The Strip-Tease Strategy
The other night at a dockside nightclub in Cape Town, a prostitute jumps on a table and performs a provocative strip tease for the club's enjoyment. Showing no inhibitions, she shimmies a denim mini down her legs, pulls her halter-top over her head, and unclasps her bra. With only leopard print heels and a flesh-toned g-string as adornment, she prances from table to table, pantomiming a stripper's routine.
All of the ladies around the club laugh. The men stare.
Such naked extravaganzas are rare at the dockside clubs. Though all of the club ladies are prostitutes, few are exhibitionists. In fact, most are quite conservative—wearing blue jeans, t-shirts, and takkies. Almost none wear the stereotypically sexy couture we associate with pros. And of the women at the club, only the strip-teaser arrives in a mini.
This lady—a veteran part-time prostitute who comes to the clubs for kicks and some extra bucks—clearly enjoys her performance. After showing off on the tables, she moves around the club, draping her naked bod over the backs of the sofas and chairs, daring the seamen to look and slip a R100 in the g. When I ask the other ladies who she is and why's she doing this, they just shrug: "oh, she's an old-timer who pops in sometimes. She does this every time she comes out."
But the stripper not only dances for personal satisfaction. She uses her strip-tease as a unique and potent solicitation strategy. By exhibiting her curvy sexuality to all of the men at once, she excites their interest, hints at future pleasures, and ignites a sense of urgency amongst them. Since they've all seen her at the same time, they must act fast if they are to beat their rivals to her. She places the burden of the chase on them.
When she finally (reluctantly) puts her clothes back on, she has her pick of guys. She chooses a young Indonesian crewman who looks very pleased with his luck. He can't stop smiling as they sway together on the dance floor.
She, meanwhile, is already dreaming of the next table-top routine she'll perform when she comes to the clubs again.