Wet, a nightclub on L Street SE, usually caters to gay men, but on this rainy Saturday afternoon, it’s filled with lesbians. Onstage, beneath the two working shower heads that lend the club its name, bikini-clad dancers writhe to a hiphop beat. Other performers run through their erotic paces atop the bar; satisfied customers stuff dollar bills into the dancers’ garters.
Applause breaks out when Lisa’s name buzzes over the loudspeaker. It’s Lisa that these women have come to see: Lisa, who presides over Washington’s lesbian-stripper circuit from her Thursday-night gig at Ziegfeld’s; Lisa, whose photo was featured on this party’s flier and in the ad in the Washington Blade; Lisa, with her long black hair, tawny skin, and Julia Roberts mouth. Like Cher or RuPaul, she requires no last name.
She takes the stage wearing a green string bikini. With another dancer, she slyly enacts a steamy two-woman shower scene, shaking and swaying to the music. Then, to the audience’s delight, she turns her back, braces her arms against a column, and shakes her round butt. “Her ass,” opines a longtime observer, “is her asset.”
Most weeks, Lisa dances a dizzying number of gigs: public and private, day and night, for women and men. On the one hand, she says she’s tiring of the business; on the other, she seems about to ascend to the next level of sex stardom. She’s now preparing to pose for a 1996 “Lisa” calendar, and has agreed to lend her name and image to a body oil. Both products are aimed at the lesbian market, but she’s also under contract to perform in a video for straight men.
Here, she talks about her job, her dreams, and the difference between the sexes.
Is dancing for men different from dancing for women?
To me it is. With men, I don’t think about them at all. It’s strictly business. It’s like going to a regular job: punch in, do your job, and then you go. But with women, it’s different.
I dance nude for men at Club 55. It’s real classy; they don’t touch you. For women, I dance in a G-string and a top. I can’t see myself dancing nude for women, but for men, it’s “OK, this is business.”
I’m more open with women; I go by “Lisa.” With men, I go by a different name. I go by “Diamond,” so they don’t really know me.
I make more money with women, because I have a big clientele with them. And women appreciate the dancing more—they’re all women, they don’t really want to look at your body. Well, there’s some that come for that.
Women appreciate gowns and little things. Men don’t really want to see what you wear. One time I was at Ziegfeld’s, and I had this black gown on. And I was going to Anita Baker, and I’m thinking, “OK, I’m getting into it.” There were men there, and they were looking at me like, “Diamond, aren’t you going to take the gown off? Aren’t you giving us a show?”
How much do you charge?
For a birthday party, usually it’s $150 for a 20-minute set. But it depends. If I know them, I’ll go $150 an hour, or maybe even the whole party. It depends on who it is. Men I charge more. Women might get away with $75. Plus tips.
How did you get started as a dancer?
It was a favor to one of my old girlfriends, about two and a half years ago. When we were still living together, she used to run Ziegfeld’s, scheduling the girls.
The first night I was real nervous. I got drunk. I thought, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” But after a while, I got used to it. I got caught up in the money. I didn’t look at it as, “I’m dancing for the women,” or “I’m dancing for the men,” or “I’m dancing to show my body.” It was “I’m paying for my son’s education.” I had him going to a private school. That’s basically why I’ve stayed in it so long: to take care of him.
How old is he?
He’s 7. He knows that I dance. He knows everything about it. I try to be very open with him about what I do. He knows that I dance in a G-string. He’ll joke about it: “Mommy, go put something on.” He’s seen my little outfits, and he’ll play around with them.
Do you have a girlfriend right now?
No. A couple of months ago, my girlfriend and me, we broke up. I’ve been depressed. I try to stay busy, not think about it.
At Ziegfeld’s, a lot of times it gets to me, the fact that I would like to have one special person in my life. I interact with a lot of women in the club. A lot of them come up and they want to be with me, but a lot of them don’t know me.
I see couples who come there. I watch a lot of couples who’ve been together for a while. And I ask, why not me? Sometimes, when I leave Thursday nights, I go home and I hold my pillow and I cry.
About a month ago, I did a show at Ziegfeld’s. I was dancing to a real slow song. I was going through a lot of problems with my girlfriend, and I was feeling it, and I wanted to cry but I was holding it back.
This girl came out of the audience. She actually picked me up off the stage, and carried me back towards the bathroom. One of my friends ran over and asked, “Where are you going with her?” And she snatched me away.
The girl said, “I wanted to comfort her.” I thought that was real sweet. You never know who’s paying attention to you, who sees your moods and what you’re going through. It was bizarre—but at the same time, I was really touched.
How old are you?
How old can a dancer be and still make a living?
They dance till they want to stop. One of my girlfriends is 34, and you would never be able to tell, her body is so tight.
I give a lot of the dancers advice. I tell them, “This isn’t something you can do for the rest of your life. What if you break your leg tomorrow?” I tell them to go to school, not make this a career, make it a part-time thing.
Myself, I want this to be my last year. I want to go to barber school and open a shop.
A barber shop for men?
Yeah. I think I’d be more successful dealing with men: just cut their hair, get rid of them.