The act of stripping as a means of adult entertainment dates back as far as the late 1800s. It began as a soft, gradual undressing in order to arouse the male viewers. Revealing more and more flesh until they were stripped down to just pasties and a G-string. Since then the game has evolved in many ways as our tastes and society develops. But, the principle of undressing yourself seductively to music has remained the same for centuries.
But enough of the history lesson. Despite this being a very old profession it is still seen as somewhat taboo to discuss the finances of stripping just as you would any other profession, thus very little is actually known about their earnings. Mainstream media, modern hip-hop and rap music have glamorised stripping by talking about how much they’re willing to make it rain which can often skew our perception of what the profession is really like.
Hence in this article, we are going to break down how much strippers really make.
The ladies tend to earn more than the men in this industry just based on opportunity. There are much more places interested in hiring female entertainment compared to men. So this reason alone makes up most of the wage gap. For a stripper working in a strip club, they get paid on a nightly basis. Most establishments will charge their strippers a house fee for allowing them to use the services with the occasional tip fee which can vary greatly. But whatever strippers earn for their hard work is entirely theirs. This obviously incentivises female strippers in the game to be as proactive as possible to entertain customers.
The amount a female stripper earns in a night can vary greatly and is influenced by a whole number of factors. The time of year, the economy, the stripper's mood and the costume they’re wearing. The average base salary for a female stripper is estimated to be around $60,000 a year before tax. This can obviously vary depending on the country/city that you work in so it’s best to look at the earnings on a night-by-night basis.
Most strippers on a shift won’t work at a club unless they can earn at least $500 for four hours of work. This of course is influenced by the club that they work at so it’s not uncommon for strippers to change to a different club if they feel like they aren’t reaching their potential. As a stripper, it can often depend on how persuasive you are as a lot of the job relies on enticing the customers into paying for better services like private dances and VIP rooms.
We can do some maths here to get a good idea of a night's worth of work as a female stripper. The average lap dance is around $20 per song but is usually higher in all nude clubs. Plus the additional tips that come along with it. Some dancers are paid to dance until they’re asked to take a break so we can be looking at a maximum of $400 an hour if the customer is generous enough! Moreover, a lot of this profession is dependent on the customers' generosity and etiquette.
Some strippers explain that most of their biggest tips come from people who are just being nice and not really paying for a service. One stripper claimed that she was tipped $500 for a 20-minute conversation about the brain as she was a neurology major at the time. She went on to explain that it was the least sexual dance that she had performed but got paid the most for it. Instances like these are what make it so difficult to crunch the numbers.
However, stripping isn’t always customers throwing wads of cash into the air. There are times when clubs are quiet and there are also days when some strippers get more attention than others. So bear this in mind. Female dancers have been known to make a loss in a night as they haven’t earned enough to cover the house fees.
As we mentioned earlier the opportunities for men and women in the stripping profession are vastly different which means that the pay changes too. For starters, there are far more strip clubs dedicated to female performers compared to men. Not to mention the layout of the male strip clubs are also different. Typically in a male strip club, there is the main stage for big group performances with two or three smaller stages for solo performances. A dancer on any given night will have the chance to perform one or two solo dances on stage with the chance to earn whatever tips are thrown at them.
On a busy night, a solo dance can pay around $30 in tips. In between these dance slots, a male stripper is going to be walking around trying to sell lap dances for around $5 a pop. A good night’s work can be around 15 dances with the opportunity to entice customers up for a private dance at rates of $50 per dance. Overall a successful night's earnings could be looking at around $500. For females, this is the lower end of their nightly earnings but isn’t bad for a guy shaking his junk in the face of excited customers.
If you have a good body and don’t mind this kind of work then it could be seen as a great adult side hustle opportunity. Many famous male actors started out their careers in entertainment as a stripper which in all honesty is a great way to get rid of stage fright. The likes of Chris Pratt, Brad Pitt and of course Channing Tatum, all had a stint at being a stripper at one point in their lives.
The term stripping is sort of an umbrella term that describes many different types of erotic dancing and entertainment. Some who are more skilled than others harbour the opportunity to make good money so it’s important that we cover all the acts that we could expect to see on a fun night out.
When we first think of pole dancing we imagine a scantily clad, flexible woman performing a seductive dance on a long metal pole. While this is one correct representation of pole dancing, the art form has been around for centuries throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. Pole dancing is in fact a sport with strict rules for competition and a governing body.
For competitive pole dancing, women wearing appropriate attire covering their breasts and genitals will perform athletic feats and routines to music with a beat between 70 - 140 bpm. Competitive pole dancing is intense and there are some real athletes out there so we have to give credit where credit is due. However, we’re here to talk about the more lucrative form that we’re used to watching.
Pole dancers that work in strip clubs usually earn an annual salary that can range from $44,000 - $65,000. This obviously has multiple contributing factors which we will get into shortly. Strip clubs can employ pole dancers on various contracts. Dancers paid per performance are said to make $200 - $500 per routine on stage, depending on the club that they work in. It’s possible for some dancers to be required for multiple appearances a night meaning that they have been known to earn $1500 in one night's work.
Pole dancers on an hourly contract with a set number of hours a week can be expected to earn as high as $75 - $100 an hour not including tips that they may receive throughout the night. For many, this is probably sounding like a cash cow but we have to remember this isn’t always the case for every establishment. Some places that don’t get as many customers have been known to pay rates of $20 - $30 an hour. With this in mind, many strippers and pole dancers like to promote their skills and monetise them through fan sites like OnlyFans to earn some dough on the side.
Some of the factors influencing what pole dancers get paid are:
Difference between exotic dancing and stripping. Over the years exotic dancer has become somewhat of a euphemism for a stripper. However, there are distinctions that set the two apart. A stripper is someone who removes their clothing and dances seductively to music, while exotic dancers have set outfits and focus on creating a fantasy.
While exotic dancers can and do remove their clothing they are primarily concerned with the performance and theatrics. Exotic dancers tend to have a theme to their dance performances. Be it a post-apocalyptic Mad Max society or a jungle tribe theme the dancer's job is to portray this all the while making it sexy.
Similar to strippers, exotic dancers are usually independent contractors who use the bar's facilities to make their money. In many ways, you get to be your own boss but this does, however, come with the instability of not knowing what you’ll make in a night. One account from an exotic dancer went on to explain that they could make as little as $150 or as much as $1,500 in one night.
Burlesque dancing began in Britain in the 1800s initially combining music, singing, dancing, humour and sexual parody. A variety act if you will. However, the industry quickly discovered that one of the main things attracting mass audiences was sex. God-fearing folk disapproved but all publicity was good publicity. Over time burlesque dancers became less inhibited and became far more risque.
Burlesque shows that we know nowadays involve all of these different aspects like comedy and dance but the outfits and stripping down to pasties are usually the grand finale we are after. Burlesque dancers have to fall under the category of stripping as almost all shows involve the seductive removal of clothing no matter how tasteful or tastelessly it’s done.
But now for the important question, how much do they actually make? Well, burlesque dancers are typically employed by clubs or performance companies who hire out the venues. When you buy tickets to see a burlesque show you more or less know what you signed up for. Burlesque dancers typically get paid a salary if they are part of a production or per performance if they are employed by a club. The salary can range from $16,000 with little to no experience with the top 75% earning up to $68,000 a year.
The reason salaries tend to be a little higher than exotic dancers and strippers is that tipping isn’t common at burlesque shows. Audience members can feel free to give money to the dancers when approached but a group of 50 people getting out of their seats and rushing to the stage to tip would ultimately lead to chaos.
Lucky for us stripping takes place in a variety of different places, not just strip clubs. This also means that there will be some differences in how you get paid and how much you’ll be able to earn. So let’s start with the obvious
Strip clubs or gentlemen's clubs are obviously one of the main places where work as a stripper will be available. Men and women have their own respective strip clubs but it’s safe to say that the demand for women is much higher. Depending on the success of the strip club you work at you will be subject to house fees. Larger, more successful strip clubs that get a high number of customers will be likely to charge a bigger house fee. But this does also mean that pay tends to be higher with an increased likelihood of getting private dances based on the sheer volume of customers.
If you’re starting out at a local strip club to learn the ropes you may have a very different experience. Some small-time clubs and bars might hire girls to dance and drink with customers as a secondary form of entertainment. “Titty Bars” as they’re quite crudely named will obviously pay less and girls will likely be paid a small salary expected to work for tips.
These places aren’t lavish and pricey but your expectations as an entertainer are a lot less so there isn’t as much pressure. Girls working in these bars are simply expected to wear revealing clothing and dance on the stage from time to time. Their main priority is interaction with customers to encourage them to buy drinks so it helps to be a conversationalist.
Private bookings are where strippers can make some serious money. For bachelor and hen parties it’s somewhat customary to have a stripper to entertain, amuse and embarrass the soon-to-be-married individual. Strippers who freelance and offer these services are keen to make decent money. For the men, fully nude shows also known as Full Monty shows go down a treat for bachelorettes. For a 15-minute show, male strippers can charge $50 - $100 not including tips. A successful freelancer could have around 5 or 6 shows across the weekend which can earn them upwards of $1000 for a weekend. Which is a nice chunk of change.
Private parties can only be really good money if you get a lot of bookings or really generous customers so it’s important to advertise well and sell yourself. As for female strippers, it’s no secret that sometimes one or even multiple strippers are hired for private parties. Depending on the services that a stripper offers they can usually charge $200 per 15 - 20 minute show not including tips. Most of the time strippers who freelance will work for an agency that takes a cut. But on the plus side, it increases bookings, safety and overall opportunity to get paid.
Big nightclubs and bars are also a great opportunity for strippers to make money while not even getting naked. Clubs hire young, sexy dancers to add to the atmosphere and theatrics of the club to entice passers-by or simply improve the overall experience. These exotic dancers are not expected to get naked and for those big partygoers and avid travellers, you might have seen them on the strip performing routines on elevated stages and even cages.
These dancers will usually work as part of a team learning choreographed routines to perform throughout the night to keep the party jumping. In this respect, exotic dancers will be on a salary as tips aren’t very common in this environment. Their salaries have been known to range from $26,000 - $70,000 on the higher end but you’d probably have to land a really good gig in a highfalutin club.
Chippendales are essentially male exotic dancers who typically entertain parties of women as a part of a touring troupe. They come with a myriad of costumes and themes like sailors, firemen and army men in order to make a fun fantasy experience for their customers. Chippendales also perform shows in clubs meaning that there are a good few ways to get paid as a male exotic dancer. On a good night, a dancer could make $250 plus tips. Chippendales tend to be most popular in Las Vegas with their distinctive outfits consisting of nothing but bow ties and cuffs, but if the movie Magic Mike hasn’t already demonstrated, there is certainly good money in it.
The lower-end salary of a Vegas Chippendale is roughly $48,000 with the upper 75th percentile making $71,000 a year. Not too shabby for dancing naked. Of course, as with any exotic dancer, you will have to be in exceptional shape, confident and have great moves if you want to land the best jobs.
If you’re interested in getting started as a stripper, here are some pro tips we’ve found from experts in the industry to give you a headstart.
For women in the stripping industry, it can be a mental battle sometimes as some conflate their earnings with their self-worth. A few bad nights' earnings for a stripper at the top of her game can be a real knock to their confidence which is essential in a job such as this. In order to make the most out of a career in stripping it’s important to understand that there will be good and bad days. Your earnings do not equate to your value as a person even if it does pay the bills.
To be successful as a male stripper it’s important to understand what women are after when they hire you. When men attend strip clubs or hire a stripper they are likely looking for a sexual experience or companionship. A large portion of the behaviour is motivated by sex whereas it’s very different for women. When women hire strippers they are looking for entertainment, comedy and an all-around good time. Of course, they do want to see an abbed-up hunk taking his clothes off but this is more of an accompaniment to the whole experience.
As a male stripper, your responsibility is to bring a sexy playful experience to your customers.
Strippers looking to try their hand at freelancing make sure to advertise various services and packages. A variety of different acts excites the customer and makes them feel like they’re getting a good experience for their money's worth. Furthermore, having a gimmick is a great way to boost bookings. If there is a particular unique trick or service that you can provide it makes it more likely for you to get the job. Gigs involving whipped cream or something embarrassing for the bachelor are always a fun thing to promote.
So if you mind stripping down to nothing and shaking what your momma gave ya then this could certainly be an opportunity for you.