Transcript of 4th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Lisa Benjamin, Tuesday, May 5, 1998 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Lisa. How are you today?
Ms. Benjamin: Not so great, Doctor. I'm just exhausted. I've been burning the candle at both ends lately. Actually, what I've been doing is just throwing the candle right into the fire.
Dr. Balis: Your two jobs are wearing you out?
Ms. Benjamin: Definitely, yes. And I'm afraid my anger is really coming back lately. My patience is wearing thin, probably because I'm tired.
Dr. Balis: Did you have another outburst?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes. Uh, I can't even talk about that now. Let me tell you about my week first, and then maybe I'll get to this at the end of the session. It was a really disturbing incident.
Dr. Balis: All right. Tell me about your week.
Ms. Benjamin: Well, I started asking around at the Lusty Lady--I was doing research for my documentary--and everybody seemed pretty cool about me making this video. I had a long conversation with one of my coworkers. It turns out she's a dominatrix, she does that in addition to the Lusty Lady. She said that she makes a ton of money. After talking with her, I felt like I was nickel and diming it at the Lusty. She was completely interesting, and I actually scheduled a filmed interview with her. Hopefully, it will be as good as our talk was. Anyway, it was really a big deal for me to even ask her. I was actually nervous and shaky as I was asking.
Dr. Balis: Why were you so nervous?
Ms. Benjamin: I think I was afraid she'd laugh at my little project. But she didn't. So hopefully, that part of the project will get easier for me in the future.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Benjamin: Anyway, that talk was pretty much the only down time I had this entire week. The rest of the time, I was working non-stop and hardly sleeping at all. I worked a double Thursday night--I was dancing from six to eleven and then from eleven to four in the morning. When you work that late at the Lusty, you get to spend the night. After work, we all stayed up talking for a couple of hours. And then it was pretty much time for me to go back to SII. I worked all day there and then went back to the Lusty that night and worked again until eleven. This was all on no sleep. Finally, I got to go home and catch a few winks. And then Saturday morning, I got up and started dancing again. And then someone called in sick, and I worked a double shift. It was crazy.
Dr. Balis: Do you want to work so many hours?
Ms. Benjamin: I really want to get out of debt, and I'm getting closer and closer. I want to be solvent by the time I really start to edit this video. From everything I heard, when that starts, I'll be locked up by myself for entire nights, and I'll want to be able to focus on my editing. I want to quit SII by the time I start editing. But man, life is rough. I wouldn't have gotten through this week without a little speed.
Dr. Balis: You were using speed to help you cope?
Ms. Benjamin: Yeah. Until now, I really haven't used speed except at parties. But this week was such a killer. It really helped. But it's always around the Lusty.
Dr. Balis: Lisa, I think we need to talk about your drug use. I feel strongly...
Ms. Benjamin: Right, right. I'll give you my drug history, Doctor. I think I'm a usual college story. I smoked pot and took some mushrooms a few times. I always avoided cocaine and anything heavy.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Benjamin: Speed seems to be a big thing with the crowd I'm getting into these days. I enjoy it when I go out. Other than that, I've taken it...well, a few times when my schedule had gotten out of control. It focuses me. But it's such a bummer coming down from it. I have to say I really enjoy it, probably too much, except for that part. Look, Doctor, I hope you're not going to get judgmental about this.
Dr. Balis: I'm not here to judge you. But I don't approve of drug use either. Speed can be extremely addictive, and I'm worried...
Ms. Benjamin: I know, I know. I think I'm in the clear right now. Well, I'll be careful. Anyway, I had my...uh, "moment" when I was coming down from speed.
Dr. Balis: Do you mean the anger incident?
Ms. Benjamin: Yeah. So I guess I'm really not interested in becoming addicted.
Dr. Balis: All right, tell me about the incident.
Ms. Benjamin: Yikes. This one is really rough. My job at the Lusty is so gritty. Have I told you about the private booth?
Dr. Balis: I don't think so.
Ms. Benjamin: Mostly when I work at the Lusty, I'm just dancing around with four other women, and things are pretty easy going. But if you want to make some real money, the place to do it is the booth. There, I'm one on one with a customer, and I work for tips. First of all, I'm on display in this window for all walkers-by to see, and I sort of have to sell myself to them. I guess it's like the red light district in Amsterdam--that kind of set up.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Benjamin: So I'm there in my little sexy lingerie, and they're all going by, checking me out or being assholes and yelling obnoxious bullshit at me. Finally, I get a customer to come inside the booth. Then I close a curtain across the outside window, and I wait for the guy to put five dollars in this little slot. Then I open another curtain inside the booth. He gets three minutes for five dollars to watch me through the glass. So I take off my clothes and pose. The whole point is to get him to stay for more time or to get him to put more money in by offering to do all kinds of crazy shit.
Dr. Balis: Like what?
Ms. Benjamin: Okay, here comes the shocker. I've put dildos inside myself, peed into cups, talked through S&M fantasies, watched the guy suck off his friend. I mean this is whatever goes. It's a laugh a minute, I'm telling you.
Dr. Balis: Couples can go into the booth also?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes. And sometimes, there will be two girls in there, and that's like a special or something. This is much more intense than dancing. Really, to be totally honest, this is just prostitution through the glass. It's the same thing.
Dr. Balis: Do you enjoy it?
Ms. Benjamin: I'm completely fascinated by it, and I guess most of it doesn't bother me. I'm wearing a wig, and I just feel like I'm playing a character and getting to have all of these crazy experiences. But sometimes, it just fucking depresses me so much.
Dr. Balis: Why?
Ms. Benjamin: All of these lonely people come in, and they're so disconnected from themselves and what they want. When I close the curtain sometimes after they finish, I just feel completely awful. It's this weird aloneness. It's like the truth of the world: nobody can really connect with anyone else or touch anyone else. Does it make sense? Sometimes, I get really into it--it's like I'm learning what life is really about, and I think it's going to make me really tough. But sometimes, it just makes me cry. Some of the girls were saying that one really needs to take a break from doing the booth to stay sane. But right now, I'm really trying to step up the money making thing, so I'm working other people's shifts in the booth. I'm making big bucks. But I'm burning out.
Dr. Balis: The booth sounds very draining physically and psychologically.
Ms. Benjamin: Yeah, I guess it's terrible. It's not the part of the job I really enjoy. I like dancing around naked with some friends. But the booth is way too much. I'll be glad to stop soon.
Dr. Balis: Lisa, there are other jobs that don't require such a high emotional price for working them. Your work doesn't have to upset you so much.
Ms. Benjamin: Believe me, I'm thinking about it. But now, I'm wrapped up in this documentary project, and I'm in such a good place to finish it. But yes, I'm thinking about leaving. I just feel like other people around me manage to deal with it, so there must be a way that I can cope with it as well.
Dr. Balis: You don't know how well they are coping. And just because someone does it, it doesn't mean that you can. We all have our limits. It's probably best if you knew yours.
Ms. Benjamin: Right. Goddamn. I guess I'm just trying to figure out mine right now.
Dr. Balis: That's good. I'd encourage you not to venture into areas that make you so uncomfortable that you have to resort to drugs to get through the day.
Ms. Benjamin: You know what, though? That's where I want to go. I think I really need to get into the really dark places in life right now. I'm not sure why. I just have this need to figure it out. It's like I want to see everything there is to see, to see if I can handle it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. That's very dangerous. I urge you to be careful with that kind of experimentation. Now tell me about your outburst.
Ms. Benjamin: Well, I feel a little weird talking about it now. But if I don't, I think it would be worse to carry it within me for the next two weeks. I haven't talked to anybody about this.
Dr. Balis: Go on.
Ms. Benjamin: Well, the whole time this crazy shit was going on in the booth, I was basically...well, masturbating. That's what they all like to see. So, it was only natural that I got pretty aroused. Everyone does. We all talk about how we have to go get ourselves off after the booth shift is over. Well, at least those of us who aren't having sex with someone in the real world. But I never come in front of customers. I always fake it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Benjamin: Except I was so over excited that day, and I had this customer who just would not fucking leave. He kept on putting money in. It was like this weird contest. I actually think that he would not have left until I came. So finally, I actually did have an orgasm right there in front of him. I tried to just be really low key about it, thinking he wouldn't notice or something. But then I looked at him, and he had this awful smile on his face, like he had won our little duel. And I just lost it. I was so mad that he thought he had won. I really felt like I gave him something I didn't want to give. It was just terrible. I was calling him an asshole. And he just left. And I felt like a piece of me just walked out the door with him.
Dr. Balis: I really think you should stop doing the booth for a while.
Ms. Benjamin: Maybe you're right. Just talking about that whole thing...well, I feel awful again. But you know what? I have a booth shift tonight. And it's too late to get out of it.
Dr. Balis: How soon before you can stop accepting these shifts?
Ms. Benjamin: The schedule comes out every week. I'll just try to trade my next couple of shifts this week. But that's after tonight.
Dr. Balis: Good. And try to avoid speed. It just takes away your control over the situation. And that is what I think made you so upset--your customer wrestled control from you during the booth session. Well, our time is up. We should definitely talk more about this next time, though.
Ms. Benjamin: Yes. I'll try to get out of doing the booth. It's just that I need that money. But I guess I should take a break. Thanks, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: See you next time, Lisa.
Ms. Benjamin: Bye.
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