I’m not a fan of strip clubs. The places called “XXX” and “Exotic Dancer” in Hollywood and near Los Angeles International Airport are dark holes, reeking of desperation. There are a few bachelor parties that wander in on Friday nights, but for the most part, the clientele consists of socially awkward men. In fact, the LAX clubs do a nice business thanks to the lunch breaks of engineers in El Segundo’s aerospace/ defense companies. (Gotta wonder who signs off on THOSE security clearances.) These furtive, desperate men trade money to look at the naked female bodies. The naked women are often equally desperate, driven from homes where they were molested or sexually assaulted. Many are convinced their only worth lies in their bodies.
I get the same desperate vibe from Las Vegas Casinos. I like casinos as much as I like strip clubs.
And while my depressing back story for strippers isn’t always true, I‘ve never seen a cheerful, brightly lit strip club. You know there are rats and cockroaches lurking everywhere. Especially in the seats up front.
For my bachelorette party, I envisioned a night out dancing, perhaps at a big country-western bar. My friend JM was in charge, and she was an amazing line dancer — complete with boots and hat. Every Saturday night that JM and I went country-western dancing, we saw a bride-to-be with a white veil, partying with her posse. The bachelorette always had a partner, a drink, and a great time. I envisioned the same evening for myself, minus all the shots of tequila.
Since JM was swamped at work, my friend EO offered to plan the party. JM told her to go for it. They decided to keep the details a “surprise” from the bachelorette, probably because they knew this particular bachelorette would balk.
They put me in a car, blindfolded me, and let me out at a male strip club called The Hollywood Men. Just like I never wanted. But the tickets were bought, the veil was on my head, and my friends were super excited. So I fixed a smile over my gritted teeth and went along for the ride.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought. The club was windowless, yes, but it wasn’t like regular strip clubs, which are cloaked in the same darkness as decrepit movie palaces filled with masturbating men in trench coats. This club was dark in the way of a Broadway theater: large, roomy, and finished with a stage and curtains. The atmosphere was anticipatory, rather than ashamed — it was like a One Direction concert, just minutes before the band takes the stage. An audience of young women waited for their chance to scream until your eardrums popped.
And scream they did, the second the men took the stage. Fireman #1 & Fireman #2 stripped down past their suspenders while rescuing a salivating woman on a stretcher. Mr. Policeman took a delighted audience member into custody. And Mr. Vampire? Well, he was a Robert Pattison lookalike in the face, but his bod put Pattison’s to shame. He stuck the girl sitting next to us in a coffin for his act and gyrated all over her. Her reaction when she left the stage? “OMG! He picked me! I DIED!”
How appropriate, given the whole coffin thing.
There was a group dance where the men stripped all the way down for one lucky (?) lady.
This was followed by a fake orgasm contest for two audience members, probably to give the guys time to rest. They picked the two bachelorettes in attendance. I got up on stage and did my best homage to Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. I won. Of course.
Actually, I probably won because as soon as my competitor finished, I was nice enough to grab the mike and yell, “She sounds more like she’s having a baby than an orgasm!” (I make no apologies. It was true. Also, I hate to lose anything, even a ridiculous contest held in a place I never wanted to be. Yeah, I have more issues than most people. Don’t think so? Let’s compare, and I will crush you… But back to my post.)
My snark netted me photo-op with all the guys on stage. Which I didn’t want, and couldn’t take seriously. In my photo, I’m sitting on the lap of Fireman #1, surrounded by hunky, nearly naked guys with smoldering eyes.
My fingers are making bunny ears over Fireman #1’s head.
At the end of the show, the performers came out into the audience and lap danced for money. I did not want a lap dance. My friends waved a ridiculous number of bills over my head.
Fireman#2, dripping oil, straddled me and my chair. The MC reminded us sternly that we weren’t allowed to touch the dancers.
“No problem!” I yelled, clutching both hands together behind the chair. Oil is a bitch to get out of cloth. I wished I’d put some napkins on my lap.
The dancers, on the other hand, could do whatever they wanted to the women. I got my head tipped back by my hair, which I guess made a sexier picture and threw the rest of the women into a frenzy.
While Fireman #2 oiled my lap with his butt, he asked all kinds of friendly questions: “So, when are you getting married?”
Me: “Next week.
Fireman#2: “Oh, where’s the wedding?”
Me: “New Hampshire.”
Fireman #2 gave a last body roll before moving on: “New England in the fall! Gorgeous!”
Me: “JM, stop waving money!”
JM: “No way! Mr. Cop! OVER HERE!”
Me: “Then at least give me your drink napkins!”
Too late. Mr. Policeman was already on my lap. In a thong. With a holster. Both were also covered in oil.
Mr. Policeman thrust his pelvis way too close to my face. I recoiled.
Mr. Policeman: “You might wanna tip your head back.”
I looked at the ceiling. Mr. Policeman thrust away and asked, “So, what does your dress look like?”
Me: “Old-fashioned, with a lace up back.”
Mr. Policeman: “Oooo, a corset! Nice!”
Next up was Mr. Vampire. A thong, and a cape. I said an advanced farewell to my my jeans and looked up at the ceiling.
Mr. Vampire tipped my head back toward his. “No, you must look deep into my eyes…”
I raised an eyebrow and gave him a look.
Mr. Vampire: “Never mind, tip that head back, honey.”
I laughed and obliged.
Mr. Vampire slithered around my lap and whispered, “So what’s the lucky guy like?”
Me: “He can cook, he can dance, and he’s Chinese-American.”
Mr. Vampire: “Lucky you! Those Asians have the best skin!”
Mr. Vampire covered me in his cape, pretended to bite my neck, and went off to titillate the other bachelorette. I snatched all the singles out of my friends’ hands and told them I didn’t want any more lap dances.
OE pouted: “Aw, why not?!”
Me: “It’s just not my thing.”
JM: “But you guys looked like you were having so much fun, whispering and laughing!”
Me: “Oohhhh, I’m pretty sure this isn’t exactly their thing, either. Though they are excellent actors.”
If the club wanted their name to be accurate, it would be called WEST* Hollywood Men.
*West Hollywood is a very loud, proud, and gay community in Los Angeles.