I’m not saying that all lawyers dream of choking strippers

I'm not saying that all lawyers dream of choking strippers, just that every guy who’s ever paid extra to choke me has been one. I met The Portland Strangler at a tiny dive in the Northwest. The money there was very good but scheduling peculiarities and a location on a grotty block of downtown meant that not many girls had discovered its potential.

As a rule, guys with high stress white-collar jobs tend to be the most depraved. The Portland Strangler was no exception. Obviously a Very Important Member Of Society, he would stroll in everyday at 3 PM, order a coffee and sit at the video poker machine on a high stool. He looked at his fellow patrons the way first class airplane passengers regard the stream of riff raff heading back into steerage as they sip their mimosas. A clear sense of superiority tinged with disinterested pity.

At this particular club we had to beg for jukebox money from the customers. Most girls had canned lines about stuffing the box or supporting the arts that would elicit a few crumpled bills from the assembled crew of degenerates. I yelled out whatever pathetic thing I was saying at the time. The Portland Strangler brought up two perfectly folded five-dollar bills, looked me up and down like a plate of pasta with hair in it and said, ‘One for you, one for the box.’ I know that everyone has kind of been on this exotic dancing is so empowering and fun kind of trip lately, but like... sometimes guys just make you feel like you’re disgusting. Undeterred by the possibility that he found me utterly repellent, I asked for a dance anyway.

I take the Wayne Gretsky approach. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Rejection is a huge part of strippers' lives. You walk around running your mouth at anyone who will listen, trying to get them to part with twenty dollars. Or five dollars. Or five hundred. A lot of girls in the business aren’t really willing to go that extra mile and totally humiliate themselves in front of some contemptible chauvinist. I figure since it’s all an act anyway and the guy is gonna think I’m a piece of shit regardless I may as well go home with some of his money in my pocket.

This first time I danced for the Strangler

This first time I danced for the Strangler I figured it would be a one-time thing. He certainly seemed to be having an awful experience. The area where the private dances were done was a dark cubbyhole behind a soiled black curtain. He looked out of place there, all tall and nicely dressed, sitting on the decaying naugahyde restaurant booth that had been shoved into the corner. The setting was incredibly private, which was what allowed the strangling to occur. In most clubs the layout is a little more open so that everyone can see a bit of what everyone else is doing, which keeps things from escalating past a point. There was none of that to worry about here. The transaction was strictly between myself and the Strangler. This lent the subsequent chokings a certain dreamlike quality. When you're the only one that knows something the memory is easier to set aside.

After a few weeks we had fallen into a comfortable routine. He’d look down his nose at me and say, ‘I suppose’ when I asked him for dances, then we'd go to the back for three songs. He did this thing where he just sort of gripped all over my body with an open palm and then squeezed. Like he was measuring. Moving seemed frowned upon, so I usually just held still so he could examine me, moving every so often when I got too creeped out.

After awhile I noticed that his hands often lingered on my neck. One day I was on my knees in front of him. As he put his hands around my neck I could feel his dick, already hard against my side, strain even more against the fabric of his jeans. His jaw clenched and unclenched. I knew what he wanted without him saying anything. I looked up at him and leaned into his hands.

“What if I squeezed,” he asked quietly.

“You'd have to pay extra,” I replied.

He sneered, but as I stared up at him I pretended to gasp for breath a little. Encouraged, he wrapped his hands around my throat tighter. And tighter. Time went by fast the way time does when you're doing something that’s not really unpleasant but upon reflection might seem disturbing. When I got up he handed me a fat stack of twenties. It's sort of difficult to decide on the correct price for choking. Double the dance price? Triple? Over time it ended up being based on a sliding scale of how hard he had choked me. Of course if I could see there was a lot more money in his wallet when he paid up I’d always just say I needed more.

I would pretty much just stare into his eyes during the strangling. I guess I sort of got this perverse pleasure out of it. Like, go ahead, choke me harder. Are you a man or a bitch? Is that really all you’ve got? Of course at a certain point I'd have to start fake (or real) gasping for air. He was paying for a service after all. I know it sounds fucked up to anyone who hasn't gotten throttled by some random guy for money but honestly it was pretty chill. Better than having to move around and contort myself into all kinds of unnatural positions. After work I'd go to Whole Foods and fill up an entire salad bowl with whatever I wanted. If that's not living the millennial dream I don't know what is.

I actually preferred the choker to a lot of my other customers, who wanted to know how I was doing what I was doing if I'd do something with them. Always with the talking and the feelings! Not the choker. All he wanted was to come by every afternoon, wring a little more life out of me, give me money and leave. What's not to like? The only complaint I had was that if I worked weekends he'd have to sneak down to the club in his exercise gear, murder me for ten minutes, then get back out on the street for his fake run or whatever he said he was doing.

On these days he'd always try to underpay by saying he "left the house without a lot of cash." Oh really--you're a compulsive sexual sadist who shows up every shift I'm here to strangle me and now you're trying to pretend that you "just popped by"? Please. The bartender told me he’d been coming in for over twenty years and had a wife and everything. That much I had gathered from the wedding ring I felt up against my neck twice a week. I felt bad for her, but then I can only assume that she wasn’t offering up her neck on the regular. Otherwise why would he be paying me?

The only time I ever saw his Norman Bates side was when he had to wait for a few other guys' dances before having his turn. “Busy today, aren't we?” he said, the words dripping with contempt. “I guess I shouldn't be surprised since you act like such a slut.” Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. “That's right, baby,” I said, smiling. “You ready for your turn?” Customers are always pulling this tired routine. Trying to get a rise out of me. As if.

First of all, the only way they're getting a rise out of me is if they're paying for it. I've been on the internet--I know guys will pay for a whole video of a girl just yelling at them. Second of all, to be offended by their insults I’d have to respect them, which I absolutely do not. The thing was it didn't matter at all how he felt about me. As long as I was going home with his money he could call me whatever he wanted. I knew he needed me. Me and my chokable neck. Good luck going back to regular dances with the open-handed gripping and occasional boob grab.

One sunny Sunday afternoon I was working with a portly contortionist with very eclectic musical tastes. Because the club was a bit of a relic, the jukebox took forever to switch over between songs. She had played some interminable Allman Brothers tune and was now onstage vacillating between songs. Since I was in the back getting choked I was pretty fuckin’ irritated with all the delays. He had gotten practically half a song of strangling for free! Finally she decided on an old Ink Spots tune—“I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire.” Lemme tell you, it's a terrible song to get choked to.

That's why I prefer clubs that play rap music. I don't want to be choked to jam bands or indie fuckboy love songs. It’s just not that motivating. Songs like that just make you think of all the stuff you’re missing out on while you spend your life letting some middle-aged guy in chinos wring your neck for a couple hundred bucks. I need a song about getting money you weren't born with, buying a nice car and then dying. The bacchanalia of youth tinged with the nihilism of late stage capitalism.

After about a year I told the Strangler I'd soon be moving on. The intensity of the strangling escalated, like he was trying to burn a permanent memory of my neck into his hands. More likely he just felt less inclined to show restraint since our relationship was coming to an end.

The next choker, a lawyer from Boston, was a lot more annoying. We’d talk about Game Of Thrones or some other pedestrian bullshit before he’d finally relent to going back for VIP time. If he sensed impatience he'd get all uppity and punish me by spending a hundred and fifty less than usual. He’d also pull on my damn hair, which quite frankly has been through enough. Part of his fantasy was that I enjoyed this type of treatment. He was always bothering me about how we should meet up on the outside. I told him that if he wanted to murder me he was gonna have to work a bit harder than that. In my heart I longed for the Portland Strangler, who simply strangled, demanding nothing more. Classy.

Molly Scott prefers to remain a mystery.