By: Debra Dylan
After Glenda Jordan graduated with an art degree from the University of Tennesse, she immediately moved to Las Vegas.
Why did you move to Vegas?
I had visited Vegas twice before, and I didn’t really have any plans with my art degree, but I knew I wanted to persue performance.
When I lived in Paris, I got booked for a show in a nightclub on the Champs Elysees. I had my own hairstylist, make-up artist, and wardrobe person. I did a fire performance in a huge night club, and it was great, and I got paid.
At 5 a.m., on the train going home, I can’t describe the high that I felt after doing that show. That moment solidified my desire to be a performer. I was determined to be satisfied with my life.
What was it like in the beginning? Was it hard to find a place to live?
I made a list of ten apartments to look at. My mom and I stayed in a Vegas motel for a week and a half, and we found an apartment, and I moved in. I slept on the floor for a couple of months.
I am priviledged to have financially stable parents. My mom and her partner lent me money to move. It was a huge risk, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it if they hadn’t helped me.
What is Vegas like?
I feel like this is America’s best kept secret: Vegas is relatively cheap to live in.
When I first arrived I obtained the documents I needed to serve alcohol. I applied to many casinos and restaurants. Every night I got dressed up and went out with my business cards and met people and made connections.
I quickly got a job as a cocktail server, and then I started working as a go-go dancer.
Where do you work?
I work for an agency that routes dancers to different locations. I mosty work for Ceasar Entertainment. I also do independent modeling gigs with other agencies.
What is a dancer’s typical shift?
Sunday thru Thursday, at Ceasar Entertainment, the party pit shifts are six hours. We dance for 30 minutes and then take a break for 30 minutes. On Friday and Saturday, there are two shifts. You can work a four hour or an eight hour shift. We need to be ready to perform 30 minutes before going on stage.
What are the wardrobe requirements?
We are required to provide our own outfits. These are the rules:
♠ Black push up bra covered with a sparkle bra in the casino’s signature color
♣ Black booty shorts with some cheek showing
♥ Professional dancer skin colored fishnet hosery
♦ Black thigh-high stockings
♠ Knee-high black leather boots with a 3″ minimum heel
I wear 7” platform stiletto boots with gel inserts. I’m used to it. I’m tall and I like being that much taller. I remove my boots during every break. I am fully aware I’m likely causing long term damage to my body. Every job has its risks.
What about hair and makeup?
♣ False eyelashes, red lips, and face jewels.
♥ We must be tanned. I use a spray tan and bronzer. We can also wear body glitter.
♥ One casino just started requiring a mohawk. That is complicated styling. We are allowed to wear wigs or hair weaves.
What are some modeling gigs you’ve enjoyed?
The annual party in Elvis Presley’s former Penthouse Suite is enormous and it’s weird. I do it every year. It’s a party for an “old boys’ club.” It’s full of wealthy people.
It’s almost indescribable to be in this place because you can’t even fathom the decadence.
Fifteen performers are hired, and each room is a different scene. The first year I was body painted and in the Great Gatsby room. Another room had Jenyne Butterfly, [a champion] pole dancer.
There were bars made out of ice, sunk-in hot tubs, three different pools, marble scuptures, lots of ornate bedrooms, and a ballroom. A full service team runs the entire penthouse. There were even oil paintings in gilded frames inside the elevator.
There was also a fake beach with models playing vollyball. There was a plexiglass tub filled with melted chocolate with a model sitting in it. There were women dressed as mermaids on top of glass tables covered with sushi.
I’ve lived and worked in Paris and New York City, and nothing comes close to the craziness Vegas presents.
What about the dark side of Vegas?
Street harassment is bad everywhere you go, and it doesn’t matter what you are wearing.
Vegas has a combination of 3 problematic factors: men, drunk men, and drunk tourist men. They feel entitled to a crazy Vegas experience. They are looking for an amazing time. They think they are going to hangout with Mike Tyson and his tigers.
They treat women poorly. I experienced almost comparable harassment in Paris. It happens all the time, and it’s bullshit. and you have to navagate it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m having the time of my life. I’m giving Vegas a few more years. Right now I’m surrounded by work, and I work with the most incredible group of women. I love the hours, and I love to see the sunrise.
I don’t want to live here forever. I’m aware I’m getting older.
I love the Pacific Northwest, and I want to live there someday. I might start graduate school in art history.
In the next phase of my life, I’m certain it will involve art making, philantropy, and social justice work.
What I want is to be having an adventure. I want it all.
© Knoxzine, 2015
Photos courtesy of Glenda Jordan, except where noted.
If you enjoyed this story, you might enjoy reading more about Glenda in Faerie World Fanatic.