The Tubes are as 80s to me as the fake-animal-print clad David Lee Roth, and provide Hallmark wisdom in a way only the era could deliver. I did tip my hand too much in the previous post about the strip club experience. It’s not easy talking about such personal memories, being that the Internet is so vast, but if I were on my deathbed would I appreciate not saying anything? This post isn’t going to candy-coat anything. If you are the type to either be easily offended or insulted, I strongly advise you to visit another day. I’m not the type of person to tolerate bullshit either, and this won’t be up for debate. This is simply a story of how my life played out on one Saturday afternoon in April of 1997.
I was 18, and it was a few days after my best friend’s 18th birthday. His rambunctious mind could only think of one thing, and one thing alone: strippers. He was always after ideas sexual in nature: Playboys (for the articles, my ass), video pornography, John Valby aka Dr. Dirty et al. They revolved around him in an electron fashion, only drawing closer to the nucleus with each passing moment. There seemed a sort of Christmas excitement that ran across his boyish face when he talked about it, and he spoke of it for weeks. I knew that day was coming, even though I already had deep reservations about it. Most people don’t give me enough credit for my intuitiveness, but it’s definitely there. Maybe it’s for personal use only? Regardless, I was being muscled into his quasi-wingman as we ventured to a larger city for the venue.
There was a feeling in the pit of my stomach the whole way there. It was not something that sounded great in the first place, but like usual, I felt coerced by societal norms (e.g. “this is what you’re supposed to be like: dumb and horny,” or “why not? Are you in the closet?”). We ended up in a strip mall in Toledo, where I handed over a matinée price of $7.00 to a short man with greasy ginger hair kept in a long pony tail. The insides were painted black, lit with black lights. UV light accented all the fluorescent materials present with a thin veil of smoke drifting from the seats to the stage. It wasn’t too long ago that people could smoke indoors.
The first stripper was a petite blond with cropped hair to match. Her gaunt figure danced upon the pole to a three-set of Beatles songs. “Sexy Sadie” was her stage name, and the bits of metal from her piercings held tightly to her b-cup breasts, glinting every now and then when she’d spin. After “Helter Skelter” was over, she bounded right up to us. Being that my friend was the cause of all this, I let him buy her the brink which turned out to be apple juice. Even though we weren’t of legal drinking age, there wasn’t any alcohol on the premises. I suppose I could see why. Drunk men and naked women could present a problem. My friend and I were also required to have a drink in front of us at all times, and we chose fountain beverages for the free refills. I still remember vividly how bright and pink my plastic daiquiri glass was. It was cheap, exactly like how I felt.
After a few minutes of light discussion, we were hit up for some additional dancing at the booths across the stage. Fortunately, my friend could not turn the offer down and went promptly over there with her. I was left to watch the other two women perform their sets. I began to fidget, trying to keep a calm exterior about myself and pretend I was enjoying it. There were a few other men around, smiling at me. They were having a good time. I wasn’t, not in the slightest. I felt like I was being used, not only by the dancers but by my friend. He didn’t want to go alone, but I didn’t have that many friends. I didn’t want to cause a rift because I would feel awful in a strip club.
The air felt thicker and denser as time inched along. I felt snake-like coils move around my face and head, whispering offers of faux-affection for $40 a turn. I was even startled when an African-American dancer slid her green-tipped fingers down my shoulders. She approached me from behind. So, I never knew she was there until I was jumping an inch out of my chair. I know they meant no real harm, though. They were just trying to earn a paycheck.
So often had I pined for female ardor, it made for many a lonely night. This sadness brought to me by my peers was heightened with whispers of high school girls not quite out of earshot, providing quite the venue of criticism from weight to attractiveness to creepiness. Everyone did it though. There were several males who would make themselves feel better at my expense, but it always stung worse to hear it from the girls. I could be jumped or clotheslined or socked right in the face, but it was their words that would ring in my ears for years. Admittedly, that day in April was the first time being in the presence of naked women. It wasn’t real though. None of it was real. All of it was a delicately-wrapped lie for a price, a group of women trying to sweet talk me only for what I had in my wallet. I didn’t have a whole lot of it to start. It hurt; it hurt like the Devil. I felt ashamed, and tried to overcome a burning face at the notion of having to buy my affection. What the Hell did I ever do to require buying love?
Were they whores? Were they sluts? Only if you include the audience and me. Whether it was for money, lust, or my desperate need for belonging, we all sold ourselves at some price. My area of interest just happened to be the size of a planet, instead of a Marlboro-tainted skin shop. Those buyers and suppliers were not on my list, as I had other business to attend to. After my friend got his inaugural lap dances, we folded tent and left. Rarely have I ever felt relieved as I did that day, with the slight wind at my face and a drive through the fields of Ohio.
Put it down to experience, Nate…..I don’t think you need a confessional to say you went to a strip club….PC has nearly equalled the Catholic faith for instilling guilt:)
It does have a confessional tone, doesn’t it, Roger? I was only trying to describe how I personally felt as I lived out that day in April, but that’s how one could read it.
I assumed there were two drink minimums at strip clubs, like at comedy clubs. I figured you’d have to be drunk to really let loose, just like the girls have to be on drugs to be able to look themselves in the mirror. Why do you suppose, since it obviously wasn’t a religious hurdle for you, that it would bother you so much, when so many men enjoy it? How can they? I realize men are visual, but you do paint a depressing picture. Are they oblivious to the desperation? It can’t all be Demi Moore in Striptease; I would imagine I would be Febrezing off the Hep C before I sat down.
I’m prone to think that either the laws for strip clubs vary from state-to-state or rules from club-to-club, depending on their situation. I know the house was alcohol free, because that was part of the light discussion with the stripper.
The next couple of questions are good, and I don’t think I could answer them completely. The experience was through the lens of my person, and not through the lens of other men. I never watched Striptease, and am an odd part to American society. I say I’m awkward, but people never believe me. How other men would find it a worthwhile endeavor isn’t exactly clear, although I’ve always left it to their prerogative. I’ve left the profession to the prerogative of women. That’s not my call, but I’ve always felt pressured to be a part of the “pro” or “con” factions in this country. That’s something I’m not fond of doing.
Why would it bother me so much? That is the heart of the matter, isn’t it? I suppose I strongly oppose doing things for the wrong reasons. In my position, paying for affection felt wrong. Being used is numero uno on my “no-no” list. I was used before and since. It still chafes me, when I find out. The idea of being cheated out of love and having to buy affection felt like a slap in the face from others and myself. It felt like I was so ugly, I had to throw money at women to like me sexually. What was worse was that it wasn’t even genuine. That burned.
Other men may very well be aware of this side of the coin. They might be apathetic; they may just want something sexually appealing, and don’t care if they have to pay for it. They might not care if women tell them lie after lie. Some may not even consider it the way I do. Who knows? Maybe they know they’re so far from real play with any woman and have just given up? Maybe it simply turns them on something fierce, even with the downsides? Maybe this is their way of having their cake (i.e. open sexual attraction to many women) and eat it too? A sort of compromise, if you will. All I know is that I’m often the odd man out, when it comes to things like this. Society wants to lay blame on these women for being strippers, when I know damn well it takes two to tango. All parties involved should own up their part.
As a side note, this was before the proliferation of Febreze. 😉