-free graduation

PHOTO: FLICKR USER THOMAS HAWK (CC BY-NC 2.0)

PHOTO: FLICKR USER THOMAS HAWK (CC BY-NC 2.0)

It’s no secret that college is expensive, and one George Brown College (GBC) student has found a unique way to make ends meet.

She’s a 23-year-old business administration marketing student by day and a stripper by night, and has asked to remain anonymous in this article as none of her close friends or family know about her secret life.

She dances four nights a week using the stage name Bella at various strip clubs in the city, but says she dances most frequently at Zanzibar and Brass Rail.

“Sometimes I finish class here at 6 p.m., jump on the subway and head straight to work,” she says. “It’s tough because I don’t get home sometimes until three or four in the morning and I have class at 8 a.m.”

She is part of a new generation of women putting themselves through college by taking their clothes off, and they are unapologetic about it.

“There are so many girls at GBC in this industry, and not just stripping, escorting and working in massage parlours as well,” she says. “About 80 per cent of the girls I work with are students, you’d be surprised.”

She got into this industry when she was 19 years old and was working as a waitress making minimum wage. Eventually with bills piling up, she knew she had to make a change and fast.

“Once I started dancing money wasn’t an issue anymore, and that’s when I decided to go back to school and pursue marketing,” she said.

But she’s not stupid with her money and she’s not naïve either. In the future she hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing and go to graduate school.

“There are so many girls who get caught up in the glamour that they forget that stripping is temporary, nobody wants to be a 30-year-old stripper,” she says. “For me, this is a means to an end so I can graduate debt free.”

She admits that there are times when she feels degraded in her line of work when some of the male clients are disrespectful.

“I’ve had guys try and do all kinds of crazy things especially when they get drunk,” she said. “They don’t view us as women sometimes, but as objects that they’re paying for.”

Nonetheless, she said stripping affords her the precious time to study, and she can make more in one night at the club than working 40 hours a week waiting tables.

“I have felt so much more disrespected as a waitress than I’ve ever felt as a dancer and it is constant,” she said. “When I was a waitress, I was getting constantly yelled at. I’ve had customers throw food at me and I was working twice as long as I am now and not even making half of what I make now.”

However, she admits that perks she experienced through stripping has had its disadvantages as well.

“It has cost me my personal life, friends, relationships, all of that,” she said. “Because I’m in a club environment constantly, I don’t like to go out, I don’t like the nightlife scene anymore, I even stopped drinking.”

She says that while stripping has taught her a lot and afforded her countless opportunities, she can’t wait to put it behind and start a job that she can actually put on a resume.

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Stripping through college