So many thank yous to Hazel (Nico, Sue, Elle Stanger (Tumblr), and Luna for taking the time to answer my questions! Sadly, I didn’t have room to include all their awesome answers in the comic, but you can peruse them in their entirety below!

Also, check them out at their clubs!

Hazel dances at:
Devil’s Point
5305 SE Foster Rd,
Portland, OR 97206

Elle and Hazel dance at:
Lucky Devil Lounge
633 SE Powell Blvd,
Portland, OR 97202

Luna dances at:
5021 SE Powell Blvd,
Portland, OR 97206

Luna also dances at:
Rose City Strip
3620 SE 35th Pl,
Portland, OR 97202

Sue used to and
Nico does still dance at:
Casa Diablo
2839 NW St Helens Rd,
Portland, OR 97210

Full Interview

What advice would you give a first time strip club patron?
SUE: You can usually pick a first timer out of the crowd immediately. They are often super uncomfortable and maybe even shocked or in awe of the bare flesh (and/or sexual acts happening on stage if you’re at Casa) happening everywhere around them. I would often approach these virgins in an effort to make their first time an enjoyable and memorable one. Sometimes it was challenging to convince them that I wasn’t there against my will or that I wasn’t unhappy being there. I just tried to get them to loosen up and have a good time. When people felt awkward, I felt awkward. I would say, “You’re in a nudie bar!!!! There’s nudity! BOOBIES!! Have fun and enjoy it!!” I totally expect you to look at my boobies. It’s ok!! Just talk to me like a normal person (because I am!!) and be open and accepting to the experience. If you’re really uncomfortable, I’m going to know that and then I’m going to feel uncomfortable. Just bail if it’s not for you! No hard feelings. Scouts honor.

NICO: PARTICIPATE (tip on stage, buy lapdances, and have fun).

LUNA: hmm what advice what advice? probs just BE RESPECTFUL & have fun! if a club newbie navigates through the experience with respect & appreciation for the dancers i don’t think they could wrong. when someone i interact with is being respectful towards me it puts me more at ease and heck i like them more…i give a better performance and genuinely enjoy myself…so then they have more fun too! respect=fun.

also, please, please, do not come into a club if you’re desperately holding on to your money that you need to save for fill in the blank. if you’re trying to have a cheap fun night drink at your house!

HAZEL: My first point of advice is to learn the club rules so you can ensure you’re being respectful. Generally, the three main rules for every club is 1) for customers to tip if they’re watching the dancers, 2) to not use their phones (and especially to never take photos) and 3) not to touch the dancers. My second point of advice is to be polite. Treat us like you would want to be treated. Some customers seem to forget, because of how we look or are dressed, that we are still people with brains and feelings. Treating us like human beings is the best way to show respect. We aren’t in the club to “steal” your boyfriend or get exercise or find a fuckbuddy. We are there to WORK and as long as you understand what that means, you’ll do great!

ELLE: Don’t be afraid to ask the staff what the rules are. The bouncers/DJ/bartender can be helpful if there aren’t any clear rules posted. Strip clubs vary throughout each city, state and the country. Even those a few blocks apart can be starkly different in every way.

If you’re sitting at the stage, how much should be tipped per song to the dancer?

SUE: Stage tips rules vary by club. Most places it’s at least $1.00 per song. At Casa the minimum is $2.00 per song (hence the $2.00 bills). This is the MINIMUM!!! If you want to be stingy, look kinda like a jerk, and ensure you get very little attention from the dancer, tip the minimum. If you like the dancer, appreciate her pole tricks or stage presence, or are just a rad person in general, tip more than the minimum every time. For example, I always tip at least $3-$5 bucks for someone who’s just average to me. Someone that I dig might get $5-$7 per song, and someone that I really, really dig that I might even ask for a lap dance from might get $10 or more per song. I’m biased because I’m a pole dancer, but I always tip well for any display of acrobatics, extreme flexibility, skilled booty shaking and pole tricks. That shit is hard and it entertains the hell out of me!! Some guys might tip more just because they love your tits. Do what feels good to you and be generous. Stage money is super important to our livelihood and energy and you will totally rub the girls the wrong way if you stage squat and tip the minimum each song. BOO. As a good rule of thumb, if you’re going to be there for a few hours, be buying drinks, sitting at the rack, and plan buy a dance or two, you need to come to the club with at least $100-$200 to spend.

NICO: Minimum: $1/per song, per dancer

LUNA: alrighty, if someone is sitting at my stage i think i expect two dollars per song. i say that because the times that i get one dollar per song something inside me cringes and i KNOW that i dance WAY crappier. especially if i have one frickin’ person at my stage. sometimes i wish that the one dollar tippers would buddy up with their one dollar friends-sit at my stage all at once and make it worth it for me. if someone is tipping me hella on stage i’m more engaged with my performance and i give that person a lot of my attention.

HAZEL: The majority of clubs expect customers at the stage to tip at least $1 per song, per person. That is a minimum. Of course, we always appreciate getting more (and considering how hard we work, tipping the minimum can sometimes be a little insulting). When I go out to a stripclub for fun, I bring at least $40-60 just for stage tips. You should always expect to spend more at a stripclub than at a neighborhood bar, and if you’re feeling stingy, skip the club and go to a pub!

One thing I also really want to emphasize that most people don’t know is that if you’re watching a dancer, tipping her early in the song is preferable. Every stripper gets ripped off enough in the span of our careers to know that until we see the money, we have no idea if the customer is planning to actually pay us. For me it comes down to reserving energy and effort until I know the work is worth it. When I’m dancing and see people sitting at my stage but not tipping anything, I’m going to save my energy and give a less interesting show than if everyone throws their money down right away. Putting your money down quickly starts is the best way to guarantee that you’ll get a good show and make the dancer a happy lady!

ELLE: $2 is a safe minimum per song, unless otherwise posted. Some states like NJ don’t allow tipping while the girl is on stage; she will walk around after her dance and encourage tipping on her person. But in most places, tipping for every song is encouraged. I welcome anything $2 and up. I’ve gotten 21 for 8 minutes, and $400 for three minutes. Be generous, tip more than the cost of your last Starbucks drink. (I think this answers the following question too)

If you’re not sitting at the stage and you’re not paying attention to the dancer that’s up, do you still have to tip her? How much and how often should you tip her? Per song? Can you just give her a couple bucks for her entire set?

SUE: If you’re not sitting at the stage you don’t necessarily have to tip the dancer on stage. It would be nice to throw a little something down especially if she busts out a trick, but I never felt like it was expected. However, if you’re not sitting at the stage but you’re still staring at me, you better believe that I’m going to feel a little peeved if you don’t tip me. Pay if I’m entertaining you, stage side or not!

NICO: NO. If you are not paying attention to the dancer on stage, and you are not sitting at the “rack” there is no need to tip at all. If you are paying attention to the dancer on stage (at the “rack” or not), you must tip minimum $1/per song, per dancer. If her “entire set” is 2 songs, then a couple bucks would meet that $1/per song, per dancer rule.

LUNA: i think if someone is truly not watching me they don’t have to tip me. if someone is truly not watching any dancer EVER…why the hell are they in a strip club?? if someone is just stopping in for a quick drink…they should tip at least one dancer a few bux. if someone walks into the strip club and they never tip me, that’s fine with me, but they better be tipping some of my fellow dancers cuz us ladies are working hard! and again-what the fudge are they even doing there?<------especially if they are watching and not tipping EVA...guess what you are getting psychically harassed by each dancer-evil eyes galore. i appreciate when maybe some friends are having a drink together and they glance at me every so often...if near the end of my set one or both of them put two dollars on my stage. i don't expect it because i don't want want to be disappointed ha. HAZEL: You’re not required by clubs to tip if you aren’t sitting at the stage. I would say that if you are sitting farther back and facing away from the stage, it’s acceptable not to tip, although of course, tipping is always appreciated and means a lot to us. However, if you are sitting back from the stage but watching the show, not tipping us is pretty insulting, for previously stated reasons. It’s always good when going to a stripclub, even if you don’t plan on focusing on the dancers, to expect to tip us anyway, at least a few dollars for every woman working that night.

How much do lapdances cost? How much should be tipped on top of that initial cost?

SUE: Lap dance prices vary by club. Most places are $20.00. Casa is $40.00, but Casa allows full contact (full nude-no touching by the customer -or- bottoms on, customer can touch/grab/grope except between your legs (basically no grabbing or touching your vag). This is up to the dancer and what she is comfortable with. Most places besides Casa have a strict no touching by the customer rule. Dancers can generally touch you. Any tip on top of the dance price is appreciated. I would usually get $5-$20+.

NICO: This varies club to club and can be discretionary for each individual exotic dancer. In general, $25-$35 (not including tip) is the norm for lapdances. Tipping can vary for lapdances, but on average $5-$20 is appropriate.

LUNA: where i work lap dances cost 20 dollars per song. wow tipping on top of that?? that rarely happens to me! it’d be cool if people gave a five dollar tip on top of the lap dance cost (or more)…especially if I gave a good amount of my time having a conversation with them before or after. i really don’t expect a tip…but of course i like it! or if they loved it and want to be a regular…why not tip a little?

HAZEL: Lapdances vary from club to club, but are generally between $20-40. I think 15-25% is a good amount to tip for lapdances, and paying upfront definitely will win you favor with us as well. Many dancers, myself included, have experienced being ripped off by people who didn’t pay up front, so it’s a good idea to have your cash out and ready when you are taken into the back room.

ELLE: Lap dances can range between $10 and $50 in Portland, most places in the country they are $20 a song. Keep in mind that the industry standard for $20 has not changed in thirty years, so with inflation , they should amount to $33!. $25 a song always makes me appreciate the person, and remember that individual fondly.

Break down how many people a dancer has to pay at the club in order to perform there. At the end of the evening, (generally) how much of a percent of her pay will be given back to others at the club?

SUE: On average a dancer will give up about 30%-35% of her gross earnings to the club. Fee structures vary by club but usually consist of a flat fee or percentage to the bar, bouncers and DJ, and a more substantial contribution to the “house” or club.

NICO: This varies club to club, which shift the dancer is working, and sometimes pay out is more on weekend nights compared to weekday night. In general, a dancer working a mid/day shift will pay out less to a club, compared to a night shift. In general, on a weekend night shift, a dancer will have to pay out a flat rate or percentage of what she made to the DJ (usually 10%), $5-$15 to each bouncer working that shift, and sometimes a house fee (house fee could be a flat rate, an agreed upon amount per dance, or a percentage of what the dancer made total). Despite all these variables, a dancer generally will tip out anywhere from 10% – 40% of her total shifts earnings.

HAZEL: Most people outside the industry don’t know that dancers actually pay to be there. Outside of the costs of our clothes, shoes and the myriad beauty products that help us look so fabulous, we pay the club and staff for the right to work there. At my clubs, we are charged a $10 stage fee, plus required payouts for the DJ, bouncer/s, and bartender/s. For me, that comes out to between $50-90 for a single night shift. Other clubs take a percentage of dancer’s total earnings that night, or a portion of their lap dance and stage earnings as well. Those factors vary from club-to club, but it’s important to remember because when people come and watch us for free, they are essentially making us PAY to entertain them, which is really frustrating. It’s not hard to walk up to the stage and throw down a few dollars for each dancer you watch, and what is the cost of coffee to you makes a big difference to us at the end of a long night.

ELLE: As with the other questions, this one is all over the board; but many dancers will tip out $60-200 in order to work, each night. Or more! Some clubs count how many dances you do, and take a percentage from each. That is why gratuity on top of lap dances is always appreciated!

If a dancer comes to talk to you at your table, how much should you tip? How do you do it? Do you just hand her money as soon as she comes over? Do you keep doling out a few dollars every ten minutes or so?

SUE: If a dancer comes to your table she probably wants to chat with you because you look like a cool person, maybe get to know you a bit, and probably get you to buy a dance. Even if you’re not interested in a lap dance, you can buy her some drinks and tip her for her time. Depending on the club, a lot of her income might depend on selling dances so the least you can do even if you’re not interested is realize that while she might honestly enjoy your conversation she also is working, so passing her a $5 or $10 to compensate her for her time is super classy.

NICO: It is not mandatory to tip a dancer who approaches you or comes to your table. It is courteous to tip a dancer occasionally, at your table, if she is staying at your table and engaging with you or your group. It is up to each individual dancer to decide if they allow customers to insert money in their tops or bottoms (g-string, thong, bra, etc.) so to be safe, it’s best to ask before you a tuck a tip in her bra strap. You may just hand her tips as well. You may dole out tips as you feel necessary, because it’s not mandatory to tip a dancer while she is at your table.

LUNA: i also don’t expect people to tip me if i come and talk to them for a few minutes. ok but i am slightly offended if we were having a nice convo and i’m giving them my time.. then it’s my turn to go on stage and they never tip me-eva! so annoying. i have a few customers where all we do is talk…maybe for a half hour total (if it’s a slow day)…and they tip me 20 dollars…plus come to my stage each time and tip me well…by well i mean more than two dollars altogether. they way he does is it is he just simply hands me a 20 dollar bill or what have yee. you don’t gotta feel awkward! i sure don’t!

HAZEL: Generally, dancers don’t expect to be tipped just for sitting with a customer for a few minutes. That said, we always appreciate being handed money by people who understand that our job is to be paid for our company. Generally when we are walking the floor and chatting with customers at the bar or tables, we are trying to find customers who want to buy lapdances, since that’s an important and lucrative part of the job. If you aren’t planning to buy a lapdance from a dancer who sits and is chatting with you, you can politely let her know that so she doesn’t end up spending more time with you than necessary. It can be something like “Hey, just so you know, I’m not planning to get dances tonight, but I’ll definitely be at the stage for your next set!”

ELLE: It’s pretty classy to quietly pass $5, $10 or $20 over the lady if she makes polite conversation, makes you laugh, or intrigues you otherwise. While doing so, you can tell her, “thanks for the jokes”, or “you’ve been very entertaining.”

Patrons may not touch dancers, but how does it work when a dancer sits on a patron? Or when a dancer hugs you? Do you keep your arms pinned at your sides?

SUE: Just don’t be a creep. It depends on the dancer, but if I hug a patron I would hope they would hug me back in a very non-creepy, platonic way. You don’t have to keep your arms stiff at your sides. (I always think that’s hilarious when people do that especially chicks). Just be appropriate and use good judgement! I realize it might be a little bizarre at first to have a hot, topless woman embrace you or sit on you, but just don’t get all grabby and weird, or whisper something about coming home with you and your wife in my ear. EW!!

NICO: This actually also varies club to club and dancer to dancer. For lapdances: some clubs have a strict no contact rule and some clubs allow contact where the bikini DOESN’T cover (no crotch, breast, nipple contact). On stage: DO NOT TOUCH THE DANCERS. It’s a good rule to not touch dancers at all, until the dancer explains the lapdance rules. There are usually clear signs in the lapdance room/area that say NO CONTACT if there is a no contact rule. If a dancer comes and sits on a patrons lap, it’s best to not touch her. Arms pinned at sides is a good rule, unless you’ve read (on signs) or have been told by the dancer what the contact rules exactly are.

LUNA: some people think that they own me because they give me 4 dollars and can touch me anywhere. ’tis highly delusional. if i’m going in for a hug…of course one could hug me back! if a dancer sits on your lap maybe just put your arm around her middle area respectfully. if someone doesn’t know what the dancer is already comfortable with….THEY NEED TO FRICKIN’ ASK CUZ CONSENT IS AWESOME. ask ask ask ask ask! if i’m giving someone a lap dance…i state…”please ask before you act”…doesn’t mean that they will like my answer..but if they violate a boundary, which is unfortunately a very common experience, i will be pissed either secretly or not secretly and my performance drops drastically.

HAZEL: Hahaha, well it’s definitely important to follow the ‘no touching’ rule, but you also don’t have to treat us like we’re made of hot lava! If we go in for a hug, you can totally reciprocate (just keep your hands high like on our back). If you want a hug from us, feel free to ask. If we sit on your lap, watch our body language to know where you can touch. Usually resting an arm on our shoulder or holding hands is totally fine. Touching our legs and anywhere that is covered by a one-piece swimsuit is a pretty universal no-no. But asking us is ALWAYS the best option. Consent is key!

ELLE: Follow her lead, I’ll hug people that I feel comfortable with, or those that I know well enough. Never assume that you can put your hands on a person. Much like in kindergarten, look with your eyes, and use your words kindly. Like my curls? Thank you, but please don’t pull them. Admiring my tattoos? That’s wonderful, but please don’t pet them. In full-touch clubs, the dancer will likely encourage what is allowed, but never hesitate to ask. It is common for men to inquire during a lap dance if they can rub my legs, and I’ll explain that a backrub or foot rub is quite welcomed.

Anything else you want to add?

SUE: Just have fun, be generous, be yourself, and don’t over think it! Indulge in the debauchery, but be respectful, and remember that we’re hard-working, fun, and extremely interesting people! Just be cool!

NICO: Not that I think you would ever do this, but in general strip club patrons are men…I’ll just leave it at that….
-do not crumple money up and throw it at the dancer.
-It’s always best to just politely decline a dance, as in “no thank you”, do not tell a dancer to come back if you really don’t mean it, because she will be back…promptly. It’s also not necessary to tell a dancer why you don’t want the dance (i.e. “you’re not my type”, “your tits are too big/small”, I don’t like asians (or whatever the dancer’s race is).

These answers are specifically for Portland/metro area strip clubs. Strip club rules and pay out will vary city to city and state to state. What mostly determines the contact/nudity rules is the actual state’s individual alcohol and nudity laws. For example, Oregon is one of the very few states that allow alcohol and full nudity (hence fully naked strippers in clubs in Oregon, a lot of them, and you can order a drink). Compared to Washington or Nevada whose law is topless only with alcohol. It’s illegal in most states to run a public establishment that serves alcohol with full nudity.

HAZEL: One last thing that a good strip club patron can do that makes dancers happy is show enthusiasm. It can feel draining to do an awesome (and difficult) string of pole tricks to a silent and stone-faced crowd. If you are impressed, clap and cheer as you throw down your tips. Most dancers really feed off the energy of the room so if you are showing her how much fun you’re having, she’ll feel motivated to keep your good time going. Good energy and enthusiasm is contagious, so if you share it with us, we will reciprocate!

ELLE: Some things never go out of style; manners and a good attitude. Keep an open mind, remember that different people are aroused and amazed by different things. It takes a lot of courage to dance nude in front of strangers, and even more courage to approach them for conversation, whilst in underwear.

If you want to ask a question, but aren’t sure if it’s rude, it probably is.

Some things to never ask:

How much money do you make? – This is never really acceptable in any situation.

Are you single? – Unless we are speed dating, irrelevant.

What’s your real name? – My dancer name is the only name that matters when I’m in the club. Pseudonyms keep us unique and keep us safe from stalkers. Respect my monikers.

What do your parents think of this? – They think I’m an adult, and so are you. Let’s not revert back to high school mentality.