In her late 20s, Dalia Rasa realized that working a 9-to-5 was the equivalent of karate-chopping her soul for eight hours straight. She wanted a more flexible, creative life and in a fit of provocative whimsy, she took up exotic dancing.
Embracing erotic entertainment didn’t mean Rasa had to ignore what mattered most, her music. She plaited her passions into a titillating side-gig as a stripping violinist.
Along the way, Rasa met her fiancé, Jay Clyde, while camping in Nederland last summer. Clyde is new to the hedonic frolic that is house party stripping. He runs his own landscaping company during the day and moonlights as a stripteaser. He wondered what it’d be like to entertain people and wanted to see what kind of emotion and physicality private dancing brought out of an audience.
DGO talked to Rasa and Clyde about their carnal careers, audience etiquette, and when a strip show gets awkward.
Who hires a striping violinist?
Dalia Rasa: The people who are interested. It’s cool to meet them and hang out with them. We genuinely have interesting things to say to each other. They’re people who really like music and, for a lot of them, the violin is a sensual instrument.
Jay, Dalia’s specialty is the violin. What’s yours?
Jay Clyde: (laughs) Yeah, I’m pretty well known for shaking my ass. I can go into a split and shake my ass like crazy.
Where do you perform?
Rasa: I’d love to do corporate parties, but right now it is mainly house gigs. Sometimes people are having a get- together or they have these “sensuality parties.” They want to have a stripper there to be the medium that makes things comfortable and sets the mood as an official entertainer who specializes in sensuality.
Sometimes it’s a private show for one person.
Clyde: I perform private house shows for, usually, one to three people.
What’s the most awkward party you’ve ever performed at? It sounds like a one person show might be awkward as hell.
Rasa: I think one of the most awkward things I experienced was someone wanting to tie me up. I was like, “No.” Then they got really awkward because they thought that I thought they were a weirdo and that I was super uncomfortable. Which I kinda was. That was not fun.
Clyde: I did a dance for two guys. They wanted to bang each other while touching me and me touching them. But they also wanted to tie me up, as well. (laughs) That was the most uncomfortable situation because I wasn’t exactly expecting that.
How do you deal with uncouth behavior?
Rasa: I had to learn how to be assertive before I was even willing to do house shows, let alone one-person shows. I had to know my boundaries and know exactly what to do if I felt awkward.
Everybody wants to push your boundaries. People think we’re just hanging out. They offer a drink or a glass of wine or weed. But it all can lead to something else.
Clyde: It comes down to respect and finding some kind of common ground with the customer. A lot of them will try and find that common ground with you because they want to get what they want.
Do you ever feel in danger?
Rasa: I’ve never really felt like I was in any danger at a house show. I am kind of muscular and not exactly petite; I’m not easily physically manipulated.
Clyde: Most people want to figure out how you think or how you feel rather than seeing how they can harm you … Usually it’s being uncomfortable but not feeling in danger, but it can shift. Like if a person’s not willing to back out of your space, it could turn into a dangerous situation. Me, personally, I’ve only ever been uncomfortable with a customer before, but not been in physical danger.
Do you think the experience of house party stripping is different for a man versus a woman?
Clyde: Absolutely. What it comes down to is strength and size. If you tend to be a bigger guy that has some good muscle, more than likely, no one is going to mess with you. They’re gonna want you to entertain them and that’s it. If you’re a little smaller or frailer, people tend to be more physical because they can be. They can pick you up or throw you around, even if you are a guy.
With women, it’s the same thing, but women have to worry about a lot more. As guys, we’re normally physically stronger and not as cautious because we don’t have to be … A woman has more of a chance of being hurt or disrespected than a male would.
Dalia, do you bring security?
Rasa: Sometimes I do. It depends. Sometimes I’ll invite people to where I live. Then someone will be sitting in the bedroom. A lot of people would be afraid thinking that the customer knows where you live, but it works for me.
Rasa: I have control of my space. Walking into someone else’s house, I have no idea how to get out or where to go or who knows I am there or who is around to help. You try to, in the back of your head, know your options. At my place, I have roommates who are big, who study martial arts. If there was an issue, nobody would necessarily want to try and come back because it wouldn’t be a good idea for them.
What’s the worst audience behavior you’ve dealt with?
Rasa: Frat guys. They’re the worst. They’re young. They have all these stereotypical ideas. They get rowdy and think that they can treat you crappy because of your job and how they see that job. They don’t have a lot of respect.
What stereotypes do you have to deal with?
Rasa: The usual, that you’re willing to do anything for a price. Or people think that if you’re intelligent you must be manipulative. They think that if you’re not intelligent you are absolutely clueless and that they can easily manipulate you.
When you’re dealing with people’s base desires, you face them in a different way. It’s unavoidable to deal with the id instead of the super-ego. Their id, their passion is up front.
So a fun side-gig gets dark. How does that affect you?
Rasa: I have my regular life that is mundane as anyone else’s. I eat breakfast, work out, stress about all the usual stuff, and then I get to do these weird things where I get to find out about people’s sexuality and see things that other people never get to see.
People let me in. They open up to me. Maybe they think I’m some random stripper, which is fine. They open up to me nonetheless because I’m an anonymous person.
Outside of my job, I’m a normal, anonymous person that no one would even think is a stripper. (laughs) I have these two lives that make it work. One is taboo and exciting and kind of a party and a little bit dark and weird, but then I have a really, really normal life to balance it out.
What kind of opening up do people do?
Rasa: There are so many things that are not sex that people are interested in. When you meet people who are interested in these things, fetishes or otherwise, things that don’t even seem sexual to me all the time, I think that’s pretty interesting. It forces me to open my mind about life’s possibilities and that not everyone is based on the same chemistry or the same ideas and everyone is so different.
What etiquette tips would you give an audience?
Rasa: Leave your stereotypes behind. Try to think of the person as an entertainer and performer, not as someone who needs attention or needs to be touched. Don’t see your dancer as deprived. They are an entertainer who enjoys performing and sexuality.
What makes a bad audience versus a good audience?
Clyde: A bad audience would be people that do not listen to the dancer or try to belittle the dancer because they might think they’re better than them based on a job or whatever the case may be.
A good audience show you respect and asks you before they touch you. Or asks you before they are gonna jack-off or whatever it is.
It comes down to respect. If the customer doesn’t have respect, you’re probably not gonna have a lot of fun. You’ll be like, “I wish this guy would back the hell off, but I want to make my money so I can’t do nothing about it besides be like, “Hey, back off a little bit.”
That’s pretty much what makes the difference between good and bad customers. The ones that are trouble are the ones that feel entitled, to be able to do whatever they want to do to you, around you, on you, because they pay this small amount of money to see you dance.
Should people tip even though there’s a flat rate fee?
Rasa: Tipping is a thing. People usually tip well, but I charge an amount that even if they don’t tip, I’ll be fine. Anything on top of my fee and I’m really happy; extra is always appreciated.
What is your rate?
Rasa: I currently charge $150 for an hour or $200 for two hours and that doesn’t include a lap dance or anything else. A lap dance is $50 extra per 10 minutes, which is cheaper than at the club.
What extras can people request?
Rasa: People can request whatever music they want me to play. Some people want me to learn a classical song like Vivaldi. One guy liked rap so I played a bunch of his favorite rap songs and some of mine. If they want me to wear a certain outfit or I can fit a theme. Usually, people don’t have a lot of requests.
What’s something most people don’t know about your job?
Rasa: That I’m a totally different person outside of my job. They don’t grasp that I’m a normal person. I used to be really shy; I don’t really like to be noticed. I like to be anonymous. People have a hard time with that and think, “Well, why the hell do you do this?” But a lot of people have dual personalities, that’s why.
What’s something you love about the stripping gig?
Rasa: I think a lot of people would assume that I’d be more jaded from this industry or that my opinion of men or people would have gone down. But actually, it’s the opposite. I understand men, and people, and sexuality a lot more. I feel a lot more comfortable with myself and my self-esteem has gone up.
There is something more that people can’t explain about connection and intimacy and I’m starting to understand that. It’s how I’m able to be successful without having to be an escort. People are willing to pay for something that is inspirational, kind of magical, sensual, and fantasy-orientated that’s not sex. I think that’s the most important thing that I like about it.
These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer