Pole Burn: The Bad Seed

Pole Burn is an autobiographical series based on one woman’s experience as a stripper in New York City and Miami over a period of nearly seven years. Pole Burn traces her inner and outer misadventures as she is forced to confront people’s assumptions about sex workers as well as her own perception of others and herself. The format and tone of the series were inspired by the book The Dark Fields of Venus by Basile Yanovsky, M.D.

“Why are you here?”

I get asked that a lot, usually by young guys who want to “save” me or older men who want to fuck me. Usually they ask this somewhere between whether I went to college (yes, an elite liberal arts college) and how much it will take to get me to suck their dicks (Fuck You).

Why am I here?

I ask myself that a lot, too. It all started innocently enough. I was sitting at home on my couch watching The Bad Seed. I was living on the Lower East Side in a beautifully renovated flat which I paid for in chunks I had saved while working abroad. I was finishing school and the world was crumbling apart around me. The guy I was dating had lied to me about an affair for months. I felt like everyone had turned their backs on me. I felt completely alone. When I lost a remaining close friend to cancer, that was the last straw for me. I wanted to tear a fucking hole through the fabric of reality. I wanted to rip the world apart with my hands. I thought that if I could annihilate space and existence with my anger and pain that maybe I could carve a path into the abyss of wherever my friend had disappeared. I lost my mind and I wished to no longer exist.

So I was on the couch numbing myself with creepy movies and whiskey when I received a text from a friend of mine, a new friend who bartended at a dodgy topless bar downtown. I don’t think the place exists anymore. It was a really old school space, a typical short and narrow bar with high ceilings. Red light seeped like blood from above and the occasional black light activated anything within its range. Both sides of walls when you walked in were covered in mirrors so that they reflected themselves infinitely and indefinitely.

When you walked in you felt like you were stepping into the New York of forty years ago which Giuliani had tried to get us to forget. It was one of the last vestiges of old New York, continually resuscitated and kept alive by the lies one has to tell one’s self in order to foster an illusion of a moment of respite. Respite from your job, your life, yourself. These mirrored walls nurtured this moment, like a sparkling womb nourished by the pervasive red light. This is where you go when you’re miserable. This is where you go to heal.

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