I was at a business’ client appreciation reception with a Mardi Gras theme on Tuesday night. There were a bunch of people in attendance that I knew pretty well, so it was pretty relaxed, not stuffy. So after a glass of wine and a nip from the Bourbon tasting table… I slipped into a stand-up set. I just love it when you get in with a group at a party that just clicks and the one liners just start to flow back and forth. I swear to God, that’s like a freakin’ aphrodisiac for me. Seriously. Like, I’m not even kidding. Oh sorry, I got a little distracted…
So I was in a group that included a psychiatrist, a film producer, a creative portfolio website founder, and… somebody else that I don’t remember that didn’t really contribute. We got on the topic of therapy and the benefits thereof and one of the gentleman said “Where else can you pay your money and have someone’s undivided attention for a short time (as long as you’re paying) and they pretend they care?” To which I quickly threw in, “Isn’t that what a strip club is for?” and everyone busted out laughing. I was told “You’re good!” and “You’re quick!” But self-congratulation is not why I mention this story… the conversation of course turned to strip clubs.
Thank God the conversation got interrupted after about 30 seconds or it could have gone terribly wrong. But it did get me to thinking… strip clubs are like a psychological anthropological dig. Yes, I have been to strip clubs a few times. And you’ll probably think I’m a freak but I don’t go for any sort of sexual pleasure. I thrive on people watching. I mean at first it was kind of “titillating” (heh) to see real live naked boobies, you know that taboo weird woman thing, now… I don’t care. I’ve actually become a connoisseur of breasts, I appreciate a good natural one, strictly from a “beauty of the natural naked body” art thing.
So anyway, my first trip ever to a strip club when I lived in Denver was a place called “Shotgun Willy’s”. It was probably 10 years ago, maybe 12. I think with a guy friend, just to be funny. It wasn’t that memorable, I felt awkward. One thing is for sure, female strippers love when women come in. Probably for many reasons – they think they are more safe then men, they get a kick out of making them feel embarrassed (it’s cute), them sticking their boobies in the face of a woman will get the male customers all hot and bothered thus spending more money, and finally, just something different from the sometimes creepy men.
I made several other trips over the years, most every time with a group of co-ed drunk friends. Probably the most bizarre visit was to this weird hybrid strip club, again in Denver, many years ago. It was a strip club/dance bar with a section for amateurs. I kid you not. Go figure I find out it’s also a breeding ground for swingers! So the girlfriend of a friend of mine (who, surprise! I find out later are swingers) goes to the “amateur” area. She starts dancing topless while dirty toothless day laborers stood there and leered at her, while attempting to stuff dollars in… places. I had several friends urge me to try… “Aw hellllllll naw” was my reply. Girl I’m more of a private dancer *wink wink*… not to mention I could just see one of my kids coming home from school saying, “Jimmy’s Daddy saw your boobies!”
When I moved back to Rochester, I lost my group of drunk strip club friends. But after a few years I found more. I’ve gone a few times to this place in Rochester that… I don’t want to be mean but well, it’s not known for being “high end”. It’s basically a dive bar, with a walkway over by the other wall, with a jukebox on the wall where girls covered in tattoos and c-section scars put in their own music then writhe around on the floor then wipe it down with Windex afterwards (dead serious). Sounds hot, no? It’s just so freakin’ interesting to me because you get people from all walks of life in their! I’ve seen some of the wealthiest men in town and homeless men in there. Again with the people watching, it’s completely fascinating.
Two of the funniest things I’ve ever heard in there were… a friend of mine became friendly with one dancer (who is about my age, oy, but gorgeous) in there, so one time we walk in and say hello and start chatting. She starts looking around and says “Oh I’m listening, I’m just looking for my daughter who’s supposed to be coming in, she’s thinking about starting to dance here” Ummmmm. Well, there’s some fine mother-daughter bonding there. At least keep it in the family, right? You know how some families discuss things like, “I went to Vassar, and my Mother went to Vassar, and her Mother went to Vassar”… yea, imagine that dinner convo, “Well I’m a proud third generation Grope-a-cabana dancer!”
The other was this time we were talking to this older, heavyset dancer, now mind you something about her was still sexy. She had a beautiful face, huge cans, but the rest was ya’ know a little big for a stripper. So I do my usual psychological experiment and start talking to her trying to get her “story”. I notice her shoes, they were pretty cool, not those usual “stripper clown shoes” as I call them with ridiculous platforms and heels… they were almost Louboutin-esque hooker shoes. She said, “Thanks, my Mother got them for me when I was stripping in Vegas”. Ummmm. Again, I’m not gonna’ judge but I don’t think that’s something I or my daughter’s would ever say… in. our. lifetime.
Then there is the time we were talking to a dancer (who was 40ish) when she was not on stage and she says she just moved here to take care of an ailing relative and said she just started dancing here for extra money and to get out and make some friends. Ok. I. Uh. What, would the co-workers at Target be to boring for ya’? It just struck me how it was one extreme to another, being Florence Nightingale to a dying, aging relative during the day to strutting around in a neon mesh dress and bikini picking up dollar bills with your vajay muscles… whatever makes you happy!
Someday maybe I’ll go to a “high end” strip joint, then again no it’s not why I go. Believe it or not a lot of the women in these places still have hope. They are still trying to earn money. Yea, some are makin’ it just to buy more drugs but some are trying to get by and they often speak of “not doing it forever”, however that place seems to be pushing retirement age higher and higher. And I know to a lot of them it’s their rock bottom too. I don’t know, I think I also get a little happiness out of the smile I see on their faces when someone treats them with respect, listens to them and treats them like a human being and not a receptacle. And it’s great material for my writing. Am I a user too then? Nah, I think I like to present all sides of the human spirit and all the joy, pride, ridiculousness, and mistakes we experience.