Sunday, December 20, 2015

Strippers Get Naked for Charity and The Byrd Pub Flouts Tradition

By Annie Temple

Few things go together as well as strippers and beer. Add some holiday cheer in the gift-giving spirit of the season and it's guaranteed to be a night to remember. Wouldn't you agree?

That's why I'm attending The Byrd's annual Stripathon Fundraiser for the Surrey Christmas Bureau on Sunday, December 27th from 3 p.m. till midnight. The event will feature 15 striptease artists getting naked galore and a raffle for a trip to Las Vegas.

Last year, over seven thousand dollars was raised. This year staff and entertainers hope to beat that total.

Mia Rosa, Sky, Shea Gunns, Victoria Fox, Harlem, Jayda Rose, Jenny Lee, Kate Hudson, Audrey Lovecraft, and Tiffany Lux are just a few of the sexy performers who will donate live, nude shows this Sunday exposing how generous our lovely local strippers really are.

In addition to enjoying high quality performances, guests can purchase shoulder massages by donation, participate in games, win prizes and swag, and more.

The Byrd Pub has been an historic landmark in Surrey for over forty years. Although he's not sure exactly when the pub started offering exotic entertainment, Byrd Manager Paul Gluska tells me the Flamingo Hotel opened in 1952.

A quick Internet search led me to only one historical reference to the Flamingo Hotel attributed to the 1980's.

“In other cultural news, a dwarf-tossing contest at the Flamingo Hotel in Surrey's Whalley neighborhood made headlines.” (Brief History of Greater Vancouver, Chuck Davis)

Despite, or perhaps because of, sordid events over the years such as the one above, the club has become known affectionately as “The Dirty Byrd.” Rather than deny it, The Byrd has embraced it's reputation for depravity by advising visitors to their Facebook page to “Stay Dirty Surrey.”

Recently, Gluska instituted big changes in how the club operates, as well as introducing theme nights and fun new drinks. “We are trying new things and revisiting some old ones,” he says.

By far, the biggest change is how dancers are now contracted by the club. Traditionally booked through agencies with a rotating line-up of performers each week, The Byrd now features “House Girls” - a consistent set of performers hired on a long term basis.


The House Girls


Victoria Fox

Jayda Rose

Jenny Lee

Mia Rosa

Harlem

Sky


Gluska cited several reasons for his decision to switch to a house girl format in addition to receiving poor service from the agency previously supplying the talent.

“We looked at the amount of money that was being spent on commissions by both the club and the girls, at how many girls said if they only could they would just work for us, and at how if we reinvested the commissions that only the house paid; I could add an extra full time dancer, as well as add about 25 shows a week, and give seven girls full time steady employment. Most of the other clubs have a very high repetition rate as it is. So we decided to cut the middle man, invest the savings into the entertainment, and develop our business on this model.”

Gluska added, “We do not deduct any commission from the girls who work here. They get paid in full each week.”

Despite rumours that the building is slated for demolition, Gluska assured me development at Whalley's most famous corner will not happen for at least another ten years. Although I am happy to hear that the Byrd's demise is not imminent, I am also sad to think of the club closing in ten years. Like all the dancers in the Lower Mainland, I've created many memories in this club. It is like a second home for strippers and regulars alike.

Which is precisely why Sunday's stripathon is destined to be a great time. We are family at the club and we're coming together for a great cause. Join us if you're in the mood to have fun.

In the meantime, I will enjoy “All Request Wednesdays,” and look forward to coming theme nights in January, such as “Naughty Schoolgirls,” “Lingerie Night,” and “Paint Night.” (The January Calendar will be published on the website the last week of December.)

The Byrd will also play host to many events in 2016 including pole dance contests, amateur events, a show and shine, and more.

“If anyone is bored with the chain establishments that all look, smell, and taste the same,” Gluska says, “I encourage them to come out and mingle with real people in a real bar where the music is loud, the drinks are wet, and the girls...well, let's just say they are nothing like the girls in the office.”

(I would add that The Byrd boasts a loyal female clientele. So don't be shy, Ladies.)

To stay in the know about upcoming promotions, keep an eye on The Dirty Byrd's webpage and Facebook page. You never know when you might need a beer and massage while you watch a sexy woman undress before your eyes.

I recommend at minimum a weekly field trip for your mental and social well-being. ;)


About the Author

Annie Temple has 17 years experience as a striptease artist and over 15 years as a sex worker rights activist, but she's been a rebel all her life. In 2000, she founded NakedTruth.ca to support other entertainers by reducing isolation, educating about health and safety, sharing information about gigs, challenging stereotypes, teaching etiquette to customers, and organizing in-person events for charity and to promote ethical businesses in the industry. Annie is a mom of three, a lover of writing and dancing. Currently she continues to run NakedTruth.ca and recently she embarked on spreading her messages on YouTube as Anarchist Stripper-Mom!   

Thursday, December 17, 2015

In Remembrance of Lives Lost to Stigma and Enforcement

By Annie Temple

I wrote this poem one night after working a drop-in program in Surrey BC Canada for street-based sex workers. One of our regular attendees came in distraught because she'd been raped by someone posing as a client. Processing someone else's pain can be difficult. It's called vicarious traumatization.

A few months later, this same woman entered a recovery house. She avoided the drugs she was addicted to for two months before relapsing. It was her last relapse. She overdosed and died. I loved her. I will never forget her.

Today is December 17th - International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Today, please carry a red umbrella in remembrance of the lives lost and your commitment to ending violence against sex workers. Today, talk to people about what this day means. It means we will not stand idly by while our most marginalized citizens suffer.

The poem below refers to women in the sex industry, but we all know that sex work is not a strictly feminine occupation. The drop-in I worked at when I wrote the poem, however, was for women only as that was the only funding we could access at the time.

That is also something for you to think about. How we, as a society, prioritize women's programs over programs for men and other-gendered people. And how most people don't even consider sex work outside of a violence against women narrative. This is faulty. Take responsibility for your misconception. Learn. Become an ally so that lives may be saved. Sex work is not inherently dangerous and sex workers are not only women.

In loving remembrance of sex workers everywhere who have suffered, been silenced, and perished due to violence, stigma, enforcement, and oppression. xoxo

I Look Like One of Them
In Memory of Katherine (formerly known on the streets of Surrey as KitKat)

I look like one of them
No hard lines that make my age hard to determine
One of them – my people, their people (in denial)
They cast judgment without any trial.

I look like one of them
Those who pass judgment and condemn
Those who’ve never seen what these women have seen
Or heard their voices even though they scream.

Doctors, nurses, cops, and johns
It always depends which side that they’re on
Those who see past the socially-imposed shame
Or those who ridicule, abuse, and lay blame.

I can barely contain this, my anger, my rage
Every war story told, I lock down like a cage
But my outrage keeps building and alas my heart bursts
I don’t know how to carry this burden, this curse.

I don’t walk in their shoes, roof over my head
I don’t have my things stolen when I go to bed
Each night I return to a warm, peaceful home
I can sit at my desk and type up this poem.

I look like one of them
I’m ashamed some are friends
With their “shoulds” and “get off drugs”
With their “pimps” and “hookers” and “thugs”

Talking like they have a clue
When nothing’s farther from the truth
Cause you cannot understand
If you can afford your Dairyland.

The welfare agents, the landlords, and neighbours
The power they wield, with their conditional “favours”
The sweeping statements they make about worth
To women who’ve lived through much more than childbirth.

I bow down to the strength of these women at war
Standing strong, taking on the hard path of the whore
Even during the times when the pain’s just too great
How these women withstand, overcome, and create.

I’m one person who does not know how to go on
Because losing a war like this is so wrong
They’re winning because all our soldiers are wounded
A world that is blind has so woefully doomed it.

There’s no good way to end this ode that I tell
Sometimes as women, we find things to sell
I don’t think that means that we’re not like the rest
Just they haven’t had to put their judgments to test.

And really what matters is only our souls
The parts of ourselves that no one ever stole
They tried but we begged, borrowed, boosted, and lied
And though some sisters were stolen, many still have survived.

Not one passage has passed with no one to mourn
Though we may not know Jane Doe for the day she was born
And we wage this deadly war against unfathomable odds
Offering up our most burdened moments to God.

#decriminalize #sexwork


About the Author

Annie Temple is the stage and writing name of Trina Ricketts. Trina has 17 years experience as a striptease artist and 15 years as a sex worker rights activist, but she's been a rebel all her life. In 2000, she founded NakedTruth.ca to support other entertainers by reducing isolation, educating about health and safety, sharing information about gigs, challenging stereotypes, teaching etiquette to customers, and organizing in-person events for charity and to promote ethical businesses in the industry. Some of the groups and functions that Trina is associated with are Exotic Dancers for Cancer (now BoobaPalooza), The Naked Truth Adult Entertainment Awards,Trade Secrets Guide, BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, Canadian Union of Naked Trades, as well as several community sex worker supportive organizations. Trina is a mom of three, a lover of writing and dancing. Currently she continues to run NakedTruth.ca and recently she founded Digital Activist Media - a project to investigate digital activism strategies and share them with other change-makers. Trina's activism efforts have expanded to include many issues, but her main activities involve sex worker and health freedom rights.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Beauty Myths and Tips from a Stripper

By Annie Temple

Lights, Heels, Illusion!

I don't know how many times I was told I don't look like a stripper. At first I didn't know whether to be flattered or offended. 

But I suppose if you don't spend a lot of time in strip clubs, you may not know that exotic dancers come in all different shapes, sizes, and shades. You may suspect that all exotic dancers look like Barbie.

In which case you are wrong.

While it is true that exotic dancers often have a lot of pressure to dye their hair blonde and straighten it, buy boobs and otherwise maintain difficult proportions, tan religiously and appear as young as possible at all times - the reality is exotic dancers are real women. 

This is not airbrushing and Photoshop. You cannot make cellulite and pimples disappear on a stripper performing live in front of you. You can minimize the noticeability of the above-mentioned, but you cannot completely erase.

Some dancers are tall, and some are short. Some are voluptuous and some are very lean. Some have very small breasts and some have very large breasts - inherited and purchased. We come in blondes, brunettes, redheads, and punks. All the races and ethnicities are represented.

The men love us all.

What's really cool about the exotic dance industry, is that it proves that all women are beautiful. It proves that all women have sexual power, and that confidence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

You may not believe me. You may say, "I have seen a lot of strippers and they are way hotter than me." And what I would respond with is this: "The only thing those strippers have on you is confidence (and that can be faked) and a few beauty tips you may not know about."

How to Fake Confidence

- Don't act jealous, even when you feel jealous. Insecurity is very unattractive. As an exotic dancer, I may get just as jealous as the next woman, but I will never let anyone see it. That would be humiliating!

-Stand long and tall like your head is reaching for the sky, with your shoulders relaxed. This is how you should sit, walk, and dance. Sometimes just faking it can make you feel more confident. Exotic dancers know that if they appear insecure, their shows will bomb and the energy in the room will be horrible. You never let your audience know you're feeling insecure about your bloated stomach or that ass zit.

-Look people in the eyes when you speak to them. And smile. Exotic dancers use this easy method to let the men in the clubs know that they are not intimidated by them and that they are in control of themselves at all times. It is part safety method - to let the men know not to fuck with you - but also to let them know that you are nice and willing to entertain them as long they don't fuck with you. Appearing strong and confident can help keep you safe by deterring aggressive men.

-Don't take abuse from people and don't feel the need to defend yourself. When you're wrong, say sorry. When "sorry" is not appropriate, walk away. It's not worth fighting over. Showing you don't care about other peoples' petty issues is a sign of confidence. Not everyone must like you or be proved to be assholes. Exotic dancers will always defend themselves when a customer is vulgar or gropy. But when a drunk idiot degenerates into insult-slinging (at what a fucking whore the dancer is for not letting him cop a feel), she walks away. (Secretly, we hope that the other customers will kick his ass in the parking lot.)

-Be nice to other women. When you are nice to other women, it shows that you are not competing with them. It shows that you respect and appreciate other women without feeling threatened by them. Exotic dancers will let each other know if there are assholes in the club or where the tipping customers are sitting. The friendly, supportive relationships between dancers is one of the best perks of the job.

A few other beauty tips:

-High heels force your hips to come forward causing you to appear thinner and taller.
-Bend at the waist when picking something off the ground.
-Tanning reduces the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite.
-Getting tattoos over cellulite reduces the appearance of cellulite.
-Using mineral salts (natural deodorant) on a fresh shave reduces razor burn.
-Putting natural sunscreen on your tattoos helps the colour not to fade.
-Never let your bare ass touch a dirty surface (zits).
-Fake eyelashes rock!
-Lighting does make a difference.
-Toenails painted, eyebrows plucked - for a classy, polished look.

We've covered behaviour and beauty tips designed to enhance the way you appear to others. But we all know that true beauty comes from within. I'm not messing with you. Read on and see if you agree.

This Little Light of Mine

It's true that beauty is not all about appearance. A beautiful personality shines through. Jealousy is not beautiful. Insecurity is not beautiful. You will not shine if you allow yourself to engage in petty comparisons with others.

Who are you? Deep down. Who are you? Are you someone who is more or less because of what others are like around you? No. You are someone who is equal to all others. You have a right to feel valued and cherished. You deserve dignity and respect. At your core, you are love energy. Let it shine through so others feel valued and cherished in your presence.

In order to let your true self shine through, you must love yourself. Easier said than done, sometimes. But very necessary.

If you struggle with loving yourself, certainly you can fake it till you make it. You might be surprised how confidence comes merely from the motions of it. However, you may want to consider doing some self work.

Dump the Dead Weight (I'm not talking pounds.)

The most important step in loving yourself may be a huge challenge depending on your circumstances. Without a doubt, the most important thing you must do is remove people from your life who say or do hurtful things to you. If you do not take this important step, you will find it very difficult to feel beautiful and love yourself.

Alternatively, you can teach others how to treat you by letting them know what you will and won't tolerate. However, if the behaviour doesn't improve (and it often doesn't), your only recourse is to prove you won't tolerate toxic people in your life and remove them from it.

In some cases, depression and insecurity can be completely eradicated simply by taking this step.

Recommended Reading for People Who Want to Feel Beautiful


For a boost in your self-concept and concrete ways to develop positive new habits, I recommend the following books.

There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem – Wayne Dyer
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
Fascinate: Your Seven Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation – Sally Hogshead

These books help you to reprogram your thinking, learn about yourself, identify your strengths, and follow your passions. These books will help you become happy.

Happiness is the Trump Card

Happy people do not need beauty tips for their appearance. Whether they dress themselves up or not, they shine. Happiness is their trump card. Happiness is always beautiful.

Studies have proven that happy people have magnetic personalities. Others are drawn to them. Their love energy is irresistible. Think about the people you most enjoy being around. I would wager they are happy. Not only because happy people effortlessly draw us in but also because the opposite personality spits us out.

Ever notice that depressed or angry people can leave you feeling drained? Spend an afternoon with a negative, unhappy person, and you might become depressed yourself.

I am not suggesting you dump your depressed friends. Certainly not. But if you love yourself, you also need to set boundaries for your own mental health. You wouldn't want your children or parents spending too much time with people who bring them down. Give yourself the same respect.

Make being happy a priority. Let your choices and activities be driven by what is good for you. Step outside your body and mind, look at yourself compassionately, then make decisions for yourself that you would make for someone else you love.

Peelers and Layers

I began this article talking about confidence and trade secrets. Dancers learn the art of appearing beautiful even on bad days. Never underestimate the power of good posture and impeccably painted toe-nails.

However, letting beauty shine out of you from within makes an even bigger impact. Others will climb willingly into your web of love energy when you are your authentic self; a sparkling person who neither puts herself above or below others.

It may not happen overnight, but the process of peeling back your layers and letting your light shine is simple.

Remove toxic people. Do some self-work. Be happy.

In the meantime, fake confidence like you mean it. Stand tall, attend to the details, and make eye contact. Never apologize for existing. You are enough. In fact, you're fucking awesome.

#shinebabyshine


About the Author

Annie Temple is the stage and writing name of Trina Ricketts. Trina has 17 years experience as a striptease artist and 15 years as a sex worker rights activist, but she's been a rebel all her life. In 2000, she founded NakedTruth.ca to support other entertainers by reducing isolation, educating about health and safety, sharing information about gigs, challenging stereotypes, teaching etiquette to customers, and organizing in-person events for charity and to promote ethical businesses in the industry. Some of the groups and functions that Trina is associated with are Exotic Dancers for Cancer (now BoobaPalooza), The Naked Truth Adult Entertainment Awards,Trade Secrets Guide, BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, Canadian Union of Naked Trades, as well as several community sex worker supportive organizations. Trina is a mom of three, a lover of writing and dancing. Currently she continues to run NakedTruth.ca and recently she founded Digital Activist Media - a project to investigate digital activism strategies and share them with other change-makers. Trina's activism efforts have expanded to include many issues, but her main activities involve sex worker and health freedom rights.