Susan Shepard spent sixteen weeks (at different times over seven years) stripping in oil boomtown Williston, North Dakota. And then she wrote , which is full of utterly delightful and erudite observations about rural America, the modern economy, and the lives of itinerant laborers.

好运来飞艇人工免费计划下载 The American worker has never been so efficient in terms of output over hours worked. At the same time, real wages and benefits have plummeted. Prospects are shitty for college graduates and non-graduates alike. Layoffs and cutbacks in previously solid industries protect the profits of an ever-smaller class at the expense of those who produce value. In stripper terms, here’s what that looks like: Lap dances in many places still start at $20, the same price they were in 1990. Customers expect ever-higher levels of contact and performance skill, meaning strippers work harder to earn the $20 or the dollar stage tip that is worth a lot less than it used to be. At the same time, clubs charge dancers higher stage fees and tipouts, especially as customer counts and tabs drop and dancers become a primary source of income for the clubs. There are no layoffs when your workers pay you, so instead of cutbacks, clubs hire more and more dancers, resulting in more competition for a smaller customer pool. Do more with less!

The one big advantage you have if you’re a stripper, though, is the ability to travel to greener pastures. If you would like to have a job in another town, as long as you look good enough for the club’s standards, you’re hired. So those who can, move. When the level of bullshit is too high or the earnings too low, they the hit the road. Same as the men who wind up traveling to work in the oil fields. If you can make $30,000 more a year driving heavy equipment in North Dakota instead of in Louisiana, and you need that money, you go. Is this the logical progression of a service economy? It looks like migrant labor.

What Shepard does not tell us (although you know it already if you know anybody employed at hard physical labor) is that the modern American laborer making any kind of decent wage wears Carhartts, a brand of tough work clothing. Whatever the merits of Carhartts as work attire, apparently they are not kind to the tender ass-skin of your local lapdance professional:

Bozeman, Montana, roughly marks where the plains turn into the mountains. It precisely marks the geographic spot where I return to myself on drives back from North Dakota. It’s seven hours from Williston, and that’s as much driving as I want to do in a day after a week of nine-hour shifts. So I would stop there and go through this routine after every trip to North Dakota: Check into a hotel or a sweet little vacation rental. Take two hours to put a mud mask on my face and my ass (those long hours of lap dancing on Carhartts are MURDER on it), scrub myself in a hot bath until my skin is red (Williston is the dustiest place I’ve ever been, and you feel like the dirt will be with you forever), wash my hair, moisturize, and go to one of the nice restaurants that live off of Big Sky vacationers and seasonal residents. They’ll have real glassware, attractive waitstaff, and good food. It makes me feel like I’m back in civilization, and I smile all through dinner thinking about how I’m here and not in Williston.

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