“Fuck me like a bitch in heat,” I repeated to Regan, barely controlling my giggles.
The incredibly leisurely drinking of coffee in my underwear is my most important morning ritual. One which my neighbour, on an agitated and peripatetic phone call that has ended in him mostly stationed outside my open living room window, is interfering with. I want to tell him normally this view would cost him 2 dollars for every three minutes but more than that I want him to find some place else for his noisy phone call.
Regan is out for a month adjusting to her boob job. She’s living her dream! Work is less hilarious and more tedious without her, and I have to find a new partner when I hustle bachelor parties and two girl dances. (On the bright side, when she’s back I think her boobs will be a big selling point with bachelors and birthday parties, so that’s something to look forward to.)
She went out in a blaze of glory, however, winning the honour of Most Dances Sold in June, I think with 189 dances (I had 130-something), and sharing the honour of Most Dances in a Single Night (29) with me.
The thing about having a lap dance partner in crime is that a lot of guys have a short attention span. They get three or six or nine dances from you, and then suddenly their attention wanders, and they want fresh meat. They say, “Later, give me 20 minutes,” and before you can win them back over someone in furry legwarmers is pulling them back into the lap dance room. Sometimes we can bounce the same guy back and forth, or, if the guy is really feeling wild, get a two girl show. That way we both win. And she’s a mildly judgmental prude like me, so the fake lesbian thing is (yessss) off the table. I don’t think Regan believed me that guys would just go for a two girl dance that wasn’t frisky until she actually saw me sell a few with Shawna and Autumn. She laughed her ass off the first time (so did Shawna and I. I laughed so hard I fell over the customer’s feet and went down in a graceless heap, while Shawna distracted him by shoving her boobs in his face) and told us “That was the worst dance I’ve ever seen.” But having performative cunnilingus happen in their lap isn’t every man’s dream. (thank god. Or I would be out of a job)
The last Friday in June I got out of the dance room and went to find my next customer. He looked uncomfortable, no, he did not want a dance any more. He bobbed his head awkwardly and I mentally cursed whoever got in there while I was busy. Fine, fine, I turned away from him and walked into a pudgy bespectacled man who said eagerly, “I want a dance!”
It was so ideal and soothing. I beamed at him and led him to my favourite booth.
Cut to 1.30 am and I’m exhausted but not about to stop. Regan and I have spent the whole night back and forth with that same guy, until a few songs ago, when he decided to simplify things and just get us both back there. Regan made me take off my shoes, which I don’t normally do, in case I stab her hand while clambering up the chair as we maneuver around each other. The guy is nice, but he talks a lot. And I’m getting so tired I’m not even sure what’s coming out of my mouth any more.
I purr into his ear. Regan, on his other ear, has to turn her head away for laughing. She just found out about this when I told her about Plaid Shirt Who Doesn’t Like Cats and she can’t believe that anything that cheesy has a success rate. Our current customer smiles, “Do that again!”
I can’t do it without laughing.
I’m Katniss, he comments, idealistic and brave, and Regan is someone more misanthropic, he names a character I’ve never heard of and thus can’t remember. He starts talking in a Pirates of the Caribbean/Jack Sparrow accent–my fault, for explaining my stupid Teenage Bad Judgment tattoo, which is ripped straight off Johnny Depp’s arm in that movie–and I take a break from dancing, sitting on the armrest and keeping up the patter while Regan takes over. He’s talking about string theory now and I move into his lap, thinking about how weird lap dance conversations always are. He seems to expect an answer.
“I don’t really do math,” I explain. “It’s part of why I’m a history major. Math makes me feel desperate and filled with despair.”
“It’s about black holes!” he said urgently. “Entire universes in black holes!”
“…like the final credits of Men in Black?” I look up from current position between his legs and try to avoid Regan’s ass.
“I love that movie!” Regan chimes in, climbing down.
“Yes!” he agreed, pleased. “Just like that!”
“Hmm, that sounds really interesting.”
He nods, and lapses back into Russian. He doesn’t actually speak Russian, it’s guidebook phrases–“I don’t know, I don’t understand, USSR”–I think stemming from my confession that I don’t speak it very well and request to practise. I haven’t commented on his very limited vocabulary.
“I may move here,” he says. “I want to settle down and get married.”
“We will marry you,” I offer magnanimously.
“We’ll be your sister wives.” Regan agrees.
We continue in this delirious fashion for an hour. At one point Regan makes me laugh so hard that I collapse on the edge of the seat. She’s making fun of one of my moves, a habit so ingrained that I don’t even notice I do it, like pinching my nipples.
“I’m going to pee!” I gasped. “Oh no, I’m going to pee!” This seems like a real and terrifying possibility, since I’m naked I will actually be peeing on our customer and it’s the danger of that that stalls me. Regan is merciless and keeps going, but I can keep my laughter in check. Guy seems amused and indulgent of the fact that he’s basically incidental to our own entertainment, the dance has stopped being even nominally for his benefit and is just the two of us cracking jokes over him, while we all laugh. I lean over him again while Regan kneels down and it’s in this pause that he decides to lick my nipple. My slap is instinctual, and immediately I’m horrified. We both apologize. Mine is less sincere than his, but I think of the hundreds he’s spent on me and the hundred’s more that I want and I accept his apology.
Regan’s looking up at me from his lap and I can feel her thinking “Don’t fuck this up.” I agree. It’s harsh because I want to hit him again, and harder, but there’s her money to consider too. And I don’t want to go back on the floor and hustle up someone else who might be even more difficult, for less money. I purr in his ear and we keep going until the bar closes.
At the end of the night when the bouncer is tallying up our dances I have 29, 20 of which came from that guy. Regan has 28.
“Just lie!” I said gleefully. “You’re so close! We did it together!”
“Really?” the bouncer looks baffled. “You want to get charged for a dance you didn’t do?”
“We want to be tied! We’re going to win!”
1-the club keeps track and posts on a monthly scoreboard, something I never used to pay attention to because I try to curb my competitive urges but what with our lapdance competition and all I started to pay attention, and winning is satisfying.
2-It’s so awkward having to pull the other girl aside to specify “No body fluids!” before a dance.
3-To be fair, we were trying to make it bad. Shawna in particular was having a terrible night and our revenge was selling a string of absolutely no-contact air dances under the guise of “A wild two-girl show”. The first target was a guy I gave a dance to earlier who wouldn’t stop trying to squeeze my ass, and the look of dawning disappointment on his face as he realized neither of us would come within a foot of him was the most delightful thing ever. Aside from him, however, no one seemed disappointed at all.
4-This one shares the title of Ultimate Gulag Tattoo with the one on my chest. I heard some Russians making fun of it and saying it looked like a prison tattoo last week.
5-He told me on my first dance with him at the start of the night that he just got back from St Petersburg.
“Govoritye po-russkii?” There’s nothing like practising my Russian to liven up a dance.
“I do!” he said. “And you do too?”
“Not very well.”
That was key. He started talking and at first I couldn’t make sense of it, and then I realised he was just saying guidebook phrases. “Nye znayu, nye ponimayu, s s s errr.” I had to smother a giggle.
6-It’s the same look she had while we were between dances with him and I got called to the stage and she was on standby. She glared at me. “Go get him! Make him come to the rack!”
I made a face at her. Peevishly:”I think he’s tired of me.” The night was too good, I didn’t want to ruin it by getting rejected. Sometimes I’m perverse.
“He has a black card!” she hissed at me even more urgently.
“Oh, all right.”
I waved him over and he sat down, and between the two of us we managed to keep him at the stage until Regan finished her set a song after me.
“Are you ready for more dances?”
Yes, he was.
I’m lazily battling through finals right now, with revisions on one paper, and another paper and presentation on queer Jews due Monday, as well as one shift tonight and three more interviews to bully people into in the next three days which really should have been done days if not weeks ago but you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get people to answer questions over email. Like, impossible. And I still have to figure out what to write about for Israel/Palestine but I have a week and a half on that one, so I’m not too worried.
Unlike class work has been a breeze for the past two weeks (I know, despite my dire declarations to the contrary. I’m always proven wrong by midnight.) both fun and profitable. And usually weird.
Last night I had a really sweet customer, but despite his sweetness I couldn’t shake the feeling he was going to try to eat me when my back was turned. I’m not being lewd here, I’m talking chewing-my-flesh-off-my-shoulders eat. Eventually he ran out of money and the feeling was too stressful to handle for free, so we parted ways. Maybe he’ll be back.
Tuesday Regan and I were in back playing games–if I’m giving you the idea that that’s all we do, I’m sorry. For a while there it was the most interesting thing to happen but that’s changed!–and one of the bouncers came back and whispered something in the bar backs ear.
“No!” he said, sounding scandalized.
Bouncer nodded grimly.
The bar back sighed, grabbed some paper towels, and walked out.
I looked at Regan, who had her eyebrows raised practically to her hairline.
“let’s go be nosy strippers,” she suggested.
We got out there and bouncer one is lecturing a sleazy looking bald man with a pointy soul patch. Boring.
The waitress appeared.
“and then I hear them snorting and I was just like, ‘you can’t do that!’ and I got the bouncer.”
“someone was doing blow,” Regan concluded.
“someone is always doing blow,” I answered. “I thought this would be more exciting!”
“well, then they left and I went in and they left it on the back of the toilet!” the waitress elaborated.
“I think it was because he was in such a hurry to get out.”
“wait, that guy?”
And then the story came out coherently. The bald man was making out with/having some kind of sexy time with a girl (not a dancer) in the women’s bathroom and cutting up lines when the waitress walked in and heard them.
“really? the women’s bathroom? come on! it’s not like the parking lot is far, or like people don’t make out in the actual club all the time!”
“and then when I yelled at them they ran out without their coke and I found it on the back of the toilet.”
The bouncer got done lecturing and kicked the guy out. His lady friend was already gone. Excitement over I wandered back to the dressing room to finish losing (badly) at word scramble.
Now I’m trying to work up the energy to take my computer in to the Mac store and get one of the books I need from the library. A few days after I got my new computer–the one i need to take in today–in March, a customer at work came up to me excitedly.
“I saw you at my work! You were buying a computer!”
Strippers. We exist in The Real World too! At the mall and everything! buying laptops!
“I wanted to say hi to you but it was too crowded!”
“um, I’m glad you didn’t because that would have been inappropriate. I just wanted to buy my computer.”
This was totally rude and alienating, apparently, and now, with the potential of having to deal with a wounded and sulky customer while just trying to get my laptop fixed, taking the damn thing in has reached the magnitude of an epic quest, something that will require fortitude and bravery and probably some makeup.
“Red, what was up with that guy?”
I look confused: so many guys, such a mystery what was up with any of them. Or any of us, really, who knows what kind of desperate tiny tragedies are happening and in the mean time making us all look insane.
I’m having that kind of month/year.
She clarifies. “that guy you were talking to at the end of the night last night. I cut him off; was he drunk or just nuts?”
Oh yes, I know exactly the guy she’s talking about. Him. I took a deep breath, and then reenacted the weirdest and most depressing interaction I’ve had in a while.
My last set of the previous night was at 1.40, I was pretty stoked to be able to leave so early but felt like I should hustle up one more dance. This guy at my rack on the second song told me I was beautiful, and I could tell I had him. My only other prospect was a married girl who was “here for her brother,” but actually wanted to pay me to make out with her. I thought about it, but didn’t know where to make it happen. She was totally cute, but I am a chaste, chaste maiden. I’m saving myself, I’ll know for what when I see it. So I have that and making out with some chick would just interfere. And she didn’t seem like she could afford the fifty I’d asked anyway.
This guy, who resembled Michael Pitt playing a hayseed in maybe an updating of The Grapes of Wrath, looked like a good prospect.
“You ready for a dance when I get off stage, cutie?”
“Can you… Can you give me a dirty dance?”
He stole the very line out of my mouth. I laughed. “totally!”
“I can’t tip you onstage if I get a dance,” he confessed.
Uh, let’s see. One more dollar over the cost of a lap dance. “totally fine,” I reassured him. I got through the next song, relieved that it had been so easy–no more striking out with endless bores, my quest for the night was done!–and took him by the hand as I left the stage. We got back to the dance room and sat down. I shoved my purse and top under the seat.
“Can you, can you show me your…you know.” he turned red. I felt like Hedwig about to give Michael Pitt a hand job; that corrupting.
“Uh, yes.” do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle. “yes, I can. And will.” I pushed him back and started to dance. But he wasn’t done.
“Can you–grind on me?”
Jesus Christ. “yes, I’m about to.” I sat in his lap with a thump and started moving.
Still not done. “I need to come. I really need to come. I’ve had a terrible day, I need you to grind on me til I come.”
“I’m going to grind on you, that’s what a lap dance is. But you paid for a song. And getting you off is not in my job description; I don’t deal with body fluids, that’s more than I get paid for, or you can afford.” I felt suddenly sad and sympathetic, but still totally unwilling to come into contact with any more biohazardous material than had already been smeared across the stage by my coworkers; they’d been on a rampage tonight; all the bachelor parties, maybe.
He looked hysterical. I kept on moving, careful and dreading an eventual spurt but it didn’t happen. Thank god. The song ended.
He clutched his money and begged for another song. It was too tiring to even argue. “I can’t do that. I don’t want to deal with it. I’m sorry. Maybe another girl.”
He stuck his chin out tragically. “My wife hates sex. I’m desperate. Can I sit and talk to you and look at your tits?”
Retrospectively I don’t know what possessed me, I think it was my old problem of curiosity taken to a terrible extreme.
“yeah, okay,” I said, feeling pity.
We sat and he told me his wife can’t have sex with him, he’s too big and hurts her. I thought about his lap and wondered if that was her thoughtful lie or his own ego filling in–it certainly wasn’t true.
It was a sad conversation and like something out of Dan Savage. I tried to offer advice, but I did what my friend Adrienne is always telling me not to do, which is offer solid direction (“therapy” in this case) and then look annoyed when my audience tells me flatly for whatever reason my good advice is just not possible. Apparently I’m a Capricorn.
“you’re helping me just by listening,” he told me, probably to shut me up, and asked, “would you have sex with me?”
I paused, not knowing how to couch the phrase “not in a million years, for so many reasons,” and he continued, “don’t think about it! Just answer!”
“Son, I don’t know you from Jesus.”
“you can’t have sex with Jesus though,” he said impatiently. “Jesus is holy.”
“he’s probably a tender lover?” I offered.
He looked appalled. Finally! “you’re a rotten girl,” he told me solemnly. I almost laughed, but he then ruined it by blurting, “I just need to –fuck your –pussy.” I could tell he was both thrilled at his daring and horrified at his own filthy language.
Oh, okay. okay. I pulled back but he held on to my hands. “Please! I just know you would like it! It would hurt you and you would love it!”
“that’s enough!” I said sharply. “call a phone sex line, I charge extra for dirty talk.” he clutched at my hand and pulled me in for a hug even as I tugged away. “it’s last call! I’m leaving! Goodbye!”
He held me tighter and tentatively tried to touch my ass; I took a deep breath but he finally let go, walking away before I had to scream for a bouncer.
The bartender listened in astonishment, while a waitress couldn’t get over the wife’s line about his dick being too big. She was actually slapping her thighs.
“so do you think he was crazy, or wasted?” the bartender asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “maybe he was just crazy Christian.”
They both nodded, like this made total sense.
I was sitting in the poker room, thawing out–it’s the warmest room in the club with the most comfortable chairs, I think to encourage customers to stay there indefinitely and gamble,though some people don’t even need to be in the room to pour hundreds of dollars into those stupid machines, but that’s a different story and I digress–and the doll-faced new redhead walked in.
She sat down and smiled at me. I smiled back and kept scrolling through tumblr, trolling for good book blogs. “My feet are killing me,” she said. “What a slow night. Sitting near you is like sitting near a mirror.” Before I could think of anything to say to that, or even smile again, she continued, “I think I have diarrhea.”
I turned a bark of laughter into a cough as the one customer in the room twitched but pretended he hadn’t heard. She kept going. “I think it was something I ate.”
“I think I’m up next!” I rose, smiled apologetically at her, ran.
Later she found me again.
“Can I take a picture of you?” Without waiting she raised her phone. “My friend is just so mad that there’s another redhead! And you have the name I wanted! He’s like, ‘Who is this other Red?’ and I was all, ‘No she’s pretty’ and now he wants to see you!”
I ducked behind my book. “Um, I really don’t want to–”
“Aw come on!” She kept pointing the phone at me as I cringed behind my not-nearly-big-enough book. “Got you!” I flinched. She displayed the screen proudly and I saw a red blob next to a blurry The Ladies: Female Patronage and Restoration Drama. She looked at the picture and frowned. “Can I get your face, it’s not really in the picture.”
Horrified. “Um, no.”
She pouted, but finally left.