by Judy Ball
How I became a stripper
| I entered the New Orleans French Quarter in 1962 via a need to feed my children. My husband ,Bob, and along with our
3 little children caught a bus after our car crashed against a bridge while running from the law. We got to New Orleans with
very little money and the clothes on our backs. We rented a cheap room for a week in what we later learned was the red
light district. Bob got a job selling hot dogs out of a street vendors cart. Okay now we would have some money! Nope he
got robbed the first day he worked. I took the last dollar we had, took a street car down town to Canal street looking for a
Every where I applied they looked at the address and said they weren't hiring. I couldn't go home with no money, I just
couldn't. I had to feed my kids. I walked and walked, then I seen Bourbon Street, bars galore. Strip bars galore. I could tell
by the pictures on the front of the bars, half naked women parading around in their underwear. I was working up my courage
to enter one and ask for a job, when a cute guy stopped me and asked if I was okay.
I said "No."
He offered to buy me a cup of coffee, I said a coke would be better. When we sat down he said his name was Peter, and he
ordered us hamburgers, French fries and cokes. I was so hungry, I gulped it down and told him my story about needing a job
so I could feed my kids.
We sat there for awhile enjoying each others company, he told me he lived in the French quarter and was a door man for one
of the clubs on Bourbon Street. He offered to take me to the club where most people started on the street. Some how I
trusted the 5 foot ten, slim , brown eyed stranger, with his cute French accent and long brown hair. Why not, I was broke and
really ready to do anything for money, right now. The first bar on Bourbon Street was called The Cabaret. We went in and
Peter talked to the bartender. I looked around at the long bar with a stage behind it, I guessed that was where the girls took
off their clothes. An older guy got up from one of the bar stools and said, I'm Frank the manager of this bar, what kind of job
are you looking for? I answered I was a waitress. "You work for tips here serving drinks, and you do what your told, can you
do that?" Yes I said. "Okay go home and get some different clothes on and I'll try you out tonight." Hooray I had a job.
Peter and I went outside and he walked me to the street car. "Here kid, good luck, see you around." and he handed me ten
bucks. I rushed home and told Bob I had a job waitressing in a bar, and gave him most of the money to go get some food for
the kids. I had met the neighbor next door and was telling her, I didn't have anything to wear. So she lent me a dress that
looked like a prom dress. What the hell it was better than my jeans.
I went back to the bar determined to make some money, I had never worked a strip bar before but I was a good waitress.
Frank told me "Never ask the mark if he would buy the girl a drink, ask if you can get them anything. The girls get special
drinks so make sure they get the one the bar tender gives you for them. Along with the shot you will give her a glass of water
for a spit glass. We don't want our girls getting sick now do we?" "
I guess not." I answered.
" Treat the girls right and they will get you your tip. Good luck kid."
Up on the stage behind the bar was a set of drums with a drummer and a beautiful blond who was dancing around in a
gown, which soon came off . Now she had a bra on and a little skirt, which she soon took off, on her rear was a frilly thing
that she moved her butt and it danced to the music. By the third record she had only had on her panties and bra and by the
end of the record she was down to pasties and a G-string. Now I understood why they called it strip tease.
There were eight girls who worked there, they sat at the bar until a "mark" walked in and sat down, I would get him a drink
and then one of the girls would sit with him. I let her introduce herself then a asked if there was anything else I could get
The tips were pretty good, the girls helped by telling the guy I worked strictly for tips. I really enjoyed watching the girls do
their disrobeing dances. They were all very glamorous, or so I thought until I heard them in the dressing room using the F
word a lot. I was shocked.. Unknown to me I would be using that same word a few weeks hence.
At one time during my shift Peter brought me 3 meals in to go boxes. Shrimp, and chicken strips and steak fingers all with
French fries. At the end of the shift I had 50 dollars in my pocket and 3 meals for my kids. My boss told me to come down
early for my shift and he would take me to the shop next door and open an account for me so I could get some decent
clothes to wear while I waitressed. I thanked him and said I would see him tomorrow.
I was so excited to work on the street. I felt I had come Home. The bright lights and loud music had me!
I rushed home , woke up my kids and Bob and I and the kids ate till we were full.
The next day I arrived at the bar in my jeans, blouse and loafers.
"Come on kid let's get you some working clothes." said Frank
We went next door to a shop that sold stripper clothes and other clothes. Frank picked me out a short mini skirt and a low cut long sleeve blouse.
"Your shoes will do for now"
He took me to the counter and they rang up the purchase, fifty dollars. Oh, no, I started too protest.
"Make a tab for Judy she is our new waitress, she'll come and give you something everyday on her tab till it is paid."
I thanked Frank and took the package back to the bar and changed into my working clothes. I really felt better not looking
like someone who found their clothes in a trash bin. I started getting to know the girls name. Miss Bea Haven, Stormy, Lois
Lane, Wonder Woman, Candy, Sugar and Pumpkin. As I waited tables I would watch the girls dance and slowly take off their
clothes to the music. When they were done with their three record strip dance they would re-dress in sexy clothes and come
out and sit at the bar waiting for the next customer. When they joined a man (Mark) at the table I would wait on them getting
the prescribed drink for the girls. This was called B drinking, the girls got paid for every drink they had a Mark buy them, and
if they could get a bottle of champagne bought for them they got a lot more money.
My family was eating now and Frank suggested I move to the French Quarter so I didn't have to be on the streets at night.
I asked Bob if that was okay and he said sure it was a lot cheaper. So we mover to an apartment upstairs over one of the
bars on Bourbon Street that the company I worked for owned. Then Frank offered Bob a job as door man in one of the other
clubs on the street. A door man calls to people going by in front of the bar. "Come see our girls, we have the sexiest girls on
the street. 1 drink minimum." Or other things to entice the men off the street. All this in one weeks time. I really liked
working at the Cabaret, but as I watched the girls getting money for B drinking I knew I could make more money doing that.
We hired a Nanny to watch the kids at night and during the day one of us was up some time. You could see my little darlings
playing outside on the balcony during the day from the street. I guess it was dangerous but it never occurred to me that they
might climb up and fall. Luckily they never did.
Frank asked Bob if he could ask me to be a stripper. "Sure why not if she wants to be."
When he asked me I said sure but I didn't know if I could stay on the stage for 3 records, I wasn't a dancer.
" Don't worry kid our bartender Sam will work up a routine for you and work with you till you are okay with it. Let's go next
door and get you a strip costume, they will let you have it the same way they did your other clothes." So Frank and I and
Sam went next door to the clothing store to pick me out a costume. I got 2 pasties, which fit over my nipples, a black G
string, that fit over my private parts, a black pair of panties, a white fringe that fit over my hips, a type of filmy skirt that went
around my hips, and a shiny, slinky gown that had a zipper down the sides, all these clothes had ways to exit easily, and a
pair of black high heel spikes. They put it on my tab which I had already paid up.
I carried my new costume to the bar. "Go put on your costume and lets get started." said Sam
I went to the dressing room which was empty because the girls only worked a night. I dressed in my new threads and went
out to began my lessons.
" Don't take your cloths off too soon, this is a strip tease, not an undress." coached Sam
He told me which items came off on which record, he couched me how to walk sexy and to look sexy. "Smile , the customers
I practiced for an hour and Sam said that was enough for the day, I still had to work tonight waiting tables.
I went home to rest a bit and be with my kids for a little while. My 4 year old Scotty with him golden hair and good looks,
he was my little man. My 3 year old red head Pauly so cute with his straight little body and deep blue eyes. Cathy my
precious little girl not a year old yet, with her strawberry blond hair, after 2 boys I didn't think I would ever have my wonderful
Sam couched me for another few days, then on Tuesday he told me I would go on stage tonight. I showed up for work
early so I could figure out what was going on. The girls made room for me at the dressing table and introduced me to the
black maid Lucille.. She helped all of us get dressed, with our hair, makeup if needed, she also went and got us our meals,
etc. etc. The girls teased me a little bit, but I think they realized how scared I was. Miss Bea Haven suggested I looked at
one person and just danced to him. Finally it was my turn. I had picked my stage name, Zuzette, because it was Judy in
French. Sam announced me " For the first time tonight we bring you the beautiful, the lively, Zuzette .
I walked out on stage and did my routine to the first record . All went well, the drummer drummed to the beat of the record
and I tried to follow. There were only four Marks at the tables, but all the girls were there watching me. I smiled at one of the
men and started my second record. I played with the veil and danced around the stage, taking it off, leaving only a pair of
drawers, a fringe and a bra. Finally on my third record and all was well. I removed the fringe that was around my hips, and
then the drawers. I think I was still smiling as I continued. I now only had on a G string, a bra and a pair of spiked heels,
which I hadn't fallen off of, Yet. The record was coming to an end, so I slowly removed my bra, and fainted.
Sam removed me off of the stage and revived me. I was shaking like a leaf.
"Come on kid you'll be okay, here put you bra back on and get back on that stage. If you don't do it now you'll never be able
to be a stripper."
As if I cared right at that moment.
He helped me redress, then shoved me back on stage with my last number playing, the drummer drumming, I took my bra
off I was now in a G string and pasties and a pair of spiked heels.
Everyone applauded and I became a stripper in New Orleans.