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How a Texas strip club is staying afloat, plus a story from a listener who's found success with dating right now.
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Host Anna Sale and the logos for Death, Sex & Money and WNYC Studios, all on a beige background.

One of the people you’ll meet in our episode this week is Jessica Barrera. I talked to her over FaceTime while she was at the home she shares with her husband and young son. She works as an independent contractor and wasn’t yet sure whether she’d go into work that night. She’s a dancer at a strip club in El Paso, and during the pandemic, she tends to earn a lot less per shift than she’s used to.
 
Jessica’s been stripping for six years, and took some time off when her son was born, but went back to work during COVID. Partially for financial reasons, and also because, she said, “My job really is my confidence.”
 
The Census put out a new survey last week that found that, compared to a year ago, there are a lot more moms in America not working outside the home right now. 1.4 million mothers of school-age children have left the workforce since January 2020. That adds up to 10 million mothers in all who are not currently working outside the home, more than a third of all mothers with kids in school.

The podcast The Double Shift is starting a series this week that is taking an in-depth look at the pandemic’s effects on working mothers. One of the hosts, Katherine Goldstein, also did this write-up in The Guardian featuring different women across the country who’ve left or lost work during the pandemic.
 
Unforeseen changes in employment have affected many people in the last year, some parents and some not. For an upcoming episode, we’d like to hear about how that’s playing out in your life when it comes to the highest stakes money conversations there are between family and friends: about borrowing and lending money. If you’ve had to ask for help, tell us how you started the conversation, and how you decided to ask. (We won’t share your name if you’d like to keep that private.) And if you’ve given or lent money to someone in the last year, tell us how you talked about that too. Write a note or record a voice memo and send it to us at deathsexmoney@wnyc.org.

A lot of us are having to navigate these kinds of money conversations right now, and they’re hard! Share your story so we can all get a little more comfortable with how to approach them.

—Anna and the Death, Sex & Money team
This Week on Death, Sex & Money
A photo of a pair of legs in silver, sparkly stilettos on a wood floor. A vertical pole is bolted to the floor behind the legs.
When Josh, a 32-year-old commercial truck driver, passes through El Paso, Texas, he usually heads to the Red Parrot—a topless bar where he goes to have some human contact after hours by himself on the road. But after the club shut down for long stretches last year, he tells me, the vibe there changed. "The main thing that I've noticed is that it's a little tamer," he says. "What was a party is now a library." 

Live adult entertainment has been hard hit during the pandemic. Like most non-essential businesses, strip clubs have dealt with closures, social distancing restrictions and smaller crowds. And on top of that, federal rules deemed them ineligible to receive aid like PPP loans. "Any day...could be our last day," Red Parrot owner Darius Belcher told me in our new episode, out today. And for dancers like Jessica Barrera, that’s worrying. "That's the reality I don't want to hit because I genuinely enjoy my job,” she says. “I love being a dancer. I don't want to become a regular person.” 
Your Stories: A Pandemic Dating Success Story
Last week's episode on dating during the pandemic really hit home for many of you. One listener told us that after being single for the majority of her adult life, she could empathize with those of you who shared stories about the struggles of dating right now—but also has found that pandemic dating is really working for her. An unexpected friend request on Facebook from a friend of a friend has led to a blossoming long-distance relationship:
"Not being in the same space forced us to slow down and put our energy into really getting to know each other, without any of the pressure of being intimate or having to coordinate ways to hang out. I am not a great dater as is. I don't particularly enjoy going on first dates and I've always felt like my rhythm is slower than most people I've dated. I also have deep trust issues. And I know that has come through in my dating life, whether I intentionally show it or not. So being able to have these long talks with him, before we even met, without the physical aspect complicating things, really set the foundation for that trust to grow. In a way, I think the pandemic saved my love life. It forced me to change the way I date and really honor my needs and boundaries. If I had met him in person, I might have felt the need to take all those dating rituals/phases more seriously, even if I wasn't ready (the first kiss, going to each other's places, having sex, meeting one another's friends), all the things that have felt a bit stressful to me at first. But because he and I connected pretty intensely on a mental and emotional level first, it made everything after that so wonderful and easy, despite the distance.  
 
When we finally met, I was so nervous (the excited kind). He drove up for the weekend. I told him he should plan to get a hotel room. But as soon as we saw each other it felt so natural. And I was relieved and ecstatic that our physical connection was wonderful too (he didn't end up staying at a hotel). I attribute our great physical chemistry to the amount of time we put into our mental and emotional connection.  
 
Maybe he and I would've hit it off no matter what. We'll never know. But knowing my past and my general dating behavior, I feel that he and I are lucky to have met when and how we did. We are still going strong and very much in love. We talk everyday. We make a point to see each other nearly every week. And we are talking about plans for the near future. It's still early, but feels like the most real, intimate, and adult relationship I've ever had."
—R

Listen to This: Audio We Love

The podcast logo for The Daily. A blue gradient fades into light green and yellow, "The Daily" is in white, bold font in the top left corner, the Times' T is in white in the bottom left corner.
The Double Shift podcast logo features a square divided into two triangles. The top left triangle is navy blue with white stars and dots, and the bottom triangle is white with black stars and dots. "The Double Shift" is on top in pink, uppercase letters.
The story we share with you in today's episode is from El Paso, Texas. For another story out of Texas: Odessa, a four-part series by The New York Times. It follows one high school over six months as it tries to stay open during the pandemic. The first episode weaves together teacher and student interviews, the awkwardness of Zoom classes and the almost-normal scenes of high school band practice. But keeping school open in a pandemic is complicated, as schools across the country well know. As one staff member put it, "As far as I could tell we were prepared. We just didn't realize that we were not."

In a new series from the podcast The Double Shift—a show that “challenges the status quo of motherhood”—the show takes a look at how the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on working mothers through the individual stories of several women. In the first episode, we meet a mother of two named Jenna who left her waitressing job last year due to mental health issues and was evicted from her home—and hear how she thinks about asking people in her life for financial help.
"I loooooove this podcast and look forward to the ways that the interviews inspire deep thought and self reflection in myself and my life. Thank you!!!"
—Meghan, New Mexico

Join Meghan and support our work at Death, Sex & Money!
Give now at deathsexmoney.org/donate.
Have you lent money to or borrowed money from a loved one?

Tell us about it. How did you decide to ask or give? How did it affect your relationship? Send an email or a voice memo to deathsexmoney@wnyc.org.
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