Scene 18: Jennifer’s Monologue
When I was younger and I first started to have sex with guys, I just assumed that if I ever got pregnant I’d have an abortion. My best friend, Lisa, had had three abortions and she made it seem like it was no big deal. I never grew up wanting to have kids. Like some girls in our neighborhood were always volunteering to baby-sit and I would never do that. I was a bit of a wild child, I guess. I was really into Stevie Nicks and I used to dream about dressing like that and hitchhiking across the country.
But when I got pregnant at fourteen everything changed. And it really was ... (she breaks down a little bit) I’m sorry, I don’t talk about this that often. But anyway, the day I got pregnant really was the greatest day of my life. I knew that I would have this baby and that we would build a life together. I just knew it. I did not for one second consider having an abortion. It was not even an option. And I kept saying to myself over and over all day, “I’m gonna have a baby. I’m gonna have a baby.” I was so excited. I didn’t want to tell my parents because I knew we would end up in some big screaming match, even though I knew there was nothing to argue about because I was definitely pregnant and I was definitely having the baby and I was definitely ready to accept my responsibilities as a mother.
And I would love to explain to you why my life changed in one day, but I can’t. My wild streak was gone and I jumped feet forward into the wonderful world of motherhood and nine months later I had a baby son. I always say that first day I found out I was pregnant was the greatest day of my life, but it wasn’t. It was actually the second greatest day of my life. The greatest day was the day Eric was born. He was born 6lbs.4ounces with a full head of brown hair and big blue eyes. People ask me if he looks like his father, and I get so embarrassed because I have no idea. He’ll be eight years old next month. And he really is the sweetest kid.
So how did I end up here. How does a fourteen year old pregnant girl from Lincoln, Nebraska, end up working at Playland on 8th Avenue? Well first of all, I have to tell you that this did not happen over night. I didn’t just wake up one morning and start working at peep shows. Somewhere very early on, and I’m not sure who taught me this maybe it was all those Stevie Nicks albums, but I learned at a very early age that for a woman in this country or in the world I guess for that matter you have to have a talent, you have to be special to actually go somewhere. Men don’t. They just have to show up. But we’re different, we have to prove ourselves or be satisfied with less. So I looked around for women to model my life on: single women, successful women, happy women who were raising children on their own. And I couldn’t find any. This was before Murphy Brown. The women I knew who were single with children were on welfare and miserable. And I didn’t want that for myself. I’ve always been very attractive. People have always wanted to have sex with me. I guess I could have gone to college and studied something, but I just didn’t know what. And so here I am eight years later making a very good living and providing for my child.
It was weird at first. I got a job working in this peep show in Omaha. My girlfriend, Lisa, had moved there a year earlier with her boyfriend, but it hadn’t worked out. And my parents were so repulsed by the fact that I was pregnant that we all decided it would be best if I went to Omaha and stayed with Lisa. For the first six months I was in Omaha, I was on public assistance and I hated it. I got food stamps and it absolutely was humiliating. And we met a girl and she told us about the peep show she worked in and she told us how much money she made working there. It was an obscene amount, at least to me. And I became so angry. It was just so enraging to me that a woman who is half as pretty as me, half as intelligent, with no family to support was making that kind of money and Eric and I are barely getting by on welfare and I have to put up with people pointing fingers at me and judging me every time I stand in line at the grocery store and try to use my food stamps.
I don’t know if any of you have ever had to use food stamps before, but it is a completely humiliating experience. The minute you take them out, people think they know every fucking thing about you. It slows up the line, people get angry, the checkout girls don’t know what to do with them, they call the manager over, they tell you, “you can’t buy these, you can buy that, you can only have one of those, not two.” It’s fucking humiliating. If any of you learn anything new tonight, let it be that using food stamps is the most humiliating thing in the whole fucking world. I bet a lot of you would consider it humiliating to have to work in a place like this, but this is nothing. I’m telling you food stamps, that’s humiliation. Anyway, enough about food stamps.
So I went down to the peep show, the Palace. That was the name, The Palace. I did an interview and I got a job and I made more money in one week than the government gave me in two months. I stopped taking money from my parents. I threw away my food stamps. And I was free and it felt so good. In the beginning, I was only comfortable working in the booths where there’s glass between you and the customer. I wasn’t crazy about being touched by strangers. Because now that I had a son, I knew I had to stay healthy and the whole idea of letting some strange man shove his fingers inside me for twenty bucks was really not that appealing. But I still made great money and I never had to touch them. And I guess it’s like this with every business, I don’t know I’ve only been in this one, but once you get in, it’s very hard to get out because I became very good at my job. And the better I got, the more money I made. And I experienced career advancement. I started to have regulars. People would call in and say, “Is Cindy working today?” That was the name I used then because I ..., I don’t know why actually.
But eventually I grew tired of “Cindy”, and that’s when I became “Jennifer.” I thought about changing my name to “Stevie,” like Stevie Nicks, but later on I read in a tabloid that she shot cocaine up her butt and that really turned me off. So, I decided on “Jennifer.” Some girls pick these really ridiculous names like “Sapphire” or “Diamond,” you know those jewel names, “Ruby.” But I wanted something more real, more human. Also I noticed that those girls with the diamond names tend to burn out much faster than the “Jennifers” or the “Marias.” Don’t ask me why.
Anyway, when you work in the strip clubs and the peep shows, there’s like a circuit. You hear about clubs from other girls passing through town. You have a falling out with the boss. If you’re good or if you’re reliable and other places hear about you the managers might come and try to lure you away, especially if you’re reliable. A lot of the girls here, and you did not hear this from me, a lotta girls that work in this business are really flakey. A lot of the girls are on drugs. I don’t do ‘em, I never have. And I’m not standing up here trying to be the Peep Show Spokeswoman, but a lot of the girls are really fucked up. That’s why the managers like me, because I always come in when I say I’ll come in and I do my job and then go home. I try to be very professional. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the girls are professional, but a lot of them are really fucked up, too. Anyway, a lot of the people all know each other: the owners, the managers, the dancers. It’s all kind of connected. And that’s how I ended up in New York. I worked my way up the corporate ladder and here I am, The Big Apple. The bigger the city, the more money you make.
Sometimes my friends say, “You’re funny, you’re intelligent, you could get a real job.” But I don’t want a “real” job. I don’t want to work for $500 a week and watch the government take a third of it. Please! Some weeks I walk out of here with 1000 bucks. And that’s cash. No taxes. It’s mine. Some weeks it’s slow, but in an office what am I gonna make answering phones and filing papers. It’s all about money, period. Don’t let people kid you, it’s not about anything else, it’s only about money.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d never come back here. Some women like to work cause they like to get out of the house, but I’ve never been like that. I love being with Eric, I love watching him grow up. He’s very intelligent, everybody says that, they really do. I just love him, and I want to be with him all the time. But until I win the lottery, or I get a million dollar tip from some crazy customer, or until I find a simpler job that pays just as well, I’ll be here. So come up and see me sometime. I’ve always wanted to say that.