The first rule of The Dollhouse is we don’t talk about what happens at The Dollhouse.
Let me back up.
A few months ago, a friend of mine, one I hadn’t seen or talked to in several years, messaged me to tell me I should come work with her at this place called The Dollhouse.
I kind of, sort of knew about this place. For some reason, I thought of it as a place where guys went for illicit hand jobs, although I really couldn’t tell you why I thought that.
There was only one place to find out for sure: my friends would know.
“It’s definitely a rub-n-tug kind of place,” one of my friends confirmed. “My dancer was great! Got me off in half an hour.”
I checked with another friend, one who grew up here in Austin. “Isn’t that a jack shack?” she asked.
Welp, that was it. I was absolutely not gonna start giving out hand jobs as a side hustle.
I’m not against that kind of sex work; I’m just too demisexual to pursue it as a career choice.
And that was that.
For a few weeks.
Until Rajit, my most lucrative cuddling client, abruptly informed me that he was moving back to India.
As I’m sure is true for many people, courtesy of a global pandemic, my financial wellbeing had been obliterated. Rajit’s patronage had kept me barely squeaking by. How the fuck was I gonna replace that income? Return to Palazio?
“Circus,” I told myself sternly, “If you can give out free hand jobs to sketch-ass deejays, you can give them out for money.”
I think that says a lot about how I felt about Palazio.
It was with great reluctance and a heavy heart that I yanked my long-neglected hoe clothes out of retirement and drove up north.
(Ha, ha. I’m kidding. I will never retire from hoeing. I’ll be hoeing well into my 80s, I’m sure. Y’all better be ready with your turbo-charged wheelchairs. You ain’t never seen what these dentures can do to you! Chomp, chomp, mothafuckas!)
Anyways . . .
The Dollhouse is an unassuming free-standing brick building on the side of Research Boulevard, but when I stepped inside, I stepped inside a dark, lightly scented, lushly pampered world.
A pair of wide, blue eyes greeted my entrance from behind a reception desk. Small and blonde, she looked barely legal. I could have been her mom.
“I’m here about a job,” I said.
She handed me a lime green sheet of paper that I filled out in five minutes. “Are you interested in starting tonight?”
I was caught off guard by how easy that had been. “Um, I was just, uh, hoping I could maybe, you know, uh, find out more about this first?” I said, hella articulately.
“Of course. I’m happy to show you around.” She led me behind a sequined curtain, through a lounge and into a brightly lit locker room. It was well stocked with drinks and snacks. The whole place was very, very clean.
“Everyone who works here has worked here for years,” she said. “I worked here for five years myself, and now I’m the owner.”
It was beginning to dawn on me that this could be a pretty dope position.
Another woman clacked in wearing stripper heels. She stopped and stared when she saw me. “OMG, you’re so beautiful. Are you gonna work here with us? Say yes! Say yes!”
A female-owned adult entertainment business where my co-workers aren’t bitchy? Yes, please! Sign me up!
After Covid hit and I traded my weekends dancing in a dark, toxic stew of bitchy dancers and entitled men for hitting up the Greenbelt in the sunshine with my girl squad, I never thought I’d strap on the stripper heels ever again.
I am addicted, however, to that dopamine slap I receive whenever someone drops a stack of cash in my palm.
I remember myself as a nerdy kid with coke-bottle glasses, neurotically scribbling in my diary, obsessing over my bowel movements and bowed legs, hoping I wouldn’t get a parrot’s beak for a nose like my dad. (Spoiler alert: I did.) I never thought I’d start a stripping career at 37 and still be going strong fresh into my 40s, but here we are, and I’m grateful. I’ll probably doing this until I achieve financial stability or break a hip, whichever comes first.
Over the next few days, I found out a few things. The previous owner used to run an escort service here, hence its somewhat dubious reputation. I also learned that we don’t give out hand jobs, and you cannot imagine the relief I felt upon learning that.
Instead, there are three private rooms in the back, and well, although everything we do is legal, we are discouraged from discussing what happens in those rooms. Since I like the owner and care about the success of her business, I definitely won’t.
As much as I’m a story whore, not all stories are mine to tell.
So, what to do with this blog?
There’s a lot of sitting around here. Hours tick by while waiting for clients to come in. I need to put that time to use, so I’ve decided it’s time to put down on paper some stories that have been rattling around inside my brain for awhile.
I think I’ll do it here.
You can critique my work and feed me plot advice and tell me which characters are cool and which are duds. And keep me honest. Be like, “Where’s the Chapter Two you promised us, you lying-ass bitch?”
Because really, after all, I’m not in the business of sex. I’m in the business of stories. And boy, do I have a story for you.