Ryann Reflections

A glimpse into the life of one anti-social stripper nerd.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I was in a car accident on Wednesday and this sucks.

I'm okay...ish. It could have been a lot worse. I can walk. But FUCK!! Everything hurts, I can't move, and I'm worried about work. And my car has no front end, so no more car for me :(
As everyone knows, I'm a dancer. I dance for a living and have a very physically demanding job. For those that don't think it's that hard I'm just going to say "try it"

So... I'm hurt, not dead hurt, or broken bones hurt, but my neck and back are screwed and I’ve been nauseous since it happened. I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut a million times- which well I was- by a fucking mini-van. This sucks. I don't know how I'm going to work. I don't know how long it'll be before I'm able to dance again... and that thought just makes me want to cry. I love being on stage. I live for it. Dancing is my life.

I think I might just go cry… again.


Monday, April 23, 2007


It’s early. The bar is empty but for staff and a handful of patrons. I’m not even expecting to have any dances to do for another hour or so. But then the elevator door opens and a group wanders in. I notice him immediately. He’s wearing a cowboy hat and women’s clothing. Not a dress, no, he’s wearing women’s shorts and a flowered blouse. Not a small man he fills out every inch of the attire, leaving very little to my imagination. What I can see looks good.

It’s a stag, obviously. And they’ve come in to buy the Bachelor a private dance before hitting the next bar. I like this Bachelor. He’s cute and well mannered but I know that cowboy hat will look better on me. Flirting and smiling, I steal the hat and add it to my outfit. I was right. I look adorable.

Still wearing the hat I take the Bachelor by the hand a lead him into the VIP room. I dance. He watches. I dance again. His eyes never leave me.

“Are you going to give me my hat back?” he asks, watching me pull on my dress and place the hat back on my head.

“Mmmm. It looks better on me.” I reply smiling at him and walking out of the VIP. Justice is on stage, and sees me wearing the cowboy hat. Giggling, with arms outstretched she prances over to us, begging for the hat.

The Bachelor is confused, not knowing if he’s getting his hat back but enjoying trying. Once Justice does a few laps of the stage and poses seductively with the hat she tosses it back to him. Grinning he places it back on his head, adjusts his pretty blue shorts and the stag leaves the bar.

The night passes quickly. Dances are sold, beer is drunk, and women are naked. Finally at 2am I head for breakfast at Denny’s with an old friend. (For my American readers- Denny’s in Canada is actually really good)

We laugh and exchange stories over hash browns and eggs. Out of the corner of my eye I spot the infamous cowboy hat. The stag has arrived.

I catch the eye of the Bachelor and start laughing as they start pointing at me, whispering (loudly) “stripper”.

“I’ll be right back.” I tell my friend and sashay over to the stag’s table. I grab the cowboy hat off the bachelor’s head and place it on my own. Suddenly he grabs me and pulls me into his chair.

“Join us” he slurs, offering me his chair.

I accept. I watch him standing above me, happy and oblivious, and see his eyes sparkle with a new bright idea.

The Bachelor starts dancing. “Duh nu nu na” he sings, twirling his jacket over his head. “Duh nun u na”. He sings while gyrating his hips. He spins around shaking his booty, and wiggling around as I laugh and laugh.

“Ya like that!?” He asks me, pointing to his tight abs, then turning around again to wiggle his bottom.

I clap.

He unbuttons his pretty blue shorts.

I clap.

He pulls his shorts down and whips out his cock, flopping in the wind.

I look. Lucky bride.

His friends struggle to not choke on their drinks. I clap and laugh again. The Bachelor has finished his show, and pulls his feminine attire back in place. They beg me to stay, but I politely refuse. I do have company waiting for me. The Bachelor places his jacket over a high chair to make it more comfy because they’re out of chairs but I don’t sit.

Reluctantly I return the cowboy hat, shake my head and laugh. It’s bedtime for me. though I have to say I’ve never had dick in Denny’s before.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

I am NOT collateral damage!!

Well Suzy and I went to the police board meeting, made our presentation and had a brief meeting with Superintendent Steve Sweeney. Sigh… I think I’m finally coming down from the adrenaline rush and the emotional overload. It was intense. I’m trying to remember the conversation before I forget too much.

Ok basic points:

Exotic Dancers are not the target. It’s the Gang Violence Task Force and their target is organized crime.

I’ve unwittingly become part of the underworld of Vancouver by being a stripper and joining the ranks of sex industry workers. But the thing is- I’m a nerd. I go to work. I get naked. I go home. I’m totally oblivious to the underground culture that the Superintendent is referring to.

I was told that the people they’re after hang out in those types of establishments (ie strip clubs) and that there’s a gang war brewing and apparently it’s going to erupt one of these days in a Vancouver strip club WTF!?! So even though I haven’t seen any of these very bad people they’re referring to, and even though security at all of the clubs is excellent, apparently it’s very important that the Gang Violence Task Force is on hand to stop… something.

Sigh… I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care what internal underground politics could be brewing in the background. I need my job.

Part of the conversation:

Sweeney: They’re putting pressure on the strip clubs because of the gangs. Three gang members died 6 months ago.
Suzy: Not as fast as we are.
Ryann: In strip clubs?
Sweeney: No, but those type of people are known to frequent those establishments.
Ryann: But it’s coming out of my pocket. I’m the one affected.
Sweeney: That’s not our intention.
Ryann: But that’s what is happening.
Suzy: How does barging into dressing rooms fight gang violence?
Ryann: How does harassing customers combat gang violence? What about barging into VIP rooms?
Suzy: I was offered a ride along. I want to go with the Gang Violence task force when they patrol strip clubs.
Sweeney: Well The Gang Violence Task Force has temporarily been stood down.
Suzy: What does that mean?
Sweeney: That might not be possible.
Suzy: Driving sex industry workers out of safe work environments can’t happen.

Ryann: We don’t care about your war. I care about my job, my tuition, my income. I care about feeling safe at work.
Suzy: Sex industry workers are not a reasonable casualty in your war.
Sweeney: Sometimes that happens. You guys might be the ones hurt by this for a while.
Ryann: We’re talking about my job!
Sweeney: I’ll read your letters and look into seeing if there is a better way to get things done.

… and so on… That’s about all I remember right now. I’m sure I’ve missed points.

If there is a war coming like the Vancouver Police Department believes to be true, then why aren’t they protecting the dancers, warning the girls, and taking steps to ensure everyone’s safety? Why are they watching the shows, leering at the dancers, barging into dressing rooms? Why are undercover officers buying private dances? Why are they monitoring private dances so carefully? Why are they harassing customers and dancers? Why are they taking away safe work options for women?

I’m estimating that I’ve experienced a 30% decrease in my income in Vancouver in the past 5 months since this mandate started. That’s my savings. That’s my future. I can’t imagine the Superintendent sitting in front of an elementary teacher and saying “you are a reasonable casualty”. So why the fuck am I disposable!?!?

This whole thing is a mess. I pray something changes. This current agenda is putting hundreds of women at risk. I’m just one of them. I don’t fear a war. I fear unemployment. I’m not collateral damage nor am I a reasonable fucking casualty!!!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wish me luck

I’m kinda freaking out. The Police Board meeting is tomorrow and even though I’ve been involved in politics since high school, sat on steering committees, talked at city counsel meetings, presented in front of numerous colleagues and superiors, organized international events, and done media relations more than once… That was my old life, my real life.

I used to speak from a position of well-educated ambitious young woman, and while that hasn’t changed, now I’m speaking as “The Stripper” and I’m so afraid of the judgment and condemnation. I don’t want to stand in a board room and put myself in the spotlight as the “other”. I liked being admired and respected in the community. I miss believing the police would protect me.

Something has to be done. Someone has to speak for the dancers in Vancouver. I know I can’t just hide in my house hoping someone else will. I know I’m already that voice for numerous women, but I’m scared.

I don’t like inviting people to attack me. I don’t like walking into situations where people will judge me and introducing myself as “The Stripper”, but that is precisely what I’m going to do tomorrow.

Wish me luck… Wish me the courage to stand up for our rights, and the strength to speak. I pray for the guidance to say the right thing.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Vancouver Police Department pressure on strip clubs

I doubt I’ve mentioned it before, but for a number of months the Vancouver Police Department in partnership with the Liquor Board has been putting pressure on the local strip clubs. They’ve been in the No5 every single day, including photographing tattoos and scanning license plates on occasion. The Gang Violence Task Force is making regular visits to Brandi’s and The Drake. Private dancing has been shut down at the Cecil. Basically it’s a mess.

I suspect that it’s part of a pre-Olympic clean up mandate, but in a city that professes harm reduction it’s pretty absurd and it’s making my life rather difficult. A group of dancers and industry people have joined together to put pressure on the police to basically back-off and let us work in peace. This is no longer normal police checks. It has become outright harassment. On Wednesday a group of us will be appearing before the Police Board to voice our concerns. This is my letter…

April 15, 2007

To Whom It May Concern:

I understand that very few people understand the day-to-day reality of being a stripper in Vancouver, so maybe I can help illuminate our industry.

Stage dancers are booked through agencies and paid by the bar per show. Keeping entertainers on the stage is a sizeable expense incurred by the clubs each week. When working as a stage dancer income is made on stage. No shows, no pay. Some stage girls sell private dances to subsidize their income, others choose not to. A contract with the bar is made on a weekly basis and the women work Monday to Saturday at that particular bar. Some clubs will have the women do 3 shows per day, others open for lunch and a shift can be up to 8 shows a day with up to 13 hours between first and last show. It’s an extremely time intensive career and every week the dancers are required to change bars, hence the term “working the circuit”. Working on stage does not allow for flexibility or personal time. It’s often a 12 hour day, a 6-days-a-week-travel-on-Sunday kind of job.

Very few women have the flexibility to travel out of town for weeks at a time, thereby leaving their families and other responsibilities. Yet there are currently only five strip clubs operating in Vancouver: Cecil, Penthouse, Drake, No5, and Brandi’s.

Working exclusively on stage generally requires a lot of traveling and weeks away from home. A lot of women in Vancouver choose to work as VIP girls selling private dances instead. The advantage of VIP work is stability and being able to have a “home bar”. VIP girls sleep in their own bed at night, are able to set their own hours, and work around their study schedules and personal and family obligations.

Recently dancing in Vancouver has become somewhat of a challenge.

I’ve danced in over 50 different strip clubs across Canada but Vancouver is home. I’ve been lucky in that I have had the freedom to travel, so when Vancouver clubs aren’t doing well I’m able to leave town. But with school coming up in September I’m extremely concerned that I won’t be able to make a living and go to school. I’m worried that I may be forced to sacrifice my education in order to make a living. I won’t be able to work the regular stage shifts while in school. I won’t be able to leave town, nor will I be able to work 6 days a week and still maintain my GPA. Come September I’ll be working as a VIP girl, and the way things are right now- that worries me.

Exotic dancing is a legal profession within Canada. Whether certain groups feel it is immoral is irrelevant. Women are going to dance, to feed their children, to further their education, to travel and explore, to finance their life. Whatever personal reasons lead an individual into this industry it is lawful, although marginalized.

Exploitation is a very real problem in our world. There are many circumstances, in many countries that can lead to the sexual exploitation of women. Women forced into prostitution, women finding themselves in a foreign country without support. History is full of stories of lost or forgotten women coming to harm. In Vancouver we need only look as far as the tragedy ensued at the pig farm to see what can happen when very real people fall between the cracks.

Pretending something does not exist will not make it go away. Only through awareness and openness can an issue be addressed. There will always be industries and fragments of society that do not meet the approval of mainstream expectations or comfort zones. However, the persons within it are valuable human beings deserving of fair treatment and dignity.

If the goal is to decrease the amount of women sexually exploited within Canada, then the women in question must have full access to their rights. The following is taken from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Without lawful protection of these rights, there is no way to monitor or protect them. Without the safeguard of authorized employment there is no way to shelter the women in question from the potential exploitation. Blinders will not stop an industry. Unawareness will not stop women from working within the Exotic Entertainment Industry. These women are daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends. Those persons within an environment or industry that is often hidden from the mainstream require extra attention and consideration. Everyone deserves a voice and avenue through which to seek protection of their rights.

The reality is that I no longer feel safe in the Vancouver strip clubs. The employees at the bars are excellent, and take good care of the women working in their establishment. I love my job, but I don’t feel safe because of the Vancouver Police Department. The police have been into every single bar I’ve worked in the past few months.

I feel targeted, judged, criminalized, and condemned. I feel it’s very unprofessional for the police to come into the bar and watch my stage show. It makes me uncomfortable and their attitude has made it very clear that they are NOT there to protect me.

I’m afraid to sell private dances for fear of being trapped by undercover officers, or barged in on by patrolling police. I don’t feel safe. No one feels comfortable in a strip club when police officers are staring at them accusingly. We need our patrons in the bar enjoying the entertainment and buying drinks in order to pay dancers to be on stage. Our customers don’t deserve to be harassed nor have their tattoos photographed while enjoying a beer after work. The deliberate attempts to drive customers out of the bar are affecting my income and as a result I’m not making enough in Vancouver to save for school.

I have the right to work with dignity in the career I choose. Leering officers walking into change rooms and VIP rooms does not protect my dignity. The police presence is disturbing and degrading and deliberately trying to force my unemployment.

I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree and I’m intending on doing a Masters Degree at UBC. I’m still carrying student loan debt from my undergrad and without dancing I will not be able to finance the remainder of my education.

All I ask is that my dignity and my career be respected by the police officers in the city of Vancouver. I am not a criminal, and I should not be made to feel degraded or like a lesser human being for selling a private dance or getting naked for a living. All I ask is for the right to go work in a safe environment without fearing personal and financial repercussions inflicted by the police.


Ryann Rain.
Exotic Dancer. Vancouver.


Friday, April 13, 2007

I don't know...

The house is quiet and empty- really empty. But I’m trying to make it a home. In the meantime I’m sitting on my living room floor eating Wendy’s fries. Mmmm. It’s my first night in my new place. I guess I’m here now.

It’s been a good night. I went to the history of sex work launch party and was thrilled to be in the company of so many incredible people. It’s a stunning exhibit. We watched a couple burlesque shows and danced a bit, talked a lot, and enjoyed the evening.

I just got back from The Musician’s show.

See the thing is- I like him. I don’t know when it changed. I don’t know when I began to miss him, but suddenly I’m aware that there are more feelings there (at least on my side) than I thought. My first reaction is to run like hell and stop talking to him immediately. My second reaction is to go fuck someone else just to avoid my emotions (no that’s not an offer and no I’m not actually going to). My third reaction is just to deny it all and pretend I don’t care.

It was a wonderful evening, and a strange evening. I was with great friends and we danced and danced and danced. It was lovely. But at some point in the evening I realized that I was in a room with the first woman I’d been in a romantic triangle with (12 years ago) and the most recent women for whom I’ve been the other woman in her relationship (The Musician’s ex-girlfriend)

Ugh. I think my stomach just clenched. I don’t even know what to say about that. Hell I don’t even know what to think about it.

I should probably maybe kinda somehow actually let him in on the secret. Should I?
I assume people should just know how I feel but then I listen to myself be so defensive and dismissive and I wonder if I really come across that cold.

All I know how to do is run and hide and lick my wounds when it comes to romantic feelings. Maybe someone can tell me- step by step- what I’m supposed to do here. Because I honestly don’t know.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Good People.

I’m sitting on the floor of the airport but I feel like I’m in a hunting lodge. Wooden beams crisscross above my head creating a rustic vaulted ceiling. Only the occasional flight announcements interrupt my experience. The sun is rising from behind the mountains, filling the sky with a bright morning haze. I haven’t slept yet and I know this is going to feel like a very long day. I’m wondering if I should have stayed longer… I bought a magnet in the gift shop just so I could have some cheesy reminder of how much I like it here. It says “Cowboy parking only” and I’m going to put it on my fridge.

It’s been a great week and I’ll be back- soon. There’s really only one thing to say about this bar- good people. They run a damn good bar- one of the best I’ve seen. I danced for cowboys and rodeo guys, construction workers and ski patrollers. I danced to Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw, Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan, ACDC and Def Leppard and I loved it. I heard “yes mam” and “thank you mam” countless times everyday. I just danced, and danced, and danced.

Really what I have to say is that I felt like part of the family. I felt welcome and appreciated. I felt safe and desired and I liked it. I’ll be back soon. … I know I have my reasons for going home today, mostly financial, and I want Easter dinner with my family. I’m glad I have the opportunity to go home for the day and see the whole fam damnly but I’m going to miss my new friends at the Buffalo Station. Good people.

Happy Easter friends.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

where oh where am I?

My paper isn’t writing itself and I really wish it would. My motivation to dissect Plato’s arguments and form an opinion is pretty much non-existent. I did that years ago and I feel like I’m going backwards taking this course.

It’s been a crazy couple of days. I moved (kinda) and then I got on a plane. I was bored of my regular gigs and decided to try something new. So I’m in uncharted waters here- at least for me.
Wish me luck.

Can you guess where I am?

I can see mountains outside my window.
It’s still winter here
The bar loves country music
The Easter Keg Hunt has begun


Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'm boring but Justice rocks!!

I never have anything interested to say when I work at The Drake. The customers are predictable and well behaved. The staff is still great. The dressing room is still cozy. The hours still rock. I still love that bar, and I’m freaking exhausted. I think I’ve been pushing myself harder than I’ve realized.

I’ve actually been remarkably productive this week. I picked up keys yesterday. I’m no longer homeless. I officially have a place to live!! I just need stuff to put in it; I’ll get around to it… someday.

My week passed quickly having lunch with friends and getting naked for money. The highlight of my week was Thursday night at the Miss Pole Dance Canada competition. I managed to be there in between shows to support the other dancers. (No, I wasn’t entered- I’m so out of my league there) But my dear friend Justice won!!! I’m so proud of her. She is AMAZING on the pole and now she’s got the title to back it up. Justice is Miss Pole Dance Canada 2007. She’ll be heading to Amsterdam later in the year to represent Canada at the worlds.

As for me… I’m going to start getting things settled, cross my fingers that I’m on the right track, and head out of town again. Oh and I’m going to write a philosophy paper, because it’s due and I’m a nerd. I should probably read the books first. Ugh.

Yawn. Bed time.

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