It's a Living
Sum Yun Gai used to drive for strippers. I'm sorry—dancers.
So how'd you get started?
I start dating this girl. I find out a couple of weeks later she's a stripper. Whatever—she's a dancer. She works for an agency in Orange County. The agency [henceforth referred to in the capitalized third-person feminine] put ads online, guys go on there, get a girl or two for a party, then She calls us and tells the girls and the driver where to go.
Was it just protecting your girlfriend, or was there anything else?
I got into the gig because I'd just got back from Iraq. I didn't have a job or any prospects I was thinking of. I was bored, and I had a bunch of money so I wasn't really working. I figured I should [work], and my girlfriend was doing it, so I drove her primarily and other girls.
What's the pay breakdown like?
We collect the show fee—that pretty much goes to Her. She gives a part of the show fee to the driver, a part of the show fee to the girl, and She keeps the rest. Most of it. Say you get $200. Thirty goes to the dancer, 30 to the driver, and She keeps everything else. The girls make money off their tips, and the drivers get tipped out 25 percent of whatever the girls make.
Can you make a career out of this?
I knew right off the bat it really wasn't something I was going to do for a long period of time. When the money was good, it was great. When the money was bad, it was shit. Nothing. You could drive out to LA for five or six hours and come back with only your $30 show fee. When the money was good, you walked home with $1,200, $1,500 in your pocket that night.
What sort of equipment would you carry around?
Pepper spray, Taser if you have one. One guy had a concealed carry permit but I don't think he actually carried a gun. It depends on the guy. A lot of the times these guys got rated to be security guards—they'd go do private security and the Pond or some bullshit. I never got that deep into it. I just carried pepper spray and a Taser.
Tell me about your sketchiest night.
All She tells us is there's a show that night. She gives us the address and we go. We get to this place and basically there's just a bunch of huge dudes outside. It turns out it's a party for the rugby team for San Diego State. There's like 40 guys that are all 6-foot-plus, a couple of hundred pounds each, ripped out of their minds. We're thinking, "Oh, god." There's two girls with me. There's supposed to be one driver per girl usually. It was just me because the other driver canceled on me at the last minute.
So it's you versus the rugby team. What went wrong?
The rugby guys start getting drunk, start getting rowdy, start asking for more than the dancing—which is a bad deal. Always. Somehow someone always does it—asks for more than just a dance. Then they start pawing at the girls. I tried to stop it, but because I'm little, this guy just palmed my head and pushed me away. From there, it just went downhill.
How far downhill and how fast?
I've been in the military, had all my skills and whatnot. So I put him on the ground with extreme prejudice, used what we call an Iraqi Prisoner hold. Then I pushed off him, took the girls and we bailed. We managed to extricate ourselves from the situation as rapidly as possible without getting beaten up or killed. But I had to do some crazy driving—these rugby guys got out in the street, were trying to get in front of the car. Pretty much a nightmare.
Yikes. Any tips for other drivers out there?
Don't be afraid to use your pepper spray. Pepper spray is awesome stuff. Don't use it inside. I was a sneaker myself. I'd sneak around, listen at the door, peek in the window, keep an eye on what was going on. I don't recommend that. It's probably a bad idea. I had the cops called on me at least once. Twice. You shouldn't do that. It's always better to talk. Most guys won't actually fight you. Most guys won't have the wherewithal to do it. Keep your pepper spray updated so it's not expired. I had one where the guy was in the room and I guess he demanded sex? The girl flipped out, was trying to come out, he was trying to stop her so I had to bust the door down. She comes running out the door, half her clothes off, and he comes running after her. I'm running at him, and I yell, and he turns, and I pepper spray him right in the face—but it took him about three or four seconds to feel it. At first, I thought he was going to try and take me down. I thought, "Oh, crap." But then he felt it and went off screaming like a little girl into the bushes. So keep your equipment current.
Any Springer-esque final thoughts?
Don't be afraid to talk your way out of a fight. It is not the pussy way out. When in doubt, talk first. It's a bad deal to get into a fistfight. You're the one who's going to get in trouble—you're driving a stripper.
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