50 Cent may have paid off $22 million worth of debt, but it seems he’s still got some unique ways of saving money — like throwing money at strippers, then taking it back.
The rapper posted an Instagram video last week that shows him gathering money he threw on a dancer’s stage at Angels NYC in Queens, New York. “ LOL SEE HOW I GET WHEN THEY START TRYING TO BE CUTE. IM TAKING THE MONEY BACK,” he captioned it. In the comments, he explained further: “Shorty was mad about something. She said some shit I said what wrong with her? Then I just said fuck it I’m taking the money back. … Poor customer service smh. I’m gonna need a refund. LOL.”
The video’s reactions fall in two main categories. Many thought the stunt was hilarious. 50 Cent shared a video of Instagram “comedian” @iamJoeStone recording his response to the original clip. “Why the fuck did nobody tell me you could do this? You telling me that if I don’t like my lap dance or the customer service that this li’l bitch gave me, I can take the money back?” he says. “I like bitches that look like they got something to lose, I wanna see the struggle in their eyes. I wanna know that she gotta pay her bills tomorrow, and her kids not gonna eat tonight if she don’t shake that ass. … So now that I know that I can refund this shit? I’m gonna have some rights around here.”
On the other side are those who find this behavior outrageously disrespectful. “How dare you go into that lady’s place of work, enjoy the entertainment she is providing and then not only fail to compensate her for her time and effort, but instead choose to rob her and share it on social media!” commented @lizdrew_. “You have just made life harder for women across the world, because undoubtedly idiots who consider you a role model and think this behavior is funny will now attempt to do the same.”
In response to the video, strippers on Twitter started making a list of celebrities they’ve encountered in the club, designating a trashcan emoji to well-known entertainers who’ve behaved poorly or failed to give cash, and a gold star to the ones who treated the women with respect and spent plenty. Waka Flocka Flame is a club favorite. So is, allegedly, the rock band Puddle of Mudd, which (according to a dancer on Twitter) came into a strip club after Mardi Gras and made it rain.
For a more professional opinion, I reached out to several exotic dancers to get their perspective—all of whom unanimously denounced 50 Cent’s video. It’s a great lesson in respect and courtesy, they say, with one clear rule: Don’t be an asshole to strippers.
More specifically, @WomensWhork, who runs an Instagram account dedicated to motivating and guiding strippers and other sex workers, says 50 Cent’s behavior is the “equivalent of someone stealing money out of a paycheck before it reaches your bank account.” She tells me, “A stripper’s job is to entertain and be paid for that. When money hits the stage from multiple sources, that is the dancers’ to keep.”
Dancer Gizelle Marie says the 50 Cent incident speaks to a larger problem with New York City strip clubs. Often, she notes, clubs focus on promoting the social-media-star “bottle girls,” not the dancers, which affects their earnings at the end of the night. Big-name artists are also more likely to drop fat cash tips on the bartenders. According to the Washington Post, the shift in focus from dancers to bartenders began five years ago:
…when the Instagram “models” with large social media followings calling themselves “startenders” started to be hired in the urban clubs primarily in Queens and Brooklyn. Club promoters stopped seeking the best mixologists and started hiring from Instagram, based on a particular kind of look and followings. Bartenders started to resemble the strippers, except they reaped a lot more benefits.
What’s more, dancers have to spend money for the privilege to perform:
Strippers have always paid a “house fee” to the club. They must pay at a minimum $50 a night to strip. During big events, the fee increases to $150–$250. Bartenders don’t pay house fees.
Last year, Gizelle spearheaded the #NYCStripperStrike in protest of New York clubs where strippers are allegedly mistreated. She now dances only outside of NYC. “We already go through so much, and we already work in a hostile environment,” Gizelle tells me. “To tell customers that they don’t have to tip because they don’t like the service is ridiculous. At the end of the day we pay to work there. Any money that gets released out of that patron’s hand is ours automatically.” (Angels NYC didn’t respond to a request for comment. Neither did 50 Cent’s management team.)
The video doesn’t show what prompted 50 to take his money back, but it does show the dancer fulfilling her job description: She’s on stage, on all fours, shaking her ass in a cute bodysuit while men watch. That’s her job.
This is where strip-club etiquette comes in: If 50 Cent wasn’t pleased with this girl’s performance for whatever reason, he could have simply not given her any money at all and stayed in his seat. That would have been fine. But once you’ve stood at the edge of the stage and had a girl shake it for you? That’s services rendered, and you’re expected to compensate by tipping. If you want to act like a baller, you have to spend like a baller.
According to the experts —i.e., the dancers themselves — there are a lot of rules and manners to keep in mind as a strip club customer (e.g., no licking!), but if you want to stay on the nice list, the most important things to do are spend money and be respectful.
Tipping at the strip club is courtesy, part of the etiquette of the space. “It’s very violating when customers sit at the stage and don’t tip or sit at the bar for hours and don’t buy a dance,” says Reese Piper, aka @TheNudeReporter. “In a way they violate our consent retroactively because we’re dancing for them (or talking with them) under the unspoken agreement that we’re at work, and thus, need to get paid. What 50 Cent did was theft — he sat down to enjoy a service and then took money back. But it’s unfortunately not uncommon.”
So how much should you be tipping? As much as you can. Remember, dancers aren’t actually paid a wage. Similar to most tip-able situations, 20 percent and up is ideal for a lap dance. Often, the amount you pay for a dance doesn’t entirely go to the dancer. On top of house fees, dancers are also usually required to tip managers, DJs and security, and they sometimes have to give the club a cut of each dance sold. “A dancer is getting maybe $0.70 of that $1 you tuck in her G-string,” dancer Elle Stranger tells Thrillist.
“If you walk into a club, you should plan on spending money on a dancer. Doesn’t have to to be a lot, but some is necessary because we aren’t paid a wage,” Piper says. Think of it like going out to dinner: You wouldn’t go out and purchase a meal you couldn’t afford to pay and tip for, she says.
What about the etiquette of throwing money on the stage? Any amount is fine, so long as you aren’t making the girl crawl over to you and put her breasts in your face for a single dollar bill. When sitting or standing right by the edge of the stage, you should expect to put down more than a couple dollars per song. “Generally, customers should go into the club to relax, have fun and maybe meet a dancer they feel connected to,” Piper says. “Definitely not to boost their egos by taking money away from a dancer or holding money over them in a sick power game.
“I love dancing and interacting with customers, but being confronted with customers night after night who try to hustle you into giving your labor away for free is exhausting and grating. People think stripping is difficult because of creepy men, but it’s a hard job because of all the people who don’t want to spend.”