Transcript of 2nd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Lisa Benjamin, Tuesday, April 7, 1998 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Lisa. How are you?
Ms. Benjamin: Pretty good. Very busy and tired. But I tried out your suggestion, and I think it actually did work a couple of times.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Did you use the counting technique to help you control your anger?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes, twice actually. Coming home from work, I walk down Market Street, and it's the real drag of my life. I just get tons and tons of comments from people on the street. I'm sure this happened to me a lot before I started working at the Lusty Lady, but I used to just ignore it. But now, I just can't stand to be bothered. I guess my attitude has changed. Now, I get paid to show myself to jerks all day long, so on my time off, they really have no right to bother me for free.
Dr. Balis: Do you normally react with anger to these comments?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes. One time, I got so mad that I chased after a guy who was cat-calling me from his car. I even took a swipe at him with my backpack.
Dr. Balis: That sounds dangerous.
Ms. Benjamin: It was fairly stupid, and it turned out to be very dangerous. He grabbed my bag, and the driver of the car took off. They didn't go very fast. But he started driving, and I didn't want to let go of my bag. I held onto my bag and was almost pleading with them to let go of it while I ran alongside their car. They got it away from me and then threw it onto the street. I had to run and pick it up. The whole time, they were laughing. It was so awful. That happened about a month ago, I think, and it was one of the things that made me come to see you.
Dr. Balis: Because you got angry like that, you put yourself into a threatening situation.
Ms. Benjamin: I know.
Dr. Balis: Tell me about the times this week that you were able to control your anger.
Ms. Benjamin: Well, I was walking home from work the other night, and this guy got right in my face. It was Friday, pretty late, but there were a lot of people out. One of those stupid college frat boys came right up to me, and he whispered in this really low voice, "Oooh yeah, pretty babe, walk that way some more."
Dr. Balis: Were you walking in a provocative manner?
Ms. Benjamin: Hell no. I was walking in a dead tired manner. Maybe he was being sarcastic. Maybe he thought he had a right to point out that I wasn't being sexy enough walking down the street. Or maybe my exhausted walk was really provocative, I don't know. Anyway, I almost blew up at him. But I somehow managed to just cool it and keep walking. That's when I counted to ten. I was afraid I'd turn around and start screaming at him. But by the time I got to ten, I had turned the next corner.
Dr. Balis: How did you feel about keeping yourself under control?
Ms. Benjamin: I'm sure I avoided some trouble. But I did feel upset at the unfairness of somebody...anybody thinking they can say things like that to me. I think it got under my skin for the rest of that day, actually.
Dr. Balis: Were you unable to release your anger?
Ms. Benjamin: Yeah, I guess that's it.
Dr. Balis: What about the other time?
Ms. Benjamin: Well, the other time was at work, at the Lusty Lady. During one of my late night shifts, I got incredibly mad at this guy who kept asking me to come over to his window. He was really insistent. I was actually told when I got hired that I would never have to take orders from customers.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean, his window?
Ms. Benjamin: Oh, I guess I should explain the way the Lusty Lady works. It's a peep show. There's a space where women are dancing, and surrounding them are ten windows. Customers put in quarters, the windows slide up, and there we are dancing. It's like that Madonna video, do you know which one I'm talking about?
Dr. Balis: No, but I understand the setup.
Ms. Benjamin: Okay. So, on the other side of the windows, the men are masturbating. Well, not all of them, but a lot of them.
Dr. Balis: And you can see this?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes. Except for a couple of windows, we can see those guys through the windows. Actually, a lot of them seem to like us watching them more than they like to watch us. That was one of the first things that struck me as interesting. The whole thing is fascinating, to be honest. Human sexuality is a wacky, wacky freak show.
Dr. Balis: You must see a variety of....
Ms. Benjamin: Fetishes, deviant behavior, odd couplings and triplings. Yeah, what comes through there is just insane. But it's all so glorious to me, in a way. It's craziness everywhere, and it's all normal people from all walks of life. It's just your average guys, and they turn out to have all this drama going on. I love it.
Dr. Balis: Why do you get angry?
Ms. Benjamin: Right, back to my story. This guy kept motioning me over to his window and knocking on the glass. On the late shift, the supervisors go home. And sometimes, one of the girls will blow up at a customer. No one would rat anyone else out, so late night is venting time. But I wanted to see if I could get a handle on myself, so first, I just explained the rules to him. When he didn't stop, I told everyone I was going on break--I switched breaks with the girl who was supposed to go right then. Then in the dressing room, I just calmed myself down. I called security and made them toss the guy out--this is our prerogative if we feel like a customer is bothering us.
Dr. Balis: Do you exercise that right often?
Ms. Benjamin: No, I usually get caught up in yelling at the customer before I get to that point. But I have to say, it felt great to play by the rules. And I did get some release for my anger because the guy got kicked out. And he got no release, if you know what I mean. That was a nice revenge for me.
Dr. Balis: I see. Did you have any insights into the underlying issues that could have caused you to become so angry?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes, and I'm not so happy about it. I think--when I really admit it to myself--the job at the Lusty Lady hasn't been all just interesting, fascinating, and positive. I think it's getting to me. It's making me distrust men everywhere, no matter who they are. I look at all the men at SII as if they are my customers.
Dr. Balis: And in your first session, you suspected I might be a customer.
Ms. Benjamin: Right. And even if you aren't, I believe that you could be. I'm sorry if that's insulting to you. I think in the last couple of weeks I started to realize that I have this perception of men as being all the same, but that's not the reality. My perception is being warped a little by what I do.
Dr. Balis: I know I brought this up last week, but do these thoughts make you consider taking a break from this job?
Ms. Benjamin: No, they make me realize that I'll be able to work through this, so I can do this job and so I can get involved in all the other things I want to do. Oh my god! I almost forgot to tell you. I am going to start volunteering at this excellent place where I can trade office hours for editing time.
Dr. Balis: Editing time?
Ms. Benjamin: Yeah, editing videos. I want to start directing videos. I've been afraid to do it for the longest time. Actually, I'm still afraid. But I think I'm going to make a documentary about the Lusty Lady. If I can get free editing time and use the camera at this place, it will be very cheap to make. I know that a lot of people make documentaries about this subject--stripping, I mean--but I think it's best to start with something that really captures your interest, don't you think? That way, you'll definitely finish your project.
Dr. Balis: Do you know a lot about making films and videos?
Ms. Benjamin: No, I really don't. But I talked to people who said that they didn't know much either when they started out. I thought I would take a class first, but they are all telling me that the best way to learn is by doing. I'm totally excited about this. I want to have more free days to work on this.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like you have found something that peaks your interest. We have to stop now, but I'll be interested to hear how things progress at this new place. You won't be quitting SII anytime soon, will you?
Ms. Benjamin: I think I'm going to have to change my schedule pretty soon. But first, I want to pay off more of my credit card bills. I'm in pretty deep with that. So I'm stuck at SII for a while longer.
Dr. Balis: I see. Well, our time is up. I'll see you in two weeks.
Ms. Benjamin: Yeah. See you then.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Lisa.
Ms. Benjamin: Bye.
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