This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a 27-year-old sex worker from Queensland, Australia, who goes by the name Raven Inferno about her experience working as a paralegal and a stripper. Insider has verified her earnings. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
For three years I worked as both a stripper and a paralegal. It was exhilarating, and it gave my life a lot of dimension and color.
I started stripping in 2016 because I was in a bind at the time. My mom had just passed away from cancer, and I had no place of my own to call home. I was making $40,000 a year before tax as a paralegal, but I couldn't afford to rent somewhere by myself, so I decided that stripping was a way I could support myself.
I had an interview with a club, then came in for a trial shift. The club wants to get a sense of your personality to know you're confident enough to introduce yourself to customers.
At first I had no idea what I was doing. I was imagining I was in a music video. I picked up tricks by practicing when it was quiet.
The first song I had to dance to was "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" — I thought if I can do it to this song, then I can do this job.
I spent my nights and weekends working at strip clubs to save money while staying with my grandparents.
There's no hourly rate. We earn money through private lap dances or tips. We have to pay the club a door fee, which can be $15 to $100 a night. Some nights I lost money. On a Friday or Saturday night I would make at least $300.
After eight months I was able to afford my own apartment.
I did stripping secretly to avoid being judged. I loved the thrill of it. I'd go to work and pack a bag and tell coworkers I was staying at a friend's place or make up a fake boyfriend. I was like Clark Kent. I'd work on contract litigation by day and give lap dances at night.
I danced on stage about three to five times a night for four songs, for up to an hour a night. It's high-intensity movement, like gymnastics. It's exhausting, but you get really fit.
I'd get to the office at 7 a.m. and leave by 3 p.m. Then I'd go home, take a nap, get to the strip club at about 7 p.m., and leave by 4 a.m. I did that for up to six nights a week. I had no social life because it was really tiring. I'd try not to fall asleep at my desk.
Most customers were tolerable, but others could wreck your day. They would ask why I was doing it or assume my family was disappointed in me. Some tried to break the rules by touching me in places that are not allowed; depending on the venue, either that's handled really professionally or you're treated like the problem.
Some clubs may not report these incidents to the police because they fear they'll get a hefty fine for breaking their license conditions. Often complaints are dismissed because of the negative perception of sex workers. I've also seen workers not get paid by the clubs.
I once had my drink spiked by a customer in a club, and was taken to hospital. The hospital assumed it was alcohol-related, and I wasn't taken seriously. The customer was never caught because they weren't seen on CCTV.
For me, it's listening to people and giving them attention. Many of the men came in because they didn't have someone to talk to. I feel like, on the one hand, it's terrible that someone has to pay to get company and compassion, but on the other hand, it's beautiful that they can access it through sex workers.
After a while, doing the two jobs took a toll on me. I had to use sick leave to take days to recuperate, but I carried on because I was determined to earn more.
I stopped working as a paralegal in 2019 because I was so burned out from it. I felt I couldn't be myself in the corporate world, and it was highly demanding.
I'm still a sex worker, but I work only at one venue, on occasion. I'm now an OnlyFans creator, and I do private bookings too.
Overall, though it had challenges, stripping gave me the courage, confidence, and means to rebuild my life to what I wanted it to be.2023-02-04T08:03:10Z dg43tfdfdgfd