Friday, May 18, 2012

My strip club history

I told my wife it had probably been about 15 years when she asked me about the last time I’d been in a strip club.
“Will you ever go again?”
Gee, I don’t know. I was never the instigator. They kind of bore me, I said. You know -- seen two, seen ‘em all.
“Would you ever not go out of respect for our marriage?”
Now, this is the point at which I busted out laughing. Hard. I laughed for a good four seconds until I looked up and saw my laughter had caused her to seethe.
She was serious.
She told me she’d been listening to a Cosmo Channel radio program where women were discussing the tastelessness of men going to nudie joints. One woman said men gazing lustfully on naked women who are not their wives demeans holy matrimony.
She was eager to hear my righteous affirmation and, boy, did I whiff on that one.
So now as an unintended consequence of her attempt to gauge my morality, I’ve spent the past 24 hours recalling all the naked pre-med students I used to ogle for two-drink minimums.
I wasn’t kidding either. I was never the hey-let’s-all-go-to-the-strip-club! guy. But every guy is friends with one of those guys. 
Truly, some men are indeed pigs. I can vouch for that because I’m good buddies with bunches of them.
We’d go to baseball games all summer and one of our friends didn’t think the night was complete unless we toddled into the notorious Edison Hotel, ironically, an establishment that is, well, cheek-to-cheek with Pittsburgh’s cultural district.
I’d go, but it was mostly boring. I understood most of the girls wouldn’t have been dancing naked if they could have earned as much money through other artistic endeavors that involved wearing things like smocks.
They treated us with a sweetness so mocking it felt like contempt.
In fact, I could recall during my trip down -- and this one’s unavoidable -- Mammary Lane just three strip club visits where I really enjoyed myself, and one of them involved one of the rare times when I was acting like a professional journalist.
The headliner was the fabulous Keisha. She was a famous porn star from the mid-90s.
I never saw a single film of hers, but I’ll bet I know more about her than her most ardent fan.
That’s because at the end of her show she grabbed a mic and opened up the floor to questions.
As always, I was with my buddy Paul, a fellow reporter. For some reason, we’d ended up on exact opposite sides of the stage from one another.
Without anyone knowing we were friends, we took turns asking questions. With her in her G-string, I guess you could say we were crack reporters.
I remember Keisha turning her head back and forth like she was watching a long tennis volley. And she answered every question.
What was her greatest role? “Pretty Peaches III”
What would she have been if she hadn’t gone into porn? “A veterinarian.”
How does she like to unwind after a hard day at work (the adjective was deliberate)? “Watch soap operas; ‘All My Children.’”
I’ll bet to this day when recalls her days of barnstorming the country without any clothes on she remembers Pittsburgh as a place where the men were polite and exceptionally curious. 
I recall having a really good time in a Myrtle Beach strip club once when I was an innocent and an older, more experienced friend took me to my first biker strip club, a place called “Smugglers.”
He was very savvy and he told the manager we were part of a scouting party for 50 rich, horny men and that if we didn’t have a good time we weren’t bringing any of them back.
He told one of the girls, “Here’s $20, now take my young friend here back and give him a lap dance. And if he doesn’t enjoy it, we’re not coming back.”
It was very cunning. I remember her grabbing me by the belt and dragging me back to a private room where I went to plop down on the nearest couch.
“Don’t sit there!” she scolded.
Why not?
“The boss might see us.”
Let me tell you, I’ve dated women for six months and not enjoyed the kind of ready intimacy she showered upon me for the next 15 minutes. I remember at once feeling pretty cheap and feeling pretty good.
That’s why I felt so bad that my friend lied to her. We never did go back to Smugglers. It’s a pity because I think Brittney and I could have lived happily ever after.
I say I wasn’t the guy who instigated the strip club visits, but my wife’s question had me recall the night the Edison Hotel, Pittsburgh’s most historic strip club, threw a party in my honor.
It’s true. It was the mid-1990s and I enjoyed a minor city celebrity due to my having been a staple on local morning radio for my swashbuckling work with National Enquirer.
Edison management heard me on the radio and said they wanted to have a private party in my honor, one that would be catered by the Edison chef.
How could I refuse? They sent me about 50 tickets to distribute to my friends. I was surprised to find I still have the souvenir (note the typo in dancer Jeanette “Litle” Dove’s name).
And it was great fun. We had the place all to ourselves. They gave us free drinks and the surgically-enhanced girls seemed relaxed and extra friendly.
But my most vivid memory of the night had nothing to do with nudity, but instead with dinner. As the party wore on, my guests began asking me about something to eat.
I asked the manager about the promised feast prepared by the Edison chef.
He pointed to a nearby folding table. On the table was a bowl of strawberries and a bowl of pretzels.
We wound up ordering pizza.
So I’m sure I’ll never go back to a strip club ever again because I now realize what an affront it would be to my marriage.
Plus, I’m convinced the more time men spend panting after fake boobs the more likely we are to behave in ways that convince others we’re real ones.


Patrick said...

Re: strip clubs…

You mean you've never driven down Rt. 22 - between New Alexandria and Delmont - to the finery that was/is the Climax Lounge?

You know…the joint that had a DRIVE THROUGH strip club?

We were keeping it classy in Westmoreland County….

Chris Rodell said...

Now what kind of strip club historian would I be if I'd never made it to the classic Climax? What a landmark. I never made it through the drive-thru -- thighs? breasts? -- but admired the entrepreneurial spirit of the owner.

Thanks, Patrick!

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