September 05, 2007

From the Past: French-Canadian Male Strippers '98

As I flip through my old journals and discs, I figured maybe I'd post some of the mosre amusing--and, more importantly, already inputted into a computer--stuff. Here's a piece I wrote, oh, almost 10 years ago about the now-defunct Gaiety Burlesque. I was trying to get a job at the New York Press and this effort got me a trip into the editors to be damned with faint praise and called "kind of old." I wasn't yet 28 at the time. And both of them were well past 40. But, shit, if I needed other people's approval or appreciation to keep me alive, I'd have died back during the Reagan administration. Your hate makes me strong. One day, hopefully it will make me strong enough to kill....

Since I don't want to provoke any police orders and padlocks, I won't reveal exactly where I dragged my friend Charlie Brown on his birthday. Charlie had made it to his 28th year of being alive and his fourth being out without going to a proper strip joint--a professional place staffed by professional people, not the back room at the Cock or the lavatory at the Boiler Room. So, after hearty amounts of barbecue and brown liquor, Charlie, his boyfriend Linus, two girlfriends—Baby Girl and Lula--and myself tilted across Times Square just in time for the last "show."

Over the HoJo's, up the narrow staircase, slide 10 bucks to the disinterested hag behind the bulletproof glass, and slip through the turnstile into a dingy room with a dozen rows of soiled theater seats facing a small, sticky stage ringed with shredded silver tinsel and signs reading "NO SEXUAL ACTIVITY PERMITTED BY ORDER OF THE POLICE." I never tire of trying to figure out how to steal one of these for my bedroom. Charlie Brown and Linus alone would've stood out in this crowd of dumpy, middle-aged gay men, but three chicks decked out in leopard print, cowboy hats, and midriff tops were about as conspicuous as IRS agents at a Willie Nelson gig, and about as welcome...

Procedure: the stripper comes out, parades around, doffs his shirt and flirts with his fly, then goes backstage to fluff before returning full-frontally nude. Tips and applause are directly proportional to the angle of the hard-on. If you get bored--for me, the thrill usually wears off around the third or fourth penis unless something remarkable pops up--you can always bring a watch with a second hand and time how long it takes Tommy or Rico or Schuyler to get the little soldier to salute.

Since it's a weekday, there isn't the usual something-for-everybody selection--just a succession of buff, body-waxed, wholesome-looking white guys. Baby Girl is disappointed there aren't any brothers "or at least Puerto Ricans," I'm disappointed there aren't any skinny, tattooed boys. A cute, smiley blonde guy makes amusing little sound effects while he strokes his cock. Linus declares him "fabulous" and decides he must go up front with the most aggressively dirty old men and tip him. Lula strikes a blow for women's rights that would shame Susan B. Anthony (in more ways than one) and joins Linus. A tall, military-looking crew cut guy seems shy on his semi-clothed run, but returns with an aura of confidence and a dick big enough to make even this crowd of jaded old queens gasp. Baby Girl and Lula somehow hear the call of nature over the Top 40 soundtrack and go look for the ladies' room. I sincerely wish them luck. A very tall, chiseled model-type shrugs and grins charmingly when he doesn't come out quite as solid as hoped.

I go back to see what's become of them and literally bump into the tall stripper as he comes offstage. "Hey! It's a another one!"

"Uh, yeah. Where are the girls?" He laughs, points to a bench half-behind a partition, where Baby Girl and Lula are chatting with the funny-noise guy. His name's Marcus, he's from Canada. Just as I sit down, an attendant sidles up: "I'm sorry, but could you ladies to go back into the theater? Some of the customers feel uncomfortable going into the bathroom with women outside." I'll bet they do, friend, I'll bet they do. We obey, giggling and getting dirty looks.

After two more hustlers, the house lights blaze up and a disembodied voice urges us to get out but come again. As we file out the door, Marcus stops us---"Hey! Aren't we going to hang out?"

He corrals the tall stripper, Erick, and another one, Jean. He wants to stop by their hotel to shower, so eight of us pack into his tiny hotel room over at the Milford Plaza--Or was it the Comfort Inn?--channel-surfing cable, flipping though porno and monster truck magazines. Erick announces, "You girls cost me money! I can never get it up enough when there's women out front."

"They tell you when there's girls?"

"Yeah, the guy came back and said, 'Hey, there's girls out there.' And we're like 'Are they nice?' And he says 'Yeah, they're cute, I think they're strippers.' Hey, are you?"

We laugh that one off. He shrugs and rifles through Marcus' luggage, yanks out a studded leather harness. "What's this?"

Marcus, shaving with a towel around his waist, like some kind of studly shaving cream ad, answers him in French, the secret stripper language. Erick gives the item another suspicious glance before tossing it aside to look for something else incriminating. Strangely, I'm not turned on by any of this—granted, I've never been into musclemen, but once you know that a guy waxes his asshole, somehow he's just not sexy anymore.

Charlie Brown dispassionately flips through a porno mag--male/female S&M, hence nothing that would interest him much. "I'm tired."

"What d'you mean, you're tired? You're in a hotel room full of strippers! Don't I show you a good time?"

"I had to work late."

So where to take a bunch of French-Canadian strippers on a Tuesday night in New York City? Linus suggests Beige, but they just came from a roomful of horny old men. Baby Girl half-jokingly suggests we take them to Max Fish, an idea that proves too weird to resist. After our Fellini-esque entrance—much to my delight, it is witnessed by my arch-rival for the affections of a certain skinny, tattooed boy, but that is another story for another time--I go fetch the drinks, since Adam-the-bartender looks like he's waiting for an explanation. He doesn't know how to make the requested Blowjobs or Screaming Orgasm shots (I guess the boys forgot they're off the clock.), so we settle on Kamikazes, the first of about eight rounds of Kamikazes. The boys pay for everything—-each one delving into a fanny pack with a roll of bills that would impress Puff Daddy--and they never tip less than $20.

Besides the free cocktails, we also get to hear all the dirt: They come to the city, work two weeks, and go home with about $12,000. Most of the take comes from working after-hours-—they all stay nearby so they can take clients back to their rooms. They don't have sex, though, as we will be reminded repeatedly throughout the evening. Jerking off, receiving blow jobs, even the Japanese businessman who once paid Jean $1,200 just to sleep over, that's fine. But no sex. Really. And they're all just 24, which has the girls chopping down their ages—even I hack off a year and go for 26, while Baby Girl claims a (patently unbelievable) 23.

Charlie Brown leans on my shoulder. "I'm tired."

"Strippers are buying you drinks. Strippers are paying for the privilege of your company--"

"They're paying for the privilege of your company."

"Still, don't I show you a good time?"

Charlie Brown departs shortly thereafter and, in a touching act of devotion, Linus leaves too. The boys continue regaling us with details. They all have girlfriends and lofts up north, and remind us yet again that they're not gay. They talk about what magazines they use for backstage stimulus and how they choose their own music--you mean Air Supply actually helps you get it up!? They keep flexing their muscles and asking us to touch them. Marcus thrusts a bicep in Baby Girl's face. "How does that feel? Do you like it?"

"Oh, I—"

Suddenly he stops and grimaces. "Damn, I just pulled a hamstring."

Lula, meanwhile, is in deep tete-a-tete with Erick, who looks like he's willing to give her a free sample. He tells her about the fiancee he recently broke off with. He also shows her his "list" of clients he has to make time for when he came to town. These guys are where the real goods come from: big money, a lot of four-star trips to the Caribbean, a condo--he tried to get one to give him a Maseratti, but had to settle for a jeep. Pauvre, pauvre vous. Jean and I decide to play pinball, he hands me $20 to get change for $2. I offer him the remaining $18, but he says to leave it. Adam waves it away "I don't take tips for making change."

Back to Jean. "He doesn't want it."

"Well, you take it."

I think for a moment, but I'm not (particularly) poor right now and they're nice guys. "Nah, you take it. Use it for tips later." He reluctantly stuffs it back in with the other $800.

At about 3:30, even I'm feeling fatigued and we bid protracted farewell to our new friends, who implore us to come back and visit. "We'll pay for you to get in! We'll go to clubs afterward!" Somehow, we don't make it before their two weeks are up and they take their 12 grand back to the Great White North. They next time I walk into Max, Adam shakes his head. "After you left those guys, we couldn't get them or any of the women out at last call. They offered us $1,000 to keep the place open another hour, but I wanted to go home. They threw down over $200 in tips." And he's complaining? I swear, between him and Charlie Brown, no one appreciates sex or money or anything I do for them....

Posted by lissa at September 5, 2007 04:14 PM