Archive | February, 2010

Lies

11 Feb

After my second week of dancing, I invested in lucite platforms.  I had been wearing a pair of Steve Maddens to work that, with a substantial platform and five-inch heel, might as well have been stripper shoes.  But I craved a deeper separation between my “real” life and my secret, double one.  It was the only way I could do this and still retain my sanity.  Outside of the club, I wore cotton panties and attended church on Sundays (and tithed $20s men had stuffed in my thong).  Bona fide stripper heels were a pivotal part of the equation.

I found the perfect pair in a sex shop on Christopher Street: every time I took a step, the bases flashed with red light.  “Oh, hell yes,” I told the sales associate after I tried them on.  “I’ll take them.”

“Do you dance?” she asked.

I nodded sheepishly.

“You have a beautiful body,” she murmured approvingly.  I was wearing a short dress, and I noticed with satisfaction the way the six-inch heels strained the muscles in my calves.  I tried to imagine the complete picture, with my face – which, at the moment, was devoid of make-up – painted and my hair – currently scraped back into a ponytail – blown out, teased.

The sales associate was smiling; she must have been able to see it.  “You’re gonna make a lot of money in those shoes.”

* * *

As she had promised, my new shoes made me very popular, both with customers and with the other girls. Men compared them to LA Gears, and I got used to hearing (and laughing uproariously at) the joke, “I had those shoes when I was in grade school!” several times a night. My new shoes were also just ridiculous enough to wink at the ludicrousness of my being an exotic dancer – although I seemed to be the only one who truly grasped the farcical aspect of what I was doing. Every time I worked, I half expected for my sexual inexperience to somehow be discovered and to be thrown out of the club.

“I can ask you at these sorts of places what you’re into – sexually, I mean,” an old man said to me once. He had one of those faces that had probably once been ruggedly handsome but over the past few decades had collapsed in on itself in all the wrong places. His skin was tan and leathery, and coarse gray hair sprouted from his nose and ears, but his eyes – dark brown and parenthesized by deep crinkles – retained a boyishly rogue gleam.

“I like to be fucked doggy-style,” I said matter-of-factly. I took a long sip of wine, allowing the lie I had just confessed – and the straightforward manner in which I had confessed it – to sink in.

The old man grinned, waiting for me to continue.

“I’m also bisexual.” Another lie – but this one, at least, contained a kernel of truth. I had, like most girls, experimented some in college and indulged in a few girl-on-girl make-out sessions, so as usual I embellished my past: “I dated a girl once. She’s gorgeous – half Japanese. I love Asian women. It didn’t work out, but we’re still friends.”

Later, when I danced for him, he refrained from touching me, except to pull back my panties just enough to garner a peek at my (mercifully just-shaved) vagina. It felt like a violation of my privacy – having spent the past few months writhing on men wearing nothing but barely-there underwear, my vagina was literally the only part of my body that had remained uncorrupted by what my college professors would have called the male gaze. I was about to protest when he let go, playfully allowing the band of my panties to snap at my smooth, 22-year-old skin. He smiled at me impishly, and I thought, “Fuck it. At this point, does it even matter?”

Advertisements

Married Men

7 Feb

Most men who visit strip clubs are not monsters.

No, the vast majority of strip club patrons are relatively nice, normal men.  Many of them, as one can probably imagine, are older, married, and looking to inject a bit of variety into their lives (if only for a couple hours) in a manner devoid of any consequences.

“So, do your wives know you’re here?” I once flirtatiously asked a group of men who had visited my club a handful of times.  An identical, nondescript gold band encircled each one’s ring finger.

“Yes, they know we come here,” one of them answered.

“But…” another added, “they don’t have the most accurate idea of what goes on here.”

“What do you mean?”

His arm had been draped around my shoulder, and he loosened his hold on me.  “Stand up,” he instructed.  I complied.  “Now take three steps back.  Okay.  Now dance.”

I moved my hips from side to side for a few moments.  Then I nodded; I understood.

That’s what our wives think a lap dance is.”

Another customer, a “regular” of mine, seemed genuinely satisfied by his home life.  He and his wife were still happy together, he insisted.  The sex was still frequent and fulfilling.  He had two children, including a daughter who was my age.

His wife didn’t know that he frequented my club, that he came in nearly every week to feed me Jack-and-Cokes, flirt with me for a few hours, and give me a couple hundred dollars to take off my clothes.  He told her he was working late.  Or getting a drink with an old friend who was only in the city for the night.  Or at happy hour with colleagues.  It became an inside joke between us: “So, where did you tell your wife you are tonight?”

Once, he asked me whether I could see myself, in the indeterminate future, allowing my own husband to visit a strip club.  I was sitting on his lap, my small frame slightly contorting itself to accommodate the orb of his stomach, his round thighs.  His thick eyebrows knitted together, and I knew that his question had more to do with him – and his real marriage – than with me and my hypothetical one.

I placed my tiny, manicured hand on his larger, calloused one.  “Honestly?  I think your wife would much prefer you hang out here with me – with a nice, clean girl – for a few hours than be unfaithful to her.”

He nodded.  “Yeah.  You’re right.”

I realized immediately after I had spoken these words of assurance that I had needed to hear them as much as my regular did.  It was difficult not to feel a tinge of guilt when married customers admitted that their wives had little – or no – idea what kind of after-work entertainment their husbands were indulging in.  And later, when I was naked, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they still looked at their wives – their bodies ravaged by childbirth, nursing, and aging, I imagined – the way they were looking at me.

I knew I was probably overanalyzing things (as was often my tendency).  I am sure that most of the married men I danced for were still happy and in love with their wives, as my regular had claimed he was.  Most were probably satisfied with their home lives.  The few hours they spent with me each week couldn’t possibly have a negative effect on their decades-long marriages; and if I actually were promoting monogamy, all the better.

And anyway, the guilt was nothing a few vodka-cranberries couldn’t stifle.