Tressler's double life was exposed when a rival newspaper outed her as the anonymous author of the popular blog, "Diary of an Angry Stripper." Tressler was subsequently fired from the conservative Houston Chronicle, but she quickly twisted this turn of fortune to her advantage. She acquired women’s rights advocate, Gloria Allred, to represent her in a wrongful termination lawsuit. She also converted her blog into a memoir detailing the life of an exotic dancer and journalist struggling to make her mark in a world where adult websites attract more readers than hardcore news sites. I caught up with Tressler as she kicked off her feature dancing tour to promote Diary of an Angry Stripper, which will be released July 15.
How do you feel about guys who wear tracksuits to strip clubs as a way of maximizing the coefficient of friction during private dances? Are they smart shoppers or perverts?
I wouldn't say they're perverts, but I don't like it. Men should dress like men, and to me, that means wearing appropriate attire to a club. Depending on the club, a tracksuit is borderline inappropriate. There's enough space between me and those guys, though. It's not an issue.
I'm scheduled to be on Playboy Radio tomorrow morning, but I have no plans to pose nude, and Playboy hasn't indicated any interest as such.
Considering that you were fired for moonlighting as a dancer, obviously there are still some strong stereotypes about exotic dancers. However, many dancers stereotype guys who frequent strip clubs in much the same way. Some dancers judge how much a guy is willing to spend based on his shoes and watch. Do you find these status symbols are a good indicator of how lucrative a potential client will be? Are there any other telltale signs of a big spender? Are you more likely to approach a guy drinking alone at the bar in a suit, or a guy who indulges in flamboyant displays of wealth (gold chains, wearing designer sunglasses inside, constantly flashing his money roll)?
I can't speak on behalf of other dancers, but a stranger's appearance can play a part in whether I'll approach them in a crowd. The best surefire indicator of a big spender? He's spending big, and he doesn't wait until the very end of the night to do so. Sometimes guys with expensive shoes or watches just spent most of their money on expensive shoes and watches and don't have anything left. All things equal, I'm more likely to approach a man in a suit at a bar, because at this point, I realize that those guys are basically my target demographic. Other girls do better with a guy who comes in wearing designer sunglasses and gold chains. And for the record, I have an anecdote about a guy who came into the Spearmint Rhino in Torrance wearing sunglasses. He kept telling me how expensive they were. Then he proceeded to get a single dance and when he paid me, he only had $20 in his wallet. Flash does not always equal cash.
I don't lie to my customers; I don't need to. I treat each customer like I would an interview subject for a story I'm writing (because sometimes that's what happens): I give them ample air time to vent about anything they want to talk about, from their jobs to their fishing ability to how well they can barbecue ribs. (I primarily work in Texas, in case you couldn't tell.) I know I work at a strip club, but I want guys to leave feeling good about the conversation and about the time they spent with me. The closest I've come to being anything but genuine is how much attention I devote to them; sometimes, I'm bored to tears, I just won't show it. I think the devoted attention of a pretty girl who wants to sit on your lap and rub your shoulders while you talk about anything you want is a bit of a commodity. Otherwise, I wouldn't make as much money as I do.
After college, it was difficult quitting my job in the food service industry to devote myself to writing. To this day, I make less money writing than I did working for tips. For all those women who dance to put themselves through school, how difficult is it to walk away from stripping in order to invest yourself full-time to a career that may pay far less, at least at first?
That's something each girl has to deal with individually. Some girls do this and hate it, and they only do it as long as they absolutely have to, then they quit and never go back. I tried quitting a couple times, but I wasn't really ready; I was trying to quit for someone else each time — a boyfriend, my parents — and I resented them for trying to make me quit.
I was really tapering off when I got hired full time at the Houston Chronicle, and I was ok with that. There's something so comforting about getting a salary and benefits, regardless of how much hustle you bring to the office. Dancing isn't like that — if you don't bring some hustle to the club, you're probably not going to pay the rent. So that comfort was making it easy to transition out of dancing, even if I wasn't making as much money.
Tucker Max’s website has the banner, “My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.” Along with a few other aesthetic elements, your website carries a similar tagline: “Hello! My name is Sarah Tressler, and I’m a stripper.” Were you at all influenced to write about your experiences entertaining idiotic men from the fact that Tucker Max made millions writing about his sexual exploits with less than intelligent women?
I enjoy short-form narrative non-fiction like the works of Tucker Max and David Sedaris. I write what I would like to read, so I did emulate those authors' styles.
If you can derive your porn star name from the name of your first pet and the name of the street you grew up on, how do you discover your stripper name? Your favorite jewel (Jade, Amber, Ruby, Sapphire)? Your favorite cooking ingredient (Honey, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Ginger)? Your favorite inspirational word (Hope, Faith, Fate, Destiny, Charity)? How did you pick your stage name?
I didn't have a method for selecting a stripper name; I'm not good at making up names, which is just one of the many reasons I choose not to write fiction. For a long time, I went by Uma, because I had the haircut Uma Thurman had in Pulp Fiction, and everybody said I looked just like her — the door girls at my club actually picked that name for me, and I agreed to it. Now I just go by my real name in the club.
Even before your story made national news, you were discussing converting your blog into a book with your publisher, Sequoia Di Angelo. How soon after the story broke did rival literary agents and publishers contact you?
I was contacted by a couple of lit agents within a couple days of The Houston Press' initial story about me.adult entertainer. I interview adult entertainers. You have a book coming out in July. I have a book that is not coming out in July. What should I do to get the attention of literary agents? I have various pants-less photos of myself that I can anonymously send to rival papers, but I doubt my bikini-brief-bulge outfitted in adorable costumes will sell papers to the degree that the story of you dancing topless did. What do you suggest?
Man, your guess is as good as mine. If it wasn't for this spectacular public firing, I almost certainly wouldn't have a book coming out in July.