“Hi! I’m Red, how’s your night going?”
“Good. My name is Larry.”
“Larry! That’s what my ex used to call his cold sores, ‘can’t make out, Larry’s in town.'”
We look at each other silently for a second, processing the fact that of all the things I could have said, that was what I decided on.
“So… Are you ready for a lapdance?”


No panties


Ivan and Natasha expressed interest in a couple’s dance, and despite my very best intentions I find the lure of a fast 80 dollars difficult to walk away from.  I already knew Natasha wasn’t wearing underwear because at the rack she’d lifted her dress to show everyone.  Forewarned is forearmed, I planned to be getting paid up front and then not go anywhere near her.  In the meantime, we had to find some common ground.

“So… do you speak Russian?” I’m obsessive, it can’t be helped.

“No,” Ivan laughed.  “We’re third generation.  My grandfather was involved in the plot to kill Rasputin and fled Russia.”

It shouldn’t–but still does–surprise me how many people tell me that[1].


“Yeah, he wrote a book about it.  I’ve been thinking about digitizing it.”

“Oh you should! Seriously!  If you do, email me!”

He blinked and looked surprised at the enthusiasm.  “Sure… do you want my email?”

“Oh yeah!  I’d love to read it!”

Somehow from there it came up that Natasha wants to get on stage.  This I had already deduced from her pantyless state.  Female customers. They took “No Panties” as a divine revelation without stopping to listen to the rest of the lyrics.  What the hell.

“She can come onstage,” I offered, hoping to seal the deal on the couple’s dance after I got offstage. Sometimes–very rarely–I haul a customer onstage, leaving the burden of entertaining customers to the starry-eyed amateur while I sit back, laugh, and hustle dances off the rack. I do this rarely because  while it in theory works, in practise they tend to flail around, humping the pole like dogs and it’s awkward and embarrassing and once I got kicked in the head.  A relaxing set it is not.

Almost immediately I regretted it.  Sparky, up before me, is a big fan of taking girls onstage so I gave her a heads up.  Natasha could play with Sparky and get it out of her system before I got there. It almost seemed like it would work, too.  She got off before I got on, but remained in her chair at the rack, buck ass naked, and only waited a beat before clambering back up.  I expected her to go for the pole the way most girl customers do, clinging to it and humping it while I continue to move around them, but she threw me for a loop by frog-hopping her naked ass up to me and trying to rub it all over me.

I tried not to visibly cringe and moved away from her, and that set off 3 minutes of hell, as she hop-chased me ass first around the stage while I gave up on looking graceful and settled for scrambling away from her as fast as possible, trying not to let her vagina or ass touch any part of me.  I tried to incorporate her into a normal, contactless two-girl routine, thinking as she latched on to the pole that it worked, but I congratulated myself too soon.  Somehow she’d launched her crotch at me, wrapping her legs around my waist and doing a full on Gnomey from Showgirls dolphin sex flail,  before doing an odd back bend and somersault off me as I clung to the pole, weighing the equally undesirable options of holding still while her vagina made contact with the crawling flesh of my hip, or choosing death over dishonour and letting us both fall off the stage.  The thought that my father would surely find out how I died and never forgive me decided me: I held on, promising to autoclave myself after I got done.

She picked herself up from the somersault and recommenced frog hopping around the stage with her ass in the air, a grin of manic delight on her face.  It was like being chased by an anthropomorphized biohazard box.

(I swear)

Finally the song ended, and Ivan, smiling and nodding approvingly at the rack this whole time, helped Natasha down.


1-No matter when they left Russia, dedushka is always involved in some plot to assassinate Rasputin, or the tsar, or both. Or they otherwise try to school me on topics they know nothing about. Later in the night, giving a lapdance to a different guy, he asked me what the text was on my shoulder. There should be a rule against asking about tattoos, there really should.  Especially for people who are unwilling to take a simple answer and want to argue about it.

“It’s a verse from a Russian poem.”

“Oh yeah?  Who?”


“Oh, him.  Have you heard of his contemporary, Mayakovsky?”

I’m tired and willing to give this the benefit of the doubt, even though the only Mayakovsky I know of is a full century later. “I haven’t, his contemporary?”

“Yeah, massively influential during the revolution.”

“Oh, right.”

We didn’t bond any further, mostly because he was an idiot who’d come to the strip club looking for a budget submissive to boss.  “Now pinch your nipples, hard,” he instructed me, and I couldn’t help laughing, comparing him to Hundred Dollar Dave. He tensed, and I knew it wasn’t going to work out.

“It’s Versayss”: stripper malapropisms, awkward situations, lap dances and leisure reading. A thorough update. Ish.

I’m trying to hustle some older business men, the kind of guys’ whose track-lighting condos or boats I would party at when I was 19 and 20 but I’ve since lost the knack of squeezing any profit out of them at all. Come to think of it, even then mostly what I got from them was free alcohol and drugs. But I’m hitting everyone up, I have goals, man, including not letting Great Lakes entirely ruin my life with their refusal to allow me to pay the principle first. &c&c&c.
“So…” I whisper, trailing my fingers down my main target’s arm, “are you ready for a really good lap dance?”
“Maybe, maybe!” he says genially. “I don’t know, what’s in it for me?”
I hate cleversticks. Don’t try to be clever, it’s a waste of my time and your breath. Before I can do anything but not say this he tilts his head.
“I tell you what!”
A challenge is coming, I can tell. Something like, “if you name the team whose logo is on my friend’s hat, I’ll get a lapdance.[1]
“Tell me who sings this song.”
In my head I groan and hit him with my purse. Outwardly I tilt my head, listen. Cringe, groan again as the ubiquitous tinkling notes register. I try to think back to the one time outside the club I ever heard it, during a YouTube theater marathon with the ex.

Over the winter I hung out with my ex some. We’d reunite the pets, eat, watch tv.[2] I was gearing up to go one night when X asked me if I’d heard a song. I didn’t think so, so of course we had to watch the video. Like everyone else I found myself caught on his teeth and not wanting to stare at his face and then inexpressibly annoyed. I recognised the music from the club, where it was inevitably muddied with dubstep, but I never listened to the lyrics before; like every other motherfucker I recognized the sentiment from agonized therapy sessions, sleepless nights and overrelating to Nabokov’s explorations of the inability to return to a past, one that you maybe can no longer relate to or even recognize.

Somebody…” he wailed. I couldn’t tell what my reaction was supposed to be, it was too much like a sitcom, sitting there awkwardly listening to this naked guy painted in earth tones wail about his relationship pain. it was like getting Punk’d. “Ashton, are you there?
“I hate it?” I offered. “He sounds like a total dick.” Like of course she would change her number. Clearly. I knew which part of the equation I was overidentifying with, but didn’t really want to explore our respective reactions any further.
“Well, she gets her say,” I was told. Great.

The guy is waiting and I finally dredge up a memory of the name next to the song title on the YouTube page.
“Gotya!” I say, feigning an enthusiasm that this whole interaction has really drained.
He looks puzzled and then amused. “Got-ya?” he repeats. “It’s Gau-tee-ay!”
I love when life mirrors art (or in this case, bad nineties movies about strippers). Just like that, the whole interaction was redeemed; like Gnomey in Showgirls, I got schooled.
“It’s Versays!” I told him cheerfully, and patted his shoulder. “I’ll be back to check on you later.”

Of course I never returned to him, but I did have a good cackle to myself throughout the night, retelling it to my friends but slurring my accent harder so it came out “Gotcha!”

My class on Zionism in the first half of the 20th century got cancelled, leaving me adrift for the past week and anxious about my reception when (if) I ask the Beautiful Professor for a letter of recommendation. That was my last chance to prove myself and redeem my spring term sloppiness. To ease the anxiety I’m working as much as possible and ploughing through Nabokov: The Russian Years.

Currently reading this: http://entertainment.time.com/2012/07/25/i-hate-this-book-so-much-a-meditation/ –apparently Grossman has a weekly column which just made my life, texting pictures of cute animals, and eating dark chocolate sea salted caramels–which the local grocery store has just started carrying in bulk–in bed before work.
For you:



1-That’s a real quote.

2- Mystifying and mildly awkward and something which my friends would (and still do) badger me about. I’d try to explain but lapse into quoting Some Like It Hot, knocking on my head and excusing myself by being “not very bright.” Something about invoking Marilyn Monroe in a grand tradition of bad feminine relationship judgment was inexplicably soothing. They’d shake their heads.