It’s a rite of passage for males that is not always strictly voluntary, and not always a positive experience. New in the big city, ANDREW JOHNSTONE gets dragged along to a strip club.
So far I had managed to politely wangle my way out of every social invitation that first week on the job, but it was Friday and my new boss was insistent. “I can’t afford it,” I said meekly. “You have already used that one,” he shot back. “And I am paying so come on, the Uber is waiting downstairs and we gotta go”.
Uber? What’s that? I was only just up from a small provincial town and still adjusting to the ways of the big city. Turns out Uber was a car with a driver, like a taxi. “Where are we going?” I ask the boss. “You’ll see,” he grins. Ten minutes later the car pulls up outside a strip club. I had never been to a strip club and wasn’t about to start. Or so I imagined.
“It looks a bit flash and there is no way they are going to let me in,” I say, indicating my jeans with holes in the knees. “Ah, but I have this, ” he says, waving a wad of cash at me. “Opens every door every time.” And sure enough the blank stare on the huge Polynesian guy guarding the door quickly turns into a beatific smile at the sight, and he waves us in. Damn.
Dimly lit, red velvet, cut glass mirrors and shimmering gold. Then there is the stage and the silver poles and a guy staring at a naked dancer the way a biologist might stare at a rare specimen. It’s a lot to take in at a glance and feeling nervous, I turn my attention toward the action at the bar.
“Four tequila shots,” thunders the boss at the young woman making the drinks. I wonder if we’re expecting guests as the shots appear before us. He pushes two at me and watches to see that I knock them back before ordering the beers. “Two beers…no, make that four beers.” So, that’s how it was going to go down tonight.
The alcohol tickles my senses, making everything shimmer more brightly. The young woman serving behind the bar has a thick Italian accent and the kind of dusky Romanesque features I have long considered the epitome of female beauty. I could have happily sat back and watched her do her thing all night long, but just then an arm falls about my waist. I had not been touched by another body for sometime, and the sensation causes me to start. “Relax,” whispers an accent that turns out to be Hungarian; Budapest to be precise. She is tall, very tall; I am tall, very tall, and she is looking me directly in the eye.
“Do you know so-and-so?” I ask blurting out the name of a friend from the same city. Her response is to ask if I want to go upstairs. I follow her eyes toward a stairwell off to the side. “She wants to know if you would like a fuck,” whispers the boss into my ear, pressing something into my left hand. “It’s strip club currency,” he whispers, and then in a voice that is now no longer a whisper says: “To pay for it.” “No!” I blurt out at him, and at her, and just like that she is gone, and for the first time I see her in perspective as she hones in on another man who is not tall at all.
The thong about her waist is but a suggestion, and I tick off every question I might ever have about what a very tall women might look like naked. It’s all very positive. Two more tequilas appear in front of me. “From your friend,” says the Italian girl, indicating that I might tip her with the strip club cash if I so desire. I desire, and she smiles beatifically.
The boss is nowhere to be seen and with the alcohol fuelling my confidence, I sit down and consider the naked young women swinging about the poles. “We have to wipe them down a lot,” says a voice off to the side. “With all that pussy action they start smelling a little ripe after a time.” The speaker is a smartly dressed young woman with a tray. “Can I get you another drink?” I pass her some currency and she returns with another beer. That she is world-weary is obvious and I ask her to sit and talk. She sits and talks.
She is half-Maori and half-Portuguese, which explains her exotic looks. She is also a student and appreciates the money if not the clientele. We are watching two well-dressed business types rubbing their crotches as they watch the girls polish the silver. “Welcome to my world.” Her grimace says it all.
I ask her if she dances and she says yes but tonight she’s on the bar. We chat a while longer and she unloads a bit, then touching my arm asks me to stay put before rushing off backstage. A while later she walks onstage and does a strip routine and some pole dancing. She knows her stuff. Later she reappears and asks me if I enjoyed it. I shove the wad of ‘strip cash’ at her but she politely demurs, pushing it back with a blush. “I have to go,” she says. “Study then sleep”. Then she says: “Thanks for listening.” It is my turn to blush.
Later, a kid of no more than 18 and wearing something akin to bare flesh eyes up the ‘strip cash’ and asks me if I would like a lap dance. I say no and she takes this as a challenge, and offers to throw in something extra. I ask her where she is from. “Guess,” she says and I guess Rotorua. “How did you know that?” she laughs. “Your accent,” I reply. She gives up with the lap dance thing and I give her some currency regardless. She gets me a beer. “On the house,” she winks.
The boss reappears and I tell him I have had enough and say I am off home, but he is not listening. The girl from Rotorua has caught his attention.