Lounges, Cabarets, Gentleman’s Clubs, Titty Bars. Whatever you want to call them, I am familiar with strip clubs. This is not to say that I’m a pervy weirdo who enjoys spending his money ogling under-dressed young women who have made dubious life choices. I come by my strip club experience via completely legitimate avenues. Really. When I first moved to Oregon, my roommate was a waitress at the local boob/pube review. Through her I met the cabaret’s bouncers and doormen, all burly men who shared my passion for motorcycles, so boom, I made my first Oregon friends. I also met the dancers, who I liked because they were beautiful and naked. I believe they liked me back. I’m basing this solely on the copious free dances I received in that wonderful establishment, and the fact that they always seemed happy to see me outside of work too, even if it was just a run in at the supermarket or a quick shared drink at a bar downtown. Eventually that club became like a second home to me. Every week or two (okay, every night or two) after working or going out riding or drinking I’d wander into the club and install myself at my favorite table, you know the one, the booth to the left of the door between the main stage and the rear stage. Here I would hold court, shaking hands and kissing pretties, enjoying a complimentary beverage or three, and generally being treated like visiting royalty. Sigh…it was a simpler time.
My Oregon club had the great good fortune of being a relatively upscale establishment, which meant the food was good, the drinks were strong, and the women were actually pretty, not just strip club pretty. Also, in Oregon the dancers get fully naked, so that’s cool. Basically, I was spoiled rotten.
Now that I’m living back in Connecticut, I find my infrequent strip club experiences to be disappointing and unpleasant affairs. For whatever reason, Connecticut clubs are not at all welcoming to their clientele. Everyone there, from the bouncers, to the bartenders, to the dancers, to the DJ all seem to resent the presence of their patrons, even while they’re doing their best to fleece the poor bastards of every bent penny they own, while giving them as little as possible in return. I don’t know, maybe all booby bars are actually like that, and I was just insulated from that side of things because of my privileged status in the Oregon nightclub. What I do know is that titty bars currently leave a bitter taste in my mouth that has nothing to do with the watery drinks and cigarette smoke.
And yet, just last night I found myself once again getting patted down by a heavyset gentleman at the side door of a windowless nightclub, the outdated hip-hop music spilling into the poorly maintained parking lot sounding exactly like a night of poor decisions and regret. Here’s the thing about a strip club on a Wednesday. Write this down, it’s important.
A strip club on a Wednesday does not bring it’s “A” game. Hell, it doesn’t even bring it’s “B” game. No, it relates more with a letter that rhymes with “B” but comes muuuuuch further in the alphabet. I’m talking bad. I’m talking cliche bad. I’m talking “c-section scars and missing limbs” bad.
I won’t tell you the name of the club I was at, because human beings work there, and they don’t deserve to have their feelings hurt by the devastating roasting I’m about to deliver, but it’s located in Wolcott Connecticut, and it’s the only strip club in that town. Also, it’s Rockstar Lounge.
So anyway, there I was at the mystery unnamed club with Train, Noops, and Zales, who had convinced me that lap dances on a weeknight are a good idea, and I’m showing my ID to the bouncer, and I already know that this is going to be…special. There’s a specific breed of monster that make up strip club bouncers. Generally they’re about eight feet tall, hideously muscular, and absolutely terrifying. They have to be, since a lot of people drink too much and make poor decisions at strip clubs, and they need to be able to protect the girls, themselves, and the clientele from a whole lot of stupid.
The teenage schlub in the rumpled tuxedo vest and poorly fitting trousers scanning our IDs was not part of this exclusive breed. Granted, he was big, but it was not a bigness created by steroids and going beast mode in the gym. This was more of a bigness resulting from far too many hot pockets and dungeons and dragons tournaments in his mom’s basement. With his peacefully cherubic face and scraggly pube beard he looked more like an over-sized hobbit than the nightclub’s sole source of security. When he was taking our cover charges I vacillated between demanding to see his hairy hobbit feet and expressing my concern over his clear and present risk of heart disease and diabetes.
When we actually got into the club it was..underwhelming. Granted, I wasn’t expecting roaring crowds and countless buxom lasses selling peeks up their petticoats for a farthing a glimpse, but I wasn’t expecting it to be completely empty either. Most nightclubs are dim to add an aura of mystery and risk. This one was dim in an almost apologetic fashion, as if to say I know, I’m sorry, I’m a disappointment to myself too. That or a few light-bulbs had burnt out in 1987, and the staff has been too apathetic to change them ever since.
Determined to make the best of it, my intrepid companions and I made our way to the bar and ordered drinks from the large breasted bartender, who may have started life as man, or a cabbage patch doll, or a moderately talented vacuum cleaner, and then through an extensive series of discount cosmetic surgeries transformed herself into a cartoonish exaggeration of a beautiful woman, if the beautiful woman was also 88% plastic and had recently been stung by a million bees. To give this nightmarish indictment of our vain elective surgery culture her due however, she was a pleasant and responsive bartender and provided us with excellent customer service.
After my eyes adjusted somewhat to the murky gloom and I had slurped down a healthy amount of Jack Daniels bourbon, I was surprised to find that the club wasn’t entirely empty, as I had initially believed. There were a total of two other customers at the bar, and what appeared to be a massive caterpillar being ridden by two slightly smaller caterpillars was twitching feebly on the stage in a fashion that could be generously described as rhythmic. Further investigation showed that the large creature on the stage was not actually a hitherto undiscovered larval moth of unusual size, but was instead a young woman, albeit also of unusual size. Most astoundingly, the two smaller caterpillars were not bugs either, but were instead her heavily painted on eyebrows. I don’t know when clown makeup became trendy with young women, but as a concerned citizen I beseech you to please, stop. I’m not much a fan of tightly groomed eyebrows, but I’m definitely not a fan of the permanent marker dust collectors that girls are graffiti tagging their foreheads with nowadays. I like my eyebrows like a like my women. Kempt, but natural, and sometimes even a little wild.
The atmosphere in the club was subdued, without any of the raucous energy usually associated with such establishments. The music was quiet, the girl on stage was lethargic, and the two other customers at the bar had the unmistakable look unsuccessful middle-aged men get when they’ve given up completely and are now just slowly waiting to die. It seemed almost sacrilegious to bring our energy and happiness into this tomb-like room, but my friends and I are a delightful mix of stubbornly self-absorbed and contagiously charismatic. We had decided that we wanted to have a good night, so a good night we would have damn it. Another round of drinks and an enthusiastic game of would-you-rather created a marked improvement in the vibes of the club, even to the point that more girls started to appear from the shadows, like moths drawn to a flame. They shuffled into the light of our presence slowly, with the frightened wariness of feral animals, without any of the predatory confidence present in their more successful contemporaries. Like Frankenstein’s monster, these wretched creatures had tasted the stones and fire of angry villagers before.
I didn’t catch their names, but to me they will always be remembered as “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man”, “Razor Burn”, and “I’ve-Given-Up-So-Hard-I’m-Not-Even-Wearing-Lingerie-Just-A-Tshirt-With-No-Bra”. I like to think that, after it became clear that we would not be spending profligately on their carnal services, with the exception of one I-dare-you-to lap dance from Stay Puft for Zales, the girls stayed with us for our wit and charm, but the truth is their options were probably to pal around with us or shuffle back to their cage or fenced enclosure or misty grotto or wherever else they spent their time when they weren’t scaring the locals. This I can say in all honesty. The girls were very nice. And they needed to floss more. Or smoke less meth. I don’t know, I’m not a dentist. I just know that their teeth were browner than a woodchuck’s left testicle.
I’d like to point out that all this time caterpillar face girl was still unenthusiastically abusing the pole on stage while being completely ignored, which is maybe the saddest scenario I’ve ever seen a stripper in. I imagine that it takes a lot of courage to get up on stage in front of a bunch of people, take your clothes off and dance while leering dudes build stacks of crinkled dollar bills for you, but it must take a lot more courage to get up and do it for nobody, for free. Her stage show consisted mostly of laying on the stage eating fried chicken while we offered her ever increasing sums of money to put her clothes back on, but her pole dancing is where she truly shined. If you’ve ever seen a skilled pole-dancer, it’s actually quite impressive. They can be acrobatic and erotic and exciting. This…was none of those. The extent of her pole-riding talent appeared to be the ability to laboriously climb her way up the pole with all the grace of a fat kid rope climbing in gym class. Once she reached the ceiling she spent a moment gasping for breathe and wetting the pole with her sweat and leftover chicken grease. Then she slid down without so much as a spin to add artistic flair to her achievement.
I know you probably think by my description of the night that I was disgusted and had a terrible time, but far from it. The weirder and more uncomfortable the night got, the happier I was. My friends and I, we’re all relatively handsome and successful young men. If we want to see beautiful young women, they’re always just one Tinder message away. Or, you know, we could go home to our wives and/or girlfriends. No, if we were looking for companionship from beautiful women, we wouldn’t need to spend money on it, nor would we be visiting a small town strip club on a Wednesday night. I’m still not sure why we went but I’d say that whatever we were actually looking for that night, we got it, and then some, and for that my beloved Wednesday night strip club, I thank you.