The road trip started off at Small Bar, with expensive strawberry-flavored beer (the more unpronounceable it is, the more likely I am to buy it) and a free shot of whiskey from a recent divorcee that Shana had charmed before I got there. America’s Next Great Band was muted on the screen before us, and Chicago band Dot Dot Dot was performing. One of the judges told them they looked like hyperactive emo leprechauns, which made me love him, for a second. I was hoping for the bartender we had last time, who, at last call proclaimed with a Paul Revere kind of authority: “Alright people, at 2am the pants are coming off!”
The improvised trip to Gary, Indiana was twofold: to purchase cheap cigarettes and to devirginize ourselves in the world of Topless Dancing. How did I make it to 25 without ever having stepped foot in a strip club? The feminist me has a fairly simple answer to that question, but the inquisitive slutty objectifier me gagged her and left her in the corner to reflect on her outdated 70s-era agenda.
It took us a while to find the club, which was literally under I-94. A lightless, dead end-seeming road was the only way to get there (left at the pot hole, just past the troll bridge) and we passed it at least three times before figuring out it was, in fact, a road. Once we arrived, a sign that said “Déjà vu: Thousands of Beautiful Women + 3 ugly Ones” greeted us and we nearly skipped to the entrance in anticipation.
At the door, a neckless man with a crew cut told us we would not be admitted without a male escort. “Sorry ladies, it’s corporate policy.”
In the background, one of the strippers told him to stop being an asshole and let us in. Let’s call her Destiny, since she was kind of like our patron saint for the night.
At that moment, a brother-sister couple walked in and we asked the brother to “escort” us inside. He took a drag off his Big Poppa cigar and said flatly to the doorman, “They’re with me.” (sidenote: does anyone know the legality of denying someone entrance to a strip club based on gender? Who’s fighting for that cause?)
Once inside, my righteous indignation subsided rather quickly with the aid of $2 Coronas, plush red roll-y chairs and the buffet of half-naked women flitting about in 6 inch stilettos and butterfly-shaped pasties. The DJ said the same three things after every song: “Alright, Friday Night! Déjà vu! Keep it goin’!” Perhaps the repetition was keeping in consistency with the “Déjà vu” theme – wait a minute…I think I’ve heard this before…
On each side of the stage were two plasma screens showing, of all things, Seinfeld re-runs. Then it was CNN. Then, near closing time, M.A.S.H. Why there were TVs at all is rather baffling to me – like anyone would come to Déjà vu for the basic cable. “No Mom, I’m going to watch Seventh Heaven!”
“You’re not from around here, are you?” said Chynah, a twenty-year-old with a babydoll face. She said it right before gripping the sides of her labia and shaking them at us. A quick glance around the room easily confirmed that we were not from around there. I felt like I was back in high school, silently smirking at the child-men in Looney Toons attire and slicked back hair, the early 90s band t-shirts and JC Penney jeans, and the guy with the soul patch who furiously bobbed his head to the music, lip synching and throwing his hands up in the air every time he tossed a dollar on stage. Now, I don’t speak Rural Midwestern, but what I believe he was trying to convey was, “I am here to fuck, mothafuckas! Yeah!” He’s the kind of guy who’d brag to all his friends about winning $5 in the lottery. He started giving me the thumbs-ups whenever I got a stage dance, which I rather enjoyed. Suddenly we were buddies, bros, dudes sharing a moment. Strip clubs – the great social equalizer?
Alright, Friday night! Déjà vu! Keep it goin’!
The strippers loved us, shook our hands, told us their real names and cursed out the doorman for almost not letting us in. One woman, in thigh-high white pleather boots took me over her knee and spanked me. At first I didn’t understand why she kept pointing to her knee. “Does she want me to lick her boots?” I thought, moistening my lips and leaning forward. A little while later she gave Shana a stage dance, snaking herself slowly down the whole of Shana’s body off the stage before whispering, “I don’t think I can get back up.”
Another stripper named Devin with an easy grin and tight, angular frame came to chat with us and almost missed her song. “Oh,” she said, “That’s me! Come watch me dance!” So we did. She vaulted her way across the stage towards me, scissoring her legs closer to my face and using her heels to pull my chair closer to the stage. Extending one leg, she bent to bring her snatch right up to my face, only her heel didn’t quite clear it and she ended up knocking my glasses off. “Ohmygod! Did I just kick you in the face?” she said. “Don’t worry,” I said. “Nothing I haven’t experienced before,” and readjusted my frames. Then I gave her a dollar for kicking me in the face. If that’s not feminism, then I don’t know what is.