Friday, April 19, 2013

Strippers- Independent Contractor v. Employee Update

So, I found out that Exotic Magazine will definitely not be publishing my response (go figure). The woman who wrote it talked to me, saying that the editor is not interested in publishing anything that goes against management since "so many" girls have been trying to ask for back-pay and various things. Whatevs. Instead, she encouraged me to post my response in the private Facebook group for strippers in the area. I did, and boy, what a conversation it sparked. It has been quite lively, and really refreshing to hear different and articulate thoughts on the subject. 

Here is the conversation to date, to just give you an idea of what is being said by a select group of women. (And of course, I removed names; I gave each person a number to keep it simple). The conversation about control, taxes, and the strip club market and industry is pretty fascinating to me (and disregard as much you can the drama/insults/overreactions):

  • 1: I disagree about the idea that we get free reign because we're independent contractors. We're still STRIPPER independent contractors- it's our industry, so we have to work within those confines. It'd be ridiculous to be a independent contractor dog walker but complain about having to work with animals, or work during the day or something. I mean, unless you own your own club, the situation has to be mutually beneficial. 
    I'm glad you touched on the tax thing that was brought up in Elle's article. The fact that some dancers think they don't have to pay taxes because they tip out had me furious. Wtf sense does that make? Tip outs are a cost of doing business, you can write them off if you want. Idk just... we're adults....just pay your fucking taxes. I need that theory explained to me.
    Tuesday at 8:56pm via mobile · Like · 2

  • 2:  A lot of the dancers I know, especially in the down months like we are currently experiencing, make so little that literally every dollar they make goes to paying their bills. On an average night at an average club you are tipping out roughly 10-30% of your earnings on house fees and employee tipouts (in my personal experience) this leaves you with 70-90% of the income you earned by getting naked and often times not in the best of circumstances. The government takes roughly 30-35% of that income as well. So now you have given away 40-65% of your nightly earnings. If you only made $100 (just an example) you pay your $35 in fees and an additional $35 to the govt (maybe you set this aside to pay quarterly taxes?) you are now going home with $30. This won't even pay your gym membership or your cell phone, or your gas to get to and from work. Yes everyone's experience isn't this way, and yes this is only an example, but it's how I see that women decide not to pay taxes, because really, after 5-6 hours of getting naked for rude customers (and staff) is it really worth $30?
    Tuesday at 10:53pm via mobile · Like · 6
  • 3: Thank you for very eloquently stating what I have been saying about the industry as of late, it's nice to hear someone else shares my opinions about this subject.
    Tuesday at 11:18pm · Like · 2
  • 4: The idea of workers comp and sick leave seems like a dream to me.. I was out a full month in november and am still struggling a lot even though i was doing well until then.. I myself would find it easier to pay a smaller amount of taxes throughout over a bigger sum eventually (which is a large part of why i havent filed mine, i really cant get enough money in one place)
    Yesterday at 1:21am via mobile · Like · 2
  • 5: It seems as though its not so much about girls not wanting to pay their taxes as much as its about the way dancers in Portland are treated like employees with out the benefits of being an employee. Of course there are rules that everyone has to abide by but charging girls a late fee or some other fee for some other ridiculous stipulation can and has been abusive. And yes, most of the clubs I have worked at in Portland whether it be for a man or a woman, have required me to conduct my self as an employee so much so that they belittle or insult you for knowing the difference between employee and contractor. It's been an issue in Portland since I started in 2003 but it seems as though it has gotten worse. No one likes being treated like a slave. I think we need to not be so defensive Kayla Van Allen when it comes to the whole tax thing. I am glad you pay your taxes. But I think your tone is insensitive to what the point of the original post was about which has more to do with the treatment of dancers in the work place.
    Yesterday at 10:23am via mobile · Unlike · 6
  • 1: But millions of people make just enough, after taxes, to pay their bills. It just sounds like excuses. Maybe I'm just pissy because I just paid my taxes, or maybe it's because I'm a closeted conservative. Who knows, maybe I'd see if I could get away with it if I was at another place in life. As it is, I have a mortgage I need to refinance & I sure as hell wouldn't be able to do that, or have my home in the first place, if I wasn't reporting.
    Yesterday at 11:07am via mobile · Like · 3
  • 6: HEEEEELLL YEAH! this is something that runs through my head on a consistent basis
  • 1: Also, my phone is being bananas & I meant to delete a few things that were me spouting off because I'm all "hormonal" but they are still coming up - so. There's that. I'm not really a crazy tax Nazi. ...I should do this on my laptop.
    Yesterday at 11:28am via mobile · Like · 3
  • 7:
    1, I didn't think you were over the top. I appreciate both sides and was glad to hear your well articulated opinion.
    Yesterday at 11:54am via mobile · Like · 1
  • 5: It may sound like excuses but most people don't get into this industry with the intention of it being a career. I worked many " normal" jobs and danced on the side not paying taxes or claiming that I had additional income. The fact is, most the girls in Portland make a measly wage. I know for a fact most if the girls barely make 300 on a really good shift. After tip out and fees its way less. I know many girls that disnt pay taxes starting out but have gone back and taken care of business once they realized the opportunities that where available to them. IE purchasing a car/home etc. I understand your point and that we should all be responsible for ourselves but I think that this forum needs to be less about judging and more about being proactive. If you believe all of us dancers should pay taxes then please provide something constructive like the contact info for your CPA.
    Yesterday at 12:38pm via mobile · Like
  • 8:  clubs in PDX definitely micro-manage you. I feel a lot better about being an independent contractor in other states where I have no set schedule, and once hired as long as I pay my (admittedly large) stage fee, no one is trying to critique my outfits/music choices/behavior. I could show up at 11PM, wear a mumu, dance to the worst music ever, and sit in the dressing room all night as long as they get that $60. PDX they want to take your money, AND tell you what to do all the time. If the manager can come in the dressing room and whine that I need to get on the floor and work harder, he needs to fucking PAY ME
    Yesterday at 5:11pm · Edited · Unlike · 4
  • 9:  I know i'm frivoling, but I'm so curious about what clubs are exerting control over hair, outfits, pubic hair, &c, because Portland has some of the most outrageously poorly groomed strippers I have ever seen. Or do you just mean strip clubs in general nationwide? Tbh of all the ways management flexes muscles, aesthetic guidelines bother me the least, as they make the most sense to me. That girl who used to wear a diaper at Hawthorne strip? She could have benefited from some sartorial strong-arming. 
    For the rest of it, I mean yeah, although I am strongly against being an employee, and I pay taxes so I may be in the minority here. Shawna, two other girls recommended a CPA earlier this week, I think I'm going to give her a try since my old accountant is sort of baffled and useless about dancer write offs.
    Yesterday at 5:11pm via mobile · Like · 5
  • 9: Also, I think V made this point on C's page weeks ago, but what do we think will happen to all the dancers who are barely squeaking by at all the little clubs that are hard hit right now? I mean do you think those clubs would start to pay 8/hr for however many girls work there? Or would those clubs/girls be out of a job?
    Yesterday at 5:12pm via mobile · Like
  • 8: ^^I think those clubs/girls would go down fast. There are definitely some cracked looking girls, so I dont know how effective the management it, but they are buzzing in your ear all the time. Ive worked at the following: [10 clubs named], and have had management at all of them criticize my weight, makeup, outfits, music selection, and work ethic after being hired. I just have not experienced the same treatment in other cities, they give you a tough audition but then leave you the fuck alone. 

    My favorite was X at Y being anal about making the schedule, having girls use different symbols on this complicated grid sheet for days you can't work, are ok with working, and really want to work. He wouldnt let you just call in the days you want, you had to DRIVE OUT THERE and fill out the sheet. He said it was because he had 100 girls on staff and that was the only way to run a club with that many girls. I had just come back from working in Vegas at a club with 800 girls on staff, and they hire you for certain shifts, then just let you WALK IN when you want, and it seemed to work BETTER than X's up everyones ass method. It just seemed totally ridiculous to me. and sums up what I hate about clubs in portland.
    Yesterday at 5:23pm · Like · 4
  • 7.  I would never want Employee status. I just want to be able to keep all my fucking money as an independent contractor, without the pressure of supplementing everyone's income. Without dancers these clubs are just bars. They need the dancers. Clubs just try to eye gouge because many of them haven't felt the legal pressure of having status enforced one way or the other. They really do try and have their cake and eat it too. And as far as micro managing, I felt Z was one of the offenders, A specifically, as far as my experience went.
    Yesterday at 5:23pm · Like · 5
  • 8: I agree 7 I too just want to keep all my independent contractor money, and be treated like one. Stage fees are as big of a bummer as micro-management.
    Yesterday at 5:25pm · Like · 3
  • 10: I'm glad you posted this here. You make a lot of excellent points, that I as a stripper and magazine contributor, have to avoid. Being neutral and 'professional' often means biting the bullet and keeping mum on tough issues.
    Yesterday at 5:38pm · Like · 4
  • 11: Our independent contractor tax rate is actually lower than 30%! I reported $25,000 for 2012 and my tax liability was about $6,000; the Hope education tax credit lowered it another $4,000. (I also wrote off about $1500 of costumes/waxing/etc) My state and federal tax liability for 2012 is $3,000. That is NOT a lot of money for a dancer, plus doing my taxes gave me some good ideas about what I CAN write off (photoshoots! advertising/promotion! travel!). For instance, you could TOTALLY WRITE OFF a trip to Vegas - the airfare, your hotel, and your licensing fees, as well as any and all advertising or promotional stuff you do, like starting a website or making business cards.
    21 hours ago · Like · 5
  • 11: It will make me sound like a bitch, but I would not be against a bunch of clubs closing. Many of those places are probably solvent only because dancer's fees and tip outs pay for staff and management, and when the dancers aren't making a living wage because of low traffic, that is some kind of cruel joke. Plus, having a high number of clubs lowers the value of all clubs. (The more of something there is, the less it's worth!)
    21 hours ago · Like · 8
  • 9:  I've heard the overhead for some clubs is only like 300 in sales a day. They can do that regardless of if the girls are making anything, and they do. I know this isn't going to be a popular opinion, but imo the best that can be said for dancers somehow getting employee status is that it would force these places to close.
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • 11: Dancers who aren't making money are both part of a market that is artificially depressed (significant proportion of hole-in-the-wall, low traffic clubs are financed by dancer income in form of fees; these clubs lower the value of the entire market) and actually helping to depress that market. One would normally expect strippers that are unable to make money due to lack of skill to exit the industry, but it appears they end up at low traffic clubs where they not only make less money, but also contribute to a sort of 'industry dampening' effect. If you are making less than a living wage (<$400/week), I suggest you do yourself (and the rest of us!) a favor and find a different job. That would be the real benefit of a minimum wage - it would force clubs that can't survive without dancer's tips/fees, much less pay wages or benefits, to close, and it would necessarily force some dancers to find alternative employment, thus increasing the remaining clubs'/dancers' incomes. I cannot imagine that a minimum wage for strippers is going to gain traction any time soon, though, so everybody's safe for now.
    20 hours ago · Like · 5
  • 1: Yes. I bit my tongue, but I feel the exact same way 11 And the truth of the matter is if clubs are going to have to bother with the accounting NIGHTMARE of putting a hundred or so dancers on payroll, dancers who would constantly be quitting or being fired to work at other clubs or leave or whatever, then you can bet they wouldn't bother hiring girls in the first place who don't make any money - girls who are relying on that minimum wage paycheck. careful what you wish for.
    12 hours ago · Like · 2
  • 1: And they wouldn't offer health insurance or paid time off or any of that. Dancers don't work 40 hours a week.
    12 hours ago · Like
  • 2: Just because you aren't making a ton of money per shift doesn't mean you aren't working your hardest. We aren't all master hustlers, nor should every girl be, or there wouldn't be high-earning girls in the first place. Being a dancer is not just about making money ( though that aspect is nice!) it's also about being an entertainer, a therapist, a friend, a confidant, a comfort- being many things to many people. Just because you aren't earning top dollar doesn't mean you should be forced to leave the industry. I do my part by working hard and working few shifts so other ladies have a chance at earning money. Yes, I make very little, and yes it would be nice to make $400 a week. But I work 1 shift a week and I don't see anything wrong with that!
    12 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • 1: I hear you. It does make a great part time job. I just tink employment would change the dynamic so drastically, clubs wouldn't hire a girl to work one day - Kwim?- just too much of a hassle & liability. And I'm saying that's a bad thing. Oh. And dancing is 100% about money for me lol. I'm not an artist or anything. But I know there are women who are in it for different reasons.
    12 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • 9: I'm so confused,2! Of course being a dancer is also about being a therapist, confidante, and whatever the fuck, but why would you think that shouldn't result in getting paid? Your time and energy have value! Those are all part of the job, emotional labour, and they deserve compensation. That's like trying to not pay a daycare worker because her job involves "playing with kids." It's still work.
    10 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • 2: I wasn't saying you don't deserve money, I was saying its not ONLY about money. Thanks a lot, ladies. Now I officially feel like I suck even more at this job. From now on I guess I will keep my opinions to myself so I don't get attacked!
    9 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • 4:  Ive read through this and see no need to feel attacked, your points are just being questioned and debated which is what happens when people dissagree. I am all of those things you listed, they are very important to me AND i demand to make a fare wage, and i think you should too. No one said you suck at your job from what i can see.
    9 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
  • 4:  <400 a week makes sense if youre only working one shift, i know girls who work 5+ and dont make a full 400 and i think THAT is a problem.. Fuu i wish i could edit posts from my phone so im not multi posting.
    9 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2

  • 10: 2, You don't suck at your job, I've worked with you before. You aren't able to work the right shifts, because of your unforgiving conventional work schedule.
    5 hours ago · Like · 1
  • 10:
    The 'right shifts' meaning: more than one a week, at a desirable club.

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