Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Little Stripper That Could

If you've ever been to a strip club, excuse me . . . "Gentleman's" club. . . .

Fuck it! We can be honest, can't we? You and I? We may be gentleman before we enter the club, but we're ravenous wolves once we're in. We don't whoop and holler like you girls do in your silly little male strip clubs. We sit and we drink and sharpen our canine teeth, flick our tails, eat red meat and stare at the flesh writhing and wriggling on stage, the jiggly bits appeal to us the most, but the hair is nice, too.

Anyway, if you've ever dared to enter one, you know that at the end of the night it smells like the makeshift locker room of a platoon of Marines behind enemy lines. It smells like men. Sweat, spit and booze (with a hint of urine, vomit and gas). But there is a special kind of stink on amateur night.

Every thing is special on amateur night: the drinks, the crowd, the music, the women . . . especially the women.

A little note about our beloved strippers, whom we adore from afar: I've heard a lot of women complain about what strippers have that they don't. I've also heard a lot of men hem and haw and try to explain. Is it the moves? The pole? The music? The setting?

No, of course not.

We can't have them. That is what they give us that you can't. We can have you, the wife, the girlfriend, the friend with benefits. We have had you. They are there to be lusted after, not to be had. They are a fantasy and nothing more, and they stroke us from the inside out.

Anyway. . . .

Friday night, crowded together, shoulder to shoulder, double drinks in double fists, us men wait for our brothers' wives and girlfriends and friends to take the stage, to make us want them. It's not hard, but it's easy to fuck up. Surprisingly easy.

I can't blame the husband or the boyfriend who "lets" his girl get on stage. There is something powerfully appealing about knowing a whole club of men want your girl, and can't have her. But you can, and will, the moment you close the door behind you and one of you trips the other on to a bed, couch, carpet, dining room table or back seat. Value is about wanting, after all, and the more that want the prize, the more valuable it becomes.

Another note about strippers: The pros get tired, they become routine after awhile. They dance every night, every day, and it's only natural that they start to get the stripper "look". Powerful thighs, tight waist, heavy makeup, long hair, slightly artificial breasts, eyes that are not always the brightest, but are sometimes dimmed to a soulless luster. Oh, we'll still watch and drool and lust after them, but there's a reason clubs are always looking for "fresh" girls.

But tonight's story is about one special would-be stripper who took on a drunken crowd of men that had had already climaxed and fallen flat on its face by the time she showed her eager, slightly oily face in the too-bright halogen swirling lights of this particular sweaty men's club.

We'd stood, brothers in arms . . . or dicks, if your prefer, and showed our appreciation for women, tall and short, curvy and skinny with primped hair and flat hair with trained dance experience and with none, with costumes and with bikinis . . . . We clapped. We threw money. We drank.

Then Jeanie took the stage.

She was not the stripper type. She wore no makeup, or very little. She was too short, with a pubescent figure, flat chested or close to it, freckled, thin and pale. She wore a black unitard with a leather skirt, black pumps, fishnets and strangely . . . cat ears with a bunny tail. Her themes were a bit mixed, but the music pounded irregardless, some techno no one but a German would recognize. Her hair was too kinky with curls, and too washed out, a faded brunette. Her lips were thin and unappealing, and she had the gawky, gangly look of a fawn on its first uncertain venture into the forest.

And we fell in love with her. Or maybe we fell in love with her eyes . . . her eyes were strong and full of glitter. She looked happy. She looked childlike. She looked like she wanted to be there, and like she wanted us. Each and every one of us. She was all wrong for the stripper profession, for the stripper stage, for the club. She belonged in a bus station somewhere with a "runaway" poster in the background.

She did not strut. She did a funny little skip step, her leather skirt somehow tickling our eyebrows. It was hiked too far up her waist, though her strategy was clear, as it did reveal the back of her unitard, which turned out to have been neatly trimmed into a thong. I had a sudden image of her feverishly cutting away material backstage, cat glasses posed low on her nose, freckles bright red on her cheeks, tongue parked at the corner of her thin lips.

She did not perform olympic-style acrobatics on the pole. Her thighs couldn't have held her. She hardly touched the pole. Instead, she played on the edge of the stage. She played us, the crowd, and we wanted her. She did not hang on the edge of the platform and perform scissor kicks, yoga style; she flipped her skirt at us, did a strange, sexy little snake dance, did that strange, slightly stupid dance from the Fifties where you hold your nose and pretend to be sinking down into the ocean, and it was absolutely, drop-dead sexy.

At one point, she made a show of removing one of her heels, sitting with her thin legs exposed, unbuckling a strap, rolling her eyes at us, making us laugh, then poking her leg out into the audience for help. We envied the man who got to remove her shoe. Then she did it again with the other shoe. She wasn't dancing; she was having fun.

She dropped her unitard and slowly rolled it down until her ribcage was exposed, then looked at us and blushed. How silly of her . . . she hadn't given us her skirt yet. She was more saucy now, motioning for help with her skirt, then chastising the young man who beached himself on side of the stage like a trained seal. The skirt came off. It went with the man as he was escorted off the stage by a trained gorilla. But she ran after him, whipped him around, flowed into his arms, gave him a quick kiss on the tip of his nose and was away before he could get in a single grope, flashing her bunny tail as she ran.

We were in love. Every single one of us. She wasn't a stripper. She wasn't a Supermodel. She was miles from perfection. She was imperfection incarnate and we loved every freckle, every dimple, every curl because of those imperfections, instead of in spite of them.

She danced for a little while. We didn't want it to end. We didn't want the rest of her clothes to come off, because that meant the show was over.

I wondered if the girls back stage were rooting for or against her. I hoped for the former, but I'm an optimist that way.

When she did finally reveal herself to us in all her naked splendor, it was just that, a revelation. She threw her arms up in the air, threw her head back with closed eyes and let us take her all in, her hip bones, her mound, her freckled thighs, her pubes.

We cheered. Us men. We never cheer for strippers. We yell, we shout, we drool, we moan and growl, but we never cheer.

And now, this is the part of the story where I must reveal the great fallibility of the sport of stripping.

Jeanie did not win. She didn't get second prize. She didn't even get honorable mention.

It was fixed. The crowd voted, but the announcer / club owner did not listen. I found out why the next week when I saw the winner on stage and divined the sordid truth.

She may have not won the money, but she should have. She won us over and without half the natural attributes of the others. She won us over on personality alone.

Next time someone tries to set me up with a girl with a great "personality", I'll think a moment before I make an ugly face. Maybe I'll take the risk. Maybe, just maybe, I'll marry someone like Jeanie, whose beauty really makes the overly used, after school special cliche true . . . it comes from the inside, the light, the sexy, happy heart that fills the eyes, the heart and the palate.

Jeanie . . . you were the winner, no matter what they said.

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