So, Did Usher Tip Strippers With Fake “Usher Bucks” or Not?

Either way, maybe don't bring fake money to the club

A $100 bill with Usher's face on it
Usher Bucks, unfortunately, are not real currency.

You may have noticed the internet flooding with anti-Usher sentiment (and plenty of memes) yesterday after the artist was accused of making it rain on strippers with “Usher bucks” β€” fake currency bearing the singer’s face in place of a dead white man’s, which, as one irate dancer made clear, have no monetary or trade value whatsoever.

The allegations against the historically stripper-friendly singer, whose music and public image has made heavy use of exotic dancers and strip-club culture, first came to light when a dancer at Sapphire Las Vegas posted a photo of the “Usher bucks” to her Instagram story, writing, “Ladies, what would you do if you danced all night for Usher and he threw this?” The post quickly caught the attention, and ire, of fellow dancers and advocacy organizations who slammed the artist for the cheap stunt.

As many critics pointed out, exotic dancers have been some of the hardest-hit workers amid the pandemic. In addition to disrespecting a group of professionals whose work and identities are often stigmatized, trivialized and undervalued, Usher’s faux-bills would have robbed those entertainers of a much-needed payday as dancers finally return to regular work after the pandemic left many in the industry jobless.

However, representatives from the club at which Usher allegedly let his fake bills fly have denied the story. According to TMZ, a rep for Sapphire claims Usher paid for a lavish night out with real money, tipping dancers as well as the staff at large “quite generously.”

George M. Wilson IV, the director of marketing for Sapphire Las Vegas, also denied the story in an email to Rolling Stone, clarifying that the Usher bucks were left on the stage as a promotional stunt for the artist’s Vegas residency. “Apparently someone in his team left some Usher dollars on the floor to promote his Vegas residency. That is where it seems the confusion came in. But real actual cash was used for tips,” Wilson wrote.

While it remains unclear exactly what went down in the club that night, it seems likely that a bit of a misunderstanding took place. Regardless, if there’s a lesson to be learned here, I guess it would be: Don’t bring fake money to a strip club. Real money is much more useful in that, and most, situations.

Anyway, happy post-pandemic strip-clubbing. Please respect sex workers and pay them real money.

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