Transcript of 5th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Lisa Benjamin, Tuesday, June 2, 1998 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Lisa. How are you?
Ms. Benjamin: Much better. I was really pretty sick two weeks ago.
Dr. Balis: What was wrong?
Ms. Benjamin: My roommate, Gabrielle, got this flu that was going around the Lusty Lady. As you can imagine, there's no way to avoid catching germs there. We're in such a small room dancing, and we all touch the same bars and...everyone got sick with this very same thing, and it was awful.
Dr. Balis: What was it?
Ms. Benjamin: A stomach flu, it was just terrible. I was really out of commission, couldn't keep anything down. The only thing good about it was that I took some sick days from SII, so I got to lay in bed and still make some money. Also, I stopped dancing for a little while. I've got to say my perspective on things really changed.
Dr. Balis: How so?
Ms. Benjamin: I think I've been going about this credit card thing all wrong. I need to spread it out a little and not treat myself so badly while I'm paying it off. And stopping dancing definitely made me think a lot about what I'm doing at the Lusty Lady. Actually, I still got to work on the film--I interviewed Gabby while we were home. She has had a pretty crazy life. I'm a little bit less enchanted with it now.
Dr. Balis: Tell me about it.
Ms. Benjamin: Gabby used to work on the streets in Boston. And then she started doing dominatrix work. Everything's happened to her. She's been pregnant. She got raped. She and her boyfriend were addicted to heroin. Her parents were totally abusive and kicked her out of the house. And she's so smart. But I think it will probably take her another couple of decades to calm down enough to be happy.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Benjamin: She seems to create so much drama in her life all the time. She has this one girlfriend now who is still doing heroin, and this makes her want to get back into it again. It seems so obvious to me that she shouldn't be dating someone like that. But she's not going to stop. I think she likes the danger. It would mess her up so badly in school, if she got back into heroin right now. She has to do really well this semester to maintain her scholarship. But I think she likes walking on thin ice. Actually, I don't think she would do as well if things were comfortable and normal. She thrives on danger.
Dr. Balis: Are you upset by that?
Ms. Benjamin: I guess I am. Do you know what? I'm upset because I'm like that. Lying around in bed for a week, stuck in my house, I started to realize it's not really that nice there. I think I need to figure out some things about how to live or something.
Dr. Balis: Lisa, did you do more speed?
Ms. Benjamin: Hmm? Did I? Yes, a little. I did some editing just for practice. And I did a little speed before that so I could stay up all night for it. Actually, as I was about to do that, I was thinking just how gritty that was, and I was kind of into it. Oh wait! I actually did a little more speed, but it was just this one day when I didn't have to work. I went shopping with my friend Amy, and we did a little just before that. It was great, actually. You can definitely get through thrift stores quicker when you're high.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like you are using it fairly frequently.
Ms. Benjamin: Maybe, maybe. But I don't think it's something you should get on my case about. I've thought about it a lot. I think my drug use is different from Gabby's. A lot of people in their early twenties experiment with drugs, and I fit right into that category. I like it, and I want to use it. It's not something I think about every day or need. I just happen to enjoy it. If I really had a problem with it, I wouldn't be able to pay off my credit card debt every month.
Dr. Balis: I don't want to get on your case about this, but I wouldn't be doing you a favor if I didn't continue to point out the danger of that drug. It can be highly addictive and dangerous. And considering that you are attracted to danger, I must warn you about what you're playing around with.
Ms. Benjamin: Yes, yes. I know. I'll be careful.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Benjamin: The editing was really hard. I took one of my interviews and just fiddled around with it. It made me realize how difficult this project is going to be. When you edit documentary footage, it's so difficult to figure out where and what to cut. I'm not even sure what I want to say yet. So basically, I just logged everything so I would know where it was on the tape. Editing natural dialogue is hard. People really digress, and there are a lot of "ums" and "ahs," it slows things down. I tried to write an outline, and it's going to be really tough as well.
Dr. Balis: Is there someone who can help you?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes, everyone who works at the place where I edit offered help in some way. So I think I'm going to get more advice and help than I'll really need. But in the end, I think I'm just going to have to plow through it all on my own. I definitely need a break from thinking about it. In fact, maybe you'll like this--I'm going camping by myself. I'll definitely be clean then.
Dr. Balis: Where are you going?
Ms. Benjamin: Point Reyes. My friend, Amy, had this reservation and she can't use it. So I'm borrowing her tent and going instead. I was going to try and get someone to come along with me, but then I decided to just go by myself. At first, I thought that was pretty pathetic, but now I'm really into it. The week I was sick, I was thinking about this trip more and more. I want to just go and sit and think for a weekend and look at some nature. I don't think I can keep working these two jobs and keep these weird hours, but I'm not sure what to do right now. Maybe there I'll be able to come up with some answers.
Dr. Balis: That sounds good. Are you worried about going by yourself?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes, actually, a little. I've traveled a bit by myself before, though. One summer during college, I traveled in Europe. It was actually pretty fun. I wish I could find someone else to do stuff like that with, though.
Dr. Balis: No one wanted to go to Europe with you?
Ms. Benjamin: No. When I went, there wasn't anybody. I had some very solitary times in school. When I traveled, I had just broken up with my boyfriend, and it seemed like I had absolutely no social circuit to replace him. Now, it's kind of the same, I guess. I feel like I don't have a lot of close friends.
Dr. Balis: Why do you think that is?
Ms. Benjamin: My two best friends moved to New York after college, and I haven't really connected with anyone at work. And even at the Lusty Lady, where I find a lot of the women really compelling, I also think they are a little scary. I think they're all a little nuts. There's always some wacked-out conversation in the dressing room. Take Gabby, for instance...hey! By the way, I stopped doing the booth. I'm making less money, but I'm definitely dealing a lot better.
Dr. Balis: That's good. Do you think you will ever go back to the booth?
Ms. Benjamin: Well, I don't know. They really put a lot of pressure on us to do it.
Dr. Balis: Who?
Ms. Benjamin: The managers. Man, those women are totally nuts. When I first started working at this place, I thought that "owned and managed by women" would be such a great thing. But actually, I think that women managers are even worse in some ways. All of our bosses used to be dancers, but they seem to have gotten a little lost in that world. I wouldn't want to end up a manager of a strip club. My job is great, but I'm starting to see it as a temporary step.
Dr. Balis: What about SII?
Ms. Benjamin: To be honest, now that I'm not working quite so many hours at the Lusty Lady, things are actually a little better at SII. I'm enjoying the day a little more. I'm even thinking that maybe I should look into their special effects thing. Everyone's very excited about this new mole, but I couldn't care less about it. But I guess it means the company will be in good shape for a while. I'm starting to think, as far as secretarial jobs go, I'm not doing so badly. I just wish I had more days free. I would love to be able to work at Video Free America during the day.
Dr. Balis: What's that?
Ms. Benjamin: Huh? Video Free America? That's the place where I've been editing. I can't believe I've never told you the name of that place. That's weird.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Benjamin: I just don't have a clue. I really thought...well, I don't know if we'll figure that one out now. Aren't we out of time?
Dr. Balis: Not really.
Ms. Benjamin: Well, I think I still better go. I'm still not a hundred percent.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Will I see you in two weeks?
Ms. Benjamin: Yes, I'll be here. See you then.
Dr. Balis: Bye, Lisa.
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