THE last time Megara was subjected to sleazy men at work was in her job in a high street shop.

Now working in the sex industry as a dominatrix, Megara says she dealt with a string of sleazy bosses and unwelcome attention in what people might term a 'mainstream' job.

But in her nine years working first as a lap dancer and then moving to her current job, she has had "no problems".

Megara - using her professional name, as all the women in this piece are - is acting branch secretary for a new GMB Scotland branch that will serve sex workers and those working in adult entertainment venues.

When news emerged that Glasgow City Council was to become the first to launch a public consultation into the future of its lap dancing clubs, she realised the women would have to mobilise.

She said: "This conversation is going to fundamentally impact us and we need to be part of that conversation.

"There are other organisations that support sex workers, such as ScotPep and Umbrella Lane - but I wanted us to be unionised so I spoke with GMB Scotland.

"They said, 'If we are going to give you a branch yourself, you'll need members'. We left there like, 'Right, this is happening'.

"We knew it needs to be the women who fight it, they can't hide behind the clubs any more."

Gathering members meant legwork, going out and speaking to the women.

But Megara knows the Glasgow club scene well - the city has three clubs, Diamond Dolls, Platinum Lace and Seventh Heaven - as she began working as a lap dancer.

At 21 she was working in a high street store where the staff would go on nights out to lap dancing clubs.

One evening, Megara decided to go along - describing herself as "fairly naive" at the time but wanting to fit in.

She said: "In the club, a girl approached one of my colleagues and asked him a yes or no question.

"I thought, 'This is just sales. Why isn't she asking open ended questions if she wants to keep him talking?'

"And I thought I could do a better job."

READ MORE: Lap dancers call to every politician in the city

The #AskThe700 campaign has sprung up, referencing the fact there are 700 lap dancers in Scotland and the union is determined they should have a voice.

Megara said: "I have put nine years of my life into my dungeon and business model.

"If I was looking for a new job there would be a gap in my CV between being a dancer then dominatrix and now.

"Besides, what would I do for a 'normal' job?

"It's a serious thing, looking to close the clubs. It's mortgages and whole families' lifestyles impacted."

Lap dancing clubs are currently unregulated, needing only alcohol licences, so councils cannot add any conditions of operation.

The Scottish Government's position - and the position of some feminists, women's organisations and politicians - is that lap dancing is a form of violence against women.

It is believed that the women are being exploited by men, who have the financial power and are using it to objectify women.

Legislation introduced in 2015, the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act, gives local authorities the power to introduce Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) licences.

This means they can limit the number of licences within their boundary, including setting the licence number at zero.

While the dancers say they are not being listened to and are determined to make their voices heard, Glasgow City Council has been repeatedly emphatic that the 12 week consultation is open to everyone to respond to.

A spokesman said the council has specifically listed GMB Scotland as a body it intends to contact.

Tori has worked in Seventh Heaven for nine years, starting at the age of 18.

She said: "I was dead quiet when I started, quite insecure.

"After my audition, I took some lessons but even with that, at my first dance I was so nervous. I got over it pretty quickly though.

"I wasn't ashamed of what I was doing but I felt I had to hide it from my friends and family.

"I shared a room with my sister and used to come in at night and tell her how much money I had earned - but I told her I worked behind the bar."

It later turned out that her family had long worked out what her job was but were waiting for her to tell them.

One night Tori's aunt said to her, "I'm so proud of you for what you do," and the cover up ended.

READ MORE: Lap dancing clubs could be banned in Glasgow

Dancers come from all backgrounds and are working for different reasons. Tori is a mum of two and says the hours of her job suit family life.

She said: "I have got two kids and I really, really need my job. I have one boy at school and one in nursery so childcare would be difficult.

"Closing the clubs would mess up my whole livelihood and I don't see why that needs to happen - they are a secure, safe and controlled environment."

Megara explains that no matter what happens on the night, the women are given £20 to get a taxi home and the club's bouncer ensures they get in the taxi safely.

Each club has a "house mum" who the woman all describe as being ferociously protective of them.

Kayleigh jokes that women should be more relaxed about their partners going to a strip club than a nightclub as they are "not allowed near" any of the women.

Kayleigh moved to Glasgow from London to be with her fiancé but the relationship broke down.

She started dancing when she weighed 17st 3lbs and says one of the important things about the clubs, to her, is the body positivity of the clubs.

Kayleigh lost 10st in the run up to her wedding and had breast augmentation surgery that went wrong, meaning she needed six months off work to recover.

Her home and possessions were in her ex's name and she had, she says, been "left with nothing."

She said: "The stress was so bad, I lost my hair. I had a breakdown. But I had to dig myself out so I went back to dancing and I have a job that has supported me and helped me get myself back on my feet financially.

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"I hate that everyone thinks a stripper has to look a certain way. But there are all shapes and sizes of women, women with tattoos.

"When I lost the weight, I did it for me, but I was never judged when I was heavy. I was completely accepted."

Before dancing, Kayleigh worked with additional needs children and says it would be difficult to go back to that after this current job and the four year gap in her CV.

In Edinburgh women are completely nude - a "full strip" - but in Glasgow the dancers never remove their pants.

She said: "If I can't dance in Glasgow then I'm going to have to go to Edinburgh and I'm going to be full strip.

"Each to their own but that's out of my comfort zone.

"By shutting the clubs here, Glasgow would be forcing women into situations that are worse than the ones they think are not ok now."

Kirstie has also signed up to GMB Scotland. She juggles multiple jobs at the one time - from PR to working behind the bar to circus skills at events - but lap dancing is an important part of her income.

She said: "With the flexibility of the job it means I might not dance for a week or so if I'm doing other things but I can come back.

"There's no pressure from the club to be there every night, you have your autonomy.

"My fear if the clubs close is the domino effect. Not only what are women going to be pushed into if the clubs aren't there - but what about the cleaners, the bar staff, the doormen, everyone else who is working there.

"Their livelihoods matter too."

READ MORE: Lap dancers join GMB Scotland

The next step for the women in the ratification of the branch, which is expected next week. Plans are to call it Branch G206, the date of International Sex Workers' Day - June 2.

They have campaign plans for public protests - having already handed out flyers and asked for petition signatures in Glasgow city centre - and are asking for every politician in the city to meet with them.

For the council, it is having to navigate the difficult moral issues involved in the situation - and the decisions on the future of Glasgow's strip clubs will not be easy.

Megara said: "If you close the clubs, it would likely drive the lap dancing industry underground with everything that could entail.

"The women are not exploited, they are not in danger, they are not victims.

"We are not shutting up. We are not going down without a fight."