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Interview in a Strip Club

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

My 75 year old great aunt was dropping me off to a job interview an hour outside Toronto one fine spring morning. It was for an 'exclusive' new beach club bar but looking out the car window begged the question 'Why was the interview on this crack riddled industrial park?' And not, as we had rightfully imagined, by the beach. We pull up to the address and my greatly worried great aunt says "Oh Jake, this can't be it." It was it. She recognised the building from having to collect her black out drunk husband up over the years. "I've picked Bobby up here more times than I can count." We were at the local strip club.


Before we go any further I should acknowledge some key differences between Canadian strip clubs and British. In Britain, strip clubs are something to be feared. They stink of stank, feel unsafe, they're extortionate, the bouncers want to tear your faces off, you wouldn't trust the glasses and you definitely wouldn't trust the food. In the land of Canadia it's a very different story. The only thing that stinks in these establishments are the strippers. They open at noon, ordering food isn't considered a cry for help - they're even on Uber Eats. The beers are fair and the bouncers are nice because everybody in Canada is nice. They are however no less seedy and my great aunt seemed genuinely concerned. "I'll be fine" I said against her better judgement and hopped out of the car before she could stop me. She shouts "Bobby's picking you up!"


Fifteen nervous looking young adults all crowded around the main doors which were chained & padlocked. Everyone was clutching on to their resumes and there was only one other guy, except for one slightly scared looking girl who brought her slightly petrified looking father. I was wearing a polo shirt and thus the only one nailing the job interview / parking lot of a strip club look. We had all applied for a job at a swanky new beach club, nobody had planned for the interview happening here. The jobs ranged from host, bartender, kitchen, concierge and security. After speaking with the girls it became abundantly clear I made a grave mistake by applying to be a host.


Another father and daughter duo pull up in an SUV, they sit in the car for twenty seconds before portentously backing back out. I'm no mind reader but I imagine "The fucking hell is my daughter working here" crossed his mind. We were discussing how they must have sent us the wrong address when a pick-up pulled up dangerously close to us with a speed which suggested he had done it 10,000 times before. A bejewelled Carl Cox imposter steps out of the truck. He walks right past us and unchains the main entrance. "Auditions follow me." Use of the word 'auditions' had set off a few alarm bells and he caught us exchanging glances. "That means all of you." We did what the scary man said and nervously followed him into the abyss.


"Wait here" he disappears into the back office and leaves us loitering near the entrance. None of us felt comfortable enough to stray any further from our escape route. The strip club was closed but there were people working. All the lights were red except for the stage spotlight, where there was a woman mopping in a maid costume. I only say costume as she was wearing high heels and fake tits bigger than my head. Another presumed stripper was sweeping up glass and a heavy set guy restocking the bar. There was also an incredibly angry Russian woman wiping mysterious goo off the leather booth to our left. "Fucking Eric" last night not Eric's first offence one presumes. Finally, a preppy woman in office attire welding a clipboard marches up to us. She immediately acknowledges the fear in our eyes "This is not where you'll be working." Our collective sighs of relief followed by various renditions of 'fuck' as she continued "The beach club is still being built in the rear parking lot." The girl who brought her dad along burst into tears and ran out, her dad stood there frozen. The Russian woman looks over and sees the dad "Eric! You motherfucker!" Now he chases his daughter.


Not wanting another runner, clipboard lady asked us to follow her out the side entrance. It was, in her defence, the nicest rear parking lot of a strip club in all of Canada. Unbelievably, an Ibiza style pool party bar nearing completion. I ask "Won't the giant warehouse next door block the sun?" but she assured me it was shut on weekends. It was difficult to imagine they would ever attract the type of clientele they were looking for in a town made up of double denim druggies and retirees. "We have to continue the interviews inside. This is an active building site." We were each given a form to fill out and told to "take a seat and wait our turn". I sat in the wank booth with three others. Everyone left after their turn, I was last up.


For reasons which will eternally remain inexplicable, they set the table up on the stage behind the pole. In fairness it was the only part of the floor that wasn't sticky. Sat at the table was clipboard lady and scary guy. The spotlight bounced directly off his slaphead causing me to squint. ~ I sit down and scary guy finally introduces himself "I'm Bruce, this is my club." He looks down at my form. "Change your mind about becoming a host then, that's a shame." I can't tell if he's fucking with me which probably means that he is. "To be honest mate, when I applied, I had no idea the job was in a strip club parking lot. Nobody who applied did." Bruce shoots clipboard lady a stare that almost slapped her on the back of her head. He grabs the clipboard from her, clearly signifying that the interview is now just between me and him. Bruce points one sentence at her then one at me "That's why they kept crying. If you think you can keep that accent up all day, you can be our concierge."


Concierge of a strip club parking lot did not sound like it would be beneficial to my permanent residency application. He seems to appreciate my lack of appreciation and explains further "The beach club needs to be a classy establishment, otherwise I would lose my current customers to it. Our accountant uses my office once a week, she might have some questions for you." He walks me to the door with 'manager' printed on it, knocks then scurries off. I hear the all encompassing magic Canadianism "Eh!" from behind the door and enter. The accountant was the mopper boob lady, her name was Cinamon. "Did Bruce tell you to knock like that?" I look up and see a framed cross stitch hanging on the wall that says 'snitches get stitches' and say no. I was expecting questions about my work permit but we jumped straight to "Are you on parole?" And quickly descended into the realm of discretion. My goal had changed from trying to win gainful employment to manoeuvring an amicable escape. I didn't need a job I couldn't explain to Canadian immigration. Had I known that I would end up getting deported anyway, I might not have legged it. Plus if there's anyone who knows the inner workings of immigration law it's a classy establishment who chiefly employs Eastern European women. I would eventually find work as an engineer in Toronto. Who would have guessed that would be the wrong life choice?


I check my phone and see my great uncle Bobby had called. Great, I think, he must be out front. With all the class and subtlety of a Ground Zero selfie I stand up and hear myself blurt out "Sorry I must dash." Head down, I power walk to freedom when I hear my name called out in an unmistakably Scottish voice. It was my uncle Bobby. He's having a whiskey at the bar with Bruce and Eric's nemesis. Everybody loves Bobby and I was not in the least bit surprised to see he invited himself in. Bruce shouts "Why didn't you tell us you're related to this animal? We could have saved you from the Cinamon challenge." I join them for one and give Bobby the nod that we should leave. Miraculously out of character he understands this and turns down the job on my behalf. It might be the first time in history that the old adage 'It's not what you know but who you know' was used to lose a job. "Don't tell your auntie that they know me here. She thinks I've never been."


Artwork by Laura Perkins, adult.


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