For my 21st birthday, my friends got me a stripper. Prior to the occasion, I would’ve said celebrating such a milestone with a male stripper would be amazing, at the very least, amusing. Afterwards, my girlfriends and I made a solemn vow to never, ever, hire a male stripper, not even as revenge.
Last week, I went to strip club for the first time. I was properly buzzed for the experience and still completely unprepared.
I am open-minded about most things, sex in particular, but the truth is I can be prudish. I love the human body. I think nudity is freeing. At a distance.
I guess I imagined there would be a fog machine and a disco ball. Or strobe lights. It would be packed with all kinds of people, men and women of all types. And women would be sauntering around and I would saunter around, too, I don’t know why.
Have you ever been so drunk that you begin to see yourself as if watching from outside your body? This happens to me on rare occasions, like on my 21st birthday when the male stripper picked me up and grinded against me. Wow. Look at that girl.
It was Monday. First mistake of a first-time strip cub attendee. And beautiful outside. Second mistake in Portland. No one is INSIDE when it’s nice OUTSIDE. TJ and I walked in under heavy sunlight into an almost empty and dimly lit room — a line of assless bar stools and a single man sitting at the rail.
Once while sitting on a beach in Miami, I saw a woman take off her bikini top and stroll topless to the turquoise water. In response, my friend and I took off our tops. It was only for a few minutes but it was thrilling – the warm sun and the gaze of strangers on my bare skin.
The first woman to take the stage was heavily tattooed and blue-haired. I asked her for her name as she crawled toward me, her breasts sliding along the wood of the bar. She stopped and leaned forward to whisper in my ear –Daphne. And I thought, “That’s a good stage name.”
Growing up, my brother and sister and I were always half-dressed at home. I saw my mother unclothed all the time and thought nothing of it. It was only when I got older and talked to other people that I knew this was unusual.
Woman after woman took to the pole and I started to think about vaginal discharges and the transference of STDs. I watched my boyfriend watching me watching the women. I thought, “These women are professionals. These women have the skills of athletes. These women are Olympians.” I ordered another drink and another wad of one dollar bills.
I remember two details about the male stripper very clearly: the smell of the baby oil, which eventually became how I smelled, and how even when he was completely naked — except for an outrageously placed towel — he kept his boots on.
In an hour’s time we saw five dancers. I came to several conclusions: I outweighed the “heaviest” woman by at least thirty-five pounds, everyone else by fifty or sixty and I could’ve spared all of them a cup size and still been a D cup. I had no idea that I would see someone else’s asshole or how seeing someone else’s asshole in close proximity feels like a level of intimacy akin to actually having sex. I wasn’t turned on, but I was impressed, envious of their confidence, overwhelmed by the coarseness of it all. My boyfriend asked for a lap dance, walked away to a separate room and came back disappointed. My smugness followed me out onto the sidewalk.
After the stripper left, my friends took me back to my residence hall. I was drunk and mildly aroused, but bitter about it, unwilling to admit that the stripper had had an affect on me. The smell of baby oil lingered in my nostrils, even as I lay in the arms of another man that same night.
We walked numbly to the Taco Bell across the street. Ordered $28 worth of tacos. Ate it like starving wolves. Later I got in the bed and turned away, thinking the night was over. But then a hand was moving along my ribs.