During the six months he’s been a barback at Pumps, six or seven dudes have asked Dillan Raia the same question: “How did you get that job?”
The Long Islander was doing flooring for his uncle when a family friend told him about every 23-year-old’s dream gig. He immediately sniffed an opportunity. “They don’t want to just hire any random person,” Raia points out. “You don’t know if someone is going to be a creep or pedophile, like, smelling all the girls’ butts.”
Technically, the avid skateboarder earns his keep at the East Williamsburg strip club moving bottles of Bud from fridge to cooler, and he mops up and takes out the trash at the end of the night. But he’s not gonna lie: “I’m literally paid to look at beautiful girls — how hard is that?”
Of course, with about a dozen nubile women working the poles behind him each night, the job has its challenges. “You try not to stare but it’s like, come on,” he says. “But I don’t want to get caught! Some of the girls give me a look when it happens.”
We spoke to Raia about the fourth of the part-time gigs he works — which, surprise, is his “favorite by far.”
Had you been to many strip clubs before working at Pumps?
Personally, [Pumps] was my second strip club ever. My first one I went to was for my 18th or 21st birthday, or something like that, with a couple of my friends. I think it was called Wiggles. It was weird. The ladies were much different, it didn’t seem like I was at home. This place I feel like there’s a homely environment, I guess.
What do you think about the girls’ work?
I look at it more as an art form. Like skateboarding is an art form. There are certain ways of dancing around the pole and it takes strength of mind to hold yourself up there.
Do you find people are put off when they’re aggressive about tips?
Oh yeah, because most people don’t realize this is our living. We all make money off of this. I make money off the bartender, but the girls make money for themselves. They have to really work it. They have to convince you, so they can bite — they bite a little. The economy is bad, the rent is high and they have to find a way to get more than 20 dollars out of people who come in. It’s random when people come in and are drunk enough to spend money.
You think people usually under-tip?
People are horrendous tippers. And it’s like, “Who raised you?” When you go to a bar, it’s like, don’t you tip for drinks?
Do you get along well with your boss?
My boss is amazing — he’s into motorcross and everything and he’s talking about [sponsoring] an extreme sports team. And that’s my lifestyle — my skateboarding in general, it shows how I don’t give a fuck about most things. So, [the idea is to] take a tape and view it and have a meeting with the team and determine if it’s a good fit to represent Pumps.
And what would determine that?
It’s perfect because all the extreme sports teams “pump.” Surfers, they pump; skateboarders, they pump their legs to generate speed; motorcross pump their gears to get up the big humps. It’s just a crazy idea and he’s down for it and it makes me even more excited to work there.
What do your parents think about your job?
I mean my dad, he’s for it — he likes it a lot, but he’s never showed up yet. It’ll be hard to get him to come out. My mom thinks it’s hilarious that I’m doing it but she wouldn’t be down to come. Dad works in the area and he walked in one day that I wasn’t there just to look at the place. And they were like, “Are you in the wrong place?” And he was like, “Yeah.”
Do you get along well with the girls?
I really look at them as colleagues, but then again we all are pretty much friends. There are only a few girls I kinda don’t say anything to. I’m more so intimidated by some of the girls. Others are open and have tattoos and I’m like, “You’re awesome.”
So you sorta feel like a big, happy family?
Yeah, and I’m trying to go vegan — that’s another good thing — a lot of the girls there are vegan or vegetarian. I knocked it out of the park with a grand slam with that. I was like, “All these girls love veggies and I do, too?!” Where have all these girls been? In Long Island everybody is so into McDonald’s and it’s like, are you trying to kill yourself?
Sounds like you sorta found your scene. What’s your favorite part of the job, other than the obvious parts, of course.
I’m not restricted, I can step outside whenever I want, and I don’t have anyone barking down my shoulder because it’s pretty easy and it only took me like a couple of weeks to get the hang of it. You have freedom and you can do whatever you want and mingle. I love shooting the shit with random people or with the girls.
Do your friends think you have the best job in the world?
They’re hyped on it but a lot of them are broke so they can’t visit me like they should.
I got kicked out of community college for tardiness. I missed more and more classes and then my dad called up, all complaining and stuff. I have a really bad problem getting up in the morning, so that’s why this job is perfect for me.
Do you ever deal with bad news walking through the door?
Drug dealers come in and spend tons of money — you can tell when there are drug dealers in there. Maybe it’s just that they’re on coke because they’re in the bathroom all the time and sniffing.
Pumps has been doing burlesque shows – have you worked those nights?
There have been two so far and a third show will be on the 25th of August. The last one was so fucking funny and awesome. This girl, she went as a Spanx Sinatra and she said, “I wanna be fucked by you.” It was the best. And it was just like, “Whaaaaa? You just blew my mind!” It was so rad. I was so honored to bar back that night.
Do customers ever give you a hard time?
I do get that a lot. Like, “Who is that little bastard?” Six or seven guys have asked me, “How did I get that job?” and some guys tip me, it’s seriously weird. They’ll wanna know more information about a girl and try to tip me for that, or tip me just for doing my job. They’ll just throw money at me. They’ll think it’s funny to crumple it up and throw money at me. Just the worst behavior.
Do you interact with the girls during your shift?
I’ll joke with them, like that they’re doing cocaine. “I could have sworn you were in the bathroom for so long!” I’ll say. I like messing with them.
How long does a lap dance last?
It depends on how long the song is, three to five to six minutes. Any more time than that is torture for the girl because the girl is moving every part of her body the whole time. Can you imagine? I’d be so sore every day. Fuck that, I’m already sore from skating.
This guy has so much street cred. Vice visits PUMPS in “MY VERY GAY NIGHT AT VERY STRAIGHT STRIP CLUBS” http://www.vice.com/read/my-very-gay-night-at-very-straight-strip-clubs