Tip-outs have become a serious problem in strip clubs. Signing your contract upon being hired/contracted, and probably every time you walk into the dressing/locker room (where there are signs everywhere or at least somewhere), most clubs today try making it very clear that “tipping club employees is not mandatory – no exceptions!”
But, we all know that’s bullshit…The repercussion of not tipping-out or not tipping-out enough is receiving abusive behavior from the management and staff.
Countless clubs have been taken to court by strippers who came together, forming class-action lawsuits, with the goal of legally fighting “mandatory tip-outs,” and guess what…the strippers won!
This article addresses this topic of tipping-out our club’s employees by discussing avenues such as (1) how much to tip-out, (2) who & when to tip-out, and (3) how tipping-out club employees works for and against us.
* NOTE – The following advice follows only when working in clubs that charge a flat house fee. If your club charges and house fee PLUS a portion of your dance money, then you need to tip-out differently.
I. How Much
Never walk out of the club with less than 80% of your profit. Tipping-out 20% of your profit is more than fair and considerably generous. You can be as precise as you want in calculating that 20% or you can make a good estimate.
EARNINGS vs PROFIT
It’s important to understand the difference between tipping-out 20% of your profit versus 20% of your earnings. For example, let’s it costs you $100 to work a shift and it was so slow that you only did 5/$20 floor dances (it happens). If it cost you $100 to work and you your night’s earnings were $100, then you cannot afford to tip anyone out without going in the negative. On a different note, let’s say you did 10/$20 floor dances. If it cost you $100 to work, and you earned $200 that shift, then you’ve profited $100 and it’s appropriate to tip-out 20% of your $100 profit. Now that 20% ($20) gets divided between all the individuals you’re tipping-out that shift.
Just about a month and a half ago a VIP host at my club approached me…he wanted to make me one of his “go-to” girls to turn to when he needs dancers to send to wealthy clients. Of course I was glad he approached me but I was also cautious, as I know how unreasonably greedy a great deal of club employees can be. I told him, “That sounds great but I need to tell you now that I tip-out 20% and not a dollar more.” He said, “That’s great…that’s perfect, that’s what you’re supposed to tip-out!” From there, each time he sent me to someone and they gave me anything…dance money and/or tips, I’d give him 20% of whatever I received from that individual or table (if he sent me to the table of gentlemen as a whole as opposed to an individual gentleman).
The next step is deciding who gets how much?
II. Who & When
There are 3 obvious times when you should tip-out a club employee…
1. Finishing a VIP/Champagne room – When you’re walking out of the VIP or champagne room, give the VIP host or manager (whoever is tending to that area) 20% of the price of that VIP dance and keep 100% of the tip for yourself.
For example, at my club the VIP is $500/hour, and that’s just for the dance…as in that entire $500 goes into my pocket. On top of that $500, the gentleman I’m entertaining is obligated to purchase a minimum of $150 in drinks; that’s how my club makes money off VIPs and Champagnes (since the club isn’t getting ANY of the first-mentioned $500). At every club I’ve worked at there’s always a manager or VIP host standing at a podium in the entrance/exit of the VIP/Champagne area. Their job is to supervise, check us in, communicate with the DJ on our behalf, keep time, and usually to try selling another VIP/Champagne on behalf of us and the club. Upon completion of a VIP/Champagne dance, I’ll hand that employee (manager or VIP host) 20% of that $500 dance ($100) on my way out. At that point he’ll ask me my name and write down how much money I just tipped-out. (And believe me, they do keep track!)
2. Checking out with the DJ at the end of your shift – Upon leaving, we usually are required to check out with the DJ and this is when you’re expected to tip him out.
Unfortunately, most clubs depend on us dancers to pay their employees. This is the functionality of the tip-outs. It’s likely that the DJs at our clubs make minimum wage. This means that the DJ depends on our tip-outs, and unlike the floor hosts, they don’t have as much opportunity to help us get dances or do other favors for us in order to try earning a little more their pay check.
DJs try to earn their tip-outs in a few different ways…
- Playing the type of music you ask for while you’re on stage – most DJs ask you what type of music you prefer dancing to. Personally, I’m going to do the exact same thing no matter what songs are playing so I don’t request anything specific. However, most girls do prefer dancing to something particular that makes them feel especially flirty and sexy.
- Saying favorable and complimentary things about youwhile we’re on the stage – Next time you’re at work, pay attention to what the DJ does and doesn’t say in relation to who is dancing on stage at some particular moment. If you tip-out regularly and appropriately, then your DJ will probably say complimentary things about you as you’re entering, performing on, and exiting the stage in order to help sell you. This is important because it implants subliminal messages of desire for that dancer. Even if a guy isn’t paying attention to the DJ or dancer on stage, the DJ’s words will enter the customer’s subconscious, and believe it or not, will affect his perception.
- Skipping or adding you on stage rotationat your request in order to help you make money – Having your club’s employees on your side enables success. Just the other day I was with a gentleman who said, “I’m going to the restroom and when I get back we’re going to VIP.” Right after he walked away the DJ said, “Olivia James on standby.” As one of my manager’s was walking by I called him over, explained that I was next on stage but that I was about to get a VIP and needed the favor of being skipped. My manager connected with the DJ over the radio and I was removed from rotation. After my VIP I tipped-out the managers and DJ an additional $20 each. Had I not been known for faithfully tipping-out my managers and DJs they probably wouldn’t have done me the favor and I would have lost that VIP.
Personally, I always give my DJ $20. If I do well I might give him $40. If I don’t do well then I’ll tip less.
3. When someone else gets you a dance (such as a club employee or a stripper sister) – No one has to help you make money at work. Making money is your responsibility and yours alone. However, if someone does go out of their way to help you make a sale then you should always show your gratitude through…that’s right…tipping them! If they are a club employee then they will always take the money. However, I’ve been quite surprised at how many times one of my stripper sisters have basically handed me a dance and then declined a tip from me afterwards.
For example, one evening (at my current club) I was between customers and walking aimlessly through the club. At one particular moment I happened to walk by a table where a woman I knew as a customer from a former club was sitting with two gentlemen, working her first shift. Not paying any attention to that particular table, as I walked by, she grabbed my hand and asked me to have a seat with her and the two customers. Within ten minutes the four of us were up in VIP. Afterwards, I approached her in the dressing room to tip her. To my surprise she said, “No, keep it. I actually needed you at that moment.” (As we all know, when a group of only two gentlemen come into the club, it’s much easier to take one guy for a VIP when his friend is also going for his own VIP.)
In an example such as this, tipping-out can get a little weird. On the one hand, I went to VIP so I tipped my VIP host/manager 20% of that dance…Do I also give my stripper sister another 20%??? No. Give your stripper sister a tip, but find a healthy balance between tipping her and the 20% tipped to the VIP host/manager. As for my experience in this specific example, it was a slow night and between my house fee and tip-outs, I wasn’t walking with too much profit…thus, I offered my stripper sister $5. It wasn’t much, but it was what I could afford that shift. Something is better than nothing, as it shows good faith and etiquette. I can always tip her out a little more on a different night that’s more lucrative.
III. How Tipping-out Works For & Against Us
One of our biggest problems, as people in general, is portraying and projecting unjustified senses of entitlement (and greed). Do they deserve your tip? Rarely. Do you have to tip them? No. Do you need to tip them? Yes.
Why are we tipping these people (club employees) out, anyway? They get paid to work, we pay to work. It’s very simple…if we don’t, they abuse us. Here are a few different methods in which club employees exercise abusive behavior…
1. Do absolutely nothing to help you – Returning to the above topic of “when” to tip…Someone once told me that the word tips is an acronym meaning “to insure prompt service.” I don’t know how true that is, but keeping that in mind allows us to remember that tipping is appropriate anytime you’re receiving a service. So basically, you’re expected to tip any club employee who does something for you, even if it’s simply their job (unfortunately).
Although the DJ is getting paid by the club and has to call you on stage anyway, he can either service you while you’re on stage with kind words and last minute favors that help you make money (like my example above about needing to be skipped on rotation so I wouldn’t lose a VIP) or he can just call your name in a monotone hush tone without any extra flavor that helps you sound more appealing.
People remember those who treat them well. In the club, everyone (apart from the customers) is there for one reason…to make money. A wise friend once told me, “Gratitude is the language of the universe and love is the currency.” Taking a piece of that philosophy and putting it into strip club terms…Gratitude might be the language of the universe, but money is the language of the strip club, including customers. If you remember that, you’ll know who to tip and when to tip them…just don’t leave that club with less than 80% of your profit. If you have a bad night and can’t tip the DJ $20, just tell him (and tip him whatever you can afford, if only $5). Trust me, he knows exactly who has and hasn’t earned money that shift.
On top of my house fee, I always take an additional $5 to tip-out my cashier. Cashiers hold a bit of power and he/she can either help you or not help you when the time comes. For example, one night I didn’t have the full amount for my house fee. When this happens my club allows us to work, and just pay the house fee at the end of the shift for an additional $20 fee. Because I always tip-out my cashier(s), she didn’t charge me the additional $20 fee because I “always take care of” her. When I work day shift and there is no cashier I still bring the additional $5 tip for my manager because he’s the one checking me in. It’s only $5 and doesn’t seem like much, but I’m the only one tipping him upon arriving for day shift and thus I’m on his good side.
Floor and VIP hosts that are good at their job earn tips from strippers and customers by asking gentlemen what type of women they prefer and then sending their way a dancer of their taste. If everyone’s happy then the floor or VIP host gets tipped by the dancer and often times the gentlemen. If the gentleman doesn’t tip, no biggie, he just won’t get the royal treatment next time he’s visiting. If the dancer doesn’t tip, she’s never getting sent anyone’s way again.
2. Do absolutely everything to work against you – Some people’s sense of entitlement is so aggressive that they’ll go beyond simply not helping, to the point of actually going out of their way to work against you. Manager’s have the most power here, but anyone can figure out a way to work against you depending on how bitter they are.
I’ve heard stripper sisters complain time and time again about the DJ fucking with them in subtle ways such as skipping them on stage rotation, adding them into rotation too often, and playing polar opposite of the music they request. The DJ can skip you on rotation, not as a favor, but rather just to be a dick. Some gentlemen want to see a dancer perform on stage before taking her for a dance. If you don’t get to show yourself on stage, customers will miss the seductive stage performance that is your advertisement. Another scenario is if the seats at the stage are full of people who are throwing money all over the place. If the DJ is pissed off at you then skipping your stage in this scenario would be an effective opportunity for him to work against you. He can (1) keep you from earning all that stage money and (2) send you a message, all at the same time. Another way the DJ can fuck with a dancer is by putting them on stage excessively. On the one hand, we benefit from stage through tips and advertising. On the other hand, the more you’re on the stage means the less you’re on the floor talking to customers and selling dances/VIPs/Champagnes. Thus, putting you on stage too often is another effective way a DJ can work against a dancer.
Managers hold the most power in working against us. I actually had my own experience learning this one the hard way. Transitioning tip-out practices from San Francisco strip clubs to Las Vegas strip clubs was a bit of an adjustment. In San Francisco, strippers are expected to tip differently in alcohol serving clubs versus non-alcohol serving clubs (or topless versus nude clubs).
My first club in San Francisco was Centerfolds where we danced fully nude and no alcohol was served. There, my stripper sisters and I were expected to tip-out everyone, including managers. I actually tipped my managers the most each night because I heard him bitch out a dancer one night during checkout…later I learned why, but that’s another story. After leaving Centerfolds I worked at a place across the street called Showgirls (now called Penthouse), which was topless and served alcohol. Tipping-out at Showgirls was different than at Centerfolds. At Centerfolds, everyone accepted tips. At Showgirls, the managers were not allowed to accept tips. Interesting, huh? From this, I assumed tipping-out managers depended on whether or not the club served alcohol…
My first club in Vegas was Crazy Horse III. There, I carried the alcohol/no alcohol assumption with me and didn’t tip-out my managers at the end of my shifts. After three months of working at Crazy Horse III, I arrived to work one night at my usual time to discover that the cashier wasn’t able to check me in until 4:00 AM. My managers changed my shift from working anytime to only being able to work 4:00 AM to 10:00 AM. I could not figure out why they did this. I never violated club policy, never broke the law, never got in a fight, and never been complained on by customers…
After giving it some thought, the only reason I could come up with was my failure to tip-out the managers. The next night (…morning) I pulled the manager aside and asked him to be honest with me and shared with him my concern and theory. His response was bitter in attitude/tone and he confirmed that my shift was changed because I didn’t tip-out my managers.
3. Treat you like shit and talk to you like shit to your face and behind your back – We all know the club can be “cut throat.” In my experience, club employees are far more unethical than (most) strippers.
Bullying – One particular time, one of my stripper sisters at Crazy Horse III was sitting with a gentleman and after a while of just sitting and chatting he gave her some money. I don’t know how much he gave her, but what I do know is that as soon as the gentleman left, 4 or 5 club employees (floor hosts) approached her demanding that she tip-out each of them 20%. Most dancers would have said, “Fuck you, I’m not giving you shit!” (Especially after an ambush to demand an unreasonable amount in tips…they all deserve being kicked in the balls.) This stripper sister may have been new to dancing. I watched her respond. Puzzled, she said, “But then I won’t have any money left for myself…” “I don’t care you have to give us each 20%.” I was stunned. Poor woman – what assholes, I thought to myself. I’ve never had an experience like that, but I cannot help but to wonder if maybe they were trying to bully her because she had a poor history of tip-out according to…let’s just call it the “unspoken (80/20) tip-out code.” Or, maybe they were trying to bully her because they knew she was new to dancing and figured they could successfully take advantage of her. The reason I mention this story is because it illustrates one of many means in which club employees go about bullying dancers…something I refer to as abuse.
Here is another example. It isn’t tip-out related as I experienced it, but it does illustrate another way club-employees exercise abuse and/or work against a dancer…. The last club I worked at in San Francisco was Gold Club. I had just been hired and was working my first shift. This story begins about five minutes before closing time. As customers were leaving, a gentleman approached me and asked for a dance before it was too late. He wanted to do a 3/$100 dance so we walked to that area and informed the floor host. As we all know, songs in the club are strategically timed to 3 minutes, so we only needed 9 minutes, 4 of which exceeds closing time. (From my experience, clubs never mind allowing last minute dances, even hour-long VIPs – as long as we show your appreciation through tips.) The floor host told me I couldn’t do the dance and told my gentleman to leave. I was stunned. There was no way he was punishing me for anything, as it was my first night and I had no opportunity to piss him off and get on his bad side. My purpose for sharing this example is to show how a club employee tried working against me. When a club employee is abusive you don’t have to take it! When he told me I could not do that dance, I firmly, but professionally, stated, “I’m doing the dance,” walked past him and did it.
Tipping-out club employees has created many problems. Holding strippers to mandatory tip-outs for club employees has sent countless strip clubs to court in class-action law suits put together by strippers who decided to stand up and fight for their rights. Unfortunately this hasn’t done much. Clubs now cannot require dancers to tip-out their employees through club policy; however, tip-out related abuse still dominates…hence the “unspoken tip-out code” lives on.
1. To always be on good terms with your club’s employees, as well as your stripper sisters, just remember that tipping someone out is appropriated and expected anytime someone does you a service, such as checking in, playing your favorite music, saying kind things about you on stage, recommending you to specific customer, regulating your VIP/Champagne visits, cashing in your funny money, etc.
2. Never walk out of your club with less than 80% of you earnings. Tipping-out 20% is enough and that 20% gets split between everyone you’re tipping-out that shift.
3. Tip-out your DJ according to stage tips and floor dances. He is not privileged to any VIP/Champagne earnings, as those tips are reserved for whoever is servicing the VIP and Champagne room(s).
4. 20% of VIP/Champagne earnings go to whoever is tending to that specific area and that person could be a manager or a VIP host. If it’s a manager, then great, as you’ve just killed two birds with one stone and do not need to tip-out anything more to your managers for that shift. If it’s a VIP host, then you still need to set aside a portion of your 20%-tip-out for the managerial staff.
5. House moms do a lot more for us than we might realize. Giving your house mom $5 a shift is generous and greatly appreciated. After many years of dancing, I just learned within the last several months that some house moms pay a house fee to the club to work a shift, just like we do.
6. Your managers are the most important because they have the most power. Never assume a new club runs (as far as tip-outs) the same as former clubs. Always offer your manager a tip and if he/she accepts it, continue to tip him/her something each shift.
7. Don’t forget to tip the person who checks you in (cashier). They have more power than you may realize and one day he/she might be able to do you a solid favor for no reason other than simply because you always remembered to treat them well.
The above advice is good for when you’re working in a club that charges only a flat house fee and does not take any portion of your dance earnings. If you do work in a blub that charges a house fee and takes a portion of your dance money (like all the Déjà vu in San Francisco), then you should be tipping-out less, as you’re taking home less money AND being given a 1099 that tracks all your earnings before tip-outs.
In this type of club, you need to keep track of everything you tip-out, as you will need to deduct that when doing your taxes. It’s been a while since I’ve worked in a club with that business model, but off the top of my head, I recommend you tip-out 10%, and take home no less than 90% of your profits. I also recommend you form a class-action law suit and sue the shit out of the club, as (according to what an attorney told me – I don’t know how true this is) it’s illegal to charge both a house fee AND commission; it’s either one or the other.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. Please follow StripperSisters.WordPress.com for more topics and invite all your stripper sisters to become a part of our stripper community. Feel free to request topics you’d like discussed. If you have a topic you’d like to write about yourself, you can email it to me at Lisa.PrivateDancer@gmail.com and I’ll happily post your article with you authored by name or email. Thank you and have a beautiful day!