Laid Bare: Life Lessons at the Strip Club

Obnoxiously bright blues, greens and various shades of pink are walking, talking and dancing all around me. For some reason the intensely colored, and revealing dresses are the focus of my attention initially, not the girls wearing them. I can’t help but think this was a bad idea.

I’m nervous. This isn’t an excited, happy nervous; it’s an anxious, uncomfortable nervous. I’ve never been to a strip club before. I agreed to come here because I’m in New York City for the first time, my friends wanted to go, and it seems like the perfect time to try something new. Maybe I don’t like new.

Some of the girls are sitting and talking to customers, some are hanging around the edges of the club in small groups, and one girl is dancing on stage, slowly removing her clothes. I’m supposed to watch her, to be turned on, to want her. I don’t. I feel like a voyeur; averting my eyes from the stage like it’s something private meant for someone else.

“Oh no, a girl is walking towards me.” I look away. If I don’t make eye contact she’ll leave me alone, but I have to. She’s right in front of me and with a single, elegant move she hikes up her neon-pink dress to her matching panties and sits down on my lap with both of her legs draped over mine.

“Hi,” she says. She follows up that simple greeting with a name I’ve already forgotten, but was fake anyway. My attention is focused on my hands. She’s overtaken my lap where they used to be and I can’t think of a place to put them now. I don’t want to touch her for the simple reason that I don’t know her, and it seems rude. A funny thought to have about a girl who makes a living shaking her breasts in strangers’ faces.

She’s short, slightly over five feet, but her heels seem to double her height. She has long, curly brown hair. In most circumstances she would be my type–but this isn’t most circumstances.

“Have you ever been here before?” she asks in a sweet, almost childish voice. I answer with a NO that sounds too abrupt even to my ears. I quickly explain that I’ve never actually been to a strip club before.

“Oh!” she squeals and bounces up and down to punctuate syllables that I didn’t know that word had. “Can I dance for you?”

I realize why I’ve been so nervous this whole time. I’m afraid of lap dances. I’m uncomfortable watching the girls dance on stage, but I’m absolutely terrified of the up-close and personal experience. What’s supposed to be the sexiest, and arguably best, part of the strip club experience is making me shake, but not in antici…….pation.

I look around to my friends, someone must have heard her ask that question and is ready with a response that will save me, but they’re all occupied with what’s in their laps. I stammer a few unintelligible syllables before coming up with the perfect thing to say. No. The word sits down between us like an overweight man who needs more room.

She looks at me with an expression that’s part incredulous, part hurt. It’s probably not something she hears very often, or maybe it is. What if I just turned down the girl nobody wants to have dance for them? She can’t even get the first-timer to be interested. I either just offended this girl or hurt a stripper’s feelings. I mumble something about this being my first strip club, again, and how I want to take everything in first.

Smooth.

I’m not sure if she hears me, or even cares to. She quickly gathers herself, pulls her dress back down, and walks away to a nearby fluorescent-rainbow huddle. I can only imagine what they’re talking about. Do they think I’m gay? Maybe I just gave the impression that I thought the girl was ugly. I’m not sure which scenario makes me feel better about what I just did. Maybe it’s not that strange and they’re discussing American foreign policy.

I turn in the opposite direction of the stripper huddle, to James. His dancer also just removed herself from his lap, but under more civil circumstances. She offered him a dance, and he responded with, “Talk to me later.” A much better answer than mine; infinitely more gentle than, “NO!”

According to James, his dancer smokes a lot of pot to make it through the day and really hates her job. She liked talking to James, but wanted to get up to smoke a joint in the back. That info isn’t making me feel better. Now this club is filled with girls taking off their clothes to rub up against strangers for a few bucks, and they absolutely hate it, then do drugs to ease the pain. I’m not sure this could get any better…

One of my friends points out that I look nervous and everyone immediately wants to know why. It’s a strip club, there are half-naked girls all over; I should be having fun, right?

“Well, I’ve never been to a strip club before.”

“Really!?”

“You’re getting a lap dance.”

“NO! I don’t want a dance. I just want to sit here. Please don’t buy me a dance.” I wish I could see my face right now. A gun, pointed in my direction, might not draw this expression. I’ve panicked less in car accidents.

A man I met an hour ago and know only as Eric—at least, he looks like an Eric—pulls the nearest dancer to him, hands her a bill, and points in my direction. I don’t know how large it is, but it must be enough for a lap dance because she’s now working her way through the circle we’ve formed and is coming to me.

Lyndsey, sitting to my right, jumps up and stops the stripper before she gets to me. She’s asking the girl to not dance for me. I can hear her say, “Keep the money, he really doesn’t want a dance.” This moment is actually quite ironic. Lyndsey has worked as a stripper. An ex-stripper is pleading, on my behalf, with a current stripper, to not dance for me. Maybe this is a good thing. They must speak the same language or something. Maybe there’s a stripper code of ethics.

It doesn’t work.

“I know this is your first time, but don’t worry,” my new stripper tells me as she walks past Lyndsey. “I’ll be gentle. You’ll like this.”

A new song comes on and she starts to move in front of me, but she can’t quite give me the “full effect” because there’s a small table in the way, and there isn’t room to move it. To do so would involve one of my friends getting up and moving, and they all want to watch. She tries to work around it a while longer and finally asks the nearest person to move, “Just a little bit,” and pushes the table aside.

Her black dress is on the floor and now she’s in my lap. I can smell sweat, and a flowery scent that doesn’t cover up the former. Not what I imagined a stripper to smell like. There’s also a lot of glitter. Most of which is currently being transferred to me. She rubs her breasts in my face, but all my attention is drawn to a large mole between them. I don’t know why, but that’s all I can see.

“You have a nice body,” she tells me as she runs her hand inside my shirt.

“Thanks.” I probably should have responded with a similar compliment.

She moves my hands, hanging limply at my sides, to her legs, but as soon as she lets go they fall back. After a second, failed, attempt she gives up and continues to gyrate over and on me.

The song is finally winding down. She grabs her dress and stumbles a little as she puts it back on. I can’t help but feel badly for her.

“That wasn’t so bad was it?” she asks as she zips up. I tell her it wasn’t, but all I can think about is leaving, and I quickly tell everyone else that I’m done. We’ve been in the club for less than an hour and I’ve had enough. James consents and leaves with me.

The journey home consists of walking, a few train rides, and a seemingly endless number of jokes at my expense. I deserve them. I’m sure I would have laughed if I could have watched myself at the club. “I’ll probably laugh about it tomorrow, when I retell the tale,” I think to myself, as the subway takes a sharp left turn down the dark tracks.

I’ve always said I respected strippers. That I believe their profession demonstrates a control over their sexuality that most women do not possess. It may be their job to be sexy, but I don’t think just any woman can dance. It takes a particular woman with some cajones to pull it off. They have a strength and confidence that I don’t, and I was intimidated by it. They had total control of themselves and the situation.

Instead of trying to conquer my fear, I chose to run away. I have confidence with women in one-on-one settings—well, I have more confidence. Maybe I’ll work up to public, group settings some other time. I did, however, face my fear for a brief, albeit involuntary, length of time. The body glitter I washed off myself the next morning was proof of that.

(Image source: ChilliSauce.co.uk; TheOnion.com)

17 thoughts on “Laid Bare: Life Lessons at the Strip Club”

  1. who let this guy write for co-ed? I dont care if you have to fill a quota of gay kids on the staff but i will never read another article from this magazine after wasting my time reading about this raging homosexuals experience at a strip club. get a fuckin clue co-ed

  2. First of all, this is a well written article. Second, this writer isn't homosexual; I think many guys feel the same way when it comes to strip clubs. I am a heterosexual man and I don't enjoy strip clubs either. I absolutely feel the same way when I go to strip clubs (when my friends have parties and I get dragged).

  3. You know how nice guys always lose? This piece is a perfect example why. This dude *definitely* isn't gay. But he doesn't understand women's other, stronger, wilder side. He's been taught to respect women, but only their feminine exterior. Women are tough, I've found. And strippers are tougher than most. That girl's feelings weren't hurt–only her purse. So don't worry about it, dude. She was just at work. She didn't give a sh*t about your silly ass–but she was probably laughing at you behind your back.

  4. Stop trying to be so hypermasculine. You're still a man even if you don't like have breasts rubbed in your face for no reason. Ultimately I think the guy who can get on with girls and if he wants, end up in their beds is always going to be the bigger man than the one that has to pay to have breasts rubbed in his face.
    http://factsandfriction.blogspot.com/

  5. Totally agree with the guy. Only been in one strip club in my life. Don't see whats so great about 'em. There is just something I don't like about paying someone to like me. great article

  6. My god, I am laughing at all the homophobes in the comments. I thought the article was interesting though.

  7. People like different things. Strip clubs would not be around if they did not make money. What you like may not be what the next person likes. Paying for lap dances or otherwise in a strip club does not mean that the strippers will like you. It is only a business transaction. Anything beyond that is up to the people involved.

    Saying that there is no reason for getting breasts rubbed in your face is like saying there is no reason to get your car washed. Both are services being bought for whatever reason. People are not just throwing away money for nothing. Try thinking a little more and you will realize that a "customer" could be any age, marital status, or orientation. Is it not conceivable that a person would want the services provided?

  8. I had a really long post, but this is the crux:

    my several strip-club experiences have been similar to that of the author's.

    There are those of us who consider it rude to shove our hands all over someone we've only just met.

    There are those of us for whom personal space is extremely important and so when it is invaded we immediately put up our guards.

    What, I'm supposed to be this male-human animal that feels like I'm getting a good deal just to have a random stranger rub her body up against mine for money?

    The way I see it is that if you need to go to a strip club to get that kind of action – you are (in one way or another) just not someone who deserves (or wants) it. Prostitution, escorts – there is a place for them. But strip clubs? Pfft, what a waste.

    If I were to pay for a lap dance, I'd know that it was merely a performance for money rather than any kind of expression. I would rather pay for salsa lessons or a ticket to a musical or dance performance.

  9. He ain’t gay, he’s a fucking gentleman… something that’s nearly dead in this culture, mostly because of homophobia. I admit that when I hear someone I know is actually gay it does kind of wierd me out, but then I put it in perspective. If it’s a guy, I just look at him as an ugly chick I wouldn’t want. If it’s a chick, I see her as a fellow guy that I can say “hey, that chica’s looking nice tonight, huh?”

    Polite culture, especially in America, is fairly much dead. It’s seen as boring and decaying traditional, although it, just as Mr. Economics said about various services, has its place. Just like this article. Co-Ed wouldn’t have published it if they didn’t believe it was worth their time, and maybe this was a post that will mess up whatever name they’ve made for themselves and let the people working here move onto something better. The future (and even many things in the present and past) is invisible, and thus you shouldn’t waste time trying to understand something that you never will.

    You homophobe lame-asses that post here probably don’t have the mental capacity to understand that someone other than you is *different* than you, more than likely in almost all respects even. So you figure it best to ridicule and attack anyone who would appear weak and powerless to your insults due to their own sensitivity as human beings with a heightened sense of awareness and purpose. I would almost figure to say that you are jealous of his good nature and thus you feel a need to either corrupt or destroy him because you don’t understand anything more than your own little pathetic, mindless and meaningless fucking worlds.

    The word “faggot” means a thin stick of wood. It can be used to imply cigarettes and homosexual men. I personally use it to imply an object of my contempt, hatred and loathing. You ignorant fucks who claim that some guy who doesn’t share your single-minded sheep-like following-the-crowd opinion of liking strip clubs is automatically and irreversibly “gay,” “homosexual” or a “faggot” are the true faggots. So go suck a fat fucking dick, you worthless sacks of shit. No one will give a fuck about you when you die. No one will remember your names, no one will even dig up your body from your (probably unmarked) grave to rape it because you are that insignificant.

    Oh yeah, good article by the way, man. Voiced a lot of guys’ personal doubts in such situations, very eloquent.

  10. "Now this club is filled with girls taking off their clothes to rub up against strangers for a few bucks, and they absolutely hate it, then do drugs to ease the pain. I’m not sure this could get any better…"

    What kind of sanctimonious bullshit is that? Maybe she smokes weed because she likes. And give me a fucking break "pain," they're all there of their own free will. Your anecdotal account from the one stripper at the one strip club you've ever been to hardly means they all hate their jobs.

    Awful article.

  11. you guys are calling him gay, but really he's a gentleman. i enjoyed this article as im sure a lot of other women would, and id rather be with someone who has his outlook than someone who things a guy is a "fag" if he doesnt need tits shoved in his face every five minutes. saying stuff like that screams that you aren't secure with your masculinity – a major turn-off.

  12. I agree with author

    I couldn't have put it more eloquently than the author and "Some Name" did. It's about time someone wrote an article showing this perspective. Two friends of mine (one who is actually homosexual) were appalled that I had no interest (and in my case a rather strong aversion) in going to strip clubs. The first friend who apparently thinks that asking personal questions about sex is actually going to yield useful answers (I bet this guy thinks that Freud is a legitimate psychologist) kept on asking me if I had "religious" or "political" objections, since that could be the only reason, in his view.

    My friend is missing the point. I don't feel comfortable around strangers, and I think this is the crux of the authors' point. Keeping in mind that I don't have either of the objections he mentioned, since I'm an atheist, and also I dig women, so I'm not asexual.

    I feel hurt that some people are so shallow that they are unable to comprehend that not everyone is comfortable in weird situations, but to each their own. I don't know why some guys such as the ones who accused him of being "gay" were so intent on taking the offensive. (not to mention insulting to people that are really homosexual). I don't claim to know or understand what their problem is, but they do seem to be bigoted and insecure, and un-gentlemanly to boot.

    P.S. Heather, glad to know that women are able to understand this.

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