My Jakarta: Angel, Stripper and Dancer Coordinator
Angel is tired of all the cliches, and she’s out to set the record straight — not all strippers are prostitutes. This 27-year-old wants Jakarta to know that just because she’s on stage doesn’t mean she’s in a client’s pocket. In fact, Angel says that, as she looks down from the brightly lit stage, it’s really the other way around; the customer is actually the one who’s in her pocket.
So you’ve decided to do this interview because … ?
Some guy once told me that girls from Indonesia are cheap, so I’m doing this to prove to everyone that we’re not. He needs to know that Indonesian girls can’t be bought.
But do you tell people that you’re a stripper?
What do I care what they think? I’m making money. If you want to change your life, you have to do it on your own. No one is going to change it for you. You have to help yourself. It’s an image, and I’m trying to change that. For me, the female body is beautiful and I use it for something positive, not negative. I don’t care that I’m naked.
How long have you been dancing?
What do you mean — at a club? I’ve been dancing since middle school. I can dance traditional dances like jaipong, balipong, a mix of Balinese dance and jaipong, Betawi, everything. I’ve been dancing at clubs for two years now.
By dancing you mean stripping.
It’s not like that; dancing is dancing. It’s true I’m naked, but I’m not ashamed. Sure, I don’t have any clothes on, but dancing is like music — it doesn’t matter what kind it is, it’s just about doing it.
How often do you do that?
That’s a lot of work.
I have two jobs, besides managing dancers. During the day, I sell cosmetics, like the girls at Centro, who do makeovers at the counter. Then I go to the club at night. I’m there at 7 p.m. if I have to dance and 10 p.m. if I’m just there to pay the girls. However, if one of my girls doesn’t show up, I dance.
What time do you go to bed?
I only sleep for about two hours a day. The club closes at 4 a.m., after which I pay my dancers. I get home at 7 a.m., sleep for two hours, then go to my day job selling cosmetics.
Why work so hard?
I have a 1-year-old baby girl who I adopted. A housemate of mine knew a woman who wanted to give away her baby. Before that, I was engaged, but my fiancee left me at the altar. My friends were all there, but he didn’t show up.
Aren’t you nervous about being a stripper? Don’t you feel weird grinding up on dirty old men?
I’m not nervous. The club is safe and everyone who works there is nice. People know they can’t touch me. I’m not like the other dancers. There’s no “plus-plus” proposition for me. I only strip on the stage. Not all the dancers go around and do personal dances. I want people to know that not all girls are like that.
How much do you make a night?
It depends on a lot of factors, like if I’m dancing that night or if only my girls are dancing or what kind of night it is. If I dance, I make Rp 1 million [$107] on a good night. I also earn extra if the girls do private dances. On those nights, I make roughly Rp 2 million. That’s if each girl is dancing four times a night on average and making money doing shots for dances. Those cost Rp 60,000, and I get half of that. But I have to pay for food, rent, playgroup for my daughter — things like that — so it’s not really that much money.
$200 for a private dance is a little steep.
The girls have to do the private dances there at the club. We don’t let them leave the place, because customers get clever sometimes and set up hidden cameras and things like that in places outside the club. It’s Rp 2 million because you can just point to any girl in the club and she will dance for you for 30 minutes. Plus, I have to pay security to keep the girls safe.
Did you go to school?
Yes, I went to college. I was a computer architecture major, but I didn’t graduate.
Do you believe in love?
I don’t believe in love. What’s important to me is my baby and my work. That’s enough for me. I tell my family I don’t want to get married, but they’re always like, “No, you should.”
Do you ever have any time for your friends?
I don’t have time to go to the movies or anything like that. If I hang out with my friends, we go to Carrefour, buy food and then go back to my place and cook. I love to cook.
What exactly does a dancer coordinator do?
I make sure the girls show up at the club. If they don’t, I have no choice but to dance. I’m a dancer, coordinator and agent.
So are you on a special diet to maintain a stripper’s body?
I eat just like everybody else, but I drink coffee — one cup a day, no sugar. Do I go to the gym? I mean, what gym? I’m a dancer, that’s how I work out. Dancing is just like going to the gym.