By wood I mean May's wood. May Wilson was wooden at the time. I had tried to upgrade to a figure much like George Dudley, Otto Petersen's partner in crime. Man did that girl get around. One night we were scheduled to do a show at a run down strip club. I remember walking in with my suitcase and some dress that had pathetic written all over it, May even told me so that ho, and feeling like I already needed a bath. They were playing, "You Shook Me All Night Long" by ZZ Top. At the time I had gotten my young, stupid, pathetic heart broken. I figured this was what men wanted, right?
Walking in, there was a lot going on. There was a skanky girl on the bar top. So skanky it smelled like low tide and I was only standing by the door. The patrons, probably ex cons and others who were fated to have female company only if they paid because God did not bless them with looks tossed small bills her way. I took a look at her. If this was what dudes wanted I quit. It was another reminder that I had left my Sylvia Plath on the night stand. Yes, the brave poetess left by her less talented husband Ted Hughes for some hussy who too would later gas herself in an oven.
I have one words for Sylvia's copycat suicide half wit other woman Assia Wevill: Hack.
Immediately I felt like I didnt belong. I walked over to the bouncer, a big black bear of a man and babbled, "I am clearly not a stripper as you can see. I am here to perform in the comedy show. I do not know where to go." The black bear of a man laughed and patted me on the back. He said, "I figured. You looked out of place and were afraid to touch anything. Show is upstairs sweetheart."
How did he know I wasn't a stripper? Was I not tacky looking enough? Perhaps I wasnt even pretty enough? Maybe I nose wasn't bleeding because I didn't use it like a snowblower. Either way it was a knife to the heart, it was what guys wanted. May Wilson on the other hand wanted a job and wanted to see if she could start immediately. I mumbled going up the stairs, "I hate my fucking roommate."
Luckily my mother had mailed me penecilin. I was taking some as soon as I got home.
When I reached the top of the stairs I took a seat. The whole place said herpes, or this was probably where the last outbreak had occurred. Just then I was approached by a broken down middle aged woman. Her hair was a terrible blonde, almost if she got her style from the broken down 2 AM tranny at the Port Authority. The makeup on her face was melting off, partially due to the fact that it was cheap as the tips the woman downstairs was getting and partially because there was no air conditioning. She wore a tight fitting dress, that exposed breasts that were augmented, and were losing their luster as the whatever cheap stuff they were filled with was probably getting moldy. While her tried to suck it in, her stomach was losing it's lining and hanging out. And she wore lucite shoes. I did a double take. Was this a middle aged stripper?!?!?!
She turned around and bent down to pick something up. All I saw were ripples of cellulite. I didnt know whether to puke, turn to stone, or run. No wonder the strippers here were working for small tips. They were ugly. I was in a club with a bunch of ugly women who took their clothes off for money. No wonder the bouncer didnt think I worked here as a stripper. Not only was I so insecure about my body that I kept my clothes on, but I actually looked good.
A minute later the woman introduced herself as Darla. She asked if I was a new dancing girl. I explained I was not and was doing a comedy show. Darla said she knew about the show and was coming up to watch. I started to talk to her and while she was run down and had a few hard nights in her life she seemed to have a good heart. Hey, just because she be a ho does not mean she is evil.
Darla then said she identified with what I did because she too was a performer, and taking off your clothes was an art. When you got onstage it was an act. You had to think of what you were going to do beforehand, charm the audience, and have a start and finish not to mention a well thought out character. I nodded. While I was working hard to write jokes and learn my craft rather than reduce myself for the adoration and approval of men who probably learned to walk up right last week, I would give her half credit. Plus she acknowledged ventriloquism was a lost art form and perhaps older than the exotic dancing she herself partook in.
The entire time May Wilson screamed, "ASK HER IF THEY ARE HIRING!!!!"
Just then five other strippers came up and began to join the convo. While two were decent looking, for the most part they looked pretty banged up. It was six sex workers, a slutty doll, and a woman who never really had a boyfriend. This could have been a reality show. Just then one of the strippers who identified herself as Bambi explained that the owner was what she referred to as a "shit" and until things changed the strippers were not stripping. They were only working partialy nude. I asked what this would accomplish. Bambi who was stripping her way through law school and was in her sixth year-law school only takes three to complete-said it was because there was going to be a stripper strike.
Curious I asked what the greviances were. Candy, a red head who had danced at some of the top clubs before hitting thirty (her words) explained the owner was an "ass clown" and wasnt letting the girls keep their tips. Plus the stage fee was much too high. Stage fee? Then they explained you had to pay the club to dance. I began to feel sorry for these women. Perhaps they did have hard lives other than the fact they spent their spare time swinging from poles and giving others things that makes one burn when they pee. These women were working hard for their money. Those shoes werent easy to walk in. And guys if you cheat on your damn wife use a condom. That pole took some skill. This owner was an ass clown. Strike, strike, strike!!!!!
Just then the producer arrived. So did the comedians and the show began. The strippers as a part of their strike were dancing partially clothed downstairs, but when they were done, came up to enjoy the comedy show. Some were committed to the strike and skipped dancing all together and enjoyed the show. Not only did they all turn up and completed an audience when it looked like we would have none, but they laughed at everyone. I began to view these women less as sluts and more as friends that perhaps had taken a wrong turn.
May finally asked the question, were they hiring. Candi replied, "Our boss would pay you in nickles and dimes because you are fake. We only get small bills because we are human. Work at Scores. Not only are the guys kinkier but you will get more bang for your buck."
The night ended with me getting drunk with the strippers as they plotted the next phase of their strike. When the morning came, I finally got a cab home and wished them luck. I never did see them after that and never got an update on their progress. I hope the owner's heart softened and that he treated them better. Because one thing is for sure, no horny male wants a partially clothed woman, no matter how many rough nights she has had.
In case you are wondering, the next day I took my penecilin with orange juice and took a nice long bath. Actually two baths.
I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl