Dear Patrick: Dear Patrick: I am an erotic dancer and burlesque performer who has worked at various gentlemen’s clubs throughout the southern United States. I like to travel, and I like meeting new people. It’s a lot of fun to take my act to a new crowd and wow them. Of course there are challenges and days when it seems like all I am meeting are sleazy guys who don’t keep their promises, but I have learned how to be tough and take care of myself. This past year, I put together a troupe of ladies like myself—experienced performers who have more going on than just the ability to take off our clothes—and we have been traveling together, which is safer and more fun. Even if the club manager is a jerk or the audience is crappy, we have each other, and we are strong feminists and friends.
Lucky me, I recently met a guy who was taking photographs of our burlesque troupe so we could do a new set of ads and publicity packets. He was more professional than most photographers we have worked with in the past. (He wasn’t trying to manipulate us into getting laid.) We started talking one day because I wanted to tell him how talented he was and how much I appreciate his skill. He told me that taking photographs was nothing compared to being able to captivate a room full of strangers with nothing but the look in my eyes and a dance routine.
Eventually we started spending time together. I am so in love with him, and he has asked me to marry him. I just wonder if we could really be happy together. He loves women in the sex industry. I don’t know if a partnership like this can last over the long term. Will he be able to leave my friends alone and be faithful to me? Will he continue to be under my erotic spell? Will I continue to feel supportive of his talent and his plans for the future?—Silver Shadow
Dear Silver Shadow: Oh, my gosh, where is my crystal ball? Let me see, I think it left the house carefully tucked into the hungry orifice of a certain lady of my acquaintance. Maybe she can see her future in it, I never could.
What we do know is that you have found somebody you like a great deal. The two of you are crazy about each other—so far gone that you are even considering marriage. But, like many people, you are asking the Fates for some kind of guarantee that this relationship will be good forever before you make a commitment to it. I don’t think any of us get that guarantee. Instead, we have to use our common sense and reason to sort out what the odds are.
So let me ask you a few questions. How important is monogamy to you and to him? If it’s very important, what is your own track record with being able to remain faithful to boyfriends or husbands? Why have his previous relationships ended? Has your current squeeze ever dated or pursued any of the other women in your dance troupe?
Before you get married, think about property. What are the laws in the state where you pay taxes? Consult an attorney and find out whether you would owe him a stipend or have to give up any of your property in the event of a divorce. Ask about prenuptial agreements. Is it better to remain lovers than it is to allow the state to dictate that your agreements with each other will be?
I believe relationships last as long as people treat each other well. They falter when the people involved become bored, angry, or disillusioned with each other. But there is nothing about being a sex worker and a client or fan of sex workers that would preclude having a long-lasting relationship. In fact, one of the longest and most productive and happy relationships I know about took place between a friend of mine and his girlfriend, who was a professional dominatrix. Both of them had connections with other people, but their love for each other held strong throughout the years, until one of them recently passed away. They published many articles together and always considered the work that they did to be a joint effort because they drew so much inspiration from one another’s ideas and experience. A Muse and her artist can indeed be together for a long, long time, provided they continue to inspire one another and also provide gentle refuge and pleasure in this hostile, sterile world.