Updated: Feb 23, 2019
This story was originally published in early December in “Movement,” the fifth issue of Talisman magazine.
Note: Sex work remains a highly dangerous and stigmatized profession. As such, all names in this story have been changed. All claims regarding involvement with sex work have been fact-checked with payment records and in one case, an exotic dancer’s place of employment.
Almost every Thursday after she gets out of class, Bowling Green freshman Sara Isakovic (not her real name) drives to Louisville for work. When she gets into the city, she grabs a bite to eat around 6 p.m. and heads to Blue Diamond Gentleman’s Club where she’s worked for just under a month as an exotic dancer. She does her makeup, gets dressed into a slinky one-piece and straps up her black, six-inch stilettos — the ones with grips on the bottom “so you don’t fall on your ass,” she says. She exits the dressing room for the club’s multi-level lounge filled with electric blue lights, spinning polls and pulsating music.
“Just being on stage makes me feel really good,” Isakovic said. “I just feel like all eyes are on me.”
Isakovic is the daughter of Bosnian immigrants. Though her parents are Muslim, she said they didn’t raise her to be religious so much as to work hard and get an education. She hopes to use her business-focused majors to open up her own gentlemen’s club someday.
She started dancing at Bowling Green’s Top Hat Cabaret Gentlemen’s Club in February 2017 to pay off a $2,000 school bill. Within a month, she’d paid off the bill but decided to keep dancing because she liked the financial security it offered. However, a few months into the gig, a friend of the family recognized her while she was working and told her parents.
“They just told me, ‘It’s not what nice girls do,’” she said.