A voice from the other side of the tip

A cocktail waitress-slash-stripper tells all


I am a part-time cocktail waitress and a part-time stripper, so a hefty portion of my income comes from tips. The process of acquiring those tips is quite a bit different in either job.

In cocktail waitressing, your tips are completely based on the customer’s decency and his understanding of tipping etiquette. Being hot and nice works to your advantage, but a customer already knew how much he planned to tip the cocktail waitress before he walked in the door. In stripping, you can and should be much more demanding if you care about the bottom line. You have to educate and condition a customer in the proper ways of tipping. In that sense, you have a lot more control over your nightly earnings.

By the fifth hour of wearing high heels during a cocktail-waitressing shift, it feels like you’re walking on a cheese grater. The bartenders have lost their tempers and customers have been cheap, but you still have to smile and be polite to everyone. When things couldn’t get more aggravating, a group of college boys will come in and one will ask, “What’s your cheapest beer?” They’ll pay in exact change, and when you’re sure it can’t get worse, one of those little bastards pinches your butt.

In stripping, you get a lot more freedom to bully people into tipping. Much like a sociopathic con artist, you get people to trust and like you before boldly demanding their money. Where you would beat around the bush as a cocktail waitress, you beat the bush directly as a stripper.

There are ways of gently demanding a tip—asking “You don’t need change, do you?” is more effective than assuming the customer wants his change. Telling a customer that “most people” tip X amount on top of just the change might get you even more. It’s terribly shameless, I know.

The perks of being a cocktail waitress include the unlimited access to the tiny buffet of maraschino cherries and green martini olives, as well as the ability to keep your clothes on at work. The drawback is that you’re never allowed to tell anyone that they’re a cheap bastard.


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