“You can observe a lot by watching.”
- Yogi Berra
You know, it wasn't easy becoming a noted raconteur, sex dog and man-about-town. It took a lot of work. And, come to think of it, a lot of money. For example, I personally wouldn't feel I deserved these titles if I hadn't spent a lot of time in strip clubs over the years. Sure, it was often brutal, but I walked out of the door of many a strip bar a better man because I persevered and endured.
I started going to strip joints at the tender age of 19 – and it was legal too, if you're curious. My friends and I used to drive to a nearby larger city (I grew up in a small town in Iowa) to meet girls at a particular strip bar called The Top Hat Lounge if I'm not mistaken. But it wasn't what you think – we went there to meet girls that were also patrons, as opposed to dancers. As often as not, we would all sit as a group and gab among ourselves and completely ignore whatever dancer was on stage. This was fine, because the dancers all seemed old and, well, sort of used up is the politest way to say it. But the good old Top Hat was important to me because it was where I first learned to feel comfortable in a strip club.
Over the years I went to many more strip clubs in my quest to gather raconteur material. Eventually I arrived at a way to explain the attraction of strip bars, at least for me:
1. You can drink.
2. There are more-or-less naked girls running around all over the place.
Not overly complicated, as you can see. I've always compared strip clubs to Disneyland – it's lots of fun to be there but you have to remember that Mickey isn't a real mouse. Guys, no matter how tempting it is to believe otherwise, that dancer to whom you just gave two hundred bucks doesn't really want to spend the next 36 hours in bed with you and only you. You have to keep a perspective on the whole affair: it's a job for the dancers, and part of that job is convincing you that you're the hottest man alive.
Since I am the hottest man alive, I'm really easy to convince of this. It usually only takes about twenty bucks or so. The rest of the time I can just sit back and enjoy the experience and laugh with and tease whoever the lucky dancer is that's writhing on my lap. I have a lot more fun that way than if I get all serious and shit. And by the way, ladies, for me and for most of my male acquaintances the point of going to a strip club is not sex – at least not directly. It's more about feeling like some reasonably attractive woman finds you desirable in spite of the fact that you know it's because you're throwing tons of money at her. Sometimes it just feels good to feel wanted, even if it's just make-believe. It gets lonely out there sometimes.
And to be completely truthful, the above paragraph is really about going to a strip joint by yourself. If you go with a bunch of dirtbag buddies, of course it's about laughing and drinking and making some weak or diseased member of the pack pay for everything on his Visa Gold Card and then pass out.
But enough ecdysiastical philosophy [obviously I love that word – The Management]. On to Strippers I Have Known.
Since it is well known that I am comfortable in strip clubs and because I have a lot of female acquaintances, sometimes it falls upon me to escort young women to said clubs for job interviews. As you might imagine, this is one of the pleasanter ways to help out a friend. It beats the hell out of moving a refrigerator, that's for damn sure. And the interview process is always interesting to say the least.
My favorite story is about my friend Sally (not her real name of course). She asked me to accompany her to Minneapolis's premiere strip club at the time, Solid Gold, for a job interview. She just wanted to make some good money as a cocktail waitress; of course she wouldn't ever consider dancing there.
After the waitress interview, I took her to a table in the club proper so she could get a feel for the place – she had never been there! The club's theme song came on (“Girls Girls Girls” by Mötley Crüe). and I mentioned in passing that she was going to get completely and utterly sick of that song before the first day of work was over. “No way,” she said. “I like that song.” Hah. To this day Sally blanches and quails if anyone even says “girls” twice in the same sentence. Anyway, a few minutes later the guy at the table next to ours ordered a lap dance, so six inches away from Sally some woman with gigantic hooters was getting naked to music. Sally looked at me sort of helplessly and said “euugh!” or the equivalent.
Two weeks later Sally was dancing with the A Team at Solid Gold. I'm surprised it took her that long.
Today she is a successful attorney in the Twin Cities, so that story has a happy ending. I'm very proud of Sally that she avoided the common trap that dancers seem to fall into of putting all their newfound riches up their nose. The only down side to the whole lawyer thing is that I don't get to see her naked anymore. Unless of course the courtroom is a vastly different thing today than it was when I was in the docket; in that case I do have a shot at seeing Sally in her former glory (and nothing else) once again.
Having friends who work at strip clubs occasionally results in some distinctly odd occurrences. One time I was sitting at a table at Solid Gold after work, de-stressing after a long day, when all of a sudden two elbow-length velvet gloves come around my head and cover my eyes and some woman presses her boobs against me from behind and says “Guess who?” Being the savvy guy that I am I started naming every woman I could think of who would never ever work in a strip club just so she wouldn't go away, but finally she came around in front of me and I found to my immense surprise that it was my pal Renée (also not her real name). The last time I had seen her she was a cocktail waitress with a cute ass at a place in which I used to hang out. At that time, she was young and Christian and naïve. At least she was still young, I thought to myself.
Renée proceeded to explain to me that she worked in the strip club now (duh) and if I would come upstairs she would get me a table and show me her new boob job and we could get caught up on our mutual friends.
So I got to admire Renée's brand new tits (they were quite lovely by the way) and at the same time find out about all the scandals that I had missed. Renée just sort of lazily danced topless in front of me for about an hour as we exchanged stories about people we both knew. This is not a bad way to get caught up on current events, in my opinion. It also turned out to be a weird version of a fantasy I had always had about Renée whenever I talked to her in her previous waitress job. Funny how things work out.
I'll leave you with a brief anecdote about a place in Switzerland. I was in Basel and in the course of walking the streets (...) I passed by a place a number of times called “La Belle Epoch.” It had no windows and a canopy-covered sidewalk leading up to it and it virtually screamed “strip club” at me but in German so I had trouble understanding it. At any rate, one day to my own surprise I strolled up the canopy-covered walk to the front door, only to find the following sign: “Members Only.” To this very day I am so proud of myself that I pounded on the knocker anyway (...) and went inside.
The large jovial woman greeted me in German, French then finally English and asked me what I wanted.
“What's it take to become a member?” I asked her.
“You already are,” she said, laughing. “We just have the sign on the door so we can get rid of anybody we don't like. Come on in!”
And I did.