If their lives were a buddy movie, it would have a triple-X rating. Now Tim Case and Mike South, veteran pornographers, strip club managers, and straight-shooting old world gentlemen, have compiled a decade of blog posts and dressing room banter into the entertaining blook “Stripper Quotes And Other Stories From the Sex Industry.”
There’s a short speech Jack Nicholson’s character, a former astronaut, delivers in “Terms of Endearment” that I think applies to pornographers.
“The experience” in porn is the comparatively small community of men and women who have sacrificed the dubious comforts of traditional society to live the benefits and risks of this taboo and intriguing lifestyle.
It can make a person get thoughtful all of a sudden.
But “Stripper Quotes” is not “My Dinner with Andre.” The truths it gets at are unvarnished, misspelled, and sometimes too inside to decipher. South and Walker don’t explain the industry to the reader as much as shine a light on their own parts in it, and that of their friends. The best parts of the book feel like eavesdropping.
“You have my boyfriend’s permission to do what you want to me,” explained another starlet, “He won’t get out of jail for at least 10 years.” What did he go to jail for, wondered the lucky dude? “He caught me cheating on him,” she said, adding: “So what do you want to do first?”
Walker’s wife (and mother of their two children) is the absolutely gorgeous former performer Felicia Fox. Fox earned honors from both the XRCO and Nightmoves, an exotic dancer awards show, during her career, and Walker helped popularize the term “Suitcase Pimp,” the sometimes-derogatory phrase for men who carry their stripper/pornstress mate’s luggage, debit card, and appointment book.
But Tim Walker brought honor to that occupation, probably because he made sure to not stay in Porn Valley too long.
Mike South is a longtime adult industry observer, activist, and director whose home base is Atlanta. He is known for the “Southern Bukkake” series, which is no “My Dinner with Andre,” either, Thank God.
Remember that one time in Tampa, when Big Poppa Ike missed the pop shot, and we ended up reshooting the end of the scene in Atlantic City a year later? And when you edited it in nobody could tell the difference?
In short essays and email and text message transcripts, Walker and South trade their views on their own experiences in Porn Valley, often dropping the names of industry players long departed. Then there are the quotes from Dayton-area strip clubs like the Flamingo, where strippers say the strangest things.
An entertainer called me in the office one night and said, “I can’t come in to work tonight. One of my bowels quit working.“
I asked South (who is recovering from a broken leg—a stripper unexpectedly jumped into his arms while he was standing on asphalt) if it were possible to define the Universal Stripper.
Gram: Obviously you are both charmed by strippers and you know how to live in their world. But that’s not to say there aren’t challenges. Could you identify something that is universally true about strippers?
Mike South: They all have daddy issues…..every single one of them.
Gram: Explain that.
South: What do I look like, Freud? Daddy issues are daddy issues; basically (strippers) lack that strong male figure in their life so they look to fill it.
Gram: Is there a common mistake that strippers make?
South: They are lazy and don’t work the club, (and/or) they wait around for the customer to come get them.
Gram: Does money change relationships?
South: It is rare that strippers date a customer, very rare. They date “insiders” much like porn chicks do. Remember this: If you want to date a stripper, the instant you give her money for a dance or a VIP or whatever, your relationship is defined.
What it is like to be a man in the lives of hookers, escorts, peelers, and pornstresses is the real scholarship in this book, but along the way we enjoy the bromance-y letters between South and Case, as well as poignant gems like South’s “A Pornographer Looks At Fifty,” in which he and an Alabama escort share a drink they call Loneliness.
We get the very strong impression from the book, which could be subtitled “Men Are from Mars, Strippers Are From I Have No Fucking Clue,” that for all their affection for women—and the fact that their financial stability depends on the existence of women willing to take their clothes off—South and Walker sometimes wring their hands in confusion about women.
Gram: How often are you shocked or struck dumb by things strippers say?
South: Every day.
Strippers who read this book may be offended at being treated so anthropologically, but it might just inspire them to write their own books about the guys who make money off them. Meanwhile, “Stripper Quotes And Other Stories from the Sex Industry” is priced to sell at $2.99, and is a fun read, with a loving foreword by James DiGiorgio, coiner of the axiom “You can’t flunk out of porn.”
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Gram’s Summer Reading List for Porno-Americans; “You can’t flunk out of porn”
See also: “Stripper Quotes And Other Stories From the Sex Industry”, Mike South