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For dancer, cash is for college

July 14, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

The men who stare at Kylie's naked body tuck folded money in her garter.

Each dollar bill - sometimes, a five or a 10 - inches her closer to a college education.

Textbooks. Tuition.

That's what the money means to her as soon as she gets it, she said.

Kylie is her stage name. She agreed to be interviewed about her work as a stripper on the condition that her real name not be used. It's a way to maintain some privacy in a job in which she displays all of herself.

Kylie, 20, moved to Berkeley County more than a year ago from the Elkins area in Randolph County, W.Va. She said she was a gymnast and a cheerleader in high school.

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She always enjoyed dancing, but taking off her clothes for pay and public display was something to get used to.

About six months ago, she started working for Legz Club outside Martinsburg, W.Va., where dancers are nude.

"It's really embarrassing at first. You're nervous, clumsy," she said. "It took about a month. For some girls, it takes longer."

Recalling her first night, she said, "I was shaking. I was very nervous."

Then, she began to focus on her goal: money for college.

"You think about what you're working for. You have your mind set."

The nudity shook her at first, but the money was a good motivator.

Kylie said she used to make $250 a week working in online billing for Verizon. Now, she said, she regularly earns about $2,000 a week, after taxes. She works three or four days a week, six hours at a time.

Although "it's hard mentally and physically ... to deal with people under the influence of alcohol," a dancer with her "head on" will do fine, she said.

She said she has never had a problem with a customer.

Sometimes, there's even a brief rapport.

"We kind of have a 30-second rule," Kylie said. "You sit and listen to different conversations. ... You have to be a good listener. That's mostly what they came for."

Kylie plans to study accounting at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va., next semester. She expects to finish college in four years, then stop stripping.

Kylie said she is upfront about her goal when she chats with customers. Otherwise, she reveals few specific details about her personal life and her small-town roots.

"My family is kind of old-fashioned," she said. "Females don't usually work."

Her family was afraid for her safety when they learned about her new job. Then, they left the topic alone.

"That's something we don't really talk about," she said.

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