Desert Showgirls: This Rebuilding

I’m packing to go to the desert to work at Desert Showgirls. It’s not the best decision I’ve ever made, but far from the worst. A couple of years ago, I worked there on a desperate Sunday night. I had 3 bucks to my name and none of my clients were calling. I was dating Marc Maron at the time and made a splash on the Internet with my fledgling freelance sensual massage business. My friend Skipper, who got me into the hand job biz, was hell bent on not seeing clients in her apartment that weekend so I needed to make due. I was in love with Marc Maron and he was acting distant and skittish and I thought that if I reigned in the sensual massage racket, he’d calm down. Like when I was ten and I thought if only I lie really still and don’t breathe, my raging step dad will stop screaming and my mom will stop whimpering.As a kid I thought that kind of magic was possible but as an adult I came to believe I was not that powerful. Not even close. No matter how nice I was, an alcoholic was going to drink. A cheater’s

Student at a School Where I teach Photojournalism

going to cheat.

Marc was ignoring me again. It didn’t’ matter what I did.

Seated Laura

So, I clutched my three dollars and drove to the desert with half a tank in awful Memorial Day weekend traffic— sad as a canker sore. The club was quiet with hardly any men but there were lots of girls: younger, skinnier versions of me making money and all I could think about was Marc and then calls starting rolling in but I couldn’t meet my regular clients because I was dancing at fucking Desert Showgirls. I stuck it out until the club closed after 2a.m. and drove home, nodding asleep on my steering wheel in the black empty night, broken and lonely but a tad less broke.

I am rebuilding. In this rebuilding, my life is about writing, teaching and being in an open, loving committed relationship. I teach creative writing to kids after school and am involved in a program for at risk teenage girls: Write Girl. I am a TA for a wonderful, talented poet and am grateful for knowing so many supportive, brilliant writers here in Los Angeles. They/You have been cheering for me all along. But, all of my gigs put together don’t pay the bills. My taxes aren’t going to pay themselves. I keep getting in trouble: tickets, bills, student loans: all of my negligence piling up and stinking. And like my friend said, when money is worrisome, it becomes all about the money.

The Roof at a School Where I Teach

And I can’t save or destroy my relationship by dancing—I am not that powerful. What I can do is be who I am: Get to work and trust that in this rebuilding, a foundation will one day be solid.

L by Romy Suskin

Now for some better news: I have a piece coming out in “Salon” soon about being a fat stripper and my legs costing me jobs. I have an essay about breaking up with Marc Maron and giving a guy a handjob when I was sad. It will be appearing in David Henry Sterry’s new anthology “Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks.” David is the nicest guy and has been surprisingly accessible and helpful. He sold “Chicken” for six figures back in 2000 and knows the industry so well it hurts. Have you read the statistics? Yes. They are brutal. So what. He told me that he believes the universe (or whatever) has been so good to him so he wants to give back in case the universe decides to punish him for not helping me. He’s been wonderful and I am touched by his helpfulness.

There are some links and things I want to share with you before I leave for work.

First, there’s Chris Kraus (who I am obsessed with) talking about the radical feminine “I” and her take on the Marie Calloway incident.

It’s not clear to me whether or not she is championing Marie Calloway or the “blah blah blah Tao Lin trend” but nonetheless, she has a good point about the confessional sexually-actualized female writer disclosing male sexuality and that not being “allowed” in our contemporary literary or pop culture canon. Although a play date with a much older dude and a double facial all over the Internet is nothing new or interesting, Kraus muses about the curse of American women writers having to also be likable and that is what blew me away and is something that has been annoying the shit out of me for years: that super palatable, apologetic tone.

Speaking of brave women with unpopular views and semi-apologetic voices who are also somewhat fierce, check out Mary Miller’s essay “I Am Sorry Women” on The Rumpus this week. She harshly blames herself for her troubling relationships with other women. This vexed friends of mine but I thought it was achy and great.

Finally, I loved this collection of quotes about the daily routines of writers I admire from Joan Didion to Jack Kerouac. Why not?:

And to be relentlessly productive, in case you are also searching for a teaching job and wondering why it’s so tricky, here is the advice no one likes to hear, but listen closely anyway to Rob Jenkins because he throws it down in his article “The Advice Nobody Likes” in “The Chronicle.”


  1. Alana says:

    Hi A,

    Regarding Chris Kraus, I didn’t get her point about Marie Calloway either. Maybe that’s the point: there’s no point. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

    About Mary Miller: when she said she didn’t know what she was writing about I agreed: I didn’t know what she was writing about either, and so I was left perplexed rather than vexed.

    I’m thinking about you.



    • Antonia says:

      Hey Beauty, Mary Miller’s piece may have read a bit unprocessed, but that’s what I liked about it. I think she was conflicted and unclear how to proceed and I was pulling for her. But that doesn’t mean I think you should answer her calls when she drunk dials you to accuse you of snatching her man.

  2. I read your piece on salon today. Bravo for stripping with fat thighs. I once got a lap dance (I’m female) from a “thick” but incredibly sexy woman, and it was fantastic.

    I applaud you for remaking your life as you please. I recently returned to erotic massage work, and as an older woman, it’s interesting. I have a lot of clients I really like, thankfully. It can be powerful, beautiful work. Humans are meant to touch each other, a lot.


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